Caleb Downs Ohio State Buckeyes Safety

Confident Caleb Downs Has ‘Been Awesome’ For Buckeyes

There wasn’t much doubt from Ohio State’s side of things that transfer safety Caleb Downs was going to be able to come in and hit the ground running.

There wasn’t much doubt from Downs’ side either.

After an extremely successful freshman year as a starter for Alabama in 2023, Caleb Downs’ bonafides had bonafides.

Now after seeing him through 10 spring practices, new Ohio State safeties coach Matt Guerrieri’s expectations have been confirmed.

“He’s really special,” Guerrieri said on Wednesday. “He’s really special. First off, he puts the work in. Talent is a God-given thing, but the discipline and skill that you develop over time in your life, he’s been able to do that. He’s a really disciplined guy. He’s the same every day from a mentality standpoint. He’s the same every day from a work ethic standpoint. So you see that translate to the field. He’s probably in the film room more than anybody on the entire defense. And he puts that type of effort in and he’s done a great job of pushing the envelope with the other guys to make sure the standard is that way.”

Downs is a playmaker on the field, but that only happens after the kind of preparation that makes the game look easy.

It’s a coach’s dream, but the hours can be long.

“His preparation is so high level, he challenges you as a coach to be an elite teacher because he’s gonna be on his game,” Guerrieri said. “It’s like coaching a professional player. He understands the concepts of the game so well. He’s put so much time into it. As a coach, you better be matching or equaling that. Going above and beyond that. Because if not, he’s going to be a step ahead of the coach.”

Caleb Downs is only a true sophomore but he is viewed as a veteran. The outside already sees him as an established star, but the quest for improvement never stops. This spring and summer he will be growing his strengths and decreasing his weaknesses. That process takes place on the field and in the film room.

Plenty of long hours.

Though Downs bristles at Guerrieri’s notion that he is at the facility more than Guerrieri.

“First of all, Coach is lying. Here is here all day, no matter what,” Downs said with a smile. “But for me, myself, ever since I was a kid my dad always instilled in me and my brother to work hard and just be around football. Be around what we want to be good at.”

It is incredibly rare for a true freshman to have the kind of season Caleb Downs did last year at a major football program. He led the Crimson Tide with 107 tackles and was a First-Team All-SEC selection.

It was the kind of year that nobody should expect from a freshman, but now expectations are part of the deal. There is no flying under the radar after that kind of debut.

Not that Downs is worried about the attention or the task at hand.

“At the end of the day you have to have full confidence in yourself,” he said. “You have to have full confidence in the ability that God gave you. So last year, it wasn’t, ‘I think I can do it.’ It was really like, ‘God put me here to do it, so let’s do it.’ There’s nothing else to think about. So I would say it’s kind of the same thing [this year]. Just want to harp on the things that I could have done better last year. So I mean, it’s the same type of mentality. Gotta go in and prove myself to myself again and not to anybody else and play my game.”

Caleb Downs’ game is a unique thing, which has Matt Guerrieri very excited about the next couple of years.

“It’s been awesome to be able to push each other,” Guerrier said. “To make each other better. He’s got a great understanding and feel for the game. He’s a great young man. The work ethic is really high level. So every value that you would look for — not just a skill or intangibles — but who is the person, I can’t say enough about who Caleb Downs is. He’s been awesome.”

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