Recruiting Spotlight: Matthew Jones

Another resounding boom is shot across the twittersphere, and just like that another key cog in the 2018 recruiting class was added to the puzzle.  Coach Meyer found a way to get another gem, this time in the form of the #1 player in the state of New York, Matthew Jones.  Jones is another versatile player who plays on both sides of the ball, but he is was recruited to play across the offensive line.  He is listed as a Defensive Tackle and Tackle on his Hudl profile, but the Ohio State coaches see and want him on the Offensive Line.  He is currently 6’4″, 315 lbs, but after a couple of months under Coach Marotti’s program, he will improve with time.  Jones will join Tackle Max Wray as members of the 2018 recruiting class, the #1 class according to 24/7 Sports.  This class has the potential to be another good one and if the dominoes fall in place, they could potentially add Tackle Jackson Carman to the mix.

Ohio State Buckeyes: 2017 Season Outlook

The Ohio State Buckeyes are coming off one of the worst defeats in the Urban Meyer Era.  The loss at the hands of Clemson was one of the worst offensive displays in recent memory, dating back to 2011, when Ohio State finished 6-7 and it proved that wholesale changes needed to be made on the offensive side of the ball.
Coach Meyer made the necessary changes during the off season bringing in a new Offensive Coordinator Kevin Wilson and Quarterbacks Coach Ryan Day, and collectively his squad will be looking to improve the passing game and bring back the sizzle to the Buckeye offense.  The offense will need to maintain a balance between the passing and the ground game to secure another playoff berth in the 2017 season.
The goal is set firmly in place, but the Buckeyes will have to traverse through a perilous road to secure another coveted spot in this years College Football Playoffs.  The goal will be attainable because 7 of the 12 games will be played at home and the home field advantage in The Shoe, helps the Buckeyes chances. Unfortunately, 5 of the 12 games are going to be played away from home, far from the confines of Ohio Stadium.
According to Alexander P., odds maker at mytopsportsbooks.com, “Ohio State is the modest favorite to win the Big Ten despite losing three first-round talents to the NFL. While they have a tough schedule ahead, the fact that they get to host Penn State and Oklahoma is a massive advantage. Their toughest road game is against a Michigan team that’s arguably losing even more key pieces.  The Buckeyes should be good for ten wins, if not more.”
It’s the 7 of 12 games on this season’s schedule that can shift the Buckeyes from being modest favorites, however.  They’ll be taking place at home, at The Shoe.  Home field advantage definitely helps the Buckeyes, but they will still be tested during those games.
The big games on the home slate will begin with a tilt with the Sooners.  Oklahoma will come into town in week 2 looking for some revenge after the Buckeyes came to Norman and embarrassed them.  The Buckeyes will welcome Penn State in week 9 to get some payback after they fell in Happy Valley a season ago.  In week 11, Michigan State will visit after a down year to potentially spoil season for the Buckeyes.
This years non-conference home games providea decent level competition as well, with Army being the most dangerous of the bunch.  Army finished 8-5 and they run the triple option, which will test the Buckeyes Defense.  UNLV will be coming in after a down year, after they finished 4-8.
The Buckeyes will also welcome two up-and coming conference foes in Maryland and Illinois to The Shoe.  Both coaches are looking for their signature wins, and what better opportunity that spoiling the Buckeyes chances at the Playoffs?
D.J. Durkin worked under Meyer at Florida before taking a job at Michigan over Ohio State.  Lovie Smith has the NFL Head Coaching experience that could turn the program around.  So the Buckeyes shouldn’t take these two teams lightly.
5 of the 12 games will be played away from home and at hostile stadiums across Big Ten country.  The Buckeyes open the new season against an Indiana team that always gives the defense headaches.  The kicker is the offensive genius in Kevin Wilson does not lead that program anymore and he now calls the shots on offense for the Buckeyes.
From there, the Buckeyes will face off against another former coach in Chris Ash.  He is looking to resurrect a Rutgers program and will look for improvement in year 2 as the Head Coach.
The most intriguing away game will be played at Lincoln against Nebraska due to the heated Wide Receiver battles that both position coaches engage in on the recruiting trail.  They constantly butt heads and it often ends with fireworks and subtweets between the two.
The Buckeyes will then travel to Kinnick Stadium for a gritty, Big Ten style game.  The battles in recent memory have been low scoring affairs, and it will be interesting to see how they rebound after falling apart toward the end of last season.
The Buckeyes will cap their season off with a stopover at the Big House to engage in another installment of The Game.  With both teams suffering losses to the NFL Draft and with graduations, this will be fascinating as new pieces will face off in another high-stakes game for all the marbles.  The road to the Playoffs will run through The Big House and this clash will not disappoint.
The expectation is clear at Ohio State, but with key starters returning for redemption, the Buckeyes will look to build something special this year and for years to come.  J.T. Barrett returns to lead the team in his last season to rebound after the Fiesta Bowl.  He will have new pieces to play around and with new coaches on the staff, there is no reason to think good things are on their way.
Ohio State is has one of the deepest teams in recent memory and they certainly reload year after year, before and after the draft.  The players on the two-deep projections and beyond can play anywhere in the nation as they anxiously await for their shot.  They remaining players from last season are battle-tested and they will look to lead their younger teammates and their new starters.
The road will most certainly not be easy, but the overall schedule favors Ohio State with the majority of their games being played at home.  The rest of the Big Ten however, will not cooperate and they will try to play spoiler to ruin another shot at a title for Coach Meyer and his squad, and they most certainly will not go out quietly.

