In my inaugural post I take on the polarizing topic of Jim Tressel’s fate as a result of the recent NCAA infractions. If you listen carefully, you can hear the angry mob developing with each word I type.
No name puckers the cheeks of the media nor commands the collective prayers of Buckeye fans more than that of Jim Tressel. Every compliment is met the most microscopic of criticism, while every critique is countered with the blanket array of football achievements. When his name is invoked, logic is thrown out the window in lieu of unrelenting hatred combated with blind devotion. Say it again people. “Jim Tressel”… Say it two more times and a Scarlet & Grey clad genie may appear granting you three wishes. Unfortunately no amount of wishes, prayers or karma is going to save Jim Tressel right now.
Let’s examine what’s happened. And I’ll make it simple. Jim Tressel was made aware of a possible NCAA violation by a friend and did not disclose that information to the proper parties. That’s as simple as it gets. According to the recent “Notice of Allegations” letter sent to the University by the NCAA, here are some snippets of what the NCAA is accusing Jim Tressel of:
- “knew or should have known that at least two football student-athletes received preferential treatment from and sold institutionally issued athletics awards, apparel and/or equipment to Rife”
- “he failed to report the information to athletics administrators and, as a result, permitted football student-athletes to participate in intercollegiate athletics competition while ineligible”
- “failed to deport himself in accordance with the honesty and integrity normally associated with the conduct and administration of intercollegiate athletics”
- “withheld the information from April 2010 until the institution discovered the emails in January of 2011, including throughout the 2010 football season when he permitted football student-athletes to compete while ineligible and during the institution’s investigation of the violations in December 2010”
- “falsely attested that he reported to the institution any knowledge of NCAA violations when he signed the institution’s certification of compliance form, which is required under Bylaw 18.104.22.168.1.4”
In other words, the NCAA is saying Tressel knew what he was doing. And if he didn’t know, he should have known. And he chose to lie. Whether the NCAA is right or wrong, this is what lies before Jim Tressel and The Ohio State University Athletics Department.
Defenders often bring up the trivial nature of the crimes. Such is always the case with frustration. But regardless of our interpretations of how fair the world should or shouldn’t be, the rules are the rules. And according to the NCAA, Jim Tressel knew them and deliberately broke them. So let’s get past the notion of how stupid these crimes are, because the NCAA doesn’t think so. And that’s all that matters right now.
Is there a possible exoneration in the cards? Doubtful… Not that one doesn’t exist. But rather, Jim Tressel has already publicly shouldered the blame. Leading one to believe that if Jim Tressel is truly innocent of these accusations and did act accordingly then he certainly doesn’t want the world to know that. You can use your imagination from there. I know there are fantastic dreams of Tressel emerging from this as a hero rather than a demon. But the reality is Tressel’s best possible outcome will be as a martyr. And that leaves little to be desired since it likely comes with him no longer being the Head Football coach. But in light of what’s transpired, if Jim Tressel is innocent of his allegations, it is not his intention to appear so. Therefore, one can conclude that he has no wish to be exonerated.
So then, let’s pretend that everything accused of Tressel by the NCAA is true. What then? The Athletics Department has already self imposed a penalty of a 5 game suspension along with a $250,000 fine, among other miniscule requirements. How will that be received by the NCAA? It is the opinion (and fear) of this writer that the NCAA will not recognize the self-imposed penalties as adequate. Let me elaborate. The “Tat 5” also are beings suspended for five games. And they too have to pay back the money they received. It would almost appear that the punishments mimic each other which isn’t a stretch given that was the assertion from Tressel and Smith when they extended the suspension to 5 games in the first place. So the punishments appear equal. But were the crimes? I fear that when weighing the two crimes together, Tressel’s infraction is far worse and has greater implications into the college game. Simply put, did OSU win any football games because some athletes sold paraphernalia? I would say no. But did OSU win any football games because Jim Tressel knowingly withheld information that would likely have made those players ineligible? Quite possibly so and there is the distinction I fear the NCAA will make. And thus, as it stands now, the self-imposed punishment does not fit the crime.
