Archives for February 2015

2015 Ohio State Spring Football Questions: Will Special Teams Remain Special?

Beginning March 10th, Ohio State will have fifteen spring football practices before the conclusion of spring practice on April 18th in Ohio Stadium. Over the next few weeks, I will rank the top ten questions facing Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer and his coaching staff as the Buckeyes retake the football field after concluding the 2014 season as the national champions.

These articles will be submitted from areas of lowest concern to highest concern. While Ohio State returns the overwhelming majority of its 2014 team, and welcomes in a highly-touted recruiting class, it will be important for Coach Meyer to convey to his team that complacency within the player ranks could derail any hopes of the Buckeyes repeating as national champions in 2015.

10. Special Teams

Key Players/Contributors Lost: WR Devin Smith, WR Evan Spencer, DB Ron Tanner, LB Curtis Grant, DB Armani Reeves, DB Devan Bogard.

Special teams will always be an area of emphasis for Coach Meyer. A case in point is how starters have often been used by Coach Meyer on special teams; former Buckeye Devin Smith was often deployed as a “gunner” on special teams under Coach Meyer. Devin Smith’s special teams play was often lauded by Coach Meyer, and may be a boost to Smith as the 2015 NFL Draft approaches.

Unfortunately, Ohio State may be without players such as Ron Tanner, Armani Reeves, and Devan Bogard going forward. Coach Meyer stated on National Signing Day 2015 that all three players may be unable to play anymore due to injuries.

Back to the 2015 Ohio State Buckeyes. How do special teams shape up for Ohio State this spring and into the 2015 season?

Realistically, Ohio State should not miss a beat. Yes, Ohio State is losing some talented players from the special teams units of 2014, but think of the following players who could contribute in 2015 who redshirted in 2014 – Parris Campbell, Sam Hubbard, Kyle Berger, Terry McLaurin, Malik Hooker, Johnnie Dixon, and Marshon Lattimore. That does not even include the players who have enrolled early, such as Jamel Dean or Nick Conner, or the remaining freshmen who will be arriving for fall camp.

Special teams will always be a prime gateway for players to earn playing time under Coach Meyer. With so much returning talent on hand, as well as the influx of new talent arriving, this ranks as the position group of least concern going into spring practice. It will also rank as a position group worthy of notice, as this group may not necessarily be settled well into the 2015 season.

Ohio State Releases Sugar Bowl Highlight Video: It’s Glorious

Do the Wrestling Buckeyes Have the Right Stuff? Twuckeye with his take

After the Ohio State Wrestling Team lost to Lehigh—let me say that again, Lehigh!—it is tempting to say that the hype surrounding this team has exceeded its grasp. First, let’s be clear about something—in football, Lehigh is venerable (think Lehigh v. Lafayette) but insignificant on a national stage. On the wrestling stage however, Lehigh is more than a credible program—in fact it is a co-favorite to win the prestigious EWIA.

But come on—if the Buckeyes are the team we have hyped them to be—me most of all—then they should have been able to sneak by Lehigh. But Lehigh came out with an attitude that said, “you think you’re so tough? How about I hit you in the face a few times and then see how tough you are.”

Don’t get me wrong. Every young man who steps on a mat wearing an Ohio State singlet is a remarkable young man. They have each achieved a level of distinction in the world’s toughest sport that deserves our utmost respect and gratitude that they represent Ohio State. Recently I had the expectation of speaking to the team, which I thought was a weird joke of nature—it is they who can pass wisdom and experience to me, not the other way around. I mumbled through enough to have done my expected duty, but it was I who left feeling uplifted by our time together.

Nonetheless, when it comes to competition against their current peers, half the Buckeye lineup rarely disappoints, and the other half rarely surprises. We were hoping the narrative would change. Who wants to classify a remarkable group that way? But the truth is, to achieve its ultimate goal, the team has to have one or two wrestlers break through his collegiate past to become an elite competitor. At this point, while there are candidates to do so, none has shown many signs he is up to the task.

