Ohio State held its first scrimmage of the spring Saturday. Among the laundry list of media members and recruits in attendance, two players “officially” became members of the football team.
Freshman wide receiver Carnell Tate and sophomore transfer safety Davison Igbinosun performed well enough during Ohio State’s spring practices thus far to have their Black Stripes removed Saturday. Igbinosun and Tate became the third and fourth players this spring to have their Black Stripes removed. They join sophomore offensive linemen George Fitzpatrick and Tegra Tshabola, who lost their Black Stripes Thursday.
The Black Stripe tradition dates back to 2012, when former head coach Urban Meyer brought the idea with him to Columbus after starting it in Gainesville, Florida. Per the tradition, freshmen and transfers wear black stripes on their football helmets. Only after the coaching staff determine they are willing to play for Ohio State are the black stripes removed, signaling the players’ initiation into the football program.
Head coach Ryan Day said Saturday both Tate and Igbinosun showed “competitiveness” during these first few weeks of spring practice.
“Both of those guys, they’ve competed, they’ve showed up to practice right from the first play,” Day said.
Igbinosun is the first transfer of the offseason to have his Black Stripe removed. The Ole Miss transfer started 10 games last season, recording five pass breakups alongside 37 tackles and was named an honorable mention to the Freshman All-American team.
“Appreciate everybody,” Igbinosun said after losing his Black Stripe. “Shout out [Best In America]. Shout out OG [cornerbacks coach Tim] Walt[on]. I want to thank everybody. Go Bucks.”
The Union, New Jersey, native looks to compete for playing time in defensive coordinator Jim Knowles’ five-defensive back defense. Before Igbinosun’s transfer, the Buckeyes only had six scholarship cornerbacks on the roster.
Day said March 7 he thinks Igbinosun will want to compete.
“He’ll have a great opportunity,” Day said. “When you go through eight weeks of an offseason program, it allows guys to build discipline, and camaraderie, and strength and a lot of things. He came in, stepped in and has done a nice job establishing himself early on.”
As for Tate, he became the first freshman wide receiver to lose his Black Stripe this year. With his expanded role in practice due to wideouts third-year Julian Fleming and second-year Emeka Egbuka dealing with injuries, Tate is making the most of his opportunities to shine in practice.
“Shout out B.I.A. for making me better each and every day,” Tate said. “Shout out Zone 6, coach [Brian Hart[line], coach [Devin] Jordan all for pushing me to understand the game at the next level. Go Bucks.”
For comparison, the presumptive Nos. 1 and 2 receivers in second-year Marvin Harrison Jr. and Egbuka lost their black stripes April 6 and 13, 2021, respectively. While Tate will likely not start for Ohio State right away, he will have ample opportunity to show off the skills that ranked him the No. 3 overall wide receiver recruit in the 2023 class, according to 247Suports .
Offensive coordinator Hartline said March 9 the first-year wide receivers are pushing the upperclassmen in front of them, and the incoming class looks forward to the competition.
“I think the freshmen as a whole have a [seriousness] about them. They have a purpose about them,” Hartline said. “They know their plays. They find ways to put good things on film. They have a high standard, so we got to work on not getting down on ourselves at times because they do have a high expectation which is good, but there’s got to be a fine balance.”
For both Tate and Igbinosun, losing the Black Stripe signifies they’re ready to contribute toward the Buckeyes’ quest for another national championship. While their roles on the team are yet to be determined, the Black Stripe removal indicates they’re ready for whatever comes next.
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