So what will the NCAA do? Well, a number of scenarios have been thrown out. I’m sure ESPN right now is having a “Pin the penalty on Tressel” party in their break room complete with ice cream cake in the likeness of Nick Saban. Your guess is as good as mine. But one thing I do believe is that any penalty they put forth will also “not fit the crime”. I realize that appears contradictory in nature. But I believe that the NCAA will be incapable of properly penalizing Jim Tressel. Their hands are tied as far as their reach in such matters. But they can, however, levy sanctions against the entire football program. Hardly seems fair. (There’s that word again that is never applicable in real life) It’s not as if Fickell or any other coach did anything wrong. There were 70+ other scholarship athletes guilty of nothing. And the Tat 5 are already paying for their infractions which should have no bearing in this matter. But what choice does the NCAA have?
This brings us to the final fear of Buckeye nation. Will Tressel offer himself as a martyr for the program? If those who believe Smith and Gee already knew about everything back in April are correct, then it would appear Tressel already is doing so. That would mean the likes of Jack Nicklaus must believe that Tressel is literally “taking one for the team”. But then why would someone like Gene Smith, publicly scrutinize Tressel’s apology. We’re talking about a man who is likely protecting Smith. Even more bewildering, why self report that Tressel knew in the first place? Those emails weren’t requested by the NCAA. They were part of an internal investigation. One spearheaded by the University (Gee) and the Athletics Department (Smith). So I have a difficult time believing that Smith or Gee already knew unless the underlying belief is that Smith and/or Gee wanted Tressel out from the beginning. (In walks Mel Gibson)
Some fear that Tressel may offer his prompt retirement as payment for these infractions. The notion suggests that the NCAA would presumably lessen the penalties imposed on the football program as a result. Truly, this would also make Tressel a martyr. Such a conclusion would likely warrant the collective tears from the entire state of Ohio. But in reality if this were to occur we would never know about it. But would this solve anything? Would this send the message to programs everywhere that the NCAA takes such infractions seriously?
Occam’s razor (my loose interpretation) suggests that in a search for truth the scenario that requires the least assumptions is the one that should be observed. So we must reduce what we know to facts. And then base everything entirely on the facts that we are certain of. Because of this, Jim Tressel admitting to these infractions will prevail over everything else. And we must base the penalties in accordance with that fact. The question remains, will the NCAA levy penalties on Jim Tressel, or will they levy them on the entire football program. I do not envy the position of any of the parties involved. It would appear that both the NCAA and tOSU have great decisions to be made. The tragedy of it all is that everything comes at the expense of the innocent or the loss of our honored figurehead.
As we await our impending lashes, the divisiveness amongst us runs deep. I can only hope that we can take a page from Jim Tressel. And recognize that in light of our imperfections we can ask for forgiveness, forgive others and forgive ourselves. Rest assured Buckeye fans, just over the horizon, Buckeye football will begin again soon with or without you or I or Jim Tressel or Gene Smith or Gordon Gee. Buckeye football will live on as we age, pass away and perpetually exist in the boiling underbelly of college football fanaticism.no comments
I hope the defensive line is this good more than it is the offensive line is not so good. I am not in red alert mode yet because I saw a number of times linemen looking at each other and talking to each other after plays. With all the moving around this spring, players in one position one day and another the next day, it could be a matter of not being in sync with each other. That is just another reason why I do not like all this moving around. I do not believe offensive linemen are that interchangeable, I do not believe a player learns to play his best position while he is repping at a position that he is not a good fit for, and the line does not find any continuity. That is three strikes for the versatile lineman theory. Three strikes your out.
Last week there was talk about having a two-deep on the offensive line. With only eight scholarship players on the roster I was skeptical to begin with. A two-deep with only eight scholarship players means you are depending on walk-ons. Not only are Blackman and St.John walk-ons, they are young walk-ons. Blackman may be able to help in time but St.John was beaten consistently. Tommy Brown was beaten almost as much. I don't know if he can contribute at guard but we really need to quit on him as a tackle. Experience will make him better but that will not be good enough. He lacks the athleticism to play out there. He looks so different bodywise from the player I saw at the end of his high school career. Put him inside and let him learn the position.
I saw straight 4-3, 3-4, odd man front, 3-3 and even the old 4-3 stack that John Cooper liked. If we can play all those different defensive fronts great. I am just a little nervous about trying to implement all of that. I still prefer to play defensive lineman at one spot but it bothers me a great deal less to see defensive linemen in different spots. We were moving players around a good bit. I think I saw Hankins play in three different spots, all highly effectively, before going out of the game after taking a knee to the head trying to tackle Miller.
