Ohio State linebacker Ryan Shazier discusses last year's undefeated season, areas where he can improve, and the team's biggest question mark on defense.
Buckeyes Can't Get Comfortable With Life as Favorites May 16, 2013 Source: The Ozone - There aren't many ways to better a 12-0 record for the Buckeyes. In fact there are only two ways – there is 13-0, and there is 14-0. There will also soon be 15-0, but we don't have to worry about that quite yet.
Fans are already looking at 14-0 with wide, wanting eyes, like a hungry dog window-shopping at a steakhouse.
But it's not just the fans who have high expectations. When the preseason magazines start rolling out in the next week or so, the Buckeyes are going to be in everybody's top five.
There are already national pundits pitting Ohio State against Alabama in the BCS National Championship. When the polls are finally released later this summer, it is expected that the Buckeyes will be #2 behind the Crimson Tide.
Looking at the Ohio State schedule, there is a very good chance that they will be favored in every game this season. That's all well and good for fans to talk about, but it's a topic that the team itself should steer clear of.
"Coach Meyer uses the term all the time, the 'Human Element'," explained tight ends coach Tim Hinton.
"There will be all kinds of publications that come out, all kinds of media, and all of a sudden you have a guy, and I'll use Jeff Heuerman because he's one of my guys, Jeff Heuerman turns on all the different magazines and all the different predictors, and there's only pictures of certain players and his name is not mentioned a lot. Is Jeff Heuerman going to get all bent out of shape because he's an integral part of the game? That human element of 'Why aren't they talking about me?' That's what destroys teams internally.
"Honestly, we have to be bigger than that. The whole idea is that it doesn't matter what anybody says, doesn't matter what all goes down. Bottom line is every day work to be better, and every day work to be a champion, and every day demand from yourself, and it will all work and play out, but don't worry about who gets success, who's getting publicized, who's not, because we'll all have the same reward, and we'll also all have the same bitter taste in defeat."
Each week's burden is sufficiently difficult, whether the Buckeyes are heavily favored or not. They can only play one opponent at a time, after all. No matter how quickly they want to get to 12-0 again, it will still take them 14 weeks to get there.
The Buckeyes did a tremendous job of staying focused last season, but then they had nothing to distract them. There was no postseason, and there was no pressure. They could simply go out and play. That experience should be something that they draw on this season, but will they?
Just because Ohio State might have more talent than their opponents doesn't mean the cliches of 'one day at a time' simply don't apply. It will be up to the coaches to make sure that this team doesn't get too impressed by itself and start buying into what everyone else is selling.
"Do you know who our head coach is?" Hinton asked, laughing at the thought of players becoming overly-inflated.
"To pat yourself on the back and say that last year matters? Everybody is going to start off the season 0-0. Every game starts off 0-0. What you do from that point on is what makes the difference. We weren't world beaters at times last year and we had to scramble and work and claw and scratch to win some games, but we have to learn from those moments.
"That part of it I hope hangs in there, why we were able to be successful last year. The rest of it doesn't matter one iota, because it's over. You can't go back and replay it. Nothing will ever be the same. Like in my room, Zach Boren isn't sitting beside you any more. I love Zach Boren, he's my dude, but move on. It's time to move on to the next chapter in your life and the next chapter of Ohio State football."
The echoes of the lessons learned last year are still floating around, but will they be able to drown out all of the new noise coming from every media corner in the country?
A player's simple trip to the grocery store for Frosted Flakes and hair gel will also feature a gander or two at a stack of magazines asking if Ohio State is the team that can finally unseat the SEC.
Reporters and fellow students will ask them on a weekly basis whether or not they can stop the SEC's streak. Meanwhile, they'll be trying to get ready for a trip to Berkeley or Evanston.
Many already have the Buckeyes' record at 11-0 prior to their trip to Ann Arbor. That's fine for others to project. They can do what they want. The players just can't let themselves be poisoned by such toxic talk.
"To be honest with you, you don't look at those things," said co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell.
"The reality is that you don't look at that. You're always looking at the top, and right now, obviously that would be Alabama or whomever has won the national championship. So that's where you're trying to compare yourself. That's what you're trying to match yourself up against."
It doesn't matter if Ohio State is going to be favored throughout the Big Ten schedule, because that's not the standard that the Buckeyes are holding themselves to. Being expected to win is nothing new at Ohio State. Heck, it's why most of the players became Buckeyes in the first place.
But Fickell reminds us that there's no such thing as simply rolling a leaf-pocked silver helmet onto the field and securing a victory. The game must still be played, regardless of favorites or underdogs.
"You don't think about being favored in every game," he said.
"That's not something that goes through your mind. Whether it works out that way, that's the beauty of playing the games. All of the prognostications and things don't really matter."
Follow The Ozone's Tony Gerdeman on Twitter: @GerdOzone
Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 5/14 - Garrett Williams, Trent Harris offered May 14, 2013 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land - Winter Park (FL) High school class of 2014 defensive end Trent Harris received a full ride scholarship offer from the Buckeyes Monday afternoon. OSU joins the likes of Alabama, Florida and Florida State in the hunt for the 6-2 230 pound pass rusher who finished with 50 tackles and an impressive 11 sacks last season as a junior. Harris had most recruiting analysts counting down the days until he announced his decision, but since receiving his offer from Ohio State, Trent has pushed back his announcement and now plans to visit the Columbus campus over the summer before deciding on a school.
The Orlando Sentinel caught up with Harris' coach moments after finding out that the Buckeyes had offered one of his star players and this is what he had to say on where Trent stands in the eyes of coach Meyer.
