August 20, 2010
Howard working for time at corner
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State reserve cornerback Travis Howard has yet to find the opportunity to show his talents on a consistent basis.
That's because Howard has been constantly slowed by minor, yet nagging, injuries over the course of the past year. Now, as a sophomore, he may have his chance.
Ironically enough, Howard has gotten his chance due to minor injuries to starting cornerbacks Chimdi Chekwa and Devon Torrence, both of which are nursing minor hamstring issues.
With both Chekwa and Torrence missing time early in the week, Howard was the first reserve cornerback on the field to work with the first team defense at cornerback.
Howard, who is now considered the No. 3 cornerback for the Buckeyes, impressed cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson.
"I have seen a lot of fight, and that's what I like," Johnson said of Howard. "He has been nicked up but this time last year he probably would've sat out a couple plays.
"He's been fighting to get himself back in there so that has been the biggest plus," he continued. "He's another kid that is very smart and we have to rely on and he's done a nice job so far. We're excited (about him)."
Last season as a redshirt freshman Howard got limited time on special teams - recording two tackles in 10 games - but he missed the spring with a shoulder injury.
Howard presumably would have had the opportunity to get on the field quite a bit in the spring with Chekwa also missing time with a hip injury. Instead, Donnie Evege got the reps in the spring.
But his teammates have been impressed with what they have seen out of him.
"I have seen what I had expected from him," Chekwa said of Howard. "I expect Howard to be a great corner, not just a good one. I expect him to be able to play man coverage well and do great things in the future. What I have seen from him is just what I expected."
Added Torrence: "I am glad Travis is getting the opportunity to get out there because this is football and you never know what can happen. If something does happen we're going to need someone to get in there (and contribute)."
Torrence feels good, changes number
Torrence may have been missing time with a hamstring injury early in the week, but he isn't too concerned with how long he will miss while it heals.
Ohio State has seen some players miss a long time due to nagging hamstring injuries - see running back Jaamal Berry in 2009 - but Torrence has taken it slow and expects to participate for the remainder of fall camp.
"I am feeling really good, really," Torrence said. "I just have a little bit of a hamstring tweak. For me especially this is my last year and I don't want to go into the season with any serious injuries or problems right now. I am taking it easy and making sure I get good mental reps and understand what's going on and come back and really get after it."
Torrence signed a professional baseball contract with the Houston Astros and has missed two summers of Buckeye football while playing in the organization's farm system. Torrence maintains he still loves baseball, but fully committed himself to Ohio State last summer before beating out Andre Amos for the job last year.
However, Torrence has only one year of starting experience for the Buckeyes, but Johnson has noticed his understanding of the game increase as of late.
"He hasn't played a lot of defense. He has done a nice job studying," Johnson said. "He has always been a workhorse and that is what we have been fortunate with. He has done a nice job of getting a feel of exactly what he is supposed to do and where his help is."
Torrence wore No. 10 last year but decided to switch it to No. 1 for his senior season. The senior mentioned he has always wanted the No. 1, but now felt it was the right time to make a change after adjusting his attitude in the off-season.
"It is just my last year of college football and I really just wanted to do it how I wanted to do it. This was the number I always wanted when I came in here," Torrence said. "I would have switched it last year but I wasn't really in the position to do it because I hadn't really played yet. I just feel like I am changing and growing mature mentally and physically and I figured, Why not change it?"
Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.
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