Speaking of Miller, who was the best quarterback today? Miller, Graham or Guiton take your pick, Bauserman. If we are content to hand the ball off for the first five games okay, but based on what I saw today if we want to throw the ball Bauserman is the last guy we need in there. Miller was clearly the most effective. Graham has the problem of not being a very mobile kid. Based on what I saw from the offensive line mobility could be important. He threw a touchdown pass to TY Williams that was a thing of beauty. He spent too much time trying not to get killed, all the quarterbacks did, he just wasn't as effective at it as Miller and Guiton.
Take a back. Just pick one. Herron looked really good. I heard he had a good spring. We threw the ball to the backs. Jordan Hall was very effective as a receiver but just as effective as a runner. Berry ran very well. The least effective was Carlos Hyde but he was the first guy off the bench.
Receivers. Posey and Verlon Reed from game six on. I don't know what we do to replace Posey for the first five. Corey Brown drops balls. When Jordan Hall came here I thought he would move to receiver. He showed great hands in high school, catching balls for as many yards as he did rushing. He looked great when they split him out today. He is very effective in the open field. He is not as effective as Brown, but he catches the ball. We might want to think about that. I think we will over the summer.
John Simon was unblockable. Nobody could move Big Hank, until Miller took him out of the game with his knee to the head. J.T. Moore was very active and around the ball alot. I like what I saw from him. Nate Williams looked leaner than last year and was moving very well. It looks like he is going to be a stand-up end, a Viper. I did not see him with his hand in the dirt. Joel Hale is going to take some reps from a veteran. He is huge, a much underrated athlete, and relentless. We are only going to get deeper with some of the players we have coming in this fall. Love what I am seeing with the defensive line. Big and athletic inside. Fast and athletic outside.
The best linebacker on the field was Ryan Shazier. I had concerns about moving him back. It is not an easy transition. I saw him start the transition well in one of the post-season all-star games. He looks like he has played the position all his life. He was just as good in space as he was attacking. He missed Jordan Hall in the open field. That was the only negative I saw with him all day. The next best linebacker for me was a huge surprise, Jordan Whiting. He was very active and around the ball at the line of scrimmage and in coverage. I thought Sabino played very well at the line of scrimmage. Sweat too. I did not see much out of Bell early but he was in on some plays when the offense started to run the ball more. He is very athletic. I have heard good things about him all spring. Shazier looks even more athletic.
I don't think we got a really good look at the defensive backfield between pressure and dropped passes. I saw Dominic Clark have a few plays. We seem to favor him when we run a corner blitz. Jeremy Cash flashed into my view on a few occasions. I thought Orhian Johnson played well.
Overall the defense looks big and very fast. Dare I say it looks like an SEC defense. A very good SEC defense. That is a good thing as the offense needs some work. I think it could be prudent to name starters now and get on the same page, especially on the offensive line. I really think that could be a major part of the problem with the offensive line. I would also pick a quarterback and get him the most reps.no comments
It is draft time. I was thinking about looking at the Buckeye players headed into this draft but I think I want to look at the current roster. Who on the current roster has the best draft prospects.
I won't include any incoming freshmen. Guys who have not even had a practice at this level let alone a game do not rate consideration.
I will not talk about the recently graduated. I will talk about them when I talk about the draft.
1 - Rod Smith. I remember hearing about him long before I saw him. That Smith was not the nations consensus number one back when he came out of high school was an outrage. Every year we see the national recruiting services get enamored with these undersized backs who cannot run between the tackles and can't carry the ball 20 times a game. What really bothered me about Smiths case was he showed he can catch the ball. Smith is a complete package and the real deal. He can run over a tackler, he can break ankles or he can outrun them to the corner. He is highly likely to be an early entry player. Backs never do. The wear and tear from the pounding they take means they need to get out and make that money as soon as possible.
2 - Dorian Bell. Smith has gotten so much of the publicity that Bell's emergence has been overlooked. There has been so much talk about Sabino and Sweat. People I talk to say if Sweat gets beat by speed as many times as he did last year he will find himself doing more sitting as this super athlete has the same superior instincts as Sweat but nobody is going to outrun him.
