April 1, 2013

Roby sets expectations for final season

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- From an eligibility standpoint, Bradley Roby is only a junior. But that doesn't mean that he's going to wait until the end of the 2013 season to make his intentions about his future known.

"This is going to be my last year. Everybody knows that. I feel like I am a senior," the Ohio State cornerback said. "Hopefully they'll let me do the senior traditions and things like that."

Now in his fourth year with the Buckeyes after redshirting in 2010, Roby had the opportunity to enter the upcoming NFL Draft, following the breakout season that he enjoyed in 2012. The Suwanee, Ga. native recorded 63 tackles, two interceptions, and broke up 17 passes during a sophomore campaign that could've landed him in the first or second round of April's draft.

Ultimately, Roby opted to return to school for a fourth and final season in Columbus, siting unfinished business in his college career.

"The NFL can wait," Roby said. "I feel like after another year, I'll be even more ready."

The return of Roby provided a big boost to an Ohio State defense that was already losing seven starters to graduation from its 2012 squad. The 5-foot-11, 193-pounder is hopeful that he- alongside returning starting safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett- can provide stability to the Buckeyes' secondary this season.

"I don't think we're going to miss a beat," Roby said. "If we have leadership from the secondary, I feel like everything's going to take care of itself."

According to OSU cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs, developing that leadership has been Roby's top priority throughout this offseason. Never one to hide his emotion with the media, Roby is now trying to bring that vocality to his teammates.

"Every player's got goals in my room, their name, their picture, they're specific to them. The No. 1 goal for him is to be a verbal force in the team room," Coombs said of Roby. "That is what he's doing. In the meeting room, he's teaching those young guys."

Roby also stated that he'd like to be less selfish this season, whereas a year ago, he felt as though he put individual goals ahead of his team's. Coombs hasn't seen that change quite yet, although he also doesn't think that's necessarily a bad thing.

"I think all of the great corners are 'me-guys,'" Coombs said with a laugh "I think if you throw a hamburger in the room, he's coming out with it."

While he's still Ohio State's top corner, Roby's willingness to teach his understudies could pay dividends for the third-year starter in other areas. With more players who are potentially capable of playing significant snaps on defense, Roby wants to remain more durable and versatile, in hopes of remaining in the No. 1 kick returner spot that he currently occupies on the Buckeyes' depth chart.

Ultimately, however, it is Roby's defense that will not only continue to establish himself as one of college football's greats, but will improve the draft stock that he returned to school to raise. Never short on confidence, Roby is already listing the Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back) and Chuck Bednarik Award (best defensive player) as two of his top goals for the 2013 season.

Should either or both of those trophies find their way into Roby's trophy case at season's end, any doubts that he had about returning for his swan song in Columbus will surely be erased.

"At first, everybody goes through that stuff, having second thoughts and things and a little bit of regret sometimes," Roby said. "At the end of the day, I made my decision and I'm happy with it. And I'm glad I took that step, because it's just going to make me better. It's just going to enhance me in all ways."


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