Bradley Roby is no freshman, but this preseason he is living the old idiom about how first-year players should be seen and not heard – at least as far as the media is concerned.
For some players, that would not be strange, but it is notable for the junior cornerback because he has developed a reputation as one of the most loquacious Ohio State football players of at least the past few years.
Roby’s media blackout is no mystery, though, and no one looks at it as a slight on the people who follow the team.
While it has not been expressly stated, the general assumption is that Roby has not been made available to reporters as part of the punishment for an incident that occurred at a bar in Bloomington, Ind., last month. That is also why he was seen running with the second team during the only practice that has been open to the media during camp, although the fact he was not just a regular reserve was evident as he shadowed some of the team’s best receivers during scrimmage action.
OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs did not specify the type of punishment Roby is facing, and head coach Urban Meyer has said he is still gathering information on the incident, but neither has complained about how Roby has taken his medicine so far.
“Bradley Roby does his business like a professional,” Coombs said. “He’s incredible in our meeting room. We scrimmaged (Saturday) and we played a veteran and three true freshmen and he is the leader by far. He teaches. He communicates. He puts his arm around those young guys and he is talking them through how to play the position.”
Having a player available to give his perspective on top of what the coach can teach the youngsters is a valuable asset.
“Those kids are I believe getting the benefit of both perspective every day in the meeting room, and I appreciate that,” Coombs said. “He is working. We talk every day about how to improve his craft, how to become better at what he does. It’s not OK to be just as good as he was last year. I gave him a list of things today that we’re going to work on this week and I believe he’ll work very hard on those things. And I believe he’ll produce. At the end of the week he’ll be better than he is today.”
Asked how he is approaching Roby’s availability for the season opener against Buffalo Coombs instead talked of the positives to be gleaned from Roby’s apparent demotion.
“My approach is to coach him really hard every day at whatever he does,” Coombs said. “I think there’s great value for all of our guys whenever you can go against the best the offense has to offer. If we’re going ones against twos, who would that be? That would be Philly (Brown) and Devin (Smith), right? Maybe I can get some work in with the twos. And at the corner position with it being an individual skill set it doesn’t matter if you’re a one or a two, and I don’t think it matters in the totality of our defense. What matters is that you line up on that play and do your job to the best of your ability.”
Junior Doran Grant appears to have locked down the starting field cornerback spot after a strong spring, but Coombs would not reveal who has fallen in line behind him or who might replace Roby at boundary corner if the All-America candidate is sidelined to start the season.
True freshman Gareon Conley was in the latter spot with the first team during the open practice while classmate Eli Apple joined Roby on the second team for the majority of the scrimmage snaps. Sophomore Armani Reeves, redshirt freshman Tyvis Powell and true freshman Cam Burrows also figure to find themselves in the mix to make the two-deep before the month is over.
“Armani Reeves has had a phenomenal offseason,” Coombs said. “He’s eager and ready to go, and then those three freshmen are going to be very talented players. At Ohio State we expect to play all of those kids before the end of the year.”