3 - Mike Adams. He had a shaky start on and off the field but the light came on last year. Adams was outstanding. He is a perfect physical specimen for a left tackle, tall and long with long arms but he moves like a player 100 lbs lighter. He is fluid and athletic. The 2012 draft looks like it will be a down one for tackles. I think he would be in the mix for best tackle in the draft even if it was a good draft. It could be his run blocking that puts him at the top of the list. Adams was a good run blocker before he became a good pass blocker.
4 - Mike Brewster. Great as a freshman. Good as a sophmore. I thought he returned to being a great looking pro prospect last year. Mel Kiper has him at the top of his junior center list. I think he could end up being a first round choice of he picks up where he left off.
5 - John Hankins. We talk about nose tackles with the 3-4. What fans don't get is they are important in the 4-3. They are more important in the 3-4 but having a player who can soak up two blockers and hold the point in the middle of the field is very important to an effective 4-3 defense. As spring has gone along Big Hank has started to come on and become the dominating player we saw last year.
6 - Travis Howard. He was a player I was afraid of for so long. I saw him go from a player who made so many mistakes that the coaches met him when he came off the field on several occasions to a player who showed he could be a starter in the Sugar Bowl to a player who has looked like a potential star in this spring. Corners with size are very attractive to the NFL. Howard is a 6-0 corner.
7 - Terrelle Pryor. He has become a lightning rod for all the things that are wrong with the program right now but Pryor is a unique athlete and football player. He is not a quarterback at the NFL level? Why not? Have you seen the state of the NFL at quarterback? John Kitna is still in the NFL despite throwing 161 interceptions compared to 167 touchdowns. Pryor has thrown for 57 touchdowns and 22 interceptions. He has thrown for over 6,000 yards. He has completed 477 passes. 19-3 as a starter. Who would you rather have under center, Matt Leinhart or Terrelle Pryor? Pryor is not better than Vince Young? His mechanics can go sideways on him at times. He does not see the field like he should but to write him off as a quarterback is folly. I think someone is going to draft him as a quarterback. If he doesn't pan out you end up with a 6-5 235 lb elite athlete who can run under 4.5.
8 - Etienne Sabino. Along with Andy Katzenmoyer and Curtis Grant, Sabino is the most physically gifted linebacker to come into the program in my time of evaluating players. It looks like he has found a way to play in the framework of the defense. A player with his physical tools playing smart and disciplined has the potential to make this a great defense at Ohio State and push him into the first day of the NFL draft.
9 - Adam Bellamy. Looks like a Cam Heyward clone. He is what the NFL is looking for in a base/5-technique defensive end. He is an underrated athlete with ideal size for the position and a motor that will not quit. Look back at the Sugar Bowl. He played alot and he played well.
10 - Devier Posey.Coming out of his sophmore year we were worried he might leave after his junior year. He proceeded to go about looking like he did not belong on the field as a starter let alone an early entry player. This spring he has returned to his sophmore form. With a suspect class of receivers for 2012 Posey could push himself into the top of the draft. He has a size speed ratio that is hard to ignore.
11 - Andrew Norwell. Looked so solid out there as a freshman. I think he settles in on the right side at tackle next year and becomes the best right tackle we have seen in the Tressel era.
12 - Jack Mewhort. What a spring Mewhort has had. He has been playing so well he has been tried at tackle. Guards do not go high in the draft. Only 3 or 4 have been drafted in the first round in the last 10 years or so but Mewhort could be one of the first off the board when his time comes.
After Sundays blog I received a box full of mail that came back to the same thing. Shane Dillon is a long shot. I don't know about a long shot but anyone who thinks the Buckeyes chances of landing him are good is not dealing with reality. There is no bigtime national kid who is an Ohio State lean.
One fan who was paying close attention brought an important point up. A couple of years ago the same scenario evolved. The Buckeyes did set their sites on national guys. For a time it seemed like Nick Montana was going to be a Buckeye. The it looked like Taj Boyd was going to be a Buckeye. In fact, it was more than looking like he was going to be a Buckeye. He committed. Obviously he went home and changed his mind since he is not a Buckeye but I am confident he committed. It was a bad year for quarterbacks. There was nothing in state and not much nationally. The Buckeyes offered and received a commitment from an unknown, Kenny Guiton.