For more content or information on the projected Win/Loss total for every Big Ten Team please visit the link below: 

Big Ten Football: Buckeyes Lead 2017 O/U Win Totals (again)

 

Recruiting Spotlight: Master Teague

The Buckeyes stayed hot on the recruiting trail, and once again they pulled another talented prospect out of the prized SEC territories to bolster their ranks.  Teague is a Running Back out of Murfreesboro, Tennessee and he stands at 5’11”, 214 lbs.  He is 4-star prospect on 24/7 and a 3-star on the Rivals and Scout services, but he earned his way onto this class with a stellar camp performance in front of the Buckeye Coaches that earned him an offer.  Teague finished his day with a logged 42.5 vertical, 10.8 for the broad jump and a blazing 4.31 on the 40-yard dash, which all but secured the coveted offer from the Buckeyes.

Teague is a load at his position and he brings a lot of tools to the Buckeyes backfield.  He has the vision that the position requires and he is not afraid of seeking out contact from the defenders.  He has the ability to break away with his blazing speed, but could also break tackles and bull over defenders.  He runs with power, purpose and aggressively, which is like a throwback back, and it will fit nicely for the Buckeyes.  The Buckeyes are reaping the benefits of having another talented member of the 2018, who is from nearby Franklin, Tennessee in Max Wray, which helped Teague because they are from the same state.  As the Buckeyes build toward the future, the future is looking brighter.

Recruiting Spotlight: Teradja Mitchell

The depth at Linebacker at Ohio State is a very talented group, but with three consecutive hauls at that very position, Ohio State is stocked full of potential starters and impact players at every position.  Teradja Mitchell, prospect out of Virginia pulled the trigger for Coach Davis’ position group and joins another stellar Ohio State recruiting class that is only trailing Miami.  Mitchell is an aggressive, hard-hitting Linebacker with the ability to play zone coverage.  Mitchell excels at diagnosing the play and sticking his nose into the backfield.  He plays with anger and hits so hard, the ball carrier is usually fumbling after contact.  He is a throwback Linebacker that can plug-and-play if needed, but if he needs to redshirt, he will if it helps the team and Mitchell grow as a player.

Mitchell is an aggressive, hard-hitting Linebacker with the ability to play zone coverage.  Mitchell excels at diagnosing the play and sticking his nose into the backfield.  He plays with anger and hits so hard, the ball carrier is usually fumbling after contact.  He is a throwback Linebacker that can plug-and-play if needed, but if he needs to redshirt, he will if it helps the team and Mitchell grow as a player.

Mitchell is supposedly 110% committed at this time and he will most likely be the one to start a chain reaction to get other blue-chippers to join the Ohio State class of 2018.  He is already starting on social media in conversations with notable recruits like Micah Parsons and Carman Jackson, who Ohio State really want.  We will have to see, but for now, we should enjoy this win over Florida State.  It is likely others will come between now and National Signing Day, but we will see.

Post Spring Game Depth Chart: Tight Ends

 

The Starter:

This years Tight End spot is retained by Marcus Baugh.  The incumbent starter from last season will be looked at for his familiarity in the system, but now all bets are off due to a new position coach and Offensive Coordinator in Kevin Wilson.  The Tight Ends might see an uptick in targets, but unfortunately Baugh was held out due to an injury.  He will be leaned on by the younger players for guidance, but he will be up for the task that Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett established in the past.

Tight End #2:

The Tight End position was used sparingly last season, but during the Spring Game we saw an increase in productivity.  A.J. Alexander and Luke Farrell combined for 50 total yards and a touchdown, which Alexander snagged.  This is even for now, but a lot could change during fall camp.  Factor in the absence of another pair of talented Tight Ends in Jake Hausmann, who was nursing a sprained ankle and Kierre Hawkins, who was used sparingly in the game.  The Tight End battle and their usage will be interesting for the fans to watch.  Hopefully they are used more to aid in the battle to secure receiving threats for years to come.

