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2016 OSU Spring Positional Recap: Safety
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — The safety position for the Buckeyes this spring was a significant worry based on the fact that they had to find two new starters and those starters had to be able to work in conjunction with each other in a very smooth and copacetic manner.

That was quite difficult to do when OSU began the spring with just two healthy scholarship safeties. For the first couple of practices, it was just Malik Hooker and Eric Glover-Williams. Once the Buckeyes got back from spring break, however, Damon Webb was moved over to free safety from cornerback and he played very well.

Toward the middle of the spring, veteran Cam Burrows returned, finally giving Ohio State an actual two-deep of scholarship players.

Despite the disjointed nature of the camp for the safeties, Urban Meyer and the defensive staff left spring pretty happy with what they had seen from the position.

Starters Returning: None

Others Returning: Malik Hooker (6-2 205, rSo); Damon Webb (5-11 193, Jr); Eric Glover-Williams (5-9 175, So); Cam Burrows (6-0 208, rJr); Erick Smith (6-0 202, Jr)

If you were looking for bright spots for the Buckeyes this spring, one of them would have been Malik Hooker at strong safety. Hooker's stellar performances in practice weren't new, as he became known for his interceptions even as a redshirt freshman still learning the position. This spring, however, he looked like a veteran and capped his outstanding play with a very impressive two-interception performance in the spring game.

"Since I’ve been here, Malik’s been making picks," said sophomore linebacker Jerome Baker. "I try to keep up with him but it’s hard. He makes a lot. Malik makes interceptions every day in practice."

"I didn’t really have expectations other than what people had told me about him, but working with him was enjoyable," safeties coach Greg Schiano said after spring ball. "He’s a football guy, he loves the game, studies the game. Made a lot of mistakes but also did a lot of good things. So we just have to eliminate the mistakes and keep making the good things better."

Had the Buckeyes not moved Webb over to safety the mood at the WHAC might not have been all that pleasant. Once they did, however, he took to the position exceedingly well. Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs always says that the free safety spot is basically just a slot corner, and slot corner is something that Webb has had experience with as OSU's nickel back.

He moved over early in practice, and it wasn't too much longer after that that he had secured the starting job.

"I didn’t even know we were going to have him until practice three, Damon Webb," Schiano said. "Damon comes in after practice three and really did a tremendous job of learning the position on the fly while playing it. That isn’t easy. I thought that was, just by the nature of the timing of it, I had no idea how he would do and he did a very good job."

Eric Glover-Williams began the spring as the No. 1 free safety, but eventually gave way to Webb. He then finished the spring as the No. 2 strong safety when Cam Burrows came back from injury. Both Glover-Williams and Burrows were slowed this spring by ailments, and according to Schiano it affected their play.

"Eric a couple things bothering him this spring that physically didn’t allow him to be the best he could be," he said. "So hopefully he gets well this summer and ready to go.  (Cam) has shaken the rust off slowly but surely. When you miss the time that he did and then you try to come back right mid spring going full speed, it’s not easy."

The wildcard at safety for the Buckeyes is Erick Smith, who has shown tremendous potential in practice, but was out for the entirety of spring while recovering from a torn ACL last season.

"I think he’s pretty close," Schiano said shortly after the close of spring camp. "He’s been doing stuff more and more during the spring and I think when they get back from their little break here he’s going to be pretty much full speed.

"You’re always concerned, I mean the guy had surgery. But as time goes on they just get better and better at every phase of it. The surgery itself, the rehab, we have top-notch rehab people here at the university. With Mick and the strength and conditioning program, they get back, pretty much back to their pre-surgery state."

Newcomers: Rodjay Burns (6-1 180, Fr), Jordan Fuller (6-2 200, Fr), Jahsen Wint (5-11 186, Fr)

Jordan Fuller is listed here because, as Kerry Coombs said, there is going to be a fight over him between he and Schiano. He will start out at cornerback, but that's not unusual for safeties.

Rodjay Burns is a lanky athlete who can cover ground and hit when he gets there. Jahsen Wint is more compact, but he is fearless when it comes to contact.

None of the three enrolled early, but when they do arrive in the summer, even two of them will give the Buckeyes some much-needed depth chart relief.

Depth Chart

FS
Damon Webb (5-11 193, Jr)
Cam Burrows (6-0 208, rJr)
Erick Smith (Inj.) (6-0 202, Jr)

SS
Malik Hooker (6-2 205, rSo)
Eric Glover-Williams (5-9 175, So)

Positional Recaps

Quarterback

Running Back

Receivers

Offensive Line

Defensive End

Defensive Tackle

Linebacker

Cornerback

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