That same scenario could play out again. I believe that going for a national kid, one who could compete with Taylor Graham, Braxton Miller and any quarterback the Buckeyes may get in 2013, is the way to go just like it was a three years ago. I don't know about falling back on a quarterback who may not be able to compete for the job and is only going to tie up a scholarship for up to five years. Guiton has gotten better, better than I thought he could, but he is falling down the depth chart as the talent level goes up.
If the staff decides to go that route again, I like several guys in the state of Ohio quite a bit better than Guiton.
First, we have to think about Cardale Jones, who I have always been a big fan of. He has been trying for the better part of a year to get qualified. I am such a fan that the recruitment of a quarterback becomes a moot point in my mind if he gets in to Ohio State but I do not have alot of faith that he is going to get a qualifying score. I would not have brought up the part of the last blog post about recruiting if I had more faith that Jones is going to make it in.
With the idea in mind that Jones is not going to make it in, I look at the top guys in the state of Ohio. A couple of names have jumped into the discussion since more film has come in. Fans like a countdown so I will start with my number four quarterback. I did not decide on a number beforehand. I picked the guys I would look at if I was going to consider taking a quarterback in the state of Ohio.
4 - Mason Schreck, 6-5, 210, Medina. I know most of you are saying, who? His film appeared out of the blue. I had never heard of him. All you need to do is see the first play on his film at ScoutingOhio.com. That deep out is a big time throw. The next play shows what kind of athlete he is. Schreck would have appeared on the radar earlier if he was in a passing offense. He is in a run first offense. One thing that the offense does for him is shows him under center and having to drop back to throw. That gives him a leg up on some of the other quarterbacks. He needs a good summer to bring recruiters to Medina.
3 - Tyler Eden, 6-4, 215, Cleveland University School. Eden was my top kid for the longest time. I still like what I see. He has a quick release and is such a good athlete I would not be surprised to find him on some boards as an athlete. When you first watch film you see the things you like. When you keep watching you notice the things that are wrong. With Eden I watched a film that was over 10 minutes in length. I don't know if he threw ten balls that travelled more than ten yards. There is also the question of level of competition. A great summer where he shows arm strength and the ability to deliver the ball against superior competition will put him back in the hunt for number one in the class.
2 - Tyler O'Connor, 6-3, 210, Lima Central Catholic. His film came in right about the same time as Schreck's. I see the most polished quarterback in the state. If you were putting together a film on the proper way to throw the football you could save yourself alot of time by just using O'Connor's film. He has a beautiful motion. He has great footwork. He is so technically sound that a coaching staff can get right to teaching him the playbook and getting him prepared to play. He plays in a pro-set offense and takes the snap from center instead of sitting back there in shotgun. He even carries the ball high on his dropback. I did not see one play in a 10 minute film where he dropped the ball down low where it can be more easily stripped. Not one play. He is a very accurate passer. He is an underrated athlete. He is no Braxton Miller but he can make a play with his feet. O'Connor is the one with the offer list with 8 offers that I am aware of including Michigan State and Northwestern.
1 - Austin Appleby, 6-5, 225, North Canton Hoover. I know. Appleby does not move very well. I know. He has that long baseball throwing motion. I got so caught up in the negatives that I forgot the positives until I started looking at films again for this list. A quarterback is back there to throw the ball. Austin Appleby can throw the football. Look at the second throw on his film. No quarterback in the class can come close to that throw. All of the other quarterbacks in this list combined did not make me say, wow, look at that throw, like Appleby did. I like his level of competition better than any quarterback on this list. He lines up under center as much as he is in shotgun. Late in his ScoutingOhio.com film he shows that he is not a great athlete but he moves around better than you think. In the end it comes down to one thing. If I am behind in a game and need to get down the field to win the game, I want the ball in Applebys right hand.
Geovonnie McKnight from Middletown could make this list a full five but he is not a starter and might not be.
I gave my reasons why I thought Bauserman would be the starter. We are less than a week away from the spring game. Nothing that has happened in practice has changed my thinking. I still believe this will be about a quarterback who does not lose the game. That means putting a veteran in there. What has happened during spring reinforces my belief that not only is Bauserman the choice, he is the right choice.
