For the Ohio State secondary, the 2018 season seems to be beginning in a similar way to last year.
With three players rotating for playing time at cornerback, the Buckeyes had three safeties battling for two starting spots heading into the first game against Indiana last year, one which was already inherited by a veteran in former Ohio State safety Damon Webb.
Now, as the 2018 season is about set to begin on Sept. 1 against Oregon State, the spot Webb had a year ago has now been taken by the player who won the starting job opposite him last season.
In one season, junior safety Jordan Fuller has emerged as one of the primary leaders in the Ohio State locker room, being named a captain on defense.
However, with Fuller moving into the leadership role, the spot next to him is vacant again. And, as it was last season, there has been a significant competition to fill it.
Sophomore safeties Jahsen Wint and Isaiah Pryor have been battling for the spot since spring practice began and has continued throughout fall camp, even into the week before the first game of the season.
When the depth chart was released for Saturday’s game against the Beavers, it seemed Pryor had the advantage, being named as the sole starter opposite Fuller in the season opener. However, defensive coordinator Greg Schiano has said that both Pryor and Wint have earned playing time, saying the competition for the starting safety position has “raised both Isaiah and Jahsen’s game.”
Fuller said both the safeties have grown exponentially compared to the start of spring practices.
“They have both progressed greatly this whole camp,” Fuller said. “I’m really excited for both their years. It’s a tight competition.”
Even though the starting spot beside him does not have a solidified answer, Fuller is confident in the relationship he has with both Wint and Pryor, saying there is already a chemistry built with each of them.
Fuller should know, any starting safety spot is up for grabs at any point during the year. After splitting time with former Ohio State safety Erick Smith to start the 2017 season, Fuller took a firm hold on the starting safety spot, eventually leading the Buckeyes with 70 tackles last season.
With that experience from last year, Schiano knows, even though Pryor might get the first snaps in Saturday’s game against Oregon State, nothing is set in stone.
“I don’t know if that will happen or if all season long those guys will go back and forth,” Schiano said. “But whatever happens, I’ve said this to you guys before, you can’t make it happen, you’ve got to let it happen. Now you encourage and you coach and you teach, but at the end of the day they have to go out there and play their way into a position.”
No matter who is out on the field with the captain against Oregon State, he is confident neither Pryor nor Wint will miss a beat.
“We will see how it all shakes out on Saturday, but I am more than good with whoever is playing,” Fuller said. “More than good.”