Post Spring Game Depth Chart: Wide Receiver

Zone 6 is one of the many crowded position groups that Ohio State has on it football roster.  This is evident as just about every group has their share of talented players patiently working for their shot at big boy football at Ohio State, but the Wide Receiver unit is jam-packed with talent.

The Starter #1:

Johnnie Dixon has battled and endured season after season of debilitating injuries to his knees in back-to-back seasons while at Ohio State.  This is most likely his last shot at glory as his eligibility is running out and as he showcased during the annual spring game, he showed his talent en-route to a stellar multi-touchdown game.  He also showed that, when healthy, he can be that deep threat that Ohio State hasn’t seen since Devin Smith.  Johnnie Dixon showed that he is healthy and working towards a comeback that is eerily similar to what Marshon Lattimore went through during his tenure at Ohio State.  If he can produce the same way that Lattimore has during last season, Ohio State will be lethal.  With a new Offensive Coordinator in Kevin Wilson, who is an offensive genius at the helm, the receivers should have the numbers necessary to keep teams unbalanced and on their heels.  With Dixon, he has the speed and the hands to separate and he is a reliable receiver.  His productivity would just depend on his health.

The Starter #2:

K.J. Hill has the talent to start alongside Dixon.  He also has sure hands and has the ability to obtain RAC yards with ease.  He is elusive and shift, but not Dixon shifty.  He won’t beat defender with blazing speed, but he has the strength to break arm tackles and blow through defenders for big gains.  Hill could also catch between defenders, which would be useful during key third down situations.  With the amount of talent on the roster, this second starter at Wide Receiver could go in any direction, but I am sure that Hill has done enough to catch the eye of the coaching staff.  He is also durable and if other go down, the staff could rest assured that Hill and company have the weapons to plug in and play.  He is a big-play waiting to happen and with his suddenness and burst, he could give defenders headaches throughout the season.  He will be leaned on during the entirety of the season to produce for the coaching staff this season as one of the few contributors to last seasons squad.

Slot/H-Back:

The need for the next Curtis Samuel is needed to ensure production in the Ohio State passing attack and with his departure, it opened up the door for Parris Campbell, Brendon White and Eric Glover-Williams to make their impression on the coaching staff.  Unfortunately for the last two, Campbell was given many looks and he looks like the eventual starter this fall.  Between his speed and the ability to run after the catch, he will be another weapon and asset to the Buckeye coaching staff.  He will be moved around and utilized similar to many of those before him under Coach Meyer.  There is still a lot of time for him to lose ground, but we will see.

 

Other Candidates:

There are other names out there and the Class of 2017 will have previously mentioned Brendon White, Trevon Grimes, Jaylen Harris and Ellijah Gardiner coming in this summer.  The also have Austin Mack and Binjimen Victor waiting vying for playing time as well.  For now, they will grind until called upon and under Urban Meyer, waiting isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as he has been able to produce NFL caliber players with little to no experience or production.  With another mass exodus, this time with transfers out of the program and the occasional underclassman leaving for the pros, the younger players will have to be ready to be called upon during game days.  Lets hope they will be ready.

 

 

Recruiting Spotlight: Dallas Gant

 

Dallas Gant, an Outside Linebacker prospect from Ohio, just made it official as he is now a part of the Ohio State Class of 2018.  Another top tier and highly sought after recruit, Gant will now add to another stellar recruiting haul under Urban Meyer.  Gant brings more than just star power to this class, he is another recruit that is talking to prospective Buckeye targets to join their squad and be great.  He will most likely focus on recruiting other and getting bigger, faster and stronger before setting foot on campus.  Gant is a rangy, hard-hitting Linebacker that fits the Darron Lee mold.  Always around the ball and aggressive, and he will attempt to get another stud to play alongside him, namely Teradja Mitchell, who is expected to announce next month.

Post Spring Game Depth Chart: Running Backs

The Cadillac position took a back seat in the Spring Game, but they proved their worth and made their presence felt during the course of the game.  The focus for the spring was to focus on working out the kinks in the passing game.  The Running Backs found ways to get involved in the game plan making timely catches and runs when leaned on.

The Starter:

Mike Weber, the returning starter from a season ago proved why he is still considered to be the starter for the Buckeyes.  He runs with anger and he is looking to have another successful season in the Scarlet and Gray.  He looks good early on and he has improved with his vision and patience.  He is still a load to tackle and with the improvements in the passing game, he will take advantage of opposing defenses that are attempting to stop the passing attack that looks to improve.

Running Back #2:

Demario McCall looked like he was shot out of a cannon during the entirety of the Spring Game, which helps him lock down the #2 Running Back on the roster.  He showed the ability to sit in open areas on the field to make clutch catches and the ability to turn down field in a hurry, displaying his playmaking ability. He also has the speed to outrun defender on designed running plays, which make him another asset to the team.  Versatility is key and he will be used to spell a tired Weber during games this year.