"I talked to Coach Meyer and he said Trent's very explosive off the ball and has long arms and he said he sees him as a stand-up D-end or even with his hand in the dirt. He said he is definitely high on their board and they are going to attack and recruit him hard"
Ohio State offered another state of Florida recruit Monday. This time it was on the offensive side of the ball where 2015 The First Academy tight end Garrett Williams received his offer from the Bucks. The Orlando native isn't new to the recruiting game; the 6-4 225 pound junior already held offers from Clemson, Florida State, Kentucky, Michigan State and plenty of others before OSU came calling. Most believe Williams will probably end up a Seminole (his father is ex-FSU fullback Dayne Williams) when it's all said and done, but at they say, it ain't over till its over. To see what Williams could potentially bring to the Buckeyes, check out these highlights:
Recent Texas decommit Demetrius Knox will officially visit Ohio State in October for the Penn State game. Knox who now lives in Texas grew up in Ohio and is friends with Buckeye signal caller Braxton Miller and is also in contact with numerous commits. Since leaving the Longhorns in the dust, Knox seems to be pretty hot on the Bucks, Florida State and UCLA.
Another 2014 recruit, Poona Ford, told Scout.com that he is now has a top three of Ohio State, Louisville and Tennessee. The 6-0 285 pound defensive tackle will make his way from Hilton Head, South Carolina to Central, Ohio next month for a return trip to Columbus. A commitment out of Poona is not out of the question, but as of now he has plans to announce his decision half way through his senior season.
It was a busy day on the road for Ohio State's crack staff of recruiters. Mike Vrabel and Luke Fickell were in Georgia putting on a full court press for 2014 linebacker Raekwon McMillian. Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs was down in Texas. One of the recruits Coombs was reportedly set to visit was five star Ozen defensive back Tony Brown. The Beaumont native currently holds offers from the Bucks, LSU, Alabama, Texas as well as others. Tight ends coach Tim Hinton was in California to check in on La Mirada tight end Tyler Luatua Monday. One of the best tight ends in the class of 2014, most feel Luatua could end up committing to Alabama, where he is older brother plays. Zach Smith made the trip over to Virginia, while there he stopped by Lake Taylor High to check in on 2014 TE/DE Jalyn Holmes. Standing 6-5 and 225 pounds, Holmes hold offers from OSU, Florida State and Clemson to single out a few off a lengthy list.
Kerry Coombs @OsuCoachCoombs
Flag planted in Houston and Beaumont! Ton of speed in Texas! On the runway on the way from Lone Star State to the Sunshine State! #GoBucks
8:38 PM - 13 May 2013
Our own Zach Clark caught up with a pair of recruits Monday to get the latest in their recruitment. Louisiana defensive back Mattrell McGraw told Clark that Buckeyes assistant coach Everett Withers will visit his school on Wednesday. Zach also spoke with 2014 New Jersey wide receiver Saeed Blacknall the speedy wide out said he is contact with Coach Warinner is interested in Ohio State even though many reports have him headed to the SEC.
Zach Clark @ZClark_LGHL
'14 3* S & #Buckeye target Mattrell Mcgraw (New Orleans, LA) tells me Coach Everett Withers will visit his school (John Curtis) on Wednesday
12:26 PM - 13 May 2013
In Buckeye basketball news, 2014 point guard Chris Chiozza will make his college choice today between the Buckeyes, Florida, Memphis, UConn, Auburn and others. The 5-10 160 Memphis, Tennessee native has blown up over the last few weeks with his outstanding play on the AAU circuit. There are plenty of reports floating around stating Chiozza will pick the Florida Gators.
2015 stud running back Jacques Patrick tweeted out that he had Ohio State stop by school Monday. The 6-1 200 pound back has offers for nearly every top team in the country. I spoke with Jacques to confirm the details of the tweet. He told me "[Coach Stan] Drayton stopped by my school. He spoke with my coach and we plan on speaking tomorrow.
Ohio State also had an assistant coach at First Coast High School in Jacksonville, Florida, home of 2014 defensive end Spencer Williams Monday.
According to his Twitter page, 2014 Georgia four star wide receiver Demarre Kitt will have a Buckeye coach at his practice today. The 6-1 185 pound Kitt is down to OSU, Tennessee and Clemson for his services.
Per Luke Stampini of 247Sports, the Buckeyes will visit with 2014 Gainsville, Florida running back Tony James today. Stampimi also reported OSU stopped by the school of current Alabama commit Kalvaraz Bessant on Monday.
Thad Matta and the Buckeyes are starting to show interest in 2016 guard Kyle Guy.
Check out this AAU highlight video of 2014 Ohio State commit Jae'Sean Tate brought to you by the fellas over at Scarberry Media
Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 5/10 - New offer, visit updates May 10, 2013 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land - Defensive line coach Mike Vrabel headed out west to the the Lone Star State of Texas to check in on some of state's top talent Thursday. One of the recruits Vrabel dropped in on was 2014 defensive end Solomon Thomas. The Buckeyes aren't the only team after Thomas; the home state Longhorns, Alabama, Arkansas and Oklahoma are just a few of the programs chasing him. No wonder so many coaches want to add Thomas to their rosters; the 6-3 255 pound lineman accounted for an impressive 89 tackles and 8.5 sacks for his Coppell High team last season.
From the sounds of things, Coach Vrabel also made a stop in Carrolton, Texas to take in the Hebron High spring game. Hebron is the home of 2014 four star defensive back Jamal Adams and 2015 offensive lineman Zach Rogers. Adams is a 6-0 200 pound ball hawk with just about every team in the country after him. Many believe it will be hard to get him to leave Texas, with the the Longhorns and Aggies near the top of his list. Rogers is no slouch either; with a couple years left of high school ball, the 6-2 300 pound junior to be is already putting together a list of scholarship offers better than some upperclassmen. Texas, Oklahoma and UCLA are just a few of the teams to send an offer his way.
Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs was down in Florida recruiting for the Bucks. One of the schools coach Coombs stopped by was Miramar High, which is the home of 2014 linebackers David Lee, Andre Godfrey Jr. and 2015 defensive back Tyrek Cole. Godfrey told Land-Grant Holy Land that he had to cut out of practice earlier due to a banquet while Cole added he didn't attend the practice. Both Godfrey and Cole have a decent amount of BCS programs trying to acquire their duties.
