While Hilliard’s hop on board highlights one issue of interest in regards to recent recruiting (Ohio State in Cincinnati), Cornell’s commitment has its own significance. The 6-3.5, 270-pounder is in line to be the first player from Minnesota to pick Ohio State since Willie Mobley in 2008 and only the third since 1988 (but probably much longer). When eventual All-American linebacker James Laurinaitis signed with Ohio State in 2005, he was believed to be the first scholarship Buckeye football player from the Land of 1,000 Lakes since the great Sid Gillman in the early 1930s.
Justin Hilliard of Cincinnati St. Xavier is the 11th verbal commitment for Ohio State’s 2015 recruiting class and the second linebacker, joining Nick Connor of Dublin Scioto.
He is the seventh recruit from southwestern Ohio in Urban Meyer’s three-plus years as head coach of the Buckeyes and the third from Cincinnati, joining Adolphus Washington (Taft) and Sam Hubbard (Moeller). That makes a pair of Greater Catholic League pickups for Meyer in as many years with Hubbard having been the top-rated player in the state last year. Continue reading →
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it is a source of conversation from time to time on message boards such as “Ask the Insiders” at BuckeyeSports.com, and it seems as though every year around National Signing Day you can find a new hot take about how recruiting rankings are overrated because not every five-star prospect becomes an All-American and plenty of four- and three-star players turn into big stars.
So I figured it was time to take a look at the issue, at least from an Ohio State point of view.
Yes, the five-stars tend to outperform their lower-rated counterparts, but the degree of superiority actually turned out to be higher than I might have expected. And that was without making the same compromises in terms of personnel losses or even recruiting home-state heroes as opposed to national stars.
Evaluating the offense the same way as the defense is hardly fair considering all of the injuries that beset the Ohio State scoring unit, but there were some lessons to take away from the spring nonetheless.
For one thing, the depth the Buckeyes were thought to have at running back is real. Ezekiel Elliott showed he brings a very enticing package of size and skill to the position. A smooth runner, he seems like the perfect back for this offense. I like the way Warren Ball keeps his feet moving and slides through holes, and Bri’onte Dunn leaves no doubt the physical ability is there if he can bring consistency to the table. Ditto Rod Smith, who could be the best of all of them but can’t seem to keep himself on track.
Then of course there is Curtis Samuel. Even with the unprecedented success of Carlos Hyde last season as a power back, Urban Meyer does get enamored with little guys who can go, doesn’t he? Samuel runs strong for his size, but speed and agility are the name of the game for him. It will be interesting to see if they carve out a role for him this fall.
Offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Tom Herman mentioned at one point the staff has come to like having a power back, which was new for Meyer’s offense since it was developed at his previous coaching stops, so you can bet they want to maintain that facet, but it’s alway nice to have options. Continue reading →
So nearly a week has passed since Ohio State lost 34-24 to Michigan State in the Big Ten Championship Game. The end of football season always comes about suddenly – like ejecting from a plane, it brings a floating feeling before landing somewhere that never feels quite as familiar as it should upon returning to ground level. Even though it was predestined to happen this week if not sooner, it still brings a shock to the system.
I like to give life a few days to get back to normal, but then again sometimes I wonder if football season is the norm and the rest is just passing time. What we learned last week: How hollow 24-0 can be, at least when it becomes 24-1.
Forgive me if this seems overly negative, but it is a hard conclusion to avoid when stepping back to assess the situation.
The Buckeyes won all their games for two regular seasons, but they have no national championships or even Big Ten championships to show for it.
Yes, they can claim two of the three Leaders Division titles of all time (I think there’s even a trophy for that), but has anyone ever considered those anything more than consolation prizes?
The past two seasons weren’t all for naught, of course.
When Urban Meyer officially took over in January 2012, Ohio State had lost four consecutive games, after all, and the Buckeyes’ reputation was in a state of disrepair.
Many felt it wouldn’t take a miracle to fix the program, but there was certainly work to do.
Maybe I shouldn’t have led with “Jason Whitlock” because I’m sure he is a divisive figure to some, but he often has an interesting perspective on a variety of sports topics whether you or I agree with him much. This piece on the Wolverines is unique because while Whitlock repeats something he’s never tried to hide – he loves Hoke and they have a personal relationship – he then proceeds to rip apart the state of the current Michigan team.
I agree with his observations about what is wrong with these Wolverines, though you probably won’t be surprised to learn I am far more skeptical about his ability to turn the program around than Whitlock. The author’s main justification is, “He’s Hoke,” which I guess could turn out to be all it takes but isn’t really based on what I’d call facts. Continue reading →
Ohio State’s first season in Urban Meyer’s spread offense was a big success by most measures, but the head coach and his offensive coordinator want much more in year two. We examine how they can improve and take a look at a past example of an OSU offense going from good to great in its second season with a new attack – Scout.com: Buckeyes Want To Add Read, Speed in 2013
Nowhere to turn but The Doors this week as we take a look back at the end of a 12-game run of perfection for the Ohio State football team. It was quite a ride, but we can’t help but wonder what’s next.