There was a discussion on Bucknuts about the fact that the receivers are dropping too many balls. As I looked at the depth chart something leaped out at me. Eight scholarship receivers including the income Devin Smith and Evan Spencer. Of the eight, six are first or second year players. The veterans include Devier Posey who will be missing the first five games. The scrimmage Saturday added more fuel to the fire. Receivers continue to drop footballs. That is more fuel that we are going to see a heavy dose of quarterbacks handing the ball off. Add to that equation the fact that Rod Smith is showing he is going to be everything he was cracked up to be. We will see a heavy dose of Tresselball in the first five games.
The best argument for Miller to be the starter is his mobility. For the first five games there will be only two linemen in the starting lineup who have any kind of game experience to speak of. It is likely there will be two first year starters at the guard spots. We don't know who is going to be at left tackle. I don't see another player beyond Mike Adams who will be on the roster this fall who I would say his best position is left tackle. I don't recall seeing Andrew Norwell getting any game reps at left tackle last year. Hall did not play at all last year. I don't recall game reps at left tackle for him two years ago. Out of position and lack of game reps at the position is worrisome. That Miller is the best option because of his mobility is saying the quarterback is going to be under a good deal of pressure. I think it is also the strongest argument to not play him. He is not going to learn how to be a quarterback at this level if he is running for his life. He is going to become a quarterback who thinks run first. Beyond learning to play quarterback the wrong way, and/or becoming gunshy, we could get him hurt.
Taylor Graham is the best quarterback on the roster right now. That is just a fact. Miller is a better raw talent especially when you add the mobility element into the equation, but Graham is as good a passer. He has an even bigger arm. He is more ready to run the Buckeye offense, and he is more ready to face a D-1 defense. If Bauserman comes out it will be Graham going in. Yes, before Guiton. It is official. Graham has passed Guiton on the depth chart.
Guiton has to consider his future. He has to decide if he is more interested in being a Buckeye or playing football. He is an out of state kid. I think that plays a role in his decision. Growing up with a school, that school being so much a part of your life, makes it harder to walk away from. He is now behind a player who is younger than him. He needs two players to get hurt before he gets a shot to play. In the middle of October that number becomes three as Pryor returns. To make matters worse he is just ahead of the player who is the designated heir apparent. By the time that many quarterbacks get hurt or play so badly that the Guiton would be the next option, you have to think the staff would decide it is time to look forward. That means Miller. Guiton needed to stay number two to have a shot at starting. He needed to be high enough on the depth chart that the staff would not start looking toward the future.
With that in mind what is the recruiting strategy? It would not surprise me that the staff would go hard after Shane Dillon or some other elite quarterback. A Kenny Guiton transfer means we play 2012 with two scholarship quarterbacks. Both have had some injuries. Graham missed his junior and senior years to injury. Miller has missed games to injury. The stellar 2013 class is one where there are several franchise quarterbacks. You have to think there is a future star coming out of that class. Taking a lesser kid in 2012 makes no sense. Talk about a waste of a scholarship. The offer to Dillon tells me the staff could have projected this scenario unfolding six months ago or longer.
It is something we have all come to terms with. There is too much talent in the state this year for the Buckeyes to get them all. Even with a full boat of scholarships there is no way all the players who rate a Buckeye offer would make it into a scarlet and gray. Mark Porter pointed out a statistic that drives it home. He has found at least 98 players in Ohio who hold at least one scholarship offer. It is the middle of April, Buckeye Nation. 98 players have scholarship offers.
I was looking down a list of recent offers. I kept saying to myself, that one is going to hurt. I repeated it too many times. It made me think about which ones are going to hurt the most.
Buchtel safety Jarrod Wilson is a player I would love to see an offer to but that does not look like it is going to happen. He is a great free safety prospect something I think is very much a need for the Buckeyes. While not seeing any interest I am aware of from Ohio State he has offers from five Big Ten schools Michigan, Penn State, Illinois, Northwestern and Indiana. This kid is a playmaker. I would rather not see him every year for the next four years. His stellar grades are confirmed by offers from Notre Dame, Stanford and Vanderbilt. Lets hope the elite academic profiles of those schools are a key element to his final decision.