If you are an Ohio State recruitaholic you probably know JUCO offensive tackle Chad Mavety is one of the top recruits left on the Buckeyes board. Offensive line coach Ed Warinner took to the road to check in with some of the 6-6 320 pound lineman coaches Thursday. I had the pleasure of chatting with Chad to see what exactly coach Warinner was doing up on the east coast:
"Coach Warinner was up here. He was actually at my high school in New Jersey to meet with my coach there. He later came to Nassau to hang out with my coaches here"
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman was in Georgia to watch 2014 Lee County quarterback Stephen Collier practice Thursday. The 6-3 210 pound signal caller is already sporting offers from Marshall, Middle Tennessee State, Troy and Louisiana Tech but had a gang of BCS programs showing interest. I caught up with Collier to see just how practice went:
"Coach Herman stopped by, practice went very well. Coaches aren't able to speak to us so no conversation or anything like that happended but I think I did well"
Another Georgia recruit to hear from Ohio State was 2014 wide out Demarre Kitt. According to his Twitter account, head coach Urban Meyer called the 6-1 185 pound Kitt Thursday morning. The Buckeyes were once everyone's guess to land the talented receiver but plenty of scouts have since jump ship and now believe the Clemson Tigers might now have the inside track to gain his services:
Demarre Kitt @D_ocho Just talked to coach Meyer #buckeyes 11:13 AM - 9 May 2013
Thursday evening while most were kicking their feet up and getting ready for the weekend, the Buckeyes were still working, offering a recruit.. 2014 New Jersey native and athlete Noah Brown is the latest recruit to have the chance to suit up in the Scarlet and Gray. Brown put up some pretty serious stats on the offensive side of the ball last season racking up 847 yards rushing and 630 yards receiving finishing the year with 20 total touchdowns for Pope John XXII High School. Ohio State isn't the first program to offer the 6-2 215 pound Brown; Michigan State, Nebraska and Virginia Tech are just a few of the teams the Bucks find themselves up against.
Check out what Brown could bring to the table for the Buckeyes:
According to reports Tom Herman will check out current Clemson commit Deshaun Watson today. As many of you know, Watson has had on again off again interest in the Buckeyes but told media last week he is 100% firm to Clemson and won't take any visits to any other programs as previously planned.
The Buckeyes are reportedly stopping by North Carolina's Havelock High today to see 2014 running back Derrell Scott. The 5-11 180 pound back has schools like Ohio State, South Carolina, Clemson, Notre Dame and Tennessee all after him. Scott is set to visit Columbus in June.
Ohio State aiming to end SEC's title streak in 2013 May 8, 2013 Source: Sorts Illustrated - Ryan Shazier grew up in Plantation, Fla., and committed to play at Florida before its coach left. The star linebacker wound up playing for Urban Meyer a bit farther north, but he's reminded constantly of the region he left.
"I hear about it all the time from my cousin -- SEC this, SEC that," said Shazier. "There's one reason I came to Ohio State -- to beat up on the SEC."
Bradley Roby hails from Suwanee, Ga. The All-America cornerback would love to face Alabama so he could talk trash with close friend and Tide linebacker Adrian Hubbard -- and also because it would likely mean Roby's Buckeyes are playing on the final night of the college football season.
"The SEC has won, what, seven [BCS titles] in a row?" said Roby. "What better than for Ohio State to be the team that ends it? That's what we're looking to do this year."
A lot of people believe the Buckeyes to be the nation's best hope of ending the SEC's national championship stranglehold in 2013. That sentiment took hold the day Ohio State hired former two-time SEC and BCS champion Meyer some 18 months ago, and it gained momentum when his debut team went 12-0 in a season shortened by sanctions. While two-time defending champion Alabama will be the overwhelming favorite to hoist the crystal football again next January, the Buckeyes are a trendy pick to emerge as its prime challenger. In fact, at least one major outlet has already elevated Ohio State above the Tide.
But might all of this buzz be a bit premature?
By their own admission, the Buckeyes were a work in progress for most of 2012, feasting on a historically weak Big Ten in assembling their undefeated regular-season record and No. 3 ranking in the final AP Poll. Ohio State finished a modest 34th nationally in total defense (359.6 yards per game), 47th in total offense (423.8 yards per game), 13th in Jeff Sagarin's power ratings and 14th in Football Outsiders' F/+ efficiency ratings, respectively. They're certainly not apologizing for their feat -- two huge banners inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center celebrate the accomplishment and the players received "12-0" rings -- but few would dispute that Ohio State's record was deceiving.
Much of the enthusiasm for 2013 centers on the notion that the Buckeyes will follow the same path Florida did in its second season under Meyer, when it improved from a shaky 9-3 team to a 13-1 BCS champion. Gators quarterback Chris Leak, much like Meyer quarterbacks Alex Smith (Utah) and Josh Harris (Bowling Green), improved dramatically in his second season running Meyer's spread offense, leaving Buckeyes fans salivating at the prospects for star Braxton Miller in his second campaign under Meyer's watch. And as those same fans remember painfully well, dominant defensive ends Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss keyed Florida's 41-14 rout of Ohio State in that year's BCS title game (which began the SEC's current streak); Meyer's first batch of blue-chip defensive linemen are expected to play pivotal roles this fall.
No one can assess the roster better than Meyer himself. Looking out at the practice field this spring, did he see the same type of high-caliber athletes as he did during his six seasons coaching and coaching against those SEC powers?
"Yes, but not as many," he said during an early April visit. "On special teams, you see it's not the same. The depth is different right now. But we're working hard to make it better."
While known primarily as an offensive innovator, Meyer's best Florida teams won first behind their defense. His 2012 Ohio State team struggled defensively early last season, giving up too many big plays to mediocre opponents like Cal and Purdue, but it bounced back late in the year. Over the last four games, that same defense sparked big road wins at Penn State and Wisconsin and held Michigan to a mere 279 yards.
Unfortunately, the departure of six of the Buckeyes' starting front seven -- including standout linemen John Simon and Johnathan Hankins -- makes it difficult to build on that momentum. On the other hand, Shazier, a rising junior who was playing at an All-America level by season's end (115 tackles, 17 tackles for loss), is a nice cog to construct a unit around. The coaches will also count on former all-everything recruits like sophomore defensive linemen Adolphus Washington and Noah Spence and junior linebacker Curtis Grant to make the transformation from second-string youngsters into key contributors.
