BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — With just a year of experience at the college level, safety Jordan Fuller lined up with the starters for Ohio State’s first defensive series of the season.
Fuller has been embroiled in a battle with Erick Smith to win the starting spot vacated by Malik Hooker, who left the university early to enter the NFL draft.
On Tuesday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference, coach Urban Meyer expressed a desire to have Smith and Fuller split reps at strong safety.
“I think they’re both going to play because to answer your question, there’s been not, in my mind, that much separation between the two,” Meyer said.
Smith was joined in the third level of the defense by free safety Damon Webb, who is the only returning starter from last season’s defensive backfield. Cornerbacks Marshon Lattimore and Gareon Conley also left for the NFL draft in the spring and were selected in the first round.
Though Smith has never started for Ohio State, he has played in 33 games and been on the field for 162 defensive snaps. He has 35 tackles, an interception and a pass breakup in his three seasons as a Buckeye.
Fuller, who hails from Old Tappan, New Jersey, played in all 13 games as a freshman last season, but mostly played on the Buckeyes’ special teams unit. The former four-star prospect played 71 snaps on defense last season and picked up 15 tackles.