The speculation, debate and conversations about Ohio State never end, and Lettermen Row is always ready to dive into the discussions. All week long, senior writer Austin Ward will field topics about the Buckeyes submitted by readers and break down anything that’s on the minds of the Best Damn Fans in the Land. Have a question that needs to be tackled, like the one today about how Ohio State and the wrist of Damon Arnette? Send it in right here — and check back daily for the answers.
What's up with Arnette and Wade's health?
— Benny (@BennyTheJet2017) December 1, 2019
Damon Arnette might not be the heartbeat of the Ohio State defense.
But he’s certainly the mouthpiece. He’s definitely the guy willing to set the tone with toughness, never backing down from a fight or missing a chance to be the hype man when other Buckeyes make plays. And after a couple seasons of criticism, the senior has also turned into a damn-good cornerback and one of the key figures in the turnaround of the Silver Bullets.
And he’s done all of it with a broken wrist.
By now it’s well documented that Arnette was essentially all the way out the door at the end of last season and ready to take his chances at the NFL level. But just imagine what both Arnette and the Buckeyes would have been missing out on if he hadn’t made the choice to return to the program for one more season. For starters, his draft stock has soared. But Ohio State has also been a different team when he’s on the field alongside Jeff Okudah and Shaun Wade at cornerback, and the secondary might not have been nearly as effective without Arnette’s influence.
“I think it’s really commendable what he’s been able to do,” Okudah said. “He’s been playing with a lot of pain, but he’s putting the team before himself. He’s been in a lot of pain this year, and I think for him to go out there and have his best season yet with those circumstances is crazy.
“It’s just a testament to the Brotherhood … and he kind of sets the mentality for the defense — really even the whole team. Without him, I think we’d be a completely different team.”
The Buckeyes won’t have to worry about that when the Big Ten championship starts on Saturday night against Wisconsin, although that wrist injury always bears monitoring as the game progresses. Taking the wrong kind of hit on it can certainly cause a spike in pain that has knocked him out for stretches of a few games, and sources have indicated that Arnette has also dealt with a minor back injury that has occasionally forced him to the sideline.
But neither of those are going to hold him back from continuing to rewrite his legacy or add to his 27 tackles, five passes broken up, interception and forced fumble for the Buckeyes this week. Both Arnette and Wade are expected to be cleared when the availability report is released on Friday, and that’s certainly significant for Ohio State is it looks for a third consecutive Big Ten crown.
For Damon Arnette, that will be something of a bonus ring. And he’s certainly earned it the hard way.
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