"The front seven, where we have a tremendous void, we're starting to see glimpses of some very good players," said Meyer. "Adolphus Washington, Noah Spence -- as far as talent, they can play anywhere in America, but they're still not exactly where they need to be."
It helps that the Buckeyes have three reliable veterans in their secondary in Roby, who led the country last season with 19 passes defended (interceptions and breakups) in 12 games, and senior safeties Christian Bryant and C.J. Barnett. Physical junior Doran Grant will likely line up opposite Roby at cornerback.
Still, it's on the other side of the ball where fans expect to see Ohio State make its biggest strides. For much of last season, the Buckeyes' offensive approach could best be described as "Run, Braxton, Run." The fleet-footed quarterback averaged nearly 19 rushing attempts per game and amassed 1,271 yards, though that wasn't always by design.
"Part of Braxton being the bell cow -- the main toter of the rock, if you will, was his inexperience in distributing the football," said offensive coordinator Tom Herman. "There were a lot of times the football probably should have been out of his hands but was still in his hands because of his lack of knowledge of what we were trying to do."
By all accounts, Miller -- a 58.3 percent passer last season -- became a more vocal leader and more complete player this spring, showing many of the same signs of progress that previous second-year Meyer quarterbacks have. Perhaps equally important, his supporting cast looks far more promising than it did at this time a year ago.
The offensive line, which returns four starters, is the undisputed strength of the team. Tailback Carlos Hyde, who recovered from an early-season injury to rush for 970 yards in 10 games, will take some of the load off Miller. Receivers Devin Smith, Philly Brown and Chris Fields have all earned Meyer's praise.
But Meyer is still looking for another playmaker or two to take the offense to another level, much like then-freshmen Tim Tebow and Percy Harvin did for the coach's 2006 Florida title team. The logical candidate is Jordan Hall, an injury-plagued senior running back who Meyer hopes to plug into Harvin's old hybrid H-back role. Unfortunately, Hall missed all but four games last season with foot and knee injuries and then sat out much of this spring with a hamstring injury. Meyer calls Hall's anticipated emergence "a necessity."
Meyer also points to incoming freshmen Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Ezekiel Elliott -- all four-star running backs/athletes and high school track stars -- as possible instant-impact playmakers. "I'm hoping they are exactly those kind of guys," said Meyer. "They're supposed to be. That's what the Rivals and Scout tell us."
Once an early draft fixture, Ohio State produced just three first- or second-round NFL draft picks from its past three squads; three-time Big Ten champ Wisconsin produced twice as many over that span, as well as more picks overall (14-13). This season, the Buckeyes should return to their once-given status as the most talented team in the conference, and while the schedule has a few potential speed bumps (a Sept. 14 cross-country trip to Cal, a home game against Wisconsin and a road game at Northwestern to open Big Ten play), they'll be seen as prohibitive favorites nearly every week leading up to their Nov. 30 finale at Michigan.
Schedule posters plastered around the football facility list that game as The Team Up North. They also include three more potential dates -- the Dec. 7 Big Ten championship game, Jan. 1 Rose Bowl and Jan. 6 BCS national title game -- that weren't on the table last year. Few doubt the Buckeyes have what it takes to get there. The question is whether the most talented team in the Big Ten is yet on the same level as the championship-winning squads down south.
"We have a big opportunity this year to do something special and I think we all realize that," said offensive lineman Jack Mewhort. "... You don't come to Ohio State to be in the back of the line, you come here to be on top, and that's what guys have been thinking about their whole careers here."
As for a possible BCS championship date, Mewhort said: "I'd be excited to play one of those big SEC powerhouses."
He's not alone. Seven years ago, Ohio State became the first victim of the SEC's run of dominance. Now, that very same program may hold the best hope of ending the streak. "I'm not saying we're 100 percent ready yet," said Shazier. "... But once the season comes, we will be the best team in college [football]."
Urban Meyer on Wall to Wall Sports Sunday night, May 5, with Dom Tiberi Source: 10TV.com
Summoned from his sixth-period class to the office of his father, Rick, the football coach at Apopka (Fla.) High School, he found out Ohio State coach Urban Meyer was on the phone. In the next few seconds, Meyer told Zack he was what the Buckeyes were looking for in a quarterback and formally offered a scholarship to be part of the 2014 recruiting class.
“Honestly, I don’t even think thrilled is the right word, it’s not good enough for what I am feeling,” Darlington said. “I’d say ecstatic, every great word that could come to mind, that’s what I’m feeling. It’s something I’ve been working toward for a long time.
“And when Ohio State started showing the interest early, that’s the offer I wanted to get because it shows the work is paying off.”
Ohio State’s homework also is showing. There was no secret Meyer and his staff hoped to flip the nation’s No. 1 dual-threat quarterback prospect, DeShaun Watson, of Gainesville, Ga., from his long-standing commitment to Clemson. But it became apparent at the start of last week that Watson didn’t share the same interest in OSU.
Meyer and his staff, led by offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman, worked quickly to develop other options in the quest for a quarterback in the 2014 class.
They offered Kyle Allen of Scottsdale, Ariz., a standout in their summer camp a year ago and considered one of the elite pro-style quarterback prospects nationally, and followed with offers to dual-threat quarterbacks Darlington, who led his team to a Florida state title last season, and Brandon Harris of Bossier City, La. Herman watched all three on different days during their schools’ spring football drills. Ohio high schools aren’t allowed to hold spring practices.
It was the recruiting equivalent of casting a national dragnet. It was newsworthy because no position is more vital to a football team than quarterback, especially in Meyer’s spread offense. That the three players Meyer and Herman identified seem quite different in ability is missing the point.
“The best quarterback,” Meyer said a couple of weeks ago when asked what he seeks for the position.
And what did he tell Darlington?
“He told me they’re not only looking for someone who is going to be great, but who is also going to make the team great,” Darlington said. “That’s what I want to be able to do, not only to do great things but to bring my team with me, to push them ahead of me and keep everything going.”
But Meyer wants more than just a leader.
“A quarterback that can run,” Meyer said.
Not that they are seeking a laser-etched copy of Braxton Miller, who in the first year under Meyer and Herman in 2012 set an Ohio State season record for total offense.
