2016 Ohio State Spring Football Preview: Youth Will Be Served, Early And Often – OL Preview

“Almost everything that is great has been done by youth…” ~ Benjamin Disraeli

Ohio State began spring football practice on March 8th. Heading into the 2016 college football season, Ohio State will have 44 players on its roster designated as either a redshirt freshman (21 of the 25 players signed in February 2015), or a true freshman. For a roster that can have only 85 scholarship players, Ohio State will have around 52% of its roster with no playing time experience. As former Ohio State Head Coach John Cooper used to say, “If a dog is going to bite you, it will bite you as a pup.”.

For the next several weeks, I will be writing position group previews, leading up to the Ohio State Spring Football Game in Ohio Stadium on April 16th, 2016. These position groups will be ranked, from least to most concern, as I perceive them. It is entirely possible that my concerns, as well as the coaching staff’s concerns, will be reevaluated after the spring game.

2nd – Offensive Line

Players Lost – Taylor Decker, Jacoby Boren, Chase Farris. Boren was undersized for the offensive line, but as tough and tenacious as any offensive lineman Ohio State has ever seen. Decker was a three year starter at left tackle, and will be difficult to replace. Farris was a converted defensive lineman who played well at right offensive tackle in his last year of eligibility for the Buckeyes. Best of luck to all of these young men in their respective futures.

Returning Players/Incoming Players – Pat Elflein (Redshirt Senior), Billy Price (Redshirt Junior), Jamarco Jones (Junior), Isaiah Prince (Sophomore), Michael Jordan (Freshman), Branden Bowen (Redshirt Freshman), Matthew Burrell (Redshirt Freshman), Kevin Feder (Redshirt Freshman), Tyler Gerald (Freshman), Demetrius Knox (Redshirt Sophomore), Evan Lisle (Redshirt Junior), Grant Schmidt (Redshirt Freshman), Brady Taylor (Redshirt Sophomore), Kyle Trout (Redshirt Sophomore).

A few things to keep in mind as it relates to this position group…

· If Pat Elflein or Billy Price had entered the 2016 NFL Draft, this position group would rank as my number one concern heading into the 2016 season.

Fortunately for Ohio State, Elflein is not only staying, but will move to center, allowing Ohio State to focus on the other three open spots that have emerged along the offensive line. Price has played predominantly left guard, but has experimented at the right guard spot this spring at times.

· Early enrollee Michael Jordan has emerged as a possibility at left guard. It is highly unusual for an offensive lineman to start as a freshman, but Jordan could win a spot. Jordan was running with the first team offense on April 2nd…

· On the flip side of Jordan’s development, what does that say about all of the returning offensive linemen? Are these players behind?

· Perhaps it is just me, but I was surprised that Jamarco Jones was listed at left tackle, and Isaiah Prince was at right tackle. I would have guessed it would have wound up the opposite. JUCO signee Malcolm Pridgeon arrives this summer, and could force his way into the lineup at one of the tackle positions.

· Something to keep in mind is that this spring is not only important due to the loss of three starters, but this is the first spring with new offensive line coach Greg Studrawa. Developing a sense of chemistry with the players is important for the coaching staff also.

These questions, among others, have been on my mind, as Ohio State resumed spring practice on March 22nd.

The Late Glenn Frey, In An Ode To The 2015 Ohio State Recruiting Class

The anticipation for Ohio State spring football is always tremendous. Tickets for the April 16th spring game are already on sale, with the game two months away. Ohio State just signed an impressive recruiting class for 2016, with seven of the players already enrolled, planning to participate in spring drills.

How does this involve the late, great Glenn Frey, former member of The Eagles? In February 2015, Ohio State signed a talented group of players, with the vast majority redshirting throughout the 2015 season. When I write “vast majority”, I am citing the fact that 21 out of 25 players did not see game action. That amounts to 84% of the 2015 recruiting class.

Glenn Frey wrote the song “New Kid In Town”, a familiar song to Eagles fans. Below are some of the lyrics as I describe some of the players Ohio State fans will have an opportunity to learn about as the April 16th spring game approaches…

“There’s talk on the street; it sounds so familiar
Great expectations, everybody’s watching you
People you meet, they all seem to know you
Even your old friends treat you like you’re something new

Johnny come lately, the new kid in town
Everybody loves you, so don’t let them down”

At quarterback, Joe Burrow has already been named the backup quarterback heading into spring drills. If you think backup quarterback is unimportant, I suggest you go look up the following football season – Ohio State, 2014.

At running back, Mike Weber will throw his hat into the ring to replace early NFL Draft entry Ezekiel Elliott. Weber is one of the members of the 2015 recruiting class who possibly could have played in 2015, if not for an injury that required surgery during fall camp.

At wide receiver, converted quarterback Torrance Gibson, Alex Stump, and K.J. Hill will all battle to impress the coaching staff. Considering Michael Thomas and Jalin Marshall have also declared for the NFL Draft, here is a position group that is open for players to contribute.

