Archives for May 2015

Do Not Expect A Happy Homecoming For WMU’s P.J. Fleck Against Ohio State

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.” ~ Ulysses S. Grant

Leave it to a native Ohioan to spell it out what needs to be done in order to win. West Point graduate, Civil War general, and former United State President, I am willing to bet Ulysses S. Grant would have given football coaching a shot if it had been around in his day.

While counting down the days until the 2015 college football season begins, I thought I would pass the time by ranking and reviewing the upcoming 2015 Ohio State opponents, from least difficult to most difficult. This ranking system of mine will be highly subjective, prone to possibilities of injuries, transfers, or other unforeseen events that could dramatically impact its accuracy. As always, I encourage comments and critique about what I have projected.


Western Michigan Broncos (Game 4)

2015 OSU Opponent Ranking: 11 out of 12

Players Recruited By Ohio State: N/A.

Game Date: September 26, 2015

Kickoff Time: TBD

Location: Ohio Stadium

Rationale For The Ranking: Western Michigan had a solid 2014 season, with an 8-5 season that concluded with a loss to Air Force in The Famous Idaho Potato Bowl (38-24). Western Michigan did not have a game against a ranked opponent in 2014, and one could argue that Western Michigan played well in several losses (at Purdue; at Virginia Tech; versus Toledo in overtime, and versus Northern Illinois). In many instances, Western Michigan has been able to land recruits that other B1G institutions such as Illinois, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, and Wisconsin.

Prediction: P.J. Fleck is widely considered one of the up and coming head coaches in college football, and it will not surprise me if Fleck ascends to a head coaching position within a Power 5 conference very soon. After a challenging start in 2013 (1-11) in his head coaching career, Fleck has been able to make Western Michigan a highly competitive team within the MAC. For those Ohio State fans who may not be aware, Fleck served as a graduate assistant on former Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel’s staff, back in the 2006 season, helping to coach the tight ends and special teams units.

Among the highly-touted players on Western Michigan’s team this year are QB Zach Terrell, RB Jarvion Franklin, WR Daniel Braverman, OL James Kristof, DB Ronald Zamort, and KR Darius Phillips.

Why, then, am I ranking Western Michigan eleventh out of Ohio State’s twelve opponents?

As stated up above, my rankings and rationale are highly subjective. While Western Michigan has been able to secure talent that other B1G teams recruited, it is worth noting that none of these players held offers from Ohio State. I believe the talent differential will become noticeable as the game progresses. Ohio State fans will have an opportunity to gauge Western Michigan’s talent, as the Broncos open up the 2015 season on September 4th in East Lansing, Michigan, versus the Michigan State Spartans.

How do I believe it will wind up? Below are some Twitter exchanges between Mark Cerimele (@RealMarkCerimel) and myself that will give you an idea as to what I believe will transpire on September 26th in Ohio Stadium…

Starting the Heisman Hype Train for Ezekiel Elliot

osuHelmetIf you’ve been on social media in the past past twelve hours, you’ve undoubtedly already seen this, but in case you haven’t, this is ZEKE by Friend of the Blog (and former Buckeye) Mekka Don, starting up the Hype Train for Ezekiel Elliot’s 2015 Heisman Campaign.

The video was done by our very own Kade Jetland, MotSaG Video Extraordinaire:

Chirico’s Corner With ’18 DT Taron Vincent

Vincent wears #56

6’3 285 lbs. Taron Vincent has experienced a quick jump to his recruiting process, already obtaining offers from top programs such as Ohio State, Maryland, Wisconsin, and N.C. State. Vincent has already caught the attention from programs across the country and will have a large amount of offers to choose from in the near future. The Baltimore, M.D. native has been busy, especially last month taking visits, particularly to Ohio State for the spring game.

After just one season of playing high school football, Vincent has already had a good experience with his recruiting process. “It’s been good. My parents have been telling me to keep focused on high school for now and then focus more on the process later on.” Vincent said. “I would say N.C. State is showing the most interest right now because my brother plays there. I get down there the most often.”

“They were my first offer so they would always be in my top schools.”

Most recently, Vincent made it out to UCLA for a visit. In the past, Vincent went out to watch a couple spring games, including UCLA’s, Ohio State’s and N.C. State’s. Vincent explained his experience at Ohio State as “It was great. I got to spend some one on one time with Coach Johnson. I was able to tour the facilities, see the stadium. The atmosphere was crazy with all the people there, I never saw that many people at a spring game before.”