“You probably won’t find another kid like Braxton Miller,” Meyer said. “I wish I could, but you probably won’t find another kid that fast and that athletic.
“But I am convinced — and our belief system is — you have to be able to get out of trouble, or it’s a bad day. And that comes from watching our defense game-planning from week to week — the quarterbacks that can’t move, the defensive guys love that.”
Allen likes the pocket but has shown an ability to buy time with his feet and escape when needed. In Apopka’s victory in the state title game, Darlington put on a show running the option one minute and throwing passes the next. It’s the same with Harris, who plays in a stout league in northwestern Louisiana.
“You have to be able to throw, oh yes,” Meyer said, as if that were a given. “And we have to be able to do that much better.”
He referred to Ohio State’s offense and Miller, whose quest is to become better in the passing game heading into his junior season. If he does, there is a good chance he could leave for the NFL. Considering that his backup, Kenny Guiton, is a senior, that would leave just two scholarship quarterbacks on the roster: redshirt freshman Cardale Jones and freshman J.T. Barrett, a member of the 2013 recruiting class.
That’s why it’s imperative the Buckeyes sign at least one more quarterback with the 2014 class. Although all three who were offered last week were thrilled, none committed.
“My approach right now is I want to be able to get up there on a visit, make sure I fall in love with everything about Ohio State, and I expect I will,” Darlington said.
QBs offered scholarships by OSU
Kyle Allen 6 FEET 4, 195 POUNDS / SCOTTSDALE, ARIZ. (DESERT MOUNTAIN)
• Status: Pro-style QB also has offers from Notre Dame, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, among others.
Zack Darlington 6 FEET 1, 210 POUNDS / APOPKA, FLA.
• Status: Dual-threat QB also has offers from Nebraska, Virginia Tech and West Virginia, among others.
Brandon Harris 6 FEET 3, 190 POUNDS / BOSSIER CITY, LA. (PARKWAY)
• Status: Dual-threat QB also has offers from Texas A&M, Baylor and Arkansas, among others.
DeShaun Watson 6 FEET 3, 190 POUNDS / GAINESVILLE, GA.
• Status: Dual-threat QB is committed to Clemson.
Ohio State recruiting: State Secrets, 4/30 - New offers, visit updates April 30, 2013 Source: Land-Grant Holy Land - Tight end coach Tim Hinton made the trek down to Tennessee to see what the Volunteer state had to offer. One of the recruits Hinton visited was 2015 Memphis University School offensive tackle Drew Richmond. Ohio State offered the 6-6 300 pound life long Buckeye fan last month, but isn't the only program to do so; Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, Florida and Alabama are just a few of the other schools to send out a full ride scholarship offer to the sophomore.
Saint Paul, Minnesota native Jashon Cornell might remember yesterday for the rest of his life. The 6-4 230 pound class of 2015 defensive end didn't just have defensive line coach and former NFL beast Mike Vrabel in for a visit, the talented Cornell received an offer to join the Scarlet and Gray when he was offered by the Buckeyes. It's still early in the sophomore's recruitment, but he is already building a pretty solid list of over ten potential suitors with OSU joining the likes of Notre Dame, Florida, Iowa and Penn State to name a few.
Offensive coordinator Tom Herman flew down to Louisiana to watch 2014 quarterback Brandon Harris practice. After Deshaun Watson announced last week that he will stick with his Clemson commitment, plenty of analysts have been throwing Brandon's name around as maybe the next gunslinger the Buckeyes will pursue. No wonder Arkansas, Nebraska, South Carolina and others have offered the 6-1 190 pound Harris; he accounted for over 3000 yards from scrimmage and 38 touchdowns leading his Rockway High squad to an 11-2 record last season. Even thought the Buckeyes have yet to offer Brandon, who plans to commit in July, he's stated he feels one could be coming his way very soon.
Wide receivers coach Zach Smith and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers tag teamed the state of North Carolina Monday. A few of the recruits the coaches visited with were 2014 wide receiver Braxton Berrios, punter Corbin Daly and 2015 linebacker Tanner Muse. Most Buckeye fans know the staff is looking to add a leg to the class of 2014 after the whole Johnny Townsend situation last signing day. After averaging nearly 50 yards a punt as a junior, Daly has caught the attention of plenty of schools including Ohio State, where he visited recently. I had to the pleasure to catch up with Corbin and asked how his visit with Withers went.
Coach Withers stopped by. He told me that he was looking forward to seeing me in June when I go up there for kicking camp. He also watched me kick and told me that it was really impressive.
Surprising no one, a pair of talented 2014 offensive line prospects have announced that the Buckeyes have made their respective short lists. One time Texas commit Demetrius Knox told Scout.com ($) that he now has a list of Ohio State, Florida State, UCLA, Miami, Ole Miss, Oregon and Alabama. The 6-4 300 pound Knox plans to visit all seven schools this summer. For what its worth, most people in the know feel the Buckeyes could be the front runners for the former Ohio resident who happens to already be friends with Buckeyes quarterback Braxton Miller.
New Jersey lineman Quenton Nelson announced a top 5 of Notre Dame, Boston College, Ohio State, Rutgers and Penn State Monday. Even though the Buckeyes made the cut, most feel Nelson is headed to Notre Dame. Though many recruiting analysts feel that way, it won't keep a few of the current Ohio State commits from going out of their way on Twitter to show just how much they want the 6-5 295 pound Nelson as part of the next class of Buckeyes:
Another New Jersey lineman has the Buckeyes towards the top of his list of prospective destinations. Even though they haven't offered just yet, Tommy Hatton, a 6-3 260 pound class of 2015 guard, has the Buckeyes, Michigan and Wisconsin at the top of his short list. Hatton does already have concrete scholarship offers from home state Rutgers and UConn. I had the pleasure to speaking with Hatton on OSU and his summer plans:
Ed Warinner watched my workout last week but didn't really say much. I think by just looking at me he thinks I'm short, but he doesn't know just how good I am yet. I plan on camping there over the summer.
