Ohio State Tight End Preview

The tight ends in Ohio State’s offense were likely to play a significant role in the offense this season before Braxton Miller was lost for the season with a torn labrum in his throwing shoulder. Now, with redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett at the helm, it would seem that the tight ends will get even more throws their way as they become potential safety valves for the freshman behind an inexperienced offensive line.

The tight end group is anchored by Jeff Heuerman, who led the team last season in yards per reception at 17.9. Heuerman played in every game, pulling in 26 catches for 466 yards and four touchdowns. The senior from Naples, Fla. has been named to the Mackey Award watch list this preseason for the nation’s top tight end, which is no surprise given the flashes of big-play potential Heuerman showed last season.

Among the big plays Heuerman produced last season was a 57-yard touchdown catch and run in the Orange Bowl against Clemson and a 22-yard touchdown against Michigan. He also had a big game against Purdue (who didn’t?), racking up 116 yards on five grabs on his way to being named the Mackey Award national player of the week. Heuerman earned honorable mention All-Big Ten accolades from both the coaches and the media last season.

Poised for a breakout year is junior Nick Vannett. The Westerville Central grad played in 25 games over the past two seasons, recording 17 receptions for 203 yards and one touchdown, with the lone touchdown coming in the victory over Purdue last year. After just eight catches in 2013, don’t be surprised if Vannett doubles that total this season as he becomes a bigger part of the Buckeye offense.

The third tight end of the group is redshirt freshman Marcus Baugh. A four-star recruit coming out of high school, Baugh was a top-150 player across all the major recruiting sites. Listed as the No. 3 tight end in the country in the class of 2013 by ESPN, Scout, and 247Sports, Baugh played in the Under Armour All-American Game in 2013. Baugh was an extremely productive receiver during his days at John W. North High School in Riverside, Ca, where he caught 68 passes for 1,138 yards and 10 touchdowns over his final two years.

With all of the weapons Ohio State has on offense, it’s easy to overlook the tight end position. It would not be wise to do so. Heuerman and Vannett have proven that they have the ability to make the big play on the collegiate level and Baugh certainly has the potential to do the same. Look for 30-35 catches from Heuerman and 10-15 from Vannett. At this point, any contribution from Marcus Baugh would just be icing on the cake for the offense.

What do you think of the Buckeye tight end group? Does Heuerman have what it takes to bring home the Mackey Award? Let us know in the comments what you’re looking for from the tight ends this season.

5 Things I Think: A Unique Championship Aspiration

As we turn the corner onto the road that leads us to the College Football Playoff to determine a national champion, one of the first things that came to mind was how great it would be to win both a BCS championship and a CFP championship. However there are many people who have that opportunity — all returning players on FSU’s squad from last season, for example. We’ve seen players win national championships in two different sports (Chad Jones and Jared Mitchell won a BCS title and a baseball national championship at LSU) and that’s rare enough. What if a player won a college football title for two different teams (and in the process win both a BCS and a CFP championship)? There are a few players who have that opportunity this season.

1. Transferring is no easy task. With the unbelievable control coaches and athletic departments have over where a player is allowed to transfer, the opportunity to transfer to another potential championship contender isn’t going to come around very often. Players can be kept from transferring within their conference and sometimes can be kept from transferring at all (e.g. Devonte Fields). Additionally, a lot of players will transfer to a lower-level school to avoid sitting out a year. Auburn’s Cam Newton won a NJCAA championship and a BCS championship in consecutive years and Alabama’s DJ Pettway has the opportunity to win a BCS, NJCAA, and CFP championship in consecutive years this season should Alabama take the trophy. All that being said, the opportunity for a player to win a championship for two different FBS programs is rare and three players come to mind that have a chance at accomplishing it.

2. Michael Dyer (Auburn & Louisville): Michael Dyer has had an interesting and well-traveled college career to say the least. He won a national title with Auburn in 2010 and was named MVP of the BCS Championship game. He had one of the most unforgettable plays (at least I’ll never forget it) ever in that game when the whole stadium, minus Darvin Adams, thought he was down and he kept running and put the Tigers in a position to kick the game-winning field goal. He was dismissed from the team not long after that and decided to follow his offensive coordinator to Arkansas State — from which he was also dismissed shortly thereafter. He then spent a year at Arkansas Baptist, without playing football, and earned an Associate’s Degree. Last season, he landed at Louisville during a season that many pundits thought the Cardinals could go undefeated (but no one knew UCF was going to be that good) and have an outside chance at the BCS title game. The Cardinals, of course, didn’t play for the final BCS championship. Louisville is in its first season in the ACC and has a new head coach in Bobby Petrino. It’s possible they could make a run but it won’t be easy as they face Miami, at Clemson, FSU, and at Notre Dame this season (however, they have a bye week before both FSU and ND). Louisville obviously, isn’t a favorite to make the final four teams, but Dyer still has a chance.