Vincent received his offer a couple months ago when he was notified from one of his coaches. “I was excited to get an offer from the national champions” Vincent said. On top of that, the Vincent family has had a connection with Coach Johnson for a while now. “When my brother was getting recruited for college, Coach Johnson was one of his primary recruiters, so he has been around for a while now.”

For the summer, Vincent plans to partake in camps at Wake Forest, Georgia Tech, Michigan, and Michigan State. As far as a commitment date, he would like to commit either before or at the very end of his junior year. But, before this, Vincent has some plans on improving his game. “I want to improve getting lower out of my stance along with using my hands more.” Vincent said.

Look for the Ohio State to stay close to Vincent throughout these next few years in his recruiting process. He is a big defensive tackle who can get to the ball quickly. It will be exciting to see his development and what the future holds.

Watch some highlights here.


Hawaii Will Want To Say ‘Aloha’ Quickly To OSU In 2015

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.” ~ Ulysses S. Grant

Leave it to a native Ohioan to spell it out what needs to be done in order to win. West Point graduate, Civil War general, and former United State President, I am willing to bet Ulysses S. Grant would have given football coaching a shot if it had been around in his day.

While counting down the days until the 2015 college football season begins, I thought I would pass the time by ranking and reviewing the upcoming 2015 Ohio State opponents, from least difficult to most difficult. This ranking system of mine will be highly subjective, prone to possibilities of injuries, transfers, or other unforeseen events that could dramatically impact its accuracy. As always, I encourage comments and critique about what I have projected.


Hawaii Rainbow Warriors (Game 2)

2015 OSU Opponent Ranking: 12 out of 12

Players Recruited By Ohio State: N/A. Former Buckeye QB Taylor Graham, who transferred to Hawaii in 2012, has used up his eligibility.

Game Date: September 12, 2015

Kickoff Time: TBD

Location: Ohio Stadium

Rationale For The Ranking: Hawaii went 4-9 in 2014 under Norm Chow, with wins over Northern Iowa, Wyoming, at San Jose State, and UNLV. All of those teams except Northern Iowa had losing records; Northern Iowa is a FCS school. Even the Northern Iowa victory was close, with Hawaii winning 27-24. The best team Hawaii played in 2014 was Colorado State; Colorado State defeated Hawaii 49-22.

Prediction: Norm Chow is one of the most respected offensive minds in college football, with legendary accomplishments as an assistant at Brigham Young and USC. While an accomplished offensive coordinator, the results as a head coach have not been favorable, lending credence to the old football adage that sometimes the best assistants do not necessarily make the best head coaches. Chow is on the hot seat at Hawaii, entering the 2015 season with a 8-29 record after three seasons. Considering this is Ohio State’s home opener, the significant travel distance Hawaii has to make, and the simple talent discrepancy between the two teams, let me just state that this will probably get out of hand very quickly.

Hawaii opens up the 2015 season with a home game versus Colorado, while Ohio State opens up on the road at Virginia Tech. As I stated up above, this is Ohio State’s home opener. It is difficult to see Ohio State coming out flat in Ohio Stadium, in front of its home crowd, in the first home game of the season.

How bad do I think it might be? I am going to allow Travis Scarangello (@ElChibo), a Hawaii native, to give you an idea as to what he believes may happen…

Look for Coach Meyer to begin substituting liberally before the half. This is the kind of game where Ohio State can and should rest its starters once the sizable lead has been gained, and give the backups considerable playing time experience that will be of benefit for the future. This is also the kind of game that Ohio State critics will point to as the 2015 season progresses, with accusations that Ohio State does not play enough quality opponents.

In Hawaiian culture, ‘aloha’ means both hello and goodbye. My prediction is Hawaii will be wanting to say ‘aloha’ to Ohio State very quickly on September 12, 2015.

Recruiting Rankings Are Great, But Give Me The NFL Draft For Results

Before getting too deep into the main subject of my post, I want to express some public support and sympathy for former Buckeye and current Denver Broncos tight end Jeff Heuerman. You may recall in last week’s article that I mentioned how I had hoped that my favorite NFL team, the Cleveland Browns, would have possibly drafted Heuerman in the 2015 NFL Draft. Only one day after I published my article, news spread quickly about Heuerman sustaining a torn ACL during his first practice that will sideline him throughout the 2015 NFL season.