So, at the top are Nathan Tomasello, Logan Stieber, Hunter Stieber, Bo Jordan and Kyle Snyder. No one would be surprised to see any of them as a Big Ten champ or NCAA finalist.

The team is ably rounded out by Johnni DiJulius, Josh Demas, Mark Martin, Kenny Courts and Nick Tavanello. Despite my implication to the contrary, no one would be surprised to see any of these young men finish as All Americans—which puts them in the rarefied air of the top eight in their weight class. Each has either been firmly entrenched in, or has flirted at the edges of, a top ten ranking most of the year.

Yes, half the team could make it to the NCAA finals and the other half could be All Americans. If that happened the Buckeyes would in fact run away with the team title. The problem, in a recurrent theme, is math—not all those who could make it to the finals, and not all those who could be All Americans, will in fact do so. The odds say no.

If the Buckeyes are to achieve their potential, one or two in the All American tier are simply going to have to do what they have mostly failed to do all year—surprise in a pleasant way by wrestling above their ranking.

If that happens, it will be those individuals who will be the team MVPs because those will be the wrestlers who will elevate their teammates from being teammates of one or two NCAA champions to being NCAA champions themselves.

First, we have to recognize that although Hunter Stieber is an undeniable talent—he went undefeated until the 2013 NCAA semis, and still finished third—he has been out all year hurt. He intends to come back for the Big Ten. Of course Devin Carter of Virginia Tech missed most of last year but was still able to make it to the NCAA finals—only to get crushed by Hunter’s brother Logan. Still, it is a lot to ask for Hunter to duplicate the effort.

And of course, Johnni DiJulius could express great indignation at not being labeled an elite wrestler—he has beaten some very strong competitors in the last few years. But he also shows signs of fading as he did last year. In a sense, Johnni is as good as anyone in his class, but he is committed to a style that would make him unbeatable if he added more traditional wrestling tools. As it is, he is kind of like a pitcher with a great fastball without a second pitch. The good wrestlers seem to wait him out and go for a close win late. I would have preferred to see Johnni risk a bit this year and take the stride to diversify his arsenal, but it really seems a little late to do that now.

Josh Demas also has elite talent but he has had so much injury time away from the sport that he is chasing others who have been able to compete and advance over this period of time. Mark Martin, Kenny Courts and Nick Tavanello also compete well but the truth just might be that none of them has the right body type to compete at their weight. Having said that, Nick, who is clearly undersized as a heavy, wrestled like a mad man in last year’s heavy consolation bracket. He came one win shy of attaining All American status in an heroic series of matches. But he too has been hurt this year: even if recovered he has lost the experience and conditioning under pressure that he might need to make the same push down the stretch.

If there is a secret to a breakthrough, one may only have to look back as far as Lehigh. The underdog Mountain Hawks came in with a chip on their shoulder. Even though Nathan Tomasello won a major decision in the opening bout, it was obvious his Lehigh counterpart was fighting as hard as he could to force Nathan to give everything he had. At 164 Bo Jordan has literally beaten his opponents into obvious submission this year. While he put a tech fall on his Lehigh opponent, young Mr. Peppelman was fighting him off to the very end.

In other matches, it was just obvious that the Lehigh wrestlers were going to fight like a father defending his family. They pushed around the higher ranked Buckeyes and you could see the confidence grow with every match. At some point you expected to see an “I’ve had enough of this crap” explosion from the Buckeyes but it never happened.

In apparent exasperation at fans criticizing teammates, Logan tweeted earlier this season that people don’t understand how hard it is to win a match. Amen, to that—winning is brutally difficult and as I said, win or lose these warriors deserve our respect. But it is also the easiest thing in the world to lose a match you could have won. The Mountain Hawks put on display for everyone to see how a big dose of hostility can break the will of a better competitor.

What this team possess in talent, it frankly lacks in fierceness—in a sport where fierce goes a long way. Little Lehigh demonstrated what determination can do. Dan Gable once said a winning wrestler knows he is going to win before he steps on the mat. If there is to be a Buckeye MVP or two in an historic season, he or they may just need to borrow a page out of the playbook of a small eastern school and go out there with the determination to will his opponent into submission.