Tight end? Nick Vannett has moved on, with Marcus Baugh the only returning tight end with any game experience. A.J. Alexander and Rashod Berry will want to seize the moment, as Ohio State signed three tight ends in Kierre Hawkins, Jake Hausmann, and Luke Farrell who will arrive on campus this summer.

Offensive Line? This was an impressive haul last February, with Grant Schmidt, Kevin Feder, Matthew Burrell, and Branden Bowen…who all redshirted. There are three spots open on the line.

Two open spots along the defensive line should loom large this spring. Jashon Cornell, Dre’Mont Jones, Joshua Alabi, Robert Landers, and Davon Hamilton may all be in the mix here.

Two open linebacker spots, with plenty of opportunities for playing time. Nick Conner impressed in the 2015 spring game, but redshirted due to injury. Justin Hilliard was arguably one of the most recruited players in the class, and redshirted from injury also.

The secondary? Talk about an opportunity, with three open spots, including both safety positions. Joshua Norwood and Damon Arnette can throw their hats into contention.

Don’t forget Ohio State signed a long-snapper last winter. Liam McCullough may be the easiest of the 2015 redshirt freshmen to target for a starting position, as Bryce Haynes has exhausted his eligibility.

Twenty-one out of twenty-five. All eager, able, and hungry to show the Ohio State coaching staff, and fans, what they can do. These players would be wise to remember the words of Glenn Frey…

“There’s talk on the street, it’s there to
Remind you, that it doesn’t really matter
which side you’re on.
You’re walking away and they’re talking behind you
They will never forget you ’til somebody new comes along…”

The 2015 Ohio State Recruiting Class, By The Numbers

Before reviewing the 2015 Ohio State recruiting class, I want to congratulate Coach Stan Drayton for his recent move to the NFL’s Chicago Bears as the Bears running backs coach. Coach Drayton was highly instrumental in the development of Ohio State running backs Carlos Hyde and Ezekiel Elliott from 2012-2014. I wish Coach Drayton all the best as he moves onto the NFL.

The 2015 Ohio State recruiting class, with twenty-seven players signed, ranks as one of the top recruiting classes in the country. While I have never placed too much emphasis on how various recruiting analysts rate recruiting classes, I do pay attention to 1) if other top programs are recruiting the players that Ohio State has signed, and 2) if the recruiting class helped to address needs within Ohio State’s program. By those measurements, Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class did very well.

Geographically, Ohio State signed twelve players from Ohio, three from Florida, two each from Michigan and Virginia, and one player each from Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, South Dakota, and Utah. While Ohio players may be the majority, the graph below will demonstrate that Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer and his staff will scour the nation in order to find the best players and convince them to become Buckeyes.

2015 OSU Recruits By State

The best position group with this recruiting class? In my estimation, the offensive line recruits are tremendous. Branden Bowen, Matthew Burrell, Kevin Feder, Mirko Jurkovic, Isaiah Prince, and Grant Schmidt will help Ohio State co-offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Ed Warriner maintain the strong play at the line of scrimmage that Ohio State fans have become accustomed to since the 2012 season. Schmidt is an early enrollee and will participate in spring practice. It is such a relief to see Coach Meyer and Coach Warriner place the strong emphasis on offensive line recruiting; gone are the days of 2010 when Andrew Norwell was the only offensive lineman signed in the recruiting class. One!

A concern for this recruiting class? Very minor, but few interior defensive linemen were signed. Joshua Alabi, DaVon Hamilton, and Robert Landers were signed, but even Coach Meyer stated that the backup defensive line play has been “disappointing”, and “”You’ve got to go, or you’ve got to go.”. With Michael Bennett’s departure to a probable NFL career, and the targeted departures of Adolphus Washington and Joey Bosa after the 2015 season, I am guessing defensive linemen will be a premium target for the 2016 recruiting class.

Which player will be able to make an impact during the 2015 season as a true freshman? Early enrollee Nick Conner may be able to make a mark on special teams, and even at linebacker. A sleeper pick may be Rashod Berry, who will be played at tight end. With Jeff Heuerman’s departure, Nick Vannett a senior, and Marcus Baugh sometimes skirting the good graces of the coaching staff, it may be possible for Berry to get some playing time at tight end.

Yes, recruiting is key to the long-term health of any program. As my Dad used to say, you have to have the horses in order to be able to win, and Coach Meyer was able to secure some highly-touted talent with this class. I believe Fox Sports 1’s Joel Klatt said it best as it relates to what now awaits all of the talented football players who signed their respective national letters of intent on February 4, 2015…

2015 O-Line Recruiting- Commits and Targets

By: Michael Rockstedt

Follow: @Mike_Rockstedt

The Offensive Line has become such a strong point for Urban Meyer and staff while they have been in Columbus.  That has not changed with the 2015 class.  Securing two commits already, Urban Meyer is still searching for a couple of big prospects to fill needs across the line.  I take a dive into who I think is going to end up in the class along with the two commits.

