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Ohio University safety Tariq Drake (#11) is grabbed by Buffalo's wide receiver Jamari Gassett (#18) in the second quarter of the match held at UB Stadium in Amherst, NY, ending in the Bobcats' 27-26 loss on Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021.

Football: Get to know Ohio's secondary

With Ohio’s struggles on defense last season, what can fans expect from the defense this year? 

The Post has already broken down the defensive line and linebackers, but here is a look at Ohio’s secondary entering the 2022 season: 

Who’s Gone 

Ohio will be missing safeties Jarren Hampton and Alex Wolff, who were both redshirt fifth years last season. Both finished in the top seven in total tackles for Ohio and played in the majority of games. 

Cornerback Jamal Hudson will also not be returning. Hudson played in seven games for the Bobcats, recording a season-high six tackles during Ohio’s first game against Syracuse on Sept. 4, 2021. 

Who’s Back 

Many of Ohio’s most trusted safeties are returning this year, including Alvin Floyd and Tariq Drake. 

Floyd played in all 12 games last season, finishing third in total tackles with 62. He was a key part of Ohio’s defense, and it will be relying on him again in 2022. Now that he is a redshirt fifth year, he is one of Ohio’s most experienced players and will be a leader for the rest of the defense. 

The Bobcats will also be depending on Drake more heavily this season. Similarly to Floyd, Drake played in every game and totaled 48 tackles, 2.5 of which were for a loss. Drake is quick on his feet, which helped him earn three interceptions last season, the most on the team. 

At the end of the season, Drake was named to the All-MAC Third Team Defense. He was one of just two Bobcats to be named to an All-MAC team. 

Who’s New 

Over the offseason, Ohio picked up transfer cornerback Zack Sanders from Missouri State. The graduate student played in 11 games in 2021 and started six of them. He finished with 23 total tackles, including 15 solo tackles and 4 pass break-ups. Ohio will take all the help it can get on defense, and Sanders is a nice addition to the team. 

Ohio is also adding a handful of freshman cornerbacks including Chris Kammerer, Mekah Ryder and Austin Brawley. Brawley was set to play at Kent State until July when he decommitted and committed to Ohio instead. 

Also new to Ohio is safety Adonis Williams Jr., who transferred from the Naval Academy Prep School where he played four games. 

Position Outlook 

With Floyd and Drake returning, Ohio’s secondary will be in decent shape. Head coach Tim Albin and defensive coordinator Spence Nowinsky know they can trust those two to make stops and lead the backfield. 

The bigger question will be what Ohio’s new players in the secondary can do, and how big of an impact can they make on the team. Once Ohio sees what new players such as Kammerer, Ryder, and Brawley can accomplish during games, it will have a clearer idea of what the secondary will look like for the remainder of the season. 


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