- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Always tempted by the chance to play for a championship, Bradley Roby apparently didn't have enough incentive to walk away from the opportunity to do it with Ohio State next fall.
According to the Columbus Dispatch on Saturday night, the dynamic athlete is returning to the Buckeyes for one more season after flirting with a potential jump to the NFL after breaking out as a redshirt sophomore and becoming one of the most productive cornerbacks in the country.
After breaking up 19 passes to lead the Big Ten despite missing a game due to a nagging shoulder surgery, Roby was integral in the second-half defensive surge that helped Ohio State finish off its unbeaten season and boosted his own stock as a potential professional in the process. Eligible to leave the program early after redshirting during his first year on campus, Roby admitted having conversations with the coaching staff about his options well before the season was over.
But after spending more than a month deliberating after helping the Buckeyes finish off a perfect season with a win over rival Michigan, Roby ultimately made the choice that was largely expected since he talked openly about his desire to compete for a national title now that the program's postseason sanctions are in the rearview mirror. And he'll also have another full year to impress the scouts who have already taken notice of him by now.
“I don’t think he’s ready [to leave] yet,” cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said in November. “I think his best days are ahead of him, I think he’s going to be a great player, but I think he needs more time, more seasoning. Even just to look at the progress he’s made, certainly, from March until November, but even from September to November gives you an indication of how good he can be.
“I still think he has things he wants to accomplish, and I don’t think the least of those things is being a part of a team that has a chance to play for a national championship. So, I would expect Bradley to be here and be around, and I’m looking forward to coaching him another year.”
The Buckeyes will get that chance now, and Roby's presence will be a significant boost for a unit that was already going to have to replace seven defensive starters from coach Urban Meyer's first season.
With defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins forgoing his senior season with the Buckeyes, the entire defensive line requires an overhaul. Linebackers Zach Boren and Etienne Sabino leave two holes at the second level, and cornerback Travis Howard left a void opposite Roby after the two formed the best tandem in the Big Ten last season.
But Roby will give Ohio State a proven, lockdown defender in coverage, and with two more veterans coming back at safety in Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett, the secondary should be in good hands and doesn't figure to leave much to worry about heading into spring practice and training camp with Doran Grant likely to fill out the rotation.
Even if the Buckeyes might have anticipated a return for Roby, it wasn't a certainty until Saturday. But a player who wanted to play for trophies with Ohio State helped it take a big step toward doing it with one decision.
"I mean, who wouldn’t want to play for a national championship?" Roby said in November. "That’s definitely a good goal for our team, and maybe next year we can get there.”
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