What we learned last week: How a true 180 feels.
Could anything have been more different than the way things turned out this year for Ohio State?
From a helpless, free-falling November of 2011 to the capstone of a perfect season including a pair of close wins instead of three one-score losses.
Urban Meyer wants to make sure this team’s accomplishments are recorded because they sure don’t write books like this. I don’t think this screenplay could get produced because no one would buy it.
I think this season also turned out to teach that enjoying the ride is still possible.
Oh sure, there are regrets. Some wonder what might have been, and there was some campaigning for No. 1 votes in the AP poll.
There were threads on our BuckeyeSports.com message board decrying the play calling and the crowd noise and the missed tackles, just like always.
But there were still 100,000-plus in Ohio Stadium eight times this fall. They still cheered as lustily when the Buckeyes put together an improbable comeback in the last minute then dominated overtime against Purdue. They still reveled under the lights as the offense ran wild against Nebraska, and they still danced and sang with the band and the players after a close win at Michigan State.
They still rushed the field after a win over Michigan, too.
It still looked, sounded and felt like a regular Ohio State football season all along the way, and that was good to see.
I was beginning to wonder if the BCS – with its slightly more tangible presentation of a true race for a national championship compared to the completely poll-driven decision process that preceded it – had ruined some of that.
Had the long run of success in the Big Ten and over Michigan spoiled fans? Maybe so. Some players last year and this year admitted it might have made them complacent, too.
That’s somewhat understandable. It is human nature, after all.
So it was good to see the joy and passion back for all. A rejuvenated coach, team and fan base all soaking in the simple joy of a win just for winning’s sake.
The stakes return next season, but the memories of this one will linger forever.
What we can expect to learn next week (and beyond): That was quite a season of Ohio State football. It lasted only 12 games, but there was plenty of drama. Wonder what they’ll do for an encore…
After one of the weirdest periods in OSU football history, the Buckeyes needed a mental reset.
Turns out they might have found the master of psychology in his field. Of course, Urban Meyer had to fix himself before he could go to work on his home state’s favorite team.
So 2012 turned out to be a test period for all sorts of things. A new offense, a new workout regime, a new mental approach and a new man – in more ways than one – at the helm.
Nobody could have dreamed it would turn out so well, and the twists and turns were even more unpredictable.
Who knows the next time Ohio State will get as many things to break its way as did this season – it had been at least 10 years, right? – but then again maybe not as many will be necessary next season when the schedule is weaker and the methods are more familiar.
The 1998 Buckeyes, for instance, really only would have needed one break in one particular game to go down as one of the great teams in school history. (And the loss to Michigan State that season actually required quite a string of unfortunate events to happen anyway.)
Maybe the same could be said of 1969 or several of Woody Hayes’ great teams in the early ‘70s.
The 2002 and ’12 Buckeyes brought a lot of their problems on themselves, but they persevered through determination and perhaps even some providence.
How next season unfolds will begin to be told with winter workouts, but there’s no deadline for the 2013 Buckeyes to be great. It might be more tense with more on the line, or it might be carefree if they grow and cut back on mistakes and lapses in focus. Only time will tell.
They seem to have a coach who knows how to make magic more likely, but even Urban Meyer concedes there is only so much anyone can do other than hope for the best.
It will be a long offseason. Good thing they left on such a high note.
Stocks are high with this program now, and it will be interesting to see how they handle prosperity.
They haven’t won anything tangible yet, so that shouldn’t be too hard a sell.
They completed their payback tour with wins over everyone in the conference that beat them last season, but there is unfinished business to attend to.
It goes beyond the Big Ten, but they’ll have to get through it again first. The path they just traversed was winding and treacherous, but the next one will be even longer even if it runs the risk of being more boring at times.
Much of what makes a great coach is his psychological approach, and that will be tested in building and keeping together the 2013 team.
How will he teach it to remain hungry, to be sure cupcakes don’t spoil the appetite?
They showed plenty of flaws that need to be worked on, of course, so maybe that won’t become a concern until next season actually starts.
Maybe I shouldn’t get ahead of myself, but then again I guess that’s sort of my point.
After twelve wild wins there are going to be a full 12 more months before this team can say it accomplished more than its predecessor. Then there will still be one more step, and the hardest one of all.
Cleaning out my reporter’s notebook after week on the Ohio State football beat. This time the Buckeyes were sounding refreshed after a week off prior to a trip to Madison, Wisc., to take on the Badgers.
Ohio State’s head football coach said Wisconsin is a much-improved team right now. Teams get better or they get worse through the course of the season, and this one is on the upswing. The blowout of Indiana last week was the Badgers’ best performance on both sides of the ball.