Catching Up With ’18 OT Will Lawrence


Will Lawrence is an Offensive Tackle coming out of the Class of 2018. Already, he has piles of offers from all over the country. Being so young, he is not rated by any recruiting sites at the moment but it is clear he will be one of top tackles coming out of his class. When asked about the recruiting process Will said “It’s been great! I’ve enjoyed meeting the coaches and learning about the schools.”

Will stated that Ohio State, Alabama, Florida State, Ole Miss, Mississippi State, Arizona State, TCU, West Virginia, Duke, Louisville, Kansas, Florida Atlantic, Indiana and Cincinnati as the programs that had offered him. When asked about the schools recruiting him the hardest he listed Ole Miss, Auburn, Mississippi State, Alabama, Ohio State, TCU and Florida State. “I have no favorites at this point.” Lawrence said.

Lawrence will head over to Auburn on March 7th. “That’s all I have set up right now. I’m going to set up other visits later but not right now.” he explained.

Right now, there has not been much contact with Ohio State recently, but Will stated he is planning on calling Coach Johnson soon. Will described his game as “The best part of my game right now is pass protection on the edge. I get a lot of pancakes on the run game but I really want to improve my run game technique so I’ll get more.”

The biggest thing he is looking for in a program is a team that feels like a family, and an offensive line coach that could develop him. He is also looking for a really good strength program. Already, Will squats 430, deadlifts 480, power cleans 240 and benches 250. Off the field, he likes to hunt and mountain climb. Will Lawrence will just continue to pile on the offers and he will be rated as one of the top recruits in his class in my opinion.

Here are some highlights: 

Follow him on twitter @will_lawrence76


Wrestling Buckeyes Look for National Title This Weekend on BTN: @twuckeye’s Expanded Breakdown

With a convincing win over eastern power No. 15, Edinboro University, the third ranked Buckeye wrestling team has advanced to the Elite Eight in the National Duals. They begin action Saturday on the University of Iowa campus, where they will face the upstart Lehigh Mountain Hawks. A win against Lehigh would likely set up a rematch with No. 2 Missouri on Saturday. If the Buckeyes can keep it going, they would go for the championship on Sunday, also a likely rematch, against Iowa. Thus, the weekend sets up many potential great matches and a chance for Buckeye redemption on multiple fronts which could lead to a national title.

Buckeye Coach Tom Ryan is a big supporter of the National Dual format (he has co-authored a forceful argument in favor of shifting the team title to the dual meet format in this months’ Amateur Wrestling News). While the hard core wrestling observer is perhaps more interested in individual matchups at the top of a weight class, the more casual fan can get behind a team first format with more enthusiasm. Coach Ryan believes the National Dual format is the perfect vehicle to grow interest in the world’s oldest combat sport. While most are focused on the traditional NCAA Championships in March, this weekend presents a real opportunity for Ohio State wrestling to claim its first national title. (For one list of the weekend’s top ten individual matchups, go here.

This year, all five of the top ranked teams participate in the National Duals and all will be in Iowa City this weekend: Iowa, Missouri, Ohio State, Minnesota and Cornell. In addition, No. 12 Illinois advanced to this weekend’s finale. Given that kind of high end participation, it is hard to say the winner is not in fact the best team in the country, man for man. That, combined with the excitement from Cinderella programs such as Lehigh and Chattanooga (which upset perennial power Oklahoma), seems to demonstrate two things: power programs are getting behind the National Dual concept, and lesser programs have a chance to participate in and add to the excitement (I would suggest also that in the future, the lesser ranked teams face off against each other first–kind of like the B1G Tournament does for the lower seeds).

Lehigh, currently ranked No. 11 has competed with distinction in the venerable Eastern Interscholastic Wrestling Association (which includes Army, Navy, Harvard, Princeton, Cornell and a number of Eastern wrestling powers). In fact, Lehigh and powerhouse Cornell are expected to compete for the league title this year. Lehigh earned its bout with Ohio State by pummeling George Mason last week. While it would be difficult to see Lehigh pulling the upset against the Buckeyes, they will come well coached with hardened competitors full of fire for the upset.

