COLUMBUS, Ohio – As Ohio State concluded its 10th practice of the spring on a gorgeous, summer-like afternoon Thursday, the focus after practice turned to the secondary and replacing veterans Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell.
As cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence, safety Jermale Hines and coaches Paul Haynes and Taver Johnson met with members of the media, one thing became apparent: this group doesn’t lack confidence and expects to continue the success of Buckeye secondaries of the past.
Chekwa, who has been held out of practice lately due to injury, had a career-best 42 tackles and an interception, all while being shied away from by opposing quarterbacks while Hines recorded a career-high 57 stops, 3.5 sacks and two picks for 48 yards in 2009.
One defensive back that seemed to quietly get the job done under the radar last season was Torrence. After registering 35 tackles to go along with two interceptions and a sack, the athletic former wide receiver is looking to increase his impact at the right corner spot opposite Chekwa.
After playing three summers of minor league baseball in the Houston Astros organization, Torrence will spend his second-consecutive summer focusing solely on the gridiron, something that will benefit a Buckeye defense that continuously looks to improve, despite ranking fifth nationally in total defense and 13th in pass defense in 2009.
“Last year at this time I was out there just playing, really didn’t maybe understand everything that was going on,” Torrence said. “This I’m trying to concentrate on the little things and understand the total defensive package and maybe be a little more football savvy.”
The Canton native recorded his first career sack in the fourth quarter against USC, picked off a pass at Purdue and intercepted another pass while recording seven tackles and forcing a fumble at Michigan last season. His confidence and experience will be a valuable asset to a defensive backfield that has lost an All-American each of the past two seasons.
“Devon has played a lot of football for us, which is great,” cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson said. “There is still a lot to be played with him because he’s not a natural corner yet. He’s a natural athlete and I think he has really taken a hold of that, which has been nice.”
As always in the Buckeye secondary, there is plenty of talent waiting in the wings behind Torrence and Chekwa. Junior Donnie Evege, sophomore Travis Howard and redshirt freshmen Corey Brown and Dominic Clarke will all be vying for playing time in 2010.
Be sure to visit www.OhioStateBuckeyes.com for more interviews from today’s practice session.