Good luck to Jeff as he prepares for his surgery and subsequent rehabilitation. In case you have not sent a tweet already, Jeff Heuerman is on Twitter at @JHeuerman86.

What I am going to write about is not new news, for anyone who truly knows me. As a matter of fact, I have written articles like this before, but as the NFL Draft is so relatively fresh in everyone’s mind, I thought I would just reiterate some points that seem to get overlooked or lost in the shuffle.

Yes, I follow recruiting, especially as it relates to Ohio State. After all, I did assist back in 1995 with recruiting for Ohio State’s 1996 recruiting class, long before social media was the dominant force it is today. Yes, I want Ohio State to secure the top talent in the country, knowing that having top talent is a necessary component in order to contend for the national championship.

But do I really care if one player is ranked as a five-star versus a four-star, or if Ohio State is ranked first in one recruiting service but second in another? Not really.

And the reason why is very simple – Nobody, including the coaches, truly knows what they have until the players arrive on campus, and compete against the other players on the roster.

Here is where the NFL Draft comes into play. Three, four, five years after a recruiting class has been signed, and the NFL Draft rolls around…now you see what you truly had, in terms of players being valued and coveted, when they are picked in the NFL Draft. No matter where Rivals, Scout, 247Sports, ESPN, etc, had these players ranked, you get to see how good a job the coaches not only evaluated, but developed, the talent that they had on hand, and what the NFL thinks of them.

Let me give you some quick examples. Below are some names who were in the top twenty recruits for 2011, based on ~

Curtis Grant of Ohio State. George Farmer of USC. Ray Drew of Georgia. James Wilder Jr of Florida State. Trey Metoyer of Oklahoma.

All were five star recruits. None were selected in the NFL Draft; all were signed as free agents by NFL teams.

Now does that mean that recruiting rankings are useless? Not at all. Jadeveon Clowney of South Carolina was ranked the number one recruit in the nation in 2011, and wound up as the first pick in the 2014 NFL Draft by the Houston Texans. Other top recruits in that top ten list are names such as Cyrus Kouandjio of Alabama, De’Anthony Thomas of Oregon, and Hasean Clinton-Dix of Alabama. All were picked in the 2014 NFL Draft.

My point is that when it comes time for NFL teams to make their best educated decisions on investing a draft choice and considerable money into a player, do you think the team is truly considering where the player was ranked by a recruiting service, or by what the player did on the field in games? That is where player development is so crucial.

The players Ohio State had selected in the 2015 NFL Draft are a testament to the development and coaching of Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer and his staff, not by any recruiting rankings. It does not matter to me that the players who signed in February 2011 (or in Darryl Baldwin’s case, 2010) have now been evaluated years after the fact – the fact that NFL teams have made their evaluations have given me a solid idea as to how talented these players are in the eyes of NFL evaluators.

Maybe I am the only person at who feels this way, and that is fine. Put it this way – the 2016 NFL Draft is about a year away, and I am already anxious to see how the NFL evaluates the tremendous talent that Ohio State will be sure to offer the professional ranks.

Chirico’s Corner With ’16 WR Javon McKinley

The past couple of Buckeye recruiting classes have had a majority of East Coast commits, although they do snatch a couple of West Coast prospects as well. For the 2016 class, Ohio State is pushing hard for the Corona, California native, Javon McKinley. McKinley, rated the 13th wide receiver in his class, and the 15th best prospect out of California (Per 247Sports), had a tremendous past junior season with 2062 receiving yards and 25 touchdowns. This was a huge leap from his sophomore season, where he only caught for 517 receiving yards and 5 touchdowns.

His significant past season has earned him scholarships from top-tier programs across the country, including Ohio State who offered McKinley just a few short months ago. With McKinley currently holding 22 offers, it is safe to say he has been through a lot throughout his recruiting process. “The recruiting process has been treating me really well. I am just glad to have the opportunity to being recruited so much. It has had its ups and downs but I’ve enjoyed it.” McKinley said. Out of all the schools showing interest, McKinley narrowed down the ones recruiting him the hardest. “Washington, Washington State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Illinois, Vanderbilt, Tennessee and Miami are recruiting me the hardest right now.”