Assuming the Buckeyes can advance to the semis, they likely would face No. 2 Mizzou, assuming Mizzou takes down No. 12 Illinois (which blanked a decent Kent State team). The Buckeyes lost 20-19 to Missouri in December. The teams actually tied at 19 but Missouri was awarded the win on tie-breakers (which the wrestling world euphemistically calls “criteria”). They had to go deep into the tie breakers—something like most first takedowns. Regardless, some interesting things were apparent in that first meeting that warrant watching this time around:
• At 125, Nathan Tomasello wrestled very strongly against current No. 2 and long-time power Alan Waters, losing 11-8. This was yet another example of Nathan’s early season habit of going too aggressively and getting caught for back points by more seasoned competitors. If Nathan avoids these kinds of mistakes while still keeping up the assault he can start to his climb to the very top. This is a titanic match-up that could be a great measuring stick for freshman Tomasello’s advancement.
• At 141, three time NCAA champion Logan Stieber picked up a six point forfeit. This weekend, he is likely to go against fifth ranked Lavion Mayes. Nothing is beyond Stieber’s ability–he has pinned high ranked Josh Dwieza of Iowa (pronounced jebba) and has scored major wins against other top competitors. His decisive win over No. 2 Mitchell Port is evidence that Stieber is back on track after struggling with a bad flu. However, it is still a tall order to expect a pin against a top-ranked wrestler. So the six points will be much more in doubt this time around (Buckeye fans might be interested in another comment in this month’s Amateur Wrestling News which practically bemoans the fact that Stieber has just “ruined” this weight class as he pursues an epic fourth title).
• On the other hand, at 149, Hunter Stieber made a surprise appearance in December, though clearly he was not ready. The six points Missouri registered for a first period pin were shocking. Stieber likely will not go this weekend as he takes all the time he can in an effort to go to the Big Ten with fully healed elbows in two weeks. His backup is Randy Languis. I am sure Randy is disappointed with his results this year—he actually seemed more competitive last year while wresting up at 157. But Randy is a talented young man with pride and a lot of fight. It is hard to see Missouri’s No. 4 ranked Drake Houdashelt duplicating his six point effort.
• The clearest difference is at 165. In December, Missouri’s unranked wrestler squeezed by with a two point overtime win against back-up Justin Kresevic. But Buckeye Bo Jordan is long recovered from his turf toe and has just been destroying opponents. Buckeye fans can look to an eight, perhaps the full nine-point swing in this match alone. For an earlier write-up, see this.
• In December, Missouri’s 14th ranked Willie Miklus put a 12-2 major win up against a game John Fox, filling in for No. 12 Kenny Courts. The outcome is tough to predict in this case, but it is unlikely that Miklus can add that extra point for a major decision, even if he is able to subdue the higher ranked Courts.
• 197 was a huge disappointment for wrestling fans in December. Ohio State phenom Kyle Snyder was slated to go up against returning NCAA champion J’Den Cox, but, in a successful effort to win the dual, Missouri shuffled around its line-up by sending Cox up against heavyweight Nick Tavanello. It is unlikely the dual will set up that way again, so we should see the new match of the year (the previous match of the year was last week’s Logan Stieber win over Mitchell Port).
• In turn, that should set up a match between No. 9 Buckeye Nick Tavanello and No. 16 Devin Mellon. Perhaps Nick is the favorite, but he has not wrestled in a good long while as he recovers from a banged up knee. It is not a lock that the Buckeyes will recapture these three points.

This is a wild one. While I think a Buckeye victory is likely, the Buckeyes have to hold serve with December winners Johnni DiJulius, Josh Demas and Mark Martin, or look for Nathan Tomasello to finally bust through against the elite of the class.

