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The Football Fever: Martell gets good reviews after first scrimmage

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COLUMBUS -- The Buckeyes worked through practice No. 8 which was also a closed scrimmage with freshman quarterback Tate Martell getting good reviews for his agility. The team was on the practice fields for about two hours and scrimmaged for about half of the practice.

Sunday will be a mandatory “off” day for the players, who will take time to move into their preseason camp home - the Hyatt Place - Sunday evening.

Defensive coordinator and safeties coach Greg Schiano met with the media following practice and talked about his unit, which is comprised of nine players, returns just three letterwinners but does boast some experience with Damon Webb a returning, 13-game starter, Erick Smith a veteran of 33 games played and Jordan Fuller having played in all 13 games last season as a true freshman.

Those three are at the head of that nine-member unit that also features red-shirt freshman Wayne Davis and Jahsen Wint and true freshmen safeties Brendon White and Isaiah Pryor. Webb and Smith are both seniors.

Webb has played in 28 games and was one of the top five tacklers on the team in 2016 with 57 total tackles, including 32 solo stops. He added an interception - a 36-yard “pick-six” for the first touchdown of the game against Nebraska - and had three pass break-ups during a junior campaign that included honorable mention all-Big Ten Conference honors.

Smith has 35 career tackles and one interception to his credit and has played 162 snaps on defense entering 2017. Webb, notably, actually played more defensive snaps last year than consensus All-American and first-round NFL Draft pick Malik Hooker: 810 plays to 808.

Greg Schiano and his two seniors met with the media following the practice on Saturday. Among the topics addressed by Schiano and his thoughts

Playing time among the safeties: “We are headed toward three guys playing. That’s our plan, and who else can jump into the mix? That’s what we have to figure out.”

Finding another Malik Hooker: “I don’t know that yet. That’s what we have to find out. But then again, we didn’t know we had that in Malik. We had an idea, but until you do it you don’t know. We sure work hard at it to develop that [sweeper] skill. Stretching your range is something we work very hard at and it’s a daily process.

Rotating safeties like the corners last year: “We would like to be able to if we could. I’m not sure we would rotate Damon Webb. He kind of holds it all together back there.”

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