Wisconsin does a nice job with shifts and motions before the snap on offense and it’s hard to maintain gap integrity against the Badgers. When they go to the air, wide receiver Jared Abbrederis is a heck of a player.
Practice was excellent on Monday. The team seemed rejuvenated after having the weekend off, so the coaches have to be careful how they use that energy. It was a very physical practice.
He has had good success in the past after weeks off, so he maintains the same practice schedule.
The Buckeyes’ bowl ban has not really been addressed much so far this season because he likes how the team shows up to work on a regular basis. He has a lot of competitors in the locker room. They want to show up and perform their best against a good team like Wisconsin.
Leadership is an underrated aspect of college football, and Zach Boren brings that to the Buckeyes. He wasn’t doing that in the spring or summer, but he is now. Boren is one of Meyer’s all-time favorites now.
The defense is not the Silver Bullets yet, but it has been playing much better.
He hasn’t thought about the inability to go to a bowl while being undefeated as much as he expected. It comes up from time to time and then he thinks about how good the team might really be. He pauses to reflect then moves on to get ready for the next game.
He hasn’t talked to the team about the potential of an Associated Press national title for the last few weeks. He likes how the team meetings have been going. They know where they are as a team. It’s a no-nonsense group. He really likes coaching them.
Before the weekend off, he told the guys to think about how anything they do will help them get their 11th win. If so, do it a lot. If not, don’t do it.
Asked his impressions of the rivalry with Wisconsin, he said pretty good. He is learning about what it’s been like in recent years. He’s hearing about it from the guys who have been around. It is a rivalry game now.
The cornerbacks are an improved group for Ohio State. Travis Howard wasn’t very good earlier in the season, but he’s developed a lot.
He wasn’t sure what to make of a question about bad blood between the two programs but said the players respect Wisconsin so they are preparing hard for them. Meyer has no issue with Bielema. That was blown out of proportion early in the year and they squashed it.
Wisconsin has a very good front seven, one of several in the Big Ten. Meyer is impressed with how many there are in the league, perhaps more than he expected based on the reputation of the conference before he got here. Wisconsin has a very big front four, and linebacker Chris Borland is one of the best in the league. The Kettering, Ohio, native is very instinctual.
Meyer has talked to the team about winning the conference division outright. That is an important task.
He’s been to Camp Randall Stadium before – including as an assistant here in the ‘80s – and it is a great atmosphere.
Wisconsin running back Montee Ball had a slow start to the season, but a lot of that might have been on others more than him. The coaching staff has come together as the season has progressed, and they’ve gotten creative in the running game. Ball will be a very good NFL running back.
Asked to rate his team’s playmaking ability, Meyer said probably a C or C-. Braxton Miller fits the mold, and Carlos Hyde is joining him along with Philly Brown, but he expects at least four. And Hyde and Brown still have work to do. He wants making plays to be common place, not something that is remarkable every time they make someone miss or break a tackle.
Wide receiver Corey “Philly” Brown noted the Buckeyes and Badgers have been going back and forth with messing up each other’s seasons. Ohio State is trying to get revenge for losing there his freshman year when they were undefeated and ranked No. 1.
The atmosphere at Camp Randall Stadium is not so much intimidating as much as it is fun. Same with Penn State. Those are two of the loudest stadiums they have played in and they try to use the energy from the crowd to their advantage.
He remembers “Jump Around” at the end of the third quarter last time when he was a freshman. Hopefully won’t be as loud because they’ll be winning, he said.
This group is hungry enough to put in the work to go undefeated. They are all in and he has no doubts they can do it.
Defensive lineman John Simon predicts the most physical team will win in Madison. They know the Badgers are going to try to run up the middle against them, and they have to stop it.
This is a huge game and hostile territory. fans are crazy and Badgers play very well at home. The Buckeyes are doing all they can to be prepared for challenge, but they are taking it one game at a time as far as going undefeated.
There is a light at the end of the tunnel, but they have two of their toughest tests coming at the end so they have to be prepared for each one of them and leave nothing to chance.
Cornerback Travis Howard says they figure on seeing a big running game from the Badgers and it will come down to which team is the most physical.
They should be able to put the corners on an island and stack the box to stop the run without worrying about how he and Bradly Roby will hold up.
Howard thinks it is “fabulous” to hear Meyer say he and Roby are one of the best cornerback tandems he has coached because he knows Meyer had some tremendous guys at Florida. Howard feels like Meyer’s pushing them to get better every day has been significant in their improvement.
The Buckeyes have a chip on their shoulder but can’t control situation other than to go out and win every game.
That’s what they are trying to do. At the end of the day they can look back and say they accomplished great things but it’s not time for that yet. Wisconsin is most important right now.