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Ryan Watts can use rangy athleticism to surge in Ohio State secondary

Austin Ward07/14/21
Article written by:On3 imageAustin Ward


Ryan Watts 3 by Birm-Lettermen Row
Ryan Watts got plenty of spring experience for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about Ohio State and the potential for Ryan Watts as part of Cornerbacks Week? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.

Tall, athletic cornerbacks fit the ideal for Ohio State.

Ryan Watts is both of those, of course. But he’s still breaking the mold a bit with more height than anybody Kerry Coombs has ever worked with at that position.

Watts checks in at 6-foot-3 with the wingspan of a pterodactyl, and it’s certainly uncommon for guys with his size to thrive at a position that requires so much intricate footwork and quickness. The sophomore certainly is proving in a hurry that he’s got the skills needed to play that role for Ohio State, though, and that will potentially make him even more valuable in the secondary considering the advantages his rangy frame can provide down the field.

Ryan Watts-Ohio State-Ohio State football-Buckeyes

Ryan Watts picked off a pass in the Spring Game for Ohio State. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

“He had a great spring at over 500 reps,” Coombs said after camp in April. “He is tall. He is the tallest corner that I’ve ever coached, but he is able to transition his body in short-space quickness. He’s got long speed. Because of his length, I think getting his hands on wide receivers at the line of scrimmage will be of paramount importance to him. He has the ability to have range in zone.

“Sometimes when you have that big wingspan, you can get your hands on balls.”

Watts did exactly that in the spring game, capping a productive camp with an interception that if nothing else provided a jolt of confidence and a bit of momentum heading into offseason workouts. Last season obviously wasn’t the kind of freshman season he envisioned given all the COVID challenges that made it difficult to physically develop, mentally learn the system or gain the kind of experience needed to make an impact for the Buckeyes.

But with both Sevyn Banks and Cameron Brown limited in March and April, there were plenty of snaps to go around for Watts to help make up for lost time. Maybe that glimpse at his ball skills and athleticism in the Horseshoe in April takes him out of the running as an out-of-nowhere pick to emerge for the Buckeyes. But it would still be an impressive leap into the top of the three-man rotation in just his second year with the program.

Ryan Watts has all the skills needed to make it happen — in a supersized package for a cornerback.

Miss any previous editions of Question of the Day? Catch up right here.