Relative to safeties, the cornerback position is awash in experience.
Kevin Peterson...Ashton Lampkin...Miketavius Jones...
When you turn to the list for safety, you get...
The same Larry Stephens that was supposed to run out of eligibility, but was granted a redshirt due to a season ending injury against Mississippi State in 2013. Stephens has played in 37 games since 2010, so experience is not an issue for him. Jordan Sterns saw action in all but one game last season as a freshman, but until I started working on this post I didn't even know his name. The same can be said for the majority of the safety contingent, as I'm more familiar with the incoming recruits than I am with most of the players on the existing roster for spring:
|22||Flowers, Tre||S||6-3||180||RS FR|
Senior Lyndell Johnson, who made the move from LB to his more natural position of safety in 2013 and was expected to start, left the program for personal reasons. Even without his departure OSU focused on defensive backs in recruiting, bringing in 3 safeties, 2 cornerbacks, and 2 "athletes" that will most likely be converted to one of those positions. JUCO transfer D'Nerius Antione and freshman Dylan Harding will have a major opportunity to contribute immediately when they arrive this summer. RS freshman Tre Flowers has already been mentioned by Gundy during spring drills.
There's going to be lots of youth and inexperience at safety...the Cowboys rotated four main players in 2013 who are all gone...so coaches and fans alike will need to be really patient. Expect some "bumps" and "hiccups" in 2014. Out of 226 tackles registered by a safety in 2013, OSU returns 16.
While the departure of Justin Gilbert is a pretty big loss, as noted above the cornerbacks are not so bereft of experience. Out of 134 tackes by a cornerback in 2013, the Cowboys return a little less than half (62). Kevin Peterson was the regular starter opposite Gilbert, and Jones and Lampkin saw plenty of playing time. Still, with the same need as the safeties to rotate 4 players, DC Glenn Spencer will need to find that 4th body, and there will be plenty of young players from which to choose.
|5||Morrow, Jerel||CB||6-0||180||RS FR|
|2||Curry, Darius||CB||6-1||190||RS FR|
|25||Lewis, Taylor||CB||6-0||180||RS FR|
Outside of the previously mentioned returning corners, Darius Curry is the only well known name. Morrow was the #1 athlete out of Kansas when he signed with OSU.
A bit of a wild card in this are the "athletes" that signed with the Cowboys:
|Trey Roberts||ATH (?)||6'1''||190||HS|
Both played in the defensive backfield in HS (as well as offense), and it sounds like Roberts will be slotted in at CB while Richards will be given a try at safety.
The bottom line is that, while CB does bring back some experience, both this position and safety will have to suffer through some growing pains and hope that the youngsters mature quickly.
2014 could be a rocky season for the backside of OSU's defense.