And finally, Thad Matta and his basketball Buckeyes staff weren't about to be shutout of the fun. One of the fastest rising prospects in the class of 2014, point guard Chris Chiozza, received an offer from OSU on Monday. Chiozza, a 4-star in the 247Composite rankings, is AAU teammates (on the aptly named Team Thad) with current Ohio State target power forward Leron Black.
Chiozza can push the tempo, pull up and shoot, as well as harass opposing defenders from coast-to-coast. He's a bit undersized (listed at 5-10 and perhaps generously so) and could use some college strength and conditioning, but with offers from both OSU, Florida, Memphis, as well as UConn all on Monday, fewer prospects are any hotter at the moment.
Check out what the prospective future floor general for the Bucks would hypothetically bring to the table:
Braxton Miller's Top Five Jukes of 2012 April 29, 2013 Source: Eleven Warriors - Shake and bake, breaking ankles, clowning, or okiedoke freakshow. The term "juke" goes by many names but we all know it when we see it. The ability of one human to make another human think one way then go the other is the most celebrated humiliation in sports.
What makes the move so great is that its appeal spans across a wide breadth of sporting genres. Just take a look at exhibit, A, B and C.
With that said, arguably nowhere is the juke more apparent than on the gridiron.
Over the years, players like Barry Sanders and Michael Vick made it an art form. As they headed onto the field, it seemed it was their personal mission to make their opponents look foolish.
Only the best athletes can collect ankle bones on a regular basis, and Ohio State is lucky enough to have one of them in Braxton Miller.
Miller’s arm and downfield vision continue to develop, but sometimes when a play breaks down he is forced to abandon both of those in favor of what he does best: get shifty.
Over the course of last season, Miller added a number of plays to his highlight reel, but none were flashier than those that occurred when he made the decision to tuck it and run.
Miller has a gift for getting into the open field and he’ll usually find it no matter the number of defenders an opposing team throws his way.
He made a myriad of would-be tacklers look like total Melvins last year, but no okiedokes were greater than the following plays. So, without further adieu, I give you Braxton Miller’s top five jukes of the 2012 season.
#5 Stutter Step: Miami
#4 Side Step: Cal
#3 I Don’t Even Know: Nebraska
#2 Spin Move: UAB
#1 AirboRne: Penn State
Sunday Night Recruiting Update April 21, 2013 Source: BuckeyeSports.com - It was another busy week in Buckeye-Land, with the coaches hitting the road in the opening phase of the spring evaluation period. There were some notable moments, including Poona Ford receiving his Buckeye offer. Here is a summary of the past week in Ohio State recruiting.
Christian McCaffrey – The talented running back has eight or nine schools near the top of his list this far, and it includes Ohio State. He plans to visit all of the schools before making a decision. The space left in the class will determine if Ohio State can make a run at him.
Nick Ruffin – The four-star cornerback prospect has a group of schools standing out that does not contain the Buckeyes. Ohio State is sitting pretty with a handful of other targets in the secondary making Ruffin a long shot to be in the class. Alabama could nab the Atlanta native.
Poona Ford – The Hilton Head product picked up a Buckeyes offer and will be in Columbus during the month of June. Ford is definitely a prime candidate to sign with Ohio State in February.
Mattrell McGraw – The three-star safety from Louisiana is a prospect on the rise. Several new offers have come in within the last month for McGraw. He took an unofficial visit to Oregon this past weekend and they may be the team to beat.
Derrick Nnadi – The Virginia Beach (VA) Ocean Lakes defensive tackle is also a prospect that could surge up the rankings. College programs are beginning to take notice of the four-star prospect as he continues to rake in more offers.
Derek Kief – He visited Ohio State’s spring game instead of Kentucky, who was hoping badly to have him in Lexington. The Buckeyes are in good shape.
Chase Winovich – Ohio State and Michigan both had him in on visits and offered the linebacker. The Buckeyes are in position to add Winovich but he may want to jump on the boat soon to assure his spot.
Dante Booker – It is possible he could pick up the phone and commit to Urban Meyer at any moment. At the same time, he made a return visit this past weekend to Notre Dame. The Irish are the only other school to bring him in on multiple visits other than Ohio State. The pursuit for Booker has potential to get interesting but the Buckeyes have been out front for quite a while.
Mark Andrews – In a span of three days Andrews visited Ohio State, Notre Dame, and Michigan. He was very impressed with the Buckeyes’ coaches and the trip to Oho State was one of his better visits.
Lonnie Johnson - He re-affirmed to Scout that Ohio State is the leader for his services. As long as he gets some off the field issues solved, he will sign with the Buckeyes.
Clifton Garrett – Things are trending away from Ohio State when it comes to one of the nation’s top middle linebackers. The Buckeyes had been the front-runner for Garrett for quite a while, but his focus has now shifted to the south. Ole Miss and LSU have turned his head and Alabama could be a player for him as well after he received an offer from Nick Saban on his most recent visit.
Tony Brown – The five-star defensive back has strong ties to LSU but his adamant he is wide open in his recruitment. The Buckeyes may host Brown on a visit over the summer.
Curtis Samuel – The Brooklyn, New York running back has an offer from the Buckeyes and he probably will have to camp at Ohio State to give it some legitimacy. He recently told Scout that Ohio State was one of five schools he was in contact with the most.
Austin Roberts – The bigger wide receiver out of Indiana visited Ohio State for the Spring Game and told Scout that the visit had exceeded expectations. Roberts has since sped up his timetable and plans to announce in May. Ohio State and Miami are the two top suitors. His dad played for the Hurricanes and won two national championships for the school back in the 1980’s.
Juju Smith – The top safety in the country told Scout that his top five currently is USC, Michigan, Ohio State, Notre Dame, and UCLA. If he visits, the fun starts.
Jermaine Eluemunor – The junior college offensive lineman has no favorites but talks to the Ohio State staff frequently. He expects to visit Columbus next month.
Chad Mavety – He is another prospect in the junior college ranks and has offers from many of the heavy hitters. Ohio State assistant Ed Warinner evaluated him on Thursday, and then went on to rave about him to his coach. Mavety should be visiting the Ohio State campus in June.