3. Chad Lindsey (Alabama & Ohio State): Lindsey played in a combined 12 games during Alabama’s championship seasons in 2011 and 2012. He now joins an offensive line for the Buckeyes that returns just one starter and is charged with protecting a redshirt freshman in J.T. Barrett at quarterback now that star Braxton Miller is out for the season. The Buckeyes had a chance to make a run for the final four this season with many pundits thinking their only obstacle would be Michigan State in Week 11. The Buckeyes still have a chance to make that run, despite Miller being out, because of the depth the Buckeyes now have at the “h-back” position (or what some people call the “Percy Harvin position”). The Buckeyes will also play a much more aggressive style of defense in the secondary under new co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash, which can only help a team which was atrocious versus the pass last season (112th in the nation). Also, the Buckeyes don’t have Wisconsin or Nebraska on its schedule and play Michigan in Columbus. Lindsey’s chances of winning a third national title and and winning one on his second team were of course diminished when Miller went down, but it certainly didn’t vanish. He’ll bring leadership and experience to a young group of offensive linemen. It will be a challenging season for the Buckeyes, but not impossible.

4. Jacob Coker (Florida State & Alabama): Coker backed up Heisman winner Jameis Winston at quarterback last season at Florida State. He threw just 36 times all season. However, he’s gotten praise for having a very strong arm and good mobility and supposedly pushed Winston very hard in last year’s fall camp for the starting job. He joins an Alabama squad whose two-time national championship winning quarterback (as a starter), A.J. McCarron, has gone on to the NFL (Cincinnati Bengals). He’s competing with senior Blake Sims and redshirt freshman Cooper Bateman for the starting job. Whoever wins the job will be surrounded by talent at both the running back and receiver positions (including TE), so he won’t have to be a superstar. Combine that with Lane Kiffin joining the staff as offensive coordinator and offensive success is somewhat of a given. Defensively, the Crimson Tide will face as many as six team that will run some version of the no-huddle offense. That has the potential to be concern However, the hurry-up, no huddle offense was a big topic of discussion this offseason which means I’m positive Saban, Smart, and Co. have been working diligently on defending it — particularly on their substitution schemes. Despite the unknown at quarterback, Alabama is still a favorite by many to make the final four for a shot at the title. That means Coker could possibly win back-to-back national championships with two different teams. Starter or not, that would be pretty amazing.

5. Meet a man who has already done it: J.T. White. White won a national championship with two different FBS schools, but not just any two FBS schools. These two schools are two of the winningest schools in FBS history and they’re rivals! J.T. White was a member of Ohio State’s 1942 national championship team and Michigan’s 1947 national championship team. He went to TOSU for two years (playing both basketball and football for the Buckeyes) before joining the Army. He served from 1943 through the end of World War II in 1945. He then joined the Wolverines upon returning to join his brother who was a captain on the team. He was a 2nd-team All-American (center) during their 1947 championship season. His quarterback, Howard Yerges, that season actually also started his career with the Buckeyes (played there only in 1943). It should be noted that the 1942 national championship is also claimed by Georgia as they won the Rose Bowl that year while Ohio State was ranked #1 in the AP poll (AP didn’t release a post-bowl poll back then). TOSU didn’t participate in a bowl that season due to a conference rule that only allowed its teams to compete in the Rose Bowl. Additionally, the 1947 national championship is also claimed by Notre Dame. Notre Dame was ranked #1 in the AP poll and didn’t participate in a bowl that season, but because undefeated Michigan went on to beat USC 49-0 in the Rose Bowl, a post-bowl (unofficial) AP poll was done. Only Michigan and Notre Dame were options on the poll and Michigan won. White later spent 26 seasons as a defensive line coach at Penn State and was the assistant AD there when Penn State won that national title in 1982.

Luke Morgan: Walk-On to Depth Chart QB

The news of Braxton Miller’s injury is everywhere and it is unavoidable but there is a silver lining OSU has some horses in the stable willing and ready to go in and take over where Braxton left off. Enter stage left is Sophomore Walk-On QB Luke Morgan. Who is Luke Morgan you probably are asking? He is a 6’2″ 225 lbs second year player from Lebanon, Ohio. Let’s take a look at what his Ohio State Athletics Profile has to say about him…

Overview: Luke Morgan is in his second season with the football program after initially joining the team in June 2013 as an invited walk-on as a true freshman … he is an OSU Scholar-Athlete who is majoring in finance.

More on Luke: Morgan was a two-sport standout at Lebanon High School (football and basketball and a team captain for both) … he threw for 2,245 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for another 832 yards and 11 scores in 2012 for coach Shawn Lamb’s Warriors … he was named the Greater Western Ohio Conference offensive player of the year in 2012 and was named second-team all-district by the Associated Press … Morgan is the son of Regina and Doug Morgan … he has an older brother, Graham.

Luke has a great arm and is very athletic as a two sport star there are videos of him dunking in High School. He has put on about 40 pounds since arriving at OSU last year. You can see a video of his throwing below.

The odds of Luke playing this year are slim even with the injury to Braxton. If Coach Meyer decides that he would rather redshirt Stephen Collier than Luke could be the 3rd string QB and we are only a bad situation or 2 away from him being the QB of the team. Sure it would take a lot to make that happen but the way things are going who knows. All we can do is hope he is prepared and in shape and ready to step up and play if need be.

