COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Safeties are the players farthest removed from the action.
Yet they’ll be in the middle of Ohio State’s hopes this fall.
Starters Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett account for 50 percent of the seniors on the defensive side for the Buckeyes. They’ve been through a lot, with three coaches in their college careers, weathering a dreary 6-7 record two years ago and playing important roles in the 12-0 bounce-back season of 2012.
With most of the defensive front seven gone, they’re being asked to not only be major contributors on the field but also to be instructors for all of the younger guys stepping into starting roles for the first time.
”It’s on our shoulders,” Barnett said. ”Me and Christian, being seniors … it’s a duty for us. We’ve got to stand up to the challenge. Everybody is going to be looking to us.”
For a young defense, the two wizened veterans in the secondary are key.
”I like the leadership in the back end of our defense, that’s Christian Bryant, that’s C.J. Barnett,” coach Urban Meyer said. ”I’m real pleased with that.”
A quick look at last year’s stats underscores their importance.
They are among the top four returning tacklers from a year ago. Bryant was second (to returning linebacker Ryan Shazier) with 70 tackles, including one interception, a fumble recovery and 12 passes broken up.
Continue Reading: Buckeyes counting on a lot from Bryant, Barnett