Montae Nicholson – The four-star safety has an offer from the Buckeyes and likes Ohio State. He plans to narrow it down a bit to around 12 schools soon. At this point Ohio State does not expect there to be room for him.
Jabrill Peppers – The five-star defensive back recently told Scout that Michigan was his leader after visiting Ohio State, Michigan, and LSU. The Buckeyes, LSU, and Stanford will still be considered but the Wolverines are in a terrific spot.
Derrell Scott – The multi purpose running back out of North Carolina came out with a top three, in order, of South Carolina, Florida State, and Ohio State. He may visit Columbus soon.
Deshaun Watson – The only quarterback in the nation with an Ohio State offer told Scout he is still 100% committed to Clemson. He does hope to make a trip to the campus in Columbus over the summer and stays in contact with the Buckeyes’ coaching staff.
Dewayne Hendrix – He holds an offer from Ohio State and has family that lives in Columbus. The Illinois native plans to visit the Buckeyes but does not have a specific date in mind.
Daniel Helm – The four-star tight end does not hold an offer but visited the Buckeyes a day before the spring game. The visit was not a favorable one but that has more to do with the lack of clarity on the scholarship offer situation. He has a top group but Michigan could be adding him soon.
Petera Wilson – The linebacker from Tennessee has an offer from Ohio State and many of the SEC powers. Outside of the SEC, the Buckeyes are the top suitor. All the linebacker spots could be taken before he wants to decide.
Garrett Dickerson – Ohio State made the top five for the New Jersey prospect, along with Northwestern, Stanford, Michigan, and Alabama. He could play tight end or defensive end. He’s a fan of Urban Meyer but another visit will be needed before it gets too serious.
David Sharpe – He has an offer from Ohio State and wants to get to their campus over the summer. Sharpe has been to Florida a few times already and they may be tough to beat. It will depend on the possible visit to Columbus on whether to watch this one closely.
POSSIBLE NEW OFFERS?
Lamont Gaillard – The four-star defensive tackle from North Carolina will receive a visit from a member of the Ohio State staff sometime this week. He already has an impressive offer list and could be adding another.
Daniel Cage – The Winton Woods product received a visit from the Buckeyes in the past week. He is a candidate to receive an offer from Ohio State.
Derek Barnett – The Tennessee native holds offers from many BCS programs, including the in-state schools, Tennessee and Vanderbilt. Ohio State is expected at his school on Tuesday to check him out.
OFF THE BOARD:
Dallis Todd – The wide receiver, who held an Ohio State offer, committed to Oklahoma after visiting the campus unofficially.
Sam Mustipher – He was a top offensive line target for the Buckeyes and had visited the campus multiple times. Notre Dame surged back up front after he visited South Bend once again, and committed to the Irish soon afterwards.
C.J. Reavis – The Virginia standout was always thought to be a Virginia Tech lean, and had visited the campus several times. He attended Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp last July and had just received an offer from Everett Withers, but has chosen to end the process and commit to the Hokies.
Five for Friday: Spring's Unanswered Questions April 19, 2013 Source: The Ozone - 1. Can this defense stop the run?
With six new starters in the front seven, stopping the run is going to be a question that probably isn't fully answered until Wisconsin comes to town to open the Big Ten season. The main reason this question wasn't even close to being answered in the spring is because so much time was spent on throwing the ball. The offense knows that they can run the ball, so they didn't need to work on it during the spring with the same emphasis that they did the passing game. Plus, when they were running the ball, not much of it was being done by Carlos Hyde, who has already shown the coaches what he can do. It also didn't help that Ryan Shazier missed the entire spring.
2. Will Braxton Miller become a consistent passer Miller looked improved this spring, but he also looked improved last spring. He was indeed better in each of those springs, but he's had to come from so far back just to get where he is now. And where is he now? His ceiling needs an elevator, but as a passer, is he even to the ground floor yet? He can make every pass you want from a quarterback, but can he make it when it absolutely has to happen? And I'm only talking about simply dropping back and throwing the ball. What about when he takes off? Can he keep his mechanics in those situations? He looked good doing so in the Spring Game, but he won't be wearing a black jersey against Michigan. (Unless, of course, Ohio State agrees to wear black Nike uniforms against the Wolverines this year.) (Don't worry, though, it would just be a one-time thing.)
3. Is the defense better in base or nickel? Because of Ryan Shazier's injury this spring, we weren't able to see Ohio State's top three linebackers on the field at the same time. Those three linebackers -- currently Shazier, Curtis Grant and Joshua Perry -- are all fast and athletic, but how do they handle spread defenses? In turn, we can only assume that Tyvis Powell will keep the nickel back spot, but we don't know for sure. With the way that Everett Withers raves about incoming freshman Vonn Bell, assumptions probably aren't a good idea. Don't forget about rising sophomore Devan Bogard, who was the odds-on favorite to ultimately win the job before the spring. Can the eventual victor of these three hold up against the run on first down? Basically, we don't know if the base defense is better than the nickel defense right now because we haven't seen either of them at their fullest and healthiest.
4. Can Jordan Hall stay healthy? Watching Jordan Hall on the first day that we could attend spring practice, he was obviously a difference maker. Unfortunately, that was also the last time that we saw him on the practice field. It was quite a tease. Obviously, the fact that it was only spring was one reason that Hall didn't do much following the hamstring tweak early in practice. But it would have been nice to see him make it all the way through spring and contribute the way we saw on that first day. As it is now, all the fans have to go on is that one day of practice, and a lot of them aren't yet buying what's being sold.
5. Can Curtis Grant keep his job? Urban Meyer has had some strong words in Curtis Grant's corner towards the end of spring, calling him the starting middle linebacker, for one. When Luke Fickell was told about this on Wednesday, however, he seemed pretty surprised that the competition was suddenly over. Grant was also the starting middle linebacker after last spring, and while he didn't receive the kudos from Meyer last year like he has this year, we have seen this story before. Perhaps last year was just the rough draft. Grant has looked solid when we saw him this spring, but he also had his moments a year ago. Last year, Grant lost his job to a player who had been kicked off the team. This year is probably his last chance to lock this job down, unless he moves to fullback and then gets grabbed on a random Tuesday during his senior year to become the team's starting middle linebacker for a third time.