Stephen Collier: Bio and Expectations

Stephen Collier was the lone quarterback recruit in the 2014 class hailing from Leesburg, GA (Lee County High). The 6’3 220 pound freshman was a 3 star recruit and rated as the number 11 dual threat quarterback in the country by 247sports. While Collier’s name was not well known by most fans, and he was the last of six quarterbacks offered in the 2014 class, he was a diamond in the rough waiting to be mined out of Georgia. In his senior season Collier passed for over 4,000 yards and rushed for 1,500 yards, accumulating a school record 44 total touchdowns. His record breaking play helped earn his team a regional title and a birth in the Georgia state playoffs. Collier also received an invitation to the Elite 11 finals in Oregon and impressed many along the way.

After watching his senior year tape I’m still honestly baffled by his middle of the pack rating. Collier did come out in a year loaded at the quarterback position, and of course there are some politics that play in to the ratings game, but I was as impressed watching Collier’s tape as I was any other QB outside of Deshaun Watson (the #1 overall DT-QB Clemson commit).

Stephen Collier

Collier’s size is the first thing that stands out to you. As stated he is 6’3 or 6’4, and a thick 220 pounds. Even though he has a solid frame, Collier possesses the mobility required to escape the pocket as well as be a threat in the read option game. Along with his quick feet comes a cannon for an arm. Collier stands out the most when he is throwing the deep ball or throwing in to tight windows. While his arm strength will not be as impactful on the college level due to the increase speed of play, it should still stand out as above average to good.

If there is a flaw in Collier’s game it is in his accuracy and decision making. Collier will need to adjust to the speed of the college game. His decision making has to be quicker, especially in Herman’s offense, and his short to intermediate accuracy will have to improve. Collier’s quick and neat feet should help him progress quickly in this department. The one trait that will help Collier progress his game and see his opportunity to compete for a starting job increase will be his intangibles.

A large reason that he received an offer and was so touted by Herman and Meyer is because Collier is a competitor and a very hard worker. Collier is a football junkie and with his work ethic should polish out the majority of his flaws. He stayed after practice multiple times this spring to work on his timing; often times he was the last player to leave the building. With instruction from Herman, and a couple of seasons to sit and learn, Collier could find himself competing for a quarterback battle in the upcoming seasons. Meyer’s offense has proven that not one, but two quarterbacks have to be available at all times. That should provide ample opportunity to a player like Collier to step up and contribute when need be. In the mean time we will have to wait to watch Collier in future spring games and blowouts, hopefully receiving more pass attempts than the astounding one he saw this past spring game.

What Does JT Barrett Bring To The Table

What’s the old saying; “We don’t rebuild, we reload”. Well the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes ability to reload will be severely tested as three year starting QB and Heisman hopeful Braxton Miller has been ruled out for the 2014 season due to a dislocated right shoulder. I can talk about the mysterious and contradictory manner in which the Buckeyes handled Miller’s recovery from a February operation to repair his shoulder but instead let’s focus on the next piece of artillery in the arsenal of Urban Meyer and Offensive Coordinator Tom Herman.

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Redshirt Freshman J.T. Barrett finds himself in a very peculiar situation as he has been thrust into forefront for a team that many expected to contend for one of four spots on the first ever CFB Playoff. Among his mixture of emotions, I’m sure Barrett is feeling a great sense of sympathy for Miller not only as a mentor but also due to the fact that Barrett himself suffered an injury that ended his Senior season Rider HS in Wichita Falls, Texas. Even after missing the majority of his senior season, Barrett was still highly regarded by both recruiting services (consensus top 5 DT QB) and college coaching staffs (offers from LSU, Nebraska, and Texas Tech among others). Barrett was among the first QB’s recruited by Meyer and Herman upon their arrival to Ohio State if further validation was needed,

Barrett has the skill set to succeed in an Urban Meyer offense possessing a nice combination of size (6’2”/210) and speed (4.7/40) with a plethora of weapons to get the ball to. While Barrett doesn’t have the pure speed or dynamic open field abilities of Miller, he is a more than capable scrambler and he will make the defense respect his ability to tuck the ball and take off. Barrett doesn’t have what many would consider a cannon for an arm, but he possesses a very quick release, smooth mechanics, and he’s a very accurate passer. In addition to his immense talents on the field, Barrett has been lauded for his maturity, leadership, and ability to be patient and takes what the defense gives him.

While J.T. hasn’t seen live game action in a meaningful game since 2011 he did play in the 2014 spring game leading the Gray squad to a 17-7 victory over the Scarlet in the annual April showcase. After his extended layoff Meyer likely wanted to see what his young QB could do, calling for the second year player to throw the ball 33 times. Barrett went 17-33 for 151 yards, while he showed the expected rust, he did make several nice throws including a pinpoint dart across the middle. The offense will likely have to be tailored somewhat with the switch at the most important position on the field, but Ohio State fans should still expect a very big season in season three of the Urban Renewal project as J.T. Barrett steps into the spotlight.

MotSaG Live Podcast 1 – Previewing the Big Ten

We are excited to announce for this upcoming college football season that Men of the Scarlet and Gray will have a weekly podcast. It will air live every Tuesday night at 6 pm ET. We will discuss everything happening with the Ohio State Buckeyes, from the upcoming games to the latest recruiting news and more. We will also talk about what’s happening around the B1G conference, as well as the biggest stories and games currently happening in the college football world. Every week we hope to have a writer from the Buckeye’s upcoming team on with us to discuss all of these things with us also.

