Jeff Okudah of Ohio State can be the sixth cornerback to be chosen with the top five since 2000.
“I think this is the right time,” Okudah told Sporting News. “As a freshman, who came and watched Denzel (Ward) run his business and three years later I was almost in the same trouble as him. I just thought it was cool that everything had become a full circle.”
In this case, the full circle means that Okudah did what was expected with Buckeye. He will be the 14th cornerback taken in the first round of school since 1991. The Vinnie Iyer SN project will be taken by Detroit Lions with pick No. 3.
However, Okudah’s togetherness in the State of Ohio is a unique challenge. His mother, Marie, died only six days after he arrived on campus. Five-star Cornerback from Grand Praire, Texas, relies on his classmates, including fellow Texas native J.K. Dobbins and Baron Browning, during that trial period. Off-field support turned out to be as important as Okudah’s success as well as coaching on it.
“That means a lot,” Okudah said. “It was very big for me at the time because I did not feel like I was homesick. I had friends who I could talk to about anything. JK experienced the same situation. I could keep my head straight.”
Okudah stayed focused, learned from defensive back coach Kerry Coombs in his first year and maintained that lesson with co-defensive coordinator Jeff Hafley until 2019. The State of Ohio is one of the soccer factories where training reps sometimes count the most, given the talent elite on campus.
“You don’t really get as much confidence in the game as you get from training, at least for me,” he said. “Our training almost feels like a game. When you fight our offense, you already know where you are now.”
Okudah playing in every game as a new player, working to the starting role. That’s when he began to hear more from the other cornerbacks in the long line. Ward, Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, Bradley Roby, Eli Apple and Kendall Sheffield are all active in the NFL now.
“This is crazy,” he said. “After you become a corn starter at Ohio State, you have enough hope to become a first-round player and then go to the NFL. They are a strict brotherhood. They always give instructions and give tips. It inspires the next person to kind of follow in the same suit . “
In 2019, that would mean turning over a defense that allows 404 yards per match in 2018. The defensive defender sent a message before the season.
“They have a video montage of DB from all the DBs in the video,” Okudah said. “They kind of tell us that we need to bring the second one back to the elite level.”
Ohio State cut the number to 260 yards per game. Okudah and Chase Young’s defensive defense – projected to be No. pick. 2 – it is the Americans who lead that defense. Okudah is considered one of the best cover cornerbacks in the design, but he believes that physical force will separate it at the next level. That mindset began in the weight room with strength trainer Mickey Marotti.
“The philosophy is that you want a tough, physical and manageable angle,” Okudah said. “Coach Mick, he will tell us immediately before the match, ‘Don’t go back to the facility if you are ashamed of the game running with your tackles.’ When you hear that, you know you have to chase him. “
Cornerback is rare in the top five, but that’s the lesson that makes Okudah a safer one in the NFL Draft 2020. Okudah impressed in the NFL Combine, and even finished his training after falling awkwardly.
He will likely join the elite cornerback list, and his next hope is to become a Pro Bowl caliber player. Those are the corners of the standard Ohio State owned.
“Never lose competitive advantage,” Okudah said. “I believe that competition makes the best of everyone, so it’s about never losing that edge.”
Okudah worked with Old Spice on their #NFLDraftRedCarpet campaign, which will include virtual videos on the Thursday before the first round. “I won’t dress too much, but I won’t sweat either,” Okudah said. That opportunity allowed the prospect to experience the NFL Draft even though he could not be in Las Vegas because of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States. “They have made the best of their experience, and I’m just grateful,” Okudah said. “To get the chance to make this work.”
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