If the Buckeyes do advance, and if they face No. 1 Iowa (who has to get past Chattanooga and the Cornell/Minnesota winner), they will have their hands full. The Hawkeyes narrowly beat the Buckeyes in Columbus 18-14. The Buckeyes put forward their full line-up, including Hunter Stieber who lost a close one. While it is possible Hunter could be sent out if it meant winning a national title, odds are that Randy Languis will be tasked with leaving the mat without a loss by major decision or more.

In January’s first meet-up, the Buckeyes got a close win at 133 but suffered close losses at 125 and 184. Those matches are up for grabs and a change either way in any one of those three could decide the National Championship. Which reminds me of 197. Kyle Snyder suffered one of his two losses to Nathan Burak in this match, and it was a curious one. Some kind of mix-up deprived Snyder from taking down in his period of choice and the loss of a likely escape point cost him the match. This match could well go the other way as well, and it needs to. It is too much to ask a recovering Nick Tavenello to go out at 285 and beat third ranked Bobby Telford for all the marbles.

Buckeye fans—remember how fun the football national championship was? OK, if you are not a serous wrestling fan, this may not seem quite as exciting, but give yourself a break. You get a chance this weekend to watch something that will be memorable and fun, perhaps historic. You will have to find BTN to watch it, but win or lose, it should have great drama.

2014 OSU Recruiting: Few Ohio Losses, But Sparty & Domers Grab A Few

Ever since the 2002 college football recruiting class, Ohio State football has been largely successful in persuading the top Ohio talent to remain home and play for the Buckeyes. Under former Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, it could be argued that Ohio State’s recruiting philosophy seemed to zero in on the top fifteen or twenty players in the state of Ohio, then the class would be complimented with players from other states to push the class over twenty members. A classic example of this is the 2002 recruiting class, which was Tressel’s first full recruiting class at Ohio State. Among the players who helped lead Ohio State to the national championship were Ohioans Maurice Clarett, A.J. Hawk, and Bobby Carpenter; a Floridian who redshirted that season but was a prominent member of Ohio State’s teams from 2003-2005 was Santonio Holmes.

Even with the transition to Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer, Ohio has been the focal point of Ohio State’s recruiting efforts. A significant difference lies in Meyer’s approach – while focusing upon Ohio, Meyer will identify the top Ohio talent, but will not necessarily offer scholarships to all of the top players in the state.

Of the top twenty players in the state of Ohio for 2014, Ohio State was able to land six players. While that number seems low, scrutiny must come into play to determine the answer to the following question – did Ohio State recruit these players who went elsewhere?

The rationale for this question is simple – did Ohio State let a player go to a rival school, thus elevating the possibility that Ohio State will have to face that player, and thus, their mistake, for the next four or five years?

Fortunately for Ohio State, the number is low. Below are the players who were offered scholarships by Ohio State, were considered a top twenty Ohio player, yet chose to go elsewhere…

OL Noah Listermann – offered by Ohio State, yet never visited. Signed by Michigan State. Considering the six offensive linemen signed by Ohio State in this recruiting class, hopefully Listermann’s decision will not be a factor over the next few seasons.

OL James Daniels – offered by Ohio State, yet signed with Iowa. While Ohio State does not play Iowa until the 2017 season, this one could hurt for two reasons. First, Daniels is the son of former Ohio State player LeShun Daniels, so the fact that a legacy player selected Iowa stings the pride a little bit. Secondly, and more importantly, Daniels was recruited to play center for Iowa. With Jacoby Boren leaving after the 2015 season, Daniels could have been an ideal candidate to move into that spot after Boren’s eligibility expired.

DB Shaun Crawford – Crawford was originally committed to Michigan, visited Ohio State, and wound up signing with Notre Dame. Fortunately for Ohio State, the only way Ohio State will run into Crawford will be in a bowl game, so the chances of Crawford hurting Ohio State is lessened over the next four or five years.

L.J. Scott – A powerful running back from Hubbard, Ohio State offered Scott, yet Scott stayed firm in his commitment to Michigan State. Considering how Ohio State and Michigan State are both in the B1G East, and how Michigan State Mark Dantonio has long favored a power running game, Ohio State fans need to get used to the possibility of facing Scott in a Spartan uniform for the next few seasons.