Yours truly will be hosting the podcast every week, which will be run through Google+ hangouts. I will be joined by fellow MotSaGers, along with a writer that covers the Buckeyes’ upcoming opponent. For the first show, the following MotSaGers will join me: Jeremiah, Shannon, Andrew and Chip. For this first show we will preview every team in the B1G conference and we will discuss the ongoing news concerning the Braxton Miller injury.

So you’re probably wondering how you can view this. Below is the video player to listen to the podcast. You will be able to listen to it here on the site every week. Don’t fret if you can’t listen live. Once the podcast is over with you will be able to view it as many times as you want, just like any YouTube video. If you’re unable to view it here on the site for some reason we also have you covered if this happens. I’ll link to our YouTube channel right above the player every week and you will be guaranteed to be able to view it there. You can also listen through our Google+ page or follow the main @MotSaG account on Twitter. I will also have the link posted on my Twitter page (@SchottJosh).

We’re looking forward to bringing you an entertaining and informative podcast all season long!

To view it on YouTube, click here.

To see the event page, click here.

MotSaG Podcast 1

Three Preseason Storylines: The Importance of Braxton Miller

Braxton Miller is a huge piece to the puzzle of the Buckeye offense. Last season he threw for 2,094 yards and ran for 1,068. Coming into this season, the hype for the Heisman hopeful is high. Fans expect great things out of Braxton. Sure, there are many weapons surrounding him on the offense but Miller is the key piece to production for the Bucks. The key concern to this season is health. Will Braxton Miller be able to stay healthy?

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I do believe Braxton will stay healthy. He has many weapons around him such as Dontre Wilson, Devin Smith and Ezekiel Elliot. The offense is full of weapons which could lead to less reliability on Miller. Having all of these athletes will help lead to the opposing defense to focus on other players other than Miller. It will definitely be interesting to see who else emerges in this fast offense.

Miller missed spring ball due to shoulder surgery. Braxton has also been limited this fall camp, but is expected to be ready for August 30th against Navy. As of right now there are still concerns whether he will be 100 percent. Urban Meyer stated that Braxton will be ready in time, despite still being limited in practice. It is definitely beneficial that Miller has had a good amount of time to recover. Buckeye fans should see a ready to go starting quarterback against Navy.

The importance of Braxton Miller is a lot higher with no proven backup Quarterback. Cardale Jones was just overtaken by Redshirt Freshman JT Barrett. Both players do not have much game experience. Fans saw Jones play in a couple of games but mostly just to run the ball. With no proven backup, the offense needs Braxton to run the show as much as possible.

Braxton Miller will be a huge part in this season’s offense. I believe he will have a breakout senior year. Look to see improvement in the passing game and players excel around Miller. Coming off a breakout year last year, everyone is excited to see another offense under Braxton Miller.

2014: The (Other) B1G Coaches

This season marks the beginning of a new era for the B1G conference. There are two new member schools, a new East/West divisional structure, and of course the new College Football Playoff as a potential post-season reward. Navigating this new world are 14 coaches in various stages of their careers. We already know all about our own fearless leader, but let’s take a look at where the rest of the head honchos stand:

The Veteran

Kirk Ferentz – Iowa. I’m honestly not sure how Ferentz manages to hang on to this job, but there he is. Still. The only current B1G coach who had his job before Y2K, Cap’n Kirk has only hit 10 wins four times out of 15 seasons, and only once in the last nine.

But guess what? This year Iowa misses Ohio State, Michigan State, Penn State and Michigan. They play Wisconsin and Nebraska at home at the end of the season and face Northern Iowa, Ball State, Iowa State and Pittsburgh out of conference, with only the Pitt game on the road. Nine wins should be the minimum acceptable out of that bunch, and I’d guess they snag another one in there too.

Ferentz is a lock for B1G Coach of the Year, which he won in three of those four 10-win seasons, including 2002–when Jim Tressel took Ohio State to the national championship game (the award was given out before he also won that game.)

The Newbie

James Franklin – Penn State. Franklin is in an unusual position for first-year coach. Even though he still has to deal with the fallout of NCAA sanctions related to the Jerry Sandusky scandal, he is unlikely to get any of the forgiveness that coaches typically get in these cases. That’s because his predecessor Bill O’Brien managed a 15-9 record in the first two years under the harsh punishment. If Franklin can’t at least match that performance, fans will grow impatient.

Right or wrong, Franklin needs to finish above .500 right out of the gate to stay off the hot seat. Fortunately for him, he was able to that for two of his three years at Vanderbilt, and went 6-7 in his first year, which tripled the win total from the previous year.

The Safe Zone: Coaches Who Aren’t Going Anywhere Unless They Want To

Mark Dantonio – Michigan State. It’s impossible to overstate what Mark Dantonio has achieved for the Spartans. Besides being the most recent conference and Rose Bowl champion, he has won 69% of his games, including five out of seven against in-state rivals Michigan (the two losses coming by a total of six points.)

