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Who’s opposite of banks? Cam brown, watts caveous ?
— John emerson (@bonjoyfinley) July 13, 2021
What little experience Ohio State had returning at outside cornerback was laying on the turf at Penn State, and it was clear almost immediately Cameron Brown wouldn’t be getting back up to play again after Week Two last season.
Shaun Wade had played the most snaps overall for the Buckeyes, but he was just getting started trying to prove himself on the perimeter. The buzz about Sevyn Banks may have already been building, but he was also early in the process of establishing himself as a shutdown star in the secondary. Coupled with the loss of two first-round NFL Draft picks that Ohio State had barely had time to work on replacing, throwing in the Achilles injury to Brown wound being far more devastating than it may have even seemed at the time.
The spotlight may have shown brighter on the other two guys heading into last season. But it was Brown who had been the first guy off the bench the previous year, flashing when called on in key situations and showing how much he had progressed in his transition over from wide receiver. And in the three-man rotation defensive coordinator Kerry Coombs prefers to utilize, the Buckeyes really had nowhere to turn to replace Brown’s experience in the starting lineup.
“Itâ€™s very costly,” Ohio State coach Ryan Day said last fall. “Cam came with experience this season in a position where we couldnâ€™t afford to lose anyone. So, to lose Cam, thatâ€™s a significant hit. Obviously we wish for him to get a healthy procedure and healthy recovery, and we really feel bad for him and his family. … Weâ€™re going to have to get guys ready to play with some depth.”
The Buckeyes were never really able to do that, and it obviously didn’t help that both Wade and Banks had to play through nagging injuries of their own late in the season.
But that shouldn’t be a problem now with Brown appearing fully on track to return to action in time for training camp. Ohio State will have two veterans to build around at cornerback, putting the inexperience of last season fully in the rearview mirror. Banks will be the headliner with his first-round hype, but Brown certainly shouldn’t be overlooked based on what he was showing in the secondary two years ago and the motivation he has to make up for lost time.
Brown was still limited due to his rehabilitation schedule during spring practice, but he appeared to be full-go during a handful of workouts last month when the Woody Hayes Athletic Center was open for camps. Brown was clocked as one of the fastest players on the roster before his injury, and he was again covering ground effortlessly and looking confident making sharp cuts on the indoor turf — all with his trademark smile on his face.
The Buckeyes should be in line for a major bounce-back campaign in the secondary. And it’s the return of a healthy Cameron Brown who can help lead the way.
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