Before making a list of his favorite schools, McKinley wants to get out and see a couple more programs and has been thinking about his future plans regarding the process. “I am planning to visit Ohio State for an official visit. My other ones are Notre Dame, Oregon, and Tennessee regarding my visits.” McKinley said.

Regarding his offer from Ohio State, McKinley was happy to get an offer from the national champs. “It felt great to get an offer from the national champions. I have been talking to Zach Smith who is a real good guy. I have been talking to him a lot and I am looking forward to getting out to visit the school and meet all the coaches.” McKinley said.

“I think I would work well in that (Ohio State) offense. A lot of coaches tell me that with my size, I am tell enough to be inside. But I am not too tall to play outside, I can play all over the field.”

McKinley saw a significant increase in his statistics from the past two seasons, but still wants to improve. “I am a more bump and run receiver. I would like improve working the defensive back’s hitch on their coverage.”

With a set commitment date at the Army All-American Bowl Game, look for Ohio State to continue recruiting McKinley hard.

You can watch his junior season highlights here.

Chirico’s Corner With ’18 OT Will Lawrence

It seems as if Urban Meyer’s recruiting classes are improving throughout each class. There are high expectations for the 2016 and 2017 classes, and the expectations are the same, if not higher for the 2018 class. The Buckeyes have already went out and offered several high school freshman, including players like Ricky Slade, Tyreke Johnson, Zamir White, and Joey Gatewood. Along side these young offensive play-makers is the only current offensive line offer for the 2018 class, coming from Will Lawrence.

This early in the recruiting process, there are no position rankings out for the 2018 class, but the pile of over twenty offers speaks for itself for the 6’4, 280 lbs offensive tackle from Memphis, Tennessee. Yes, over twenty offers, as a freshman in high school. Lawrence first started his journey partaking in camps at several schools such as Ohio State, Tennessee, and Baylor. His first offer came from Cincinnati back just a littler less than a year ago in June.

Lawrence earned a Buckeye offer, which was his seventh, back in December. Now with over twenty offers, its clear the recruiting process has already started to get going early for Lawrence; he has gathered offers from top programs such as Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, LSU, Tennessee, and more. “So far, the recruiting process has been great. I have learned a lot about how important is to keep working hard and sending out film to coaches. Really just hard work and dedication throughout it all.” Lawrence said.

Lawrence is looking to release a list of favorite schools in about a year, once he is able to visit more schools. “I’ve only visited Auburn and Alabama in the last so many months. I want to start visiting a lot more schools which will help determine that.” Lawrence said.

As for Ohio State: Back in June, Lawrence was able to get out to Columbus for camp. “Last year at the camp was fun. The day of, I went on a visit to see facilities. The camp was great, I learned a lot and I had a great time.” Lawrence explained.

“Coach Johnson told me over the phone that I had an offer from Ohio State, which was really exciting.”

Coaches are seeing many great attributes in Lawrence’s game, a main reason as to why he has so many offers in just one season of high school football. “I think programs really like my pass protection and love my kick. I do need to work on finishing back. Right now, kicking back in the pocket is definitely my strengths.”

As for next season, Lawrence wants to gather ten wins, win every playoff game, and win a state championship. A commitment date is estimated in the spring of his junior year, which has a good chance of changing since there is so much time left to alter his decisions. So early in the process it is hard to get a feel for where Lawrence is favoring. He is still in the early steps of getting out to, and hearing from schools. Look for the Buckeyes to keep on him hard throughout these next couple of years.

Watch some highlights here.


Why Can’t The Browns “Steel” Some Buckeyes In The NFL Draft?

Congratulations to Devin Smith, Jeff Heuerman, Doran Grant, Evan Spencer, and Michael Bennett on being selected in the 2015 NFL Draft. This weekend will be the first rookie minicamp for these players with their respective NFL teams. It is challenging to refer to these players as “former Buckeyes”, but they will all be moving forward in their quest for (hopefully) lengthy NFL careers. Good luck also to Darryl Baldwin, Curtis Grant, and Steve Miller, who all were signed as free agents to NFL teams. Jerry Emig of Ohio State had an impressive tweet that summarizes the good fortune of these players as they enter into the NFL…

Former Buckeye Rod Smith is also getting a free agent opportunity, with the Seattle Seahawks…

Remember Verlon Reed? This former Buckeye, who left Ohio State for Findlay, is getting a free agent opportunity with the Detroit Lions…

According to Bill Rabinowitz of The Columbus Dispatch, former Buckeye Kyle Clinton is also getting a free agent tryout with the Pittsburgh Steelers this coming weekend…

At least Clinton and Grant will have some company while in Pittsburgh – over the last six years, the Pittsburgh Steelers have drafted six players from Ohio State.