Pat Fitzgerald – Northwestern. Following the shocking death of Randy Walker, Fitzgerald was named the new Wildcat head coach. He had no previous head coaching experience, having served as linebackers coach for five years at Northwestern, and for three years before that at Maryland, Colorado and Idaho.

Yet he has become perhaps the most accomplished coach in the program’s history, making five consecutive bowl games and delivering the first post-season win since the 1949 Rose Bowl. He also turned in the school’s second 10-win season in history–the first came when he was suited up at linebacker.

Bo Pelini – Nebraska. I probably could have just as easily put Pelini in the Hot Seat section, since Cornhusker fans are consistently disappointed in how their season turns out. That’s probably because Pelini has consistently lost four games a year since become head coach in 2008.

Exactly four games. Every single year.

I can see how that would get maddening, but it also means he wins nine or ten a year, and it’s tough to argue that he should be let go for that. No, it’s far more likely that Pelini will be let go for choking an official to death and then using the corpse to beat his kicker for missing an extra point.

The Hot Seat: Coaches Who Need To Get Something Done Or Get Packing

Kevin Wilson – Indiana. Indiana doesn’t ask for much from their football program. Get to a bowl game on a regular basis like Bill Mallory did in the late-80s/early-90s, and you won’t hear too many complaints from the Hoosier faithful. But that doesn’t mean IU has a long leash. Bill Lynch only got four years, sputtering for three after reaching the Insight Bowl in 2007. Gerry DiNardo got axed after three years and eight wins. While Wilson’s teams have shown some promise, he needs to make the post-season in 2014 or it’s curtains.

Brady Hoke – Michigan. You probably won’t see the coaches of Michigan and Indiana grouped together too often, but unlike Wilson, Hoke has actually been regressing each season with the Wolverines, to the point that most people now credit his stellar first season more to Rich Rodriguez than to Hoke himself. Yeah, I know.

As if atoning for all of his own failures wasn’t enough, Hoke must try to make up for Lloyd Carr’s infamous loss to Appalachian State in 2007. If the unthinkable happens again, Hoke might not make it to this year’s edition of The Game.

Up-and-Comers: Coaches Showing Promise

Jerry Kill – Minnesota. No, Kill hasn’t posted a stellar record in his first three years as Top Gopher. Yes, his multiple kidney cancer induced sideline seizures have been terrifying and lead many (myself included) to wonder if this is the best job for him. But the most important thing about Coach Kill is that his teams are steadily improving, making him more likely to become the next Glen Mason (or better) rather than the next Tim Brewster.

Randy Edsall – Maryland. Having guided the Connecticut Huskies from I-AA to perennial bowl team over the course of 12 years, Edsall was brought in to take over the Terrapins program after the severely mishandled firing of Ralph Friedgen.* While they may not be quite where Maryland fans would like to see them, Edsall’s teams have been progressing each season.

*Interesting side-note: Friedgen is now the OC at Rutgers, while his former Maryland OC James Franklin is the new head coach of Penn State. All three teams will compete in the new Big Ten East division.

Gary Andersen – Wisconsin. After just one year on the job, Andersen is the best of this bunch so far. He turned in a 9-win season last year that would have been 10 if the Arizona State game had been officiated competently. His Badgers didn’t get blown out in any game, with the worst loss coming in the Capital One Bowl against South Carolina–a closely contested game that ended in a 34-24 defeat.

Too Early To Tell

Kyle Flood – Rutgers. He’s won 15 games in two years with Rutgers, but the B1G (East) is not the same thing as the Big East. If he gets time to adjust, he may end up okay. How patient will Scarlet Knights’ fans be?

Tim Beckman – Illinois. While six wins in two years isn’t great, Beckman’s team improved last year and if he keeps it up, he may prevent Illinois from becoming the go-to punchline of the B1G.

Darrell Hazell – Purdue. Last year was a complete disaster for Hazell. His lone win was a 6-point victory over Indiana State–a team that also went 1-11 last year. (Their lone win was against 2-9 Quincy. We better stop there.)

How The Braxton Miller Injury Got Blown Way Out Of Proportion

The way local and national media cover college football stories are completely different; the passion local fandoms and reporters have for their team can turn something as small as a bruise into a possible loss of limb. On Monday afternoon, as news started to leak about Braxton Miller leaving practice holding his shoulder, it began as a simple let’s wait and see, only to turn into a possible career-ending injury.

If you’re looking at facts alone, the Braxton Miller situation is not as season threatening as some Buckeye fans may lead you to believe. Braxton Miller was not involved in any type of contact prior to the injury and the medical staff scheduled his MRI for 24 hours after the injury with a facility to do so less than 5 minutes away from the practice field . Miller simply made a pass and then grabbed his shoulder; this could be a strain, a pull, or something that can be fixed with 1 or 2 physical therapy sessions; the point is, no one knows yet.

People are only looking at the worst case scenario and overlooking the fact that shoulder injuries are hard for anyone (athlete or not) and it’s possible that it was just sore. Even if the worst case scenario were to come true, do people really think that Urban Meyer would forego having a competent and prepared back-up quarterback ready to take the field?

Urban Meyer is one of the winningest and respected coaches in the league, and to think the season is over just because Kenny Guiton is no longer an option, and the others haven’t had much playing time, is a waste of time and energy. When Ohio State lost Terrelle Pryor (unexpectedly) after “tattoo-gate” the team was in a similar situation and it worked out just fine.

