Roby Still Weighing Options, Buckeyes Expect Him Back
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — If there was one play that truly embodied the essence of the 2012 Buckeyes, it almost assuredly came from cornerback Bradley Roby.
Photo by Jim Davidson
There were plenty of other plays to choose from – season-altering plays, game-changing plays, awe-inspiring players – but it was Roby who made the one Ohio State needed to avoid its first loss of the season at Wisconsin.
And, of course, it came when we least expected it.
From just about every vantage point, it looked like Wisconsin fullback Derek Watt had the game-tying touchdown in his hands. He should have walked into the end zone, but instead, Roby appeared, seemingly out of nowhere, to break up the pass at the goal line.
The thing about Roby is, he did come out of nowhere. He was responsible for covering Jared Abbrederis, Wisconsin’s best receiver, on the inside route, but suddenly realized Watt was running all alone down the left sideline.
The Badgers would eventually score the tying touchdown – though not on that drive – but Roby’s deflection came with less than six minutes on the clock, and all but ensured that Wisconsin would not have enough time for two scores.
The Buckeyes eventually prevailed in overtime, but it’s plays like that which have garnered Roby serious consideration from the National Football League, despite the fact he is only a sophomore at Ohio State.
Roby redshirted back in 2010 after the Georgia native switched his commitment from Vanderbilt to Ohio State less than a month before National Signing Day. That decision proved to be a fruitful one for both Roby and the Buckeyes.
“It just shows me that I'm on the right path following my plan,” Roby said.
“This is all part of the plan that I came to Ohio State with. Just the fact that there is discussion is good for me, just to know that I'm doing things that I'm supposed to be doing.”
Roby earned a starting spot on the OSU defense as a redshirt freshman last season, but it wasn’t until Kerry Coombs arrived that he really blossomed into one of the better players at his position in all of college football.
“Just to look at the progress he's made from March ‘til November,” Coombs said.
“But even September to November, gives you an indication of how good he can be.”
Coombs couldn’t hide the fact he was immediately captivated by Roby’s athleticism and natural ability, projecting that he would be a first-round NFL draft pick some day before he ever coached the 5-11 speedster in an actual game.
But some day is not today, at least according to his coach.
“I don't think he's ready for that yet,” said Coombs, who admitted having conversations with Roby about his future during Ohio State’s 12-0 season.
“I think his best days are ahead of him. I think he's going to be a great player. I think he needs more time, more seasoning.”
Coombs would love to have his top corner back for another year, especially considering the Buckeyes are losing fellow first-team All-Big Ten cornerback Travis Howard.
Urban Meyer admitted he was a little concerned about the cornerback position heading into next year, but seemed to indicate they would only be replacing one of the starters from their undefeated season in 2012.
“I think he still has things that he wants to accomplish,” Coombs added.
“And I don't think the least of those things is being part of a team that has a chance to play for a national championship. So I would expect Bradley to be here and to be around, and I'm looking forward to coaching him another year.”
The Buckeyes are losing six players from their 2012 defense, including senior captains John Simon, Zach Boren and Etienne Sabino. They lose Howard and safety Orhian Johnson in the secondary, along with Garrett Goebel and Nathan Williams up front.
Photo by Jim Davidson
They could also be forced to part ways with junior defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins.
Both Hankins and Roby still have decisions to make before the January 13th deadline. The same goes for tailback Carlos Hyde, who could decide to cash in his chips after rushing for 970 yards and 16 touchdowns in his first season in Meyer’s new offense.
Initial indications are that Hankins is the most likely from that group to leave early, especially considering he is being projected as a top 15 overall pick in next April’s NFL Draft.
Roby and Hyde are both projected to go outside the first round, which means it might be a little easier to convince them to come back for another year and a run a BCS National Championship in year two under Urban Meyer.
“Next year would definitely be a good incentive, a good reason to come back,” Roby acknowledged.
“Who wouldn't want to play for a national championship? That's definitely a good goal for our team, and maybe next year we can get there.”
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