- Austin Ward, ESPN Staff Writer
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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking at the players who boosted their stock with the program the most during those 15 workouts. The offense went first last week, and it's now followed up with a handful of defenders who will be in line for heavy workloads this fall.
No. 5: Tyvis Powell
Who: The defensive back spent his first year on campus on the sideline and in the crosshairs of position coach Kerry Coombs, who peppered Powell every day during his redshirt season with tough love designed to bring out his best and develop him into a contributor in the secondary. The results appear to be paying off more quickly than the Buckeyes might have hoped, with Powell claiming a first-team role in the nickel and dime packages at the start of camp and holding on to it all the way to the end. Powell brings intriguing size for a cornerback at 6-foot-3, with length that can be a nuisance for offenses in the passing game and enough strength to come up and support against the run, as well.
Spring progress: The first steps forward apparently were taken during the offseason conditioning program, where Powell's work ethic and physical development stood out enough for the defensive coaching staff to reward him with a prominent role on the first day of practice, despite not playing him for a single down last fall. Powell still has room to grow in coverage, but his usefulness against both the pass and the run, and Ohio State's plan to play with its nickel personnel more often, figures to give him plenty of chances to make his mark.
Jockeying for position: There might not be a position with more competition than the Star spot in the nickel, given the depth of talent in the secondary -- both on campus already and arriving in the fall from Urban Meyer's second signing class with the Buckeyes. Veteran safety Corey "Pittsburgh" Brown, cornerback Armani Reeves and recovering sophomore Devan Bogard all will be pushing for action, just for starters. And a group of incoming freshmen led by safety Vonn Bell could also raise the bar for Powell if he's going to stick around with the first unit.
He said it: "Tyvis, I feel like his confidence is through the roof right now. He's making plays every day in practice. He's a tall, long guy who can make plays in the nickel right now, and I feel like he's stepping up and doing a pretty good job for us." -- senior safety Christian Bryant
Closing number: There weren't all that many chances to make a play coming Powell's way in the spring game, but he capitalized on the handful that did with three tackles. The redshirt freshman also chipped in a pass breakup, one of only three recorded for the Gray team against an offense led by Braxton Miller.
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- With spring practice in the books and Ohio State heading into its offseason conditioning program, BuckeyeNation is looking at the players who boosted their stock with the program the most during those 15 workouts.