Is the relationship between the media and fans merely a lengthy game of telephone, or does the media like using attention grabbing adjectives simply to attract viewers? Lately, as sports related news has become more salacious and less about the actual work on the field, stories that would’ve easily been over looked have been covered for 12 hours a day on some networks.

The sky isn’t falling, and in just a few hours Ohio State will do a press conference and give everyone the updates they are impatiently waiting for.

RISING STARS: WHICH RECRUITS WILL HAVE THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON OFFENSE IN 2014?

Photo courtesy of article.wn.com

It’s hard to believe that the start of the 2014 college football season is less than two weeks away. The 2013 season didn’t end the way Urban Meyer and the Ohio State faithful envisioned, but 24 straight wins to start Meyer’s tenure at Ohio State is remarkable. What makes this feat even more astonishing is that Meyer did this with only one full recruiting class of his own. It’s no secret that Urban Meyer is among the best recruiters in the nation. In his two seasons at Ohio State, Meyer has signed two consensus top three recruiting classes. If that’s not impressive enough, when Meyer accepted the head coaching position at Ohio State he transformed their 2012 class into a top five class, nationally, in just over two months!

Ohio State has been fortunate this off-season. Their off-field issues, injuries, and transfer requests have been manageable, thus far, and all 23 players in their 2014 class enrolled successfully. Anything can happen in two weeks, but for the most part, Ohio State’s roster is solidified. It’s always fun to follow the players throughout their recruiting process, but as you know, it’s not always the blue-chip recruits who have illustrious collegiate careers. This is a great time to evaluate the incoming freshman class and project what their contributions will be in year one. In part one of this two part series we will focus on the offensive side of the ball.

 

Marcelys Jones – 6-4, 345 lbs – OL – Cleveland Glenville HS (OH) – Committed 12/25/2012

The first commitment of Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class, Marcelys Jones, always had an idea that he wanted to be a Buckeye. Playing at Cleveland Glenville you are almost expected to suit up in the Scarlet and Gray, if given the opportunity. Jones held offers from elite programs such as Alabama and Florida State but his first scholarship offer was given to him by The Ohio State University. Although Jones committed early to Ohio State, his recruitment was far from over. In the months leading up to National Signing Day, many felt that Jones would flip his commitment to Kentucky or Alabama. With Buckeye fans holding their breath, Jones decided to sign his letter of intent with Ohio State on National Signing Day. Despite his impressive offer list and an invitation to play in the Army All American Game, Jones was not ranked in the Rivals 300 or 247’s top 247, although both services had him ranked as a 4-star prospect.

Jones decided to take advantage of the opportunity to enroll early at Ohio State and has earned valuable reps throughout the off-season. His decision to enroll early gave him an enormous head start over his classmates, but I still feel confident that Marcelys will redshirt in his first season at Ohio State. I do not see him breaking the two-deep as a freshman so it would not make sense to waste a year of eligibility. I expect Jones to be the next great offensive lineman to come out of Glenville once he becomes acclimated to Ohio State’s offense.

 

Kyle Trout – 6-6, 300 lbs – OL – Lancaster HS (OH) – Committed 2/10/2013

Urban Meyer stressed that his primary focus for the 2014 recruiting class would be the offensive line and his first two commitments on the offensive side of the ball proved that statement to be true. Meyer followed up Marcelys Jones’ commitment with a pledge from offensive lineman Kyle Trout. Trout flew under the radar as most recruiting services didn’t have him ranked at the time of his commitment. Kyle grew up rooting for the Buckeyes and wasted little time committing after receiving his offer from Ohio State. His pledge sparked commitments from Parris Campbell and Lawrence Marshall (now with TTUN) on the same day. Trout later participated at The Opening, sponsored by Nike, and was soon rated as a consensus 4-star prospect by the three major recruiting sites. Trout could easily be the most under-appreciated, over-looked player in Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class.

Kyle decided to enroll early at Ohio State in order to gain a leg up on the competition. People close to the program say that Trout is the type of player who will outwork anyone. In addition to his strong work ethic, he is extremely athletic. I am confident that Trout will be a difference maker for Ohio State at some point in his career, but it won’t be as a true freshman. I expect him to redshirt this year and compete for a starting role in 2015.

 

Parris Campbell – 6-1, 188lbs – WR – Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary (OH) – Committed 2/10/2013

Sunday, February 10, 2013 proved to be a very important day for Ohio State football as two of the most intriguing prospects in the 2014 recruiting class decided to commit to the Buckeyes. Parris Campbell followed Kyle Trout’s lead and gave Urban Meyer a verbal commitment to play football at Ohio State. Campbell is one of the fastest players in the country and had the opportunity to showcase his speed at The Opening on national television. Campbell holds the Ohio high school record for the 60 yard dash with a time of 6.8 seconds. What makes these accomplishments even more incredible is that he graduated high school at 16 years old. Campbell is a consensus 4-star prospect but 247sports has him ranked significantly higher than any other service at #129. Campbell stole Urban Meyer’s attention at the 2012 State Championship game where Meyer was in attendance to observe Campbell’s teammate, Dante Booker. Campbell rushed for 168 yards and 3 touchdowns on only 14 carries in that game and the rest is history. Meyer asked Parris to take an official visit to Ohio State where Meyer extended a scholarship offer and Campbell committed on the spot. Other programs actually held off on offering Campbell because he was so adamant about playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes. It’s hard not to root for a guy like Campbell.