Anyone who has ever been a fisherman laments “the one that got away”. Hopefully, Ohio State fans will not be lamenting the loss of these Ohio players on the gridiron when the next few college football seasons begin.

MotSaG Podcast Episode 20

This week Chip and myself had the great opportunity to get to talk with David Mormino to talk about TTUN recent recruiting class. David who can be found on twitter @davidmormino is a proud member of and Cohost on @GoBlueRadio. Chip and David discussed about some of the TTUN recruits Jim Harbaugh received for 2015 class plus who has early enrolled for the Wolverines. Naturally the hot topic of Mike Weber was brought up and David didn’t play the homer card and was a true college football fan about the whole situation. It was a great pleasure having him on our show.

The second half of the podcast we had Kevin McGuire who we always love have join our show. Kevin can be found on twitter @KevinonCFB, you can find his work on and Chip and Kevin discussed the Class that James Franklin has coming in for Penn State next season. Franklin pulled in a Top 15 class plus seems there was a twitter war between PSU and Pitt.

These were two great guests and we are thankful for them taking the time out of their busy schedules to join us. I would suggest checking out there work they are really great at what they do and will help you become extremely smart around your family and friends. Especially the ones from the fans of these teams that think they know eveything but they don’t since they aren’t smart enough to follow smart guys like David and Kevin. Hope you enjoy the show this week.

Stieber vs. Port: Running Down a Dream

Every high school championship for which he competed, he won. The same was true in college, riding a dominant unbeaten streak through his final year, the inevitability of his final conquest just a forgone conclusion. He had no particular sense that anyone could derail his run until he opened a Chicago newspaper to see the headline, “I Came Here to Beat Dan Gable.”

That was Gable’s first sense that someone was on the hunt specifically for him, and he marveled at, and was unnerved by, the audacity. Successful, at 30-1, though relatively obscure, Larry Owings of the University of Washington had dropped two weight classes for the 1970 NCAA Championships. His only goal–to run down the most successful wrestler in history (go here, for a great re-visit of the event by Albert Chen).

Gable is still angry at himself 45 years later that he never saw it coming until it was too late, that the only loss of his career was one he didn’t guard against.

Does Gable have any words of wisdom for Ohio State’s Logan Stieber who this year attempts a similar journey? (Gable was not allowed to compete for high school and collegiate championships as a freshman, and Stieber has lost a few regular season matches, but otherwise their championship distinctions are identical.) “I would tell Logan to just keep working, and grinding. Don’t get distracted, prepare for every match as if it is the biggest match you have ever had. I let myself get distracted for the biggest match of my life. The loss made me a better wrestler, but I beat myself up every day that I did not go into that match free of doubt and ready to win.”

There is a wrestler out there who hopes to end Stieber’s historic run and they meet this Sunday in the dual meet national championship tourney in Pennsylvania. This match could be a preview of a potential St. Louis showdown in March for the NCAA individual title (though Devin Carter of Virginia Tech could have something to say about that). Mitchell Port of tiny in size, though large in wrestling stature Edinboro State. One difference between Gable/Owings and Stieber/Port is that Logan Stieber and the entire wrestling world is aware of the dangerous potential of second ranked Port. Port lost in somewhat of a surprise in the 2014 NCAA Championships, rallying to finish third behind Stieber and runner-up Carter.

Stieber and Port have met once before but never in a collegiate match. Still, there is some meaningful history between the two. In Des Moines, both Logan and brother Hunter seemed headed to 2013 NCAA title bout in their respective weight classes. Logan had just won his semi-final match at 133 pounds and Hunter was up 6-2 over Port in their semi-final match at 141. Port rallied to win, thanks in part to what Hunter thinks might have been a mistake in “cutting” Port, allowing him to earn a fateful one point escape. Port went on to place second to Kendric Maple of Oklahoma.

Logan Stieber does not strike one as a revenge minded person, but that little bit of personal history cannot help but add to the flavor of this upcoming gem.