Bonus: Is there productive defensive end depth? While there are raves adequately directed at Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington, we don't really know if there is anybody behind them. Steve Miller has been around forever. J.T. Moore performs well in practice. Jamal Marcus has shown some flashes as a pass rusher, but what else is he? Tyquan Lewis and Tracy Sprinkle aren't ready yet. The Buckeyes might need incoming freshman Joey Bosa to be ready to go this year.
Bonus: If all goes as planned, who is going to stop this offense? The possibilities are really quite intriguing: an aggressive offense, talented players, skilled play callers. It could be the offense that Buckeye fans have always wanted, but were too afraid to ask for. (Just kidding, they've asked for this offense every damn day for the past 12 years.)
Bonus: Who is the third-string quarterback? Leaving the spring, the third quarterback is Cardale Jones. However, that job was won by default because true freshman J.T. Barrett wasn't able to fully participate. Once fall camp opens, the back-up back-up quarterback job opens as well. This spring was the last time that Cardale Jones will be able to win anything by default. Everything from this point forward will be won on merit. Meyer and Tom Herman have been very pleased with what they've seen of him since last season. That needs to continue through the summer.
Bonus: Who is the right tackle? I only put this here so you wouldn't ask who the right tackle is going to be. It's going to be Taylor Decker...
Ohio State's Tom Herman is No Longer Afraid to Call a Pass April 19, 2013 Source: Eleven Warriors - Tom Herman is no longer frightened to throw a pass. That fear went through his mind 308 times as Braxton Miller and the offense approached the line of scrimmage. Considering the final results – 12 wins, zero losses and Miller’s Big Ten player of the year award – one must wonder what Ohio State will do this season with the offensive coordinator at ease.
In Year 1 of the Herman-Urban Meyer partnership, the Buckeye offense rose from No. 79 in scoring to 21st. With continuity on offense in the form of nine returning starters, combined with a clear understanding of the philosophy, Ohio State’s offense could be one of the best in the country in 2013.
“I would be disappointed if we're not the best offense in the Big Ten,” Meyer said, with one caveat: right tackle. If the Buckeyes can shore up that spot, a 50-point per game offense is a possibility.
“We have a legitimate concern about who that player is,” Meyer continued. “You can’t play with four linemen.”
But offensive line coach Ed Warinner put any trepidation at ease on Wednesday when he admitted with a coy smile that he is no longer staying up late at night thinking about who will play at right tackle. Ohio State will be fine, Warinner said.
The optimism for the offense stems from having Miller surrounded with an assembly line of talent. He’s in a state now where he understands how and why plays develop, and Miller’s wide receivers have shed their inexperience and traded it for dynamic capabilities.
“This year, it’s like night and day,” he said.
There are no more befuddled looks from the coaches during practice or perplexed receivers watching film. With all parties on the same page, the execution of the offense is at a level Meyer and Herman believe can leave the rest of the Big Ten playing catch-up – for years.
“We definitely have the weapons and we have the quarterback and we have a lot of guys coming back on offense,” offensive lineman Jack Mewhort said. “I definitely feel we have the players and the system to do something special.”
The Buckeyes led the Big Ten in scoring last season at 37.2 points per game, scoring 60 touchdowns in 12 games. All that in a year where Herman was scared as he called and watched plays.
“The thought of that sent shivers down my spine at times last year,” Herman said.
In the spring game, Ohio State ran 75 pass plays, a change from last season when around 35 percent of the plays called were for passes. That number rose to nearly 75 percent last Saturday.
Witnessing completion percentages hover around 60 percent and far more touchdowns than interceptions left Herman relieved. It also validated what he already believed. Starting March 5, he saw a group of quarterbacks – and Miller specifically – that clicked.
“Are we where we need to be? Absolutely not. But at least I don’t lay awake at night and get night sweats because I have to call a pass tomorrow.”
It’s easy to get swept up in the euphoria of a 12-0 season, and many fans did. But don’t forget, two days after the Buckeyes beat Michigan, Meyer was lamenting the fact that Miller was not anywhere near a finished product, still lacking basic fundamentals. That fell on Herman’s shoulders, Meyer said.
Ohio State finished 11th in the Big Ten in passing last season – and 101st nationally. Five months after the closing of one chapter, another has blossomed. This time consider the apprentice and his boss satisfied at what took place.
“Are we where we need to be? Absolutely not,” Herman said. “But at least I don’t lay awake at night and get night sweats because I have to call a pass tomorrow.”
Another coach who can put the sleep aids back in the cupboard is wide receivers coach Zach Smith. It was his position group that had an unimaginable 2011. And even though Smith was coaching at Temple during that season, the pressure to restore the receiving corps to not just respectability but also an elite level was immense.
“We were almost in panic mode,” he said. “Where we are today is not panic mode, but we can always get better and we still have a ways to go before we can truly run out into the Horseshoe and say we’re the best wide receiver group in the country or the Big Ten.”
That’s fine with coaches. All it does is leave the Buckeyes motivated as they depart for the final weeks of the semester and then the summer. It will be four long months for the coaches without monitoring the inner workings of what happens on the practice fields at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
It will take leadership, with a majority of that falling on the broad and already tired shoulders of Miller, for the Buckeyes to enter fall camp where the coaches are satisfied. Last year’s seniors – “legendary” as all nine Ohio State assistants put it – were one of the central ingredients in an improbable fairy tale season. That group is still lauded by the coaching staff, but don’t think that isn’t strategic at the same time...
Assistant coachs from the offensive and defensive sides of the ball spoke with the media in post-spring practice interviews on Wednesday.
Tom Herman; Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks Coach
Ed Warinner; Co-Offensive Coordinator/OL Coach
Stan Drayton; Running Backs Coach
Ohio State Football 2013
In 2013, the Ohio State Buckeyes look to pursue another perfect season, a Big Ten Championship, and a National Championship. Led by their determined head coach, Urban Meyer, and star quarterback, Braxton Miller, the Buckeyes have a legitimate shot at achieving their dream.
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