I fully expect Parris Campbell to contribute as a true freshman barring any setbacks. Campbell will start his career at Ohio State as a WR but will also be used out of the backfield. He will also be utilized on special teams throughout his career at Ohio State. Campbell has what it takes to be a future All American.

 

Stephen Collier – 6-3, 215 lbs – QB – Lee County HS (GA) – Committed 6/21/2013

Stephen Collier is my favorite player in the 2014 recruiting class. He has never received any attention from the national recruiting services, despite being invited to the Elite 11 finals and he is perfectly fine with the lack of publicity. He could not be any happier to be an Ohio State Buckeye regardless of what the future holds. He is the type of player you want to represent Ohio State. He comes from a great family who puts academics first as demonstrated by his 4.0 GPA in high school. There will be a tremendous amount of competition at quarterback over the next few years so it is difficult to predict Collier’s success but he is definitely a leader. Recruiting rankings are generally blown out of proportion and fans should trust their coach’s evaluation but it is strange that Collier’s offer list never expanded and his rating never improved after being offered by Ohio State and participating in the Elite 11. Collier was a phenomenal high school quarterback who threw for 2,291 yards with 24 touchdowns and rushed for an additional 1,021 yards and 20 touchdowns his senior year.

Collier enrolled early at Ohio State in hopes of breaking the two-deep rotation at quarterback. If there was ever a year that a young guy like Collier could back up Miller it would be 2014. Ohio State’s backup quarterback situation is dismal but it doesn’t seem like Collier did enough throughout the offseason to solidify the #2 spot. I am confident that Collier redshirts this year as a true freshman.

 

Terry McLaurin – 6-0, 184 lbs – WR – Cathedral High School (IN) – Committed 6/23/2013

Terry McLaurin is another example of someone who you would like to see represent Ohio State. He is a humble, well-spoken guy who gets it done on the football field. He took the recruiting nation by storm at The Opening last year, when he finished #2 in the overall competition. McLaurin showed off his 42.1 inch vertical and 4.37 second forty yard dash. His 1,697 yards and 16 touchdowns (combined) his senior year were good enough to earn him the coveted Mr. Football award in the state of Indiana. McLaurin’s offer list is modest despite being a consensus 4-star prospect. He is another recruit who virtually committed on the spot after being offered by the Buckeyes.

McLaurin is a player who I haven’t heard too much about as of late, but I have been impressed by everything I have seen thus far. I tend to believe that he will see the field as a true freshman but a redshirt wouldn’t surprise me either. His speed and athleticism will make it hard for
Meyer to keep him off the field. McLaurin has the potential to do great things in his four years at Ohio State.

 

Jamarco Jones – 6-4, 306 lbs – OL – Chicago De La Salle HS (IL) – Committed 6/27/2013

Ohio State fans were left holding their breath from Jamarco Jones’ commitment ceremony in June through National Signing Day in February of the following year. Jones picked the Buckeyes over Michigan State but Dantonio’s staff kept fighting until Jamarco signed on the dotted line. Jones, a consensus top 100 player, held offers from virtually every program in the country, was named the MVP of the Core 6 camp, and started at RT in the Under Armour All American Game. Jamarco’s accolades paired with Ohio State’s need at offensive line demonstrate why Jones was one of the most important players in this 2014 recruiting class. Coaches sat on pins and needles when Jones decided to take an official visit to Michigan State one week prior to National Signing Day. Luckily for Ohio State, Jones reaffirmed his commitment to Urban Meyer following his visit to East Lansing.

I am fairly confident that Jones will progress into a future All-Big Ten selection at OT but I don’t see him contributing as a true freshman. It is extremely difficult to come into a program like Ohio State and contribute at offensive line as a true freshman, especially without enrolling early. Barring a catastrophic string of injuries along the offensive front, I fully expect Jamarco Jones to redshirt this year.

 

Demetrius Knox – 6-3, 302 lbs – OL – All Saints Episcopal HS (TX) – Committed 7/28/2013

Fresh off of an unofficial visit to Ohio State, Demetrius Knox opened his recruitment on April 22, 2013 when he decommitted from the University of Texas. Ohio State was always considered a heavy favorite in Knox’s recruitment due to his family ties to Columbus and his childhood dream of dawning the Scarlet and Gray. Knox hinted at the idea of committing to the Buckeyes but most analysts expected him to drag the process out to National Signing Day. Unexpectedly, on July 28, 2013, Knox committed to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes. Meyer was well on his way to signing the nation’s top offensive line class. Considered the top OG in the country by many analysts, Knox’s offer list is as impressive as I’ve seen. He competed at The Opening and US Army All American Game. Knox flirted with the idea of visiting UCLA prior to National Signing Day but decided to stick with the Buckeyes.