Prior to the NFL Draft, I held out hope that the Cleveland Browns, the NFL team I have rooted for my entire life, would pick two Buckeyes – Jeff Heuerman and Evan Spencer. Both would have fulfilled position needs on the Browns, and had the skill set that would allow them to succeed in Cleveland’s run-oriented offense.

I was happy for Jeff Heuerman that Denver picked Heuerman in the third round; that was a little higher than I anticipated the Browns would show interest. I thought maybe the Browns would be interested in Heuerman in the fourth round.

As for Evan Spencer, I woke up on Saturday morning and tweeted out the following. My man Shannon Sommers agreed with my line of thinking…

Do you know who the last Ohio State player the Cleveland Browns selected was? Brian Robiskie, back in second round of the 2009 NFL Draft. Prior to Robiskie? 2002, when the Browns picked Darnell Sanders in the fourth round.

Don’t get me wrong – I am happy for all of these Buckeye players to have NFL opportunities, even if it is with the Cleveland Browns’ biggest rival. I just do not understand how the Browns, a team that has long been mired in the basement of its division, and is always trying to close the gap between itself and the division leaders, cannot look into scouting players from a powerhouse program only two hours down I-71. The Pittsburgh Steelers are located further away, and have had no problem with the longer commute to scout out Buckeye talent. Even the comments of Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer made me think the Browns would be picking at least one Buckeye…

Even Bill Rabinowitz agrees with me…Below is a tweet sent before the NFL Draft concluded regarding Darryl Baldwin, a Cleveland native, that somewhat mirrors my line of thinking ~

The 2016 NFL Draft is a year away, and I am looking forward to what promises to be an exciting 2015 Ohio State football season. I can only hope that with a crop of players that will be heavily abundant in Buckeye talent in the 2016 NFL Draft that the Browns will “steel” some Buckeyes going forward.

2016 Four-Star Offensive Tackle Michael Jordan Commits to Ohio State

This tweet has sent twitter a buzz today. Everyone wondering who is the new commit.

Well Urban Myer has stolen a prized possession from Jim Harbaugh, right next door to the Outhouse in Ann Arbor.

6’6 285lb tackle Michael Jordan from Canton, Mi (Plymouth) has commited to the good guys. Michael is listed as the #11 Tackle by the four letter network, #16 at 247 and #21 at Rivals. Jordan has had numerous offers including from Harbaugh, Michigan State, Notre Dame, and Boston College to name a few.

Michael made an unofficial visit to Columbus for the Spring Game and must have been impressed with the 100k plus fans that supposedly had nothing to do but watch the best football team in the nation practice. He too must have been impressed by the fans, coaches, campus, and fellow players. Hey whats not to love about Ohio State right.

Urban Meyer knows how important building up the trenches is and this is great for Ohio State and great for Michael Jordan.

Welcome to Buckeye Nation young man can’t wait to see you wearing the Scarlet and Gray.

You can watch his highlights here.

Urban’s Hospitalization

Head Coach Urban Meyer is scheduled to have his appendix removed today. Although this was unplanned, there are no major concerns up to this point. Meyer, was planning on attending an event at the University of Findlay, but will not make that trip since he is likely to spend the night in the hospital.

Doug Lesmerises stated ” Ohio State had made it public that Meyer would be forced to miss an event at the University of Findlay on Wednesday night because of an unplanned surgery. And anything regarding Meyer’s health is of note given some past health issues.

But Shelley made clear this is a routine, though unplanned, medical situation and said just after noon on Wednesday that she was in the hospital with her husband with the surgery soon to begin. He may be held overnight in the hospital.”

There is still a great possibility Meyer will still throw out the first pitch Friday at the New York Yankees game. Currently, he is still planned for that trip to New York.