1. Grant Schmidt-Sioux Falls, South Dakota– Commit South Dakota is not necessarily your recruiting hot bed when searching for the best talents in America.  Grant Schmidt begs to differ.  The 6-6, 275 pound lineman hails from the great state of South Dakota and was a bit of a surprise commit to many.  He came to Columbus for a camp and then a visit the next day, and committed on the visit.  He was one of the recruits that kind of got the ball rolling for the class.  Schmidt is a big, strong guy and should be getting more attention as the season goes on.  I think it’s pretty neat that Schmidt is from South Dakota because not too many players come to Columbus from there.  Schmidt fills a position of need for this class and could have a chance to compete from day one.

2. Kevin Feder- Ramsey, New Jersey- Commit Big is an understatement when you are talking about Ohio State commit Kevin Feder.  Standing 6-9, 305 pounds, not many people can compare in height to this kid.  Originally a Miami commit, Feder switched to Ohio State a couple of days after he camped and visited.  His commitment was one of many in the month of June for Ohio State.  There are not many prospects like Feder in college football and I think that puts him at an advantage.  Don Bosco is also one of the best football programs across the country.  Always producing top-tier talent, Don Bosco is usually ranked top 10 in the nation for football, year in and year out.  Feder brings a unique advantage to the game with his size so it is going to be interesting how his size translates to the next level.

3. Drew Richmond- Memphis, Tennessee. Drew Richmond has made it known that he grew up an Ohio State fan.  There is no doubt that he truly loves Ohio State.  The 6-5, 320 pound tackle, has offers from all over the country including Alabama, Tennessee, Ole Miss, and Ohio State.  He has been on visits all over the country and is taking a visit to Ohio State for Friday Night Lights.  His recruitment is going to be interesting down to the wire, but I think it is a Ohio State versus SEC battle, with Alabama, Tennessee, and Ole Miss, being the biggest threats.  It is going to be interesting to see how his visit goes at Friday Night Lights.  If he enjoys the red carpet treatment he is most likely going to get, then I think Ohio State could be his end point.  I think the SEC schools are going to be a big challenge for Ohio State.

4. Matthew Burrell- Woodbridge, Virginia. Matthew Burrell is another guy who has made it no secret how much he loves Ohio State.  He has been to Columbus a couple of times now and loves it there.  I really like Ohio State’s chances here.  He is very close with a couple of Ohio State commits and targets such as Justin Hilliard, Jashon Cornell, and Damien Harris.  I know there are a couple of other schools that he really likes and schools that are recruiting him hard such as Alabama and Florida State.  He is still very wide open with his recruitment but is narrowing it down piece by piece.  He hopes that he can return for Friday Night Lights but is still working some things out.  He is not committing until after he takes his official visits, which I am sure Ohio state is going to get one.  I like Burrell to be another piece to the 2015 class.

MotSaG Chat with Matthew Burrell

We here at MotSaG are pleased to welcome guest writer Michael Rockstedt who is writing a series of posts for us as part of his interview process to become a full time writer for our site. We would appreciate any and all feedback to help Michael with his process. You can also follow Michael Rockstedt on Twitter by clicking @OSUFANBRO

Standing 6 Foot 5 and weighing 312 pounds, it is no wonder almost every school in the nation is after Woodbridge, Virginia Offensive Tackle prospect Matt Burrell. The number 67 rated recruit in 247sports’ composite rankings, Burrell has offers from many of the big time schools across the nation. The offers include the likes of Ohio State, Florida, Alabama, Auburn, and Texas. It is no surprise to people that follow recruiting heavily that Burrell is very interested in Ohio State. He recently took a trip to Ohio State and had many good things to say about it.


“The atmosphere in Columbus is Awesome! It felt like a home atmosphere.” The atmosphere and attitude surrounding Ohio State is without a question one of the best. He also had good things to say about the weight program. As many buckeye fans know, the weight room is controlled by the fierce Mickey Marotti. Burrell loved the weight program there. “The Weight Program overall is sick! The coach who runs it is awesome. Just the plan they have there at Ohio State is overall great.”

Getting to talk to the coaches on the trip was another thing that stood out to Burrell. He talks to Larry Johnson because he recruits that area. But he also said that he talks to Urban Meyer the most. When you are talking to the head coach directly, you must be an important target for the class. Burrell admits that he was nervous about meeting Urban Meyer. He had talked to him many times but meeting him was different. “I wanted to meet Urban Meyer and just put the name and face together. I was very nervous to meet him, but meeting him was awesome. When I was talking to him it didn’t even feel like he was a coach and I was a player, it felt like we were already friends. We did not even introduce ourselves.” He said that meeting Meyer was just amazing and having that relationship with him is amazing as well.

As for what is next in his recruitment? He does plan on taking all of his official visits. He is hoping to get up to Ohio State for this weekend’s Columbus NFTC but is still working some things out on that. He has no leaders and wants to commit after his official visits. I asked him what he would say to all the Buckeye fans out there and he said, “Go Bucks!! You guys are awesome and just thank you for all the support!” Burrell is a prospect that every Buckeye fan should get to know.

You can follow Matthew Burrell on Twitter by clicking @__Triumphant