Several OSU insiders feel confident that Knox sees the field as a true freshman but I tend to disagree. Knox decided not to enroll early and I don’t think he has had enough time to become acclimated to Ohio State’s offense. I know Knox will have an incredible career in Columbus but I don’t see any true freshmen contributing along the offensive line this season.

 

Curtis Samuel – 5-11, 190 lbs – RB – Erasmus Hall HS (NY) – Committed 8/16/2013

Curtis Samuel, a consensus top 50 prospect, is the most electrifying player in Ohio State’s 2014 recruiting class. Samuel’s recruitment got off to a slow start with many analysts left wondering why Urban Meyer hadn’t offered him yet. Once Meyer started communicating with Samuel, Ohio State was considered the team to beat. Samuel’s high school coach, Danny Landberg, deserves as much credit as anyone for Samuel committing to the Buckeyes, as he felt Meyer’s system was almost identical to the offense that Samuel ran in high school. Samuel rushed for 1,461 yards and 17 touchdowns (21 total) on only 92 carries (15.9 ypc) in his senior year of high school which was good enough to earn him the Gatorade Player of the Year award for the state of New York. Samuel showed off his 4.36 second forty yard dash and 40.7 inch vertical at The Opening and participated in the Army All American Game.

I have always felt that Curtis Samuel would be the most impactful incoming freshman at Ohio State in 2014 and his decision to enroll early solidified my opinion. Samuel will play the same role that Dontre Wilson played last year, only this year there is no Carlos Hyde so I fully expect Samuel to carry a heavier load. He will back up Ezekiel Elliott but will have specific formations molded around him due to his speed and elusiveness. If the thought of Wilson, Elliott, and Samuel on the field together doesn’t get your blood pumping, you need to check your pulse.

 

Noah Brown – 6-1, 244 lbs – WR – Pope John XXIII HS (NJ) – Committed 9/9/2013

Yes, you read that correctly – 6-1, 244 lb WR! That’s bigger than David Boston in his prime. Noah Brown also has the best hands in this 2014 class. Did I mention that he runs a 4.4 second forty? He has to be the most overlooked offensive weapon in this class. Brown, a consensus 4-star prospect, racked up 1,301 all-purpose yards and 19 touchdowns in his senior year of high school. Despite a hefty offer list and a great senior season, Brown was not invited to the Army or Under Armour All-American Games. He was considered an Ohio State lean for the majority of his recruitment but many analysts were unsure whether Ohio State would accept his commitment. Those questions were answered on September 9, 2013 when Noah Brown gave his verbal commitment to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Noah Brown has benefitted from Mickey Marotti’s strength and conditioning regime more than anyone else in this class. He put on 35 pounds of muscle in the off-season which will drastically increase his chances of playing early. Everyone knows that Meyer loves the smaller, quick receivers like Dontre Wilson but people seem to forget that Percy Harvin was one of the strongest players on Meyer’s Florida squad. It’s hard to imagine a 185 pound cornerback playing press coverage against a 244 pound receiver like Brown. Brown will find the field this year if he is anywhere close to being ready. He is too unique of a weapon to be redshirted.

 

Johnnie Dixon – 5-11, 198 lbs – WR – Dwyer HS (FL) – Committed 12/17/2013

Johnnie Dixon’s commitment to Ohio State exemplifies why Urban Meyer is deemed “The Closer”. A day after pulling 5-star LB Raekwon McMillan out of the heart of SEC country, Meyer landed a commitment from Johnnie Dixon, a 4-star WR from Florida with offers from Alabama, Auburn, Florida State, Florida, and Notre Dame, just to name a few. Dixon participated in The Opening, Army All American Game, and won a state championship prior to enrolling early at Ohio State. He is a humble guy who will represent the program well.

Dixon’s decision to enroll early will certainly help his chances of earning playing time as a true freshman. All signs point to Dixon contributing early and often and a redshirt seems highly unlikely. The competition at WR will be stiff but he seems to have what it takes to become Urban Meyer’s next great WR. Dixon is unique because he’s unlike Meyer’s infamous “Percy Harvin” type WRs. Johnny Dixon is a traditional WR who will line up wide at the X spot.

 

Brady Taylor – 6-5, 293 lbs – OL – Bishop Ready HS (OH) – Committed 1/20/2014

I have always said that I prefer players who WANT to play for Ohio State and no one wants to play for Ohio State more than Brady Taylor. He spent his childhood dreaming of playing for the Ohio State Buckeyes but was unable to earn a scholarship offer from their coaching staff. With other prestigious programs pursuing Taylor’s services, he decided to commit to Virginia Tech on July 29, 2013. His pledge to the Hokies remained strong but he still dreamt of receiving an offer from Ohio State. Finally, on January 12, 2013 he received the offer that he had been waiting his entire life to receive. Taylor took a week to speak with his family and the Virginia Tech coaches and decided to flip his pledge to Urban Meyer and the Ohio State Buckeyes.

As one of the lower ranked prospects in this class, Taylor has a chip on his shoulder. The Ohio State coaching staff has raved about Taylor’s work ethic and progress thus far and he could easily be the diamond in the rough in the 2014 class. I am excited to watch the competition between Taylor, Trout, Knox, Jamarco Jones, and Marcelys Jones. They all have a tremendous amount of potential, now we can wait and see who makes the most of their talent.