There is another side note that has to be taken into account. Stieber has been coping with illness–he sat out a trip to Rutgers after a surprisingly narrow win at home over unranked Nick Lawrence of Purdue. It had been the only match to that point during this season in which Stieber did not win by at least a major decision (i.e., a margin of victory of at least 8 points). The next week Stieber was methodically taking apart highly regarded Minnesota’s Nick Dardanes before fading badly in the third period. Stieber hung on for a razor thin 10-9 win. While it is true Dardanes has a history of hanging tough against Stieber after strong Stieber starts, still for a guy who can go wire to wire with a full tank, it was obvious Stieber’s conditioning was badly lagging, due most certainly from illness. While he seems completely healthy now, there is some question as to whether his conditioning can be up to peak level in just one week.

Mitchell Port, much like Stieber, is a disciplined, invested, hardworking planner who takes each match as it comes and who respects his opponent every time out. There is no real sense Port is actually chasing Stieber–it is doubtful he would change weight classes if he needed just to match up with Stieber. Different from Owings, Port is chasing his own dream not a man in search of history. If Logan Stieber is standing in the way, so be it. But regardless of who and what is being chased, their meet-up on Sunday has all the drama and potential one could want in a marquee match-up.

“Don’t You Forget About Me” – OSU’s 2014 Redshirts

“As you walk on by
Will you call my name?”
Don’t You Forget About Me, Simple Minds

These song lyrics from a classic 1980s song “Don’t You Forget About Me” represent to me what it must be like to football players redshirted at major college football programs. While there is always considerable fanfare when players sign their respective letters of intent, players who redshirt seem to fall by the wayside of fans.

Think about the players who signed with Ohio State in February 2014. While all were accomplished athletes coming out of high school, and coveted highly by Ohio State and other top football programs, several of them were redshirted for various reasons by Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer and his coaching staff. Perhaps some were battling an injury; perhaps others were not deemed ready to contribute during the 2014 season, and the coaches did not want to waste a valuable year of eligibility.

Regardless of the reason, these players are now facing the challenge of a newly-signed crop of recruits coming into Columbus in 2015, while many of the top players who won the national championship return. It will be important for these players to step up over the next few months, during winter conditioning, spring football, and summer workouts, to gain traction on the depth chart.

Below are the various position groups, and some names that may become more prominently known over the coming months to Ohio State fans ~

Quarterback: Stephen Collier. Anyone who listened to me on various Men Of The Scarlet And Gray podcasts this past season will recall how I often speculated if Collier was going to play in 2014. With J.T. Barrett’s injury at the conclusion of the regular season, Collier was elevated on the depth chart. With Cardale Jones’ strong performances at the end of the season, Collier was not needed to play, but contributed tremendously on the scout team during the bowl preparation periods. With two quarterbacks signed, as well as both Barrett and Braxton Miller rehabilitating from injuries, Collier should get ample playing time this spring behind Cardale Jones.

Wide Receiver: Parris Campbell Jr.; Terry McLaurin; Johnnie Dixon. Dixon was an early enrollee last winter, and seemed primed to be a contributor, until redshirted due to tendinitus in October. Campbell and McLaurin redshirted from the onset, due to a logjam at the position. With the departures of Devin Smith and Evan Spencer, the time is ripe for any or all of these players to move up on the depth chart at wide receiver.

Offensive Line: Kyle Trout; Demetrius Knox; Brady Taylor. With six new offensive linemen arriving this summer, with one already on campus in new enrollee Grant Schmidt, none of these players can waste any opportunity to try to move up on the depth chart. The challenge is Ohio State is only losing one starter from its offensive line in Darryl Baldwin, so the test will come in trying to perform well in the eyes of the coaching staff for possible backup time in 2015 as a springboard for the 2016 season.

Defensive Line: Dylan Thompson; Sam Hubbard; Darius Slade. Thompson was redshirted almost immediately, due to a broken kneecap suffered early in the season. Hubbard fluctuated from tight end to linebacker to defensive end; it remains a mystery if he will remain at defensive end this spring. Slade was a signing day addition who had previously committed to Michigan State. With the losses of Noah Spence to transfer, and Michael Bennett, Steve Miller, and Rashad Frazier to graduation, the opportunity to rise up for playing time along the defensive line is there for these defensive linemen.

