Urban Meyer instituted a tradition at Ohio State University when he became the Buckeyes’ head coach in 2012. Every freshman or first-year Buckeye starts with a black stripe on his helmet. Losing that stripe is a big step toward joining the Buckeyes brotherhood.
“I wanted to put them through a ritual to become a member of the team, but not allow hazing,” Meyer told The Columbus Dispatch in 2012. “They had to earn it the right way, not through hazing and silly, dangerous stuff. They had to earn the right on the football field and by being accountable.”
To lose the black stripe, freshmen have to do the right things and impress the coaches. Well, the first black stripe of 2017 has already been removed. Defensive back Kendall Sheffield is the first in his class to reach that milestone.
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Sheffield is not a normal first-year player. He was a 5-star recruit out of Fort Bend Marshall High School (Missouri City, Texas) who originally played at Alabama for head coach Nick Saban. After failing to get the playing time he wanted in Tuscaloosa, he transferred to Blinn Community College in Brenham, Texas, and became the nation’s top junior college corner. In nine games, Sheffield had two interceptions, two forced fumbles, 31 tackles and 11 pass breakups.
Now going into his first year at Ohio State as a junior, Sheffield has already lost his black stripe, the fastest player in Buckeye history to do so.
The old record was held by wide receiver Austin Mack, who lost his stripe on March 31 last year.
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The 6-foot, 188-pound corner can credit his talent and hard work for losing the stripe so quickly, but it wasn’t just his hard work during practice that earned him the recognition. Sheffield has been working with elite footwork and position trainer Rischad Whitfield, better known as the “Footwork King” on Twitter.
In the videos below, watch Sheffield work on his footwork, hip turns and catching the ball at the highest point, all important skills needed to be a successful defensive back. Don’t be surprised if Sheffield makes a name for himself during this college football season.