William Mahone is a two-way player from Austintown Fitch with offers from Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa, Illinois, Purdue and Indiana so the odds he is going to be back in Columbus on the other side of the field are pretty high. He is a great player. I am sure in any other year he would be odds on to have an offer from the Buckeyes. He could be a great safety but I would probably give him a shot first at running back. He also holds offers from Notre Dame and Boston College. All Buckeye fans should hope he ends up putting academics first and chooses one of those schools.
I have been very excited about Pharaoh Brown. My enthusiasm has been dampened a bit after hearing about his desire to be a tight end. No matter which side of the ball he lines up on he could come back to haunt us. He has offers from two Big Five schools in Nebraska and Michigan as well as offers from Michigan State, Illinois and Purdue. Boston College and Syracuse are in there with offers. He has an offer from North Carolina and Butch Davis is a great recruiter. As a Buckeye fan I wish Butch Davis luck recruiting Brown. I know the Buckeyes have had him in but I don't see an offer pending especially since he wants to play tight end but does not play tight end in high school.
Lakewood St. Edward defensive tackle Greg Kuhar is in the same situation. The Buckeyes have had him down too but no offer is forthcoming. He has offers from Michigan, Iowa and Northwestern. He reminds me a great deal of recent Buckeye Dex Larimore. I would put a higher rating on Kuhar because he is bigger. I think if the depth chart were any different he would be odds on to get an offer.
Joe Bolden is the best inside linebacker in the state. I do not think it is even close. He has offers from seven Big Ten schools, Penn State, Michigan, Iowa, Northwestern, Illinois, Indiana and Purdue. The Buckeyes have not shown a lot of interest. He is a fine player who has some offers outside the region but with that many offers from Big Ten teams the odds he is going to improve the chances of some Big Ten team coming in to knock us off are pretty good. A good number of Cincinnati players go to Boston College. Bolden holds an offer from Boston College.
I am sure this one will be a bit of a surprise because I have not seemed to be that high on Kaleb Ringer. I think he is slightly overrated because the way the game is played linebackers must be able to cover and I have not seen it out of him but if you want a middle linebacker to run from tackle to tackle and stuff the run then this is an awfully good football player. He committed to Michigan without an offer from the Buckeyes. I did not see a Buckeye linebacker in Ringer but this is definitely an upgrade in talent for Michigan.
I do not include a player like Chris Wormley because the Buckeyes are actively recruiting him. I think Michigan leads but Michigan led for some big name Buckeye players early including Orlando Pace and Korey Stringer.
We know we are going to see some very talented players leave the state. Cheer hard for them to leave the region. This level of talent congregating in one or two spots is something we very much do not want to see happen.We know we are going to see some very talented players leave the state. Michigan has offered six of the seven players I have listed here. They already have a verbal from one. This is the kind of talent that can infuse new blood into The Rivalry quickly because it is not Michigan taking talent the Buckeyes do not want. It would be Michigan getting players the Buckeyes don't have room for. Big difference.
It looks like the staff has settled on their guys for the class of 2012. At least for now. I don't know if we are going to see anymore offers between now and camp. I think that especially a sage move considering all that is hanging over the program right now. Keeping the coaching staff focused on a smaller number of recruits will give them more opportunity to reach out to those players and counter the negative recruiting that is about to be unleashed against Ohio State come May 1st.
What is going on off the field could have an impact on recruiting but there are always going to be loses. This is a year to have loses as the next guy in line is likely to be about as good as the kid who chose to go elsewhere. Making sure those next in line players are there is something I think is crucial to a recruiting effort. To lose a kid late then look up and find a player that you did not expect to be there just waiting on an offer is something that can have a big impact on a recruiting class.
I want to look at some players I really hope the Buckeyes are staying in touch with.
Tops on my list is Trae Clark, the big nose guard from Colerain. In fact, I would go ahead and offer him now. Young men this big who can still move are the rarest of the rare. To be able to hold the point, to be able to tie up multiple blockers, to be able to command double teams but still be able to close down the backside and pursue down the line effectively is something that few players can do. Look at the impact Jon Hankins had last year. There are less 3-4 teams at the pro level because of the lack of nose tackles. Take one when you can get him.
