Ohio State football: Roby sets high bar for himself this season

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Bradley Roby didn’t return for his junior season at Ohio State just to play another year of college football. He wants to leave his mark.

“I feel like I am getting ready for the best year I’ve ever had,” said the cornerback, who led the nation in pass breakups last year with 19, including two he intercepted. “Every year you have to get better, so I feel like this year is going to be amazing and people are going to see a lot more plays from me and from our team.

“I’m so excited, so ready. We gave you all a commercial last year (with a 12-0 record). This next year is going to be the movie, so it’s going to be crazy.”

Roby has set a lofty personal goal, but one he doesn’t think can be attained unless the team — the defense, especially, which must replace seven starters — achieves big things.

“The Thorpe Award (which goes to the nation’s top defensive back), I feel like I should have been in the finals last year, but I can’t really control stuff like that,” Roby said. “That’s definitely on my list. But I really want to be the defensive player (of the year), the Bednarik. I definitely want that one.

“But it starts with leadership. I have to show leadership to make our whole defense better, because you can’t be a Bednarik winner on a bad defense. … I’m worried about everybody else first, and all my accolades that are out there are going to fall in place.”

Such a statement also shows that Roby is paying attention to the goals listed under his name on the wall in the cornerbacks’ meeting room, put there by position coach Kerry Coombs.

“The No. 1 goal for him is to be a verbal force on the team, and that is what he is doing,” Coombs said. “In the meeting room, first of all, he is teaching those young guys.”

On the field, Coombs withheld Roby from a scrimmage on Saturday but had him help coach the younger players on the sideline.

“It helps him develop as a player; you have to have something to say,” Coombs said. “It helps him develop as a leader, which is important to us and important to him.”

If there is a significant amount of me coming from Roby as he explains his grand plans, it is to be expected, Coombs said.

“I think all the great corners are ‘me’ guys,” Coombs said. “I think if you throw a hamburger in the (meeting) room, he’s coming out with it.

“He wants to be the guy. (Defensive line coach) Mike Vrabel tells guys all the time that all the great corners he has ever known are ‘me’ guys. I think, off the field, be a good, humble man. On the field, be a ‘me’ guy. I’m good with that.”

In addition to his pass defense, Roby blocked a punt against Michigan State and returned three kickoffs late in the season after a sore shoulder healed.

His all-around standout play and speed (4.31 seconds for 40 yards) had him seriously considering entering the NFL draft after last season. Having redshirted his freshman year in 2010 before starting the past two seasons, he is a junior in eligibility, but “I definitely feel like a senior,” Roby said.

“This is going to be my last year; everybody knows that,” he said, “So I feel like I am a senior, and I want to act like that. Hopefully, they will let me do the senior traditions … but I’m not really worried about that. I’m worried about what’s going on out here on the field right now, spring practice.”

tmay@dispatch.com

@Tim_MAYsports

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