Linebacker: Kyle Berger. Berger reinjured a knee ligament during the summer of 2014 that wiped out his senior year at Cleveland St. Ignatius in 2013. It is possible that the coaching staff will take a cautious approach to rushing Berger onto the field, lest he sustain another injury.

Defensive Back: Malik Hooker; Marshon Lattimore. Hooker was an athlete designated for the secondary; it is possible that special teams will be where Hooker can make his first impact upon the depth chart. Lattimore was considered for both defense and offense, yet sustained a hamstring injury serious enough to warrant surgery that necessitated his redshirt season.

“As you walk on by Will you call my name?” ~ This question will be on the minds of the players listed up above, as well as by Ohio State fans such as myself, as the 2015 season approaches.

MotSaG Chat With 2017 QB Commit Danny Clark

This week I had the privilege of interviewing Danny Clark, who was the first verbal commit in the 2017 class for Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Clark hails from legendary Massillon, Ohio where he plays for arguably the greatest high school football team in world history. Sound dramatic? Here is a little history lesson for you: From 1935-1965, the Massillon Tigers won 9 national championships and 20 state championships. That is incredible and will never be replicated again. The Tigers are also involved in the greatest high school rivalry in the nation when they square off against archrival Canton McKinley. Great tradition, great rivalry… sounds like another team I root for.

He is ranked at No. 2 for players in great state of Ohio (trailing only OL Josh Myers from Miamisburg- Ohio State commit) and as the second ranked Pro-Style Quarterback in all of America for the 2017 class. Clark is ranked as the 48th best player in the nation according to 247 Sports. I highly suggest getting to one of his games this season because he is fantastic to watch on the football field. You will not be disappointed. So without further adieu, here is my Q&A with 4 star Massillon Tigers Quarterback, Danny Clark.


NB: When did schools start recruiting you?

DC: I’ve started taking unofficial visits in 7th grade but schools weren’t allowed to recruit me until I was a freshman on varsity.

NB: What was the first school where you had an unofficial visit?

DC: Tennessee Volunteers, me and my dad went to a Tennessee Alabama night game as a guest of Tennessee.

NB: What schools have made a strong impression on you besides Ohio State?

DC: None. No other school comes close.

NB: What has it been like playing in the football crazed town of Massillon?

DC: It has been a great experience there’s only one Massillon.

NB: What has been your favorite memory playing for them so far?

DC: The second play of my of varsity career was a 59 yard touchdown pass to Reggie Rogers, I’ll never forget it.

NB: How does your rivalry game against Canton McKinley help prepare you for Ohio State’s game with the team up north?

DC: It’s the greatest high school rivalry in the country. There’s nothing like playing in that game. Its huge. 20,000 people. It’s a must win. NB: Who is your favorite current or former NFL quarterback and why?

DC: Peyton manning. There’s no one like the sheriff. He’s a great quarterback, a great leader, and a good guy off the field.

NB: What is a hobby you enjoy outside of football?

DC: I love lifting weights, boating, working on cars, motorcycle, and watching the Buckeyes.

NB: Have you gotten to know a lot of other 2017 recruits looking at Ohio State?

DC: Yes. Josh Meyers and I are real close, and I’ve developed a strong relationship with Bruce Judson. Trevon Grimes and I are real tight too. They’re all good guys I just try to let them know how great Ohio State is and what we can do together here. There has never been a better time to be a Buckeye.

NB: Do you know what you will be majoring in yet?

DC: Right now I’m thinking journalism. Or maybe sports broadcasting.

NB: Last question: favorite movie of all time?

DC: Predator or The Program.

I would like to thank Danny Clark for taking the time out of his day to give me this interview, my first as a member of the staff at Men of the Scarlet and Gray. Out of all the players that the Buckeyes have, either on the team already or in the midst of recruiting, Clark is one of my favorite ones. He will be something to behold when he heads to Columbus.

Below is a Danny Clark highlight tape: