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Shaun Wade is gone and the cornerback position wasn’t exactly lockdown even with him in the lineup last season. Ohio State is known as Defensive Back University (or B.IA. if you will), but last year the unit was worked over by Alabama and Clemson, but it also didn’t exactly shine against Indiana or Penn State.
As of today, Sevyn Banks seems to have one corner spot looked down, with Lathan Ransom, Ryan Watts, and others duking it out for more playing time. There is some athleticism there with some serious upside, but they are not quite Jeff Okudah, Damon Arnette, or Denzel Ward. The corner position is clearly not the strong point of the defense at this point, and it would not be shocking to see Ryan Day and company keep an eye on the always fluid transfer portal.
There was a ton of hype around the possible addition of former Tennessee linebacker, Henry To’oto’o from the portal, but with Dallas Gant and Teradja Mitchell patiently waiting for their turns it was unlikely. That plus the fact the Buckeyes appear to be moving towards more of a two linebacker system with the inclusion of the hybrid Bullet position.
A real difference-maker for this defense would be a dynamic, consistent and long shutdown corner. It just so happens that one of the most dominant corners in the AAC has entered the transfer portal today. Akayleb Evans is a 6-foot, 2-inch corner from Tulsa with 14 starts, 53 tackles, and 8 pass deflections under his belt.
Anyone who follows the NFL draft is aware of first-round selectin Zaven Collins, but Evans was a star as well and many thought he would declare after his dominant 2020 season. He is obviously very long and has squared up against top-level competition like new Baltimore Ravens receiver Tylan Wallace.
Akayleb Evans also shined against Texas in 2018 and was named to PFF’s team of the week for his shutdown performance. At the end of the day the Buckeyes can always use more speed and physicality at the cornerback position and it would be insane not to look into adding Evans.
Whether the coaching staff does it or not remains to be seen. But with all the issues at that spot on last season’s team, any and all options should be on the table, including adding personnel from the transfer portal.