Running Back #3:

True Freshman and early enrolee J.K. Dobbins out of little known LaGrange Texas overtook Antonio Williams for this spot on the roster. He is another bruising back that is both strong and fast, a great combination to add to the dynamic in the offensive backfield.  He imposed his will on the defense during the spring and he looks to be another lesser known prospect that could potentially lead to another diamond in the rough.

 

Running Back #4:

Antonio Williams and the rest of the Running Backs room will be contributing in some form for the team.  Whether it is for scout duty or anything, they will be there waiting for their shot.  Barring any injuries or anything negative, they will contribute.  Until then, it is all just a waiting game.

2017 NFL Draft: Day 3

 

Noah Brown, WR (Dallas Cowboys):

Noah Brown was the first Buckeye taken on Day 3 of the draft, and better late than never.  At 6’2″, 222-pounds, Brown is an imposing Wide Receiver with the size to bully the smaller Defensive Backs and box them out for the football.  He couldn’t have gone to a better team, and he joins fellow Buckeye Ezekiel Elliot in Dallas.  Brown has Dez Bryant and Cole Beasley to work with and he will compete with the rest of the receiving group for reps and a roster spot.  During the 2016 season, Brown was used heavily early on in the year, but the lack of creativity in playcalling derailed his once promising season.  In the Oklahoma game, Brown was the go-to guy and he bullied his way to a stellar 4 touchdown game at Norman, Oklahoma.  He made highlight reel catches early and often and he gave the Sooner Defense fits.  After that however, his usage declined with a combination of poor line play and playcalling on offense.  He was underutilized and could have used another year in college, as he left for the NFL and caught the team unexpectedly.  Brown is a project, but he has the skills to flourish in Dallas’ offense.  He has a few injury concerns, but he should be in good hands.

 

 

2017 NFL Draft: Day 2

 

Curtis Samuel, WR (Carolina Panthers):

Curtis Samuel was the first Buckeye that was taken on Day 2 of the 2017 Draft, being selected with the 40th overall pick by the Panthers.  The Panthers have spent picks on back to back offensive studs due to the losses of Ohio State Alums Ted Ginn and Corey Brown during free agency.  With Samuel the Panthers will be getting a playmaker just like McCaffery who can play multiple positions.  Both players have the speed and they will help Cam Newton give opposing teams defenses fits.  Samuel will be used early and he will work in the slot, and he may see some time at Running Back.  Samuel is 5’11” and 196-pounds and turned in a 4.31 40-time in the combine.  His measurable and his talent will be utilized to spread the opposing defenses and keeping them honest during games.  He will share time with McCaffrey, but I feel like Ron Rivera will give both draftees ample opportunities to shine.

Raekwon McMillan, ILB (Miami Dolphins):

Raekwon McMillan, a recruit out of the Peach State was the second Buckeye taken in Round 2.  At 6’2″, 240 pounds he is the motor that was in charge of the Buckeye defense the last two and a half seasons.  He has the speed and the leadership abilities that will continue to flourish at the next level.  He is viewed as a 3 down linebacker and he must show development to see some playing time this fall.  McMillan is the first Inside Linebacker taken over Vanderbilt’s own Zach Cunningham, and he will be behind newly acquired addition Lawrence Timmons and Kiko Alonso, who re-signed with the team this offseason.  Behind both of them McMillan will have the time to develop under Timmons, who arrived after time in Pittsburg and Alonso, who was still hasn’t established himself in the league yet.  McMillan’s only concern is in coverage, but he is a sure-tackler, who can stuff the run when called to.  He can become great with some time, so I can see him as a back-up for now, but he can flourish with the right coaches in place.

Pat Elflein, C (Minnesota Vikings):

Pat Elflein was the Swiss Army Knife out of Ohio State who can play multiple positions along the Offensive Line.  During the Ohio State Championship year Elflein began at Guard and then the following season he seamlessly switched to Center, where he earned the award for the Top Interior Lineman Award in his last season at Ohio State.  At 6’3″, 303-pounds he will compete with the likes of Joe Berger and Nick Easton for the starting Center gig in Minnesota.  If he cannot beat out the others at Center, Elflein can compete for the starting job at Guard opposite of former Ohio State Alum Alex Boone.  The Vikings have another Guard in waiting and all Elflein needs is an opportunity to play and earn playing time.  The Vikings drafted Dalvin Cook in the Second round and he will look to Elflein to block for the fellow rookie in the upcoming season.  Elflein is a tireless blocker that almost always finishes until the whistle is blown.  There are questions about his overall strength, but with an NFL Caliber strength and conditioning program, he will improve.