He is on the radar. We have talked about him alot. Benny McGowan is a non-offered player that I would contact like he was an offered player. If one of the national kids falls through I would hang up the phone from getting the bad news, call McGowan and know I am making an offer to a player who is almost as good.
Along the same lines, taking athletic bigs when you can, I would like to see the staff stay in touch with a new kid on the block, Arlington McClinton from Midview. He is 6-6 220 and great off the edge. Great length, great speed, great motor and he is going to get alot bigger.
If McClinton is not the biggest sleeper in this class right now then it is Thomas Worthington cornerback Nana Kyeremeh. He may be the fastest football player in the class. He is 5-11, good size for a corner but plays even bigger because of his reach. He is as physical a corner as you will see which fits in nicely the way the Buckeyes play defense.
Mike Roberts, Benedictine tight end, is another player I think I would just offer right now. He is what we are looking for. He is a great blocker and a very good receiver.
A.J. Williams is a high school tight end who projects to tackle. With his offer list I doubt the Buckeyes could back burner him until the staff knows what is going on with some other players but I would stay in touch just in case.
I keep thinking about the news that Philly Brown continues to struggle with dropping the ball. I think it is way early to come to the conclusion that he will never have the hands that we need. Lets keep in mind that he was a high school running back. He caught the ball a good deal coming out of the backfield but he was not a receiver. He is only a sophmore now and was not getting as many reps last year because while definitely in the mix he was not the starter. These few practices so far is the first time he is getting starter reps.We need that element in the passing game. A kid who can turn a long hand-off or a slip screen into a big play. Just the threat a player like that brings to the game cannot be underestimated. The question is, where else can we get it? More than one option would be nice.
I had hoped we would be getting that out of Chris Fields. He looked capable coming out of high school. He was a very impressive open field runner. I am not hearing anything that says he is coming around yet.
What about the backs? Rod Smith looks like he is going to be the feature back. That leaves some awfully good football players sitting. The talent is being wasted which means scholarships are being wasted. I think it could not hurt to look at Jordan Hall and Jamaal Berry as options. Jordan Hall in particular seems like a prime option. He had as much yardage receiving as he did rushing in high school. In the film I saw he showed excellent hands. He has an excellent flanker/slot physical profile. He is quick and explosive. He is good in the open field. Speaking of quick, explosive and good in the open field, what about Berry? I have not seen him catch the ball alot. Maybe he would not be a good option but why not try him for a few practices?
One thing I like is backs in the open field. They are more used to trying to run through tackles so there is more yards after contact than with a receiver and the possibility of running through the tackle altogether is higher. If nothing else it gets both catching the ball more. Getting more used to running routes and catching the ball is nothing but a good thing for both of these backs, who have to understand that the better they show as a receiver the better the chance they get on the field.
It also opens up the running back depth chart. This offense is at its best with power backs. Hyde backing up Smith would be very wearing on a defense. Smith runs with excellent power. The defense sees him go off the field and thinks they are getting a break. In comes Hyde who runs even harder. I like having a change of pace guy but I like this better.
Things are unsettled with the NCAA decision on the possible punishments on the program pending. Other schools are going to be coming after our recruits. Bet the farm on that. I think finding a less stacked depth chart would make the commitments of Ball and Dunn all the more secure with a few less bodies on the depth chart. That is another fringe benefit of getting Hall and/or Berry out to flanker for the rest of spring.
Before I get started with some practice news I want to mention that a player who I have talked about on this blog, 2012 offensive lineman Ryan Anderson from Kent Roosevelt , has been diagnosed with cancer. Please keep this young man in your prayers.
Putting together reports I am getting from spring practice:
If you polled practice observers the one big surprise is Joel Hale. If you have been following my blog you will know I have been high on him from the start. I expected this kind of an impact, but this early is definitely a surprise. He has pushed himself into playing time as a freshman. The Buckeye staff always maintained that he could be a a strong side end. He has played well there but has moved around and made an impression wherever he has lined up. What flexibility he offers the staff. His flexibility means at least four players, Simon, Bellamy, Melvin Fellows and Hale, who can rotate between SSDE and the three-technique tackle. You notice I throw the name Melvin Fellows out there. He has come into spring as healthy as he has been while at Ohio State, and it shows. What depth.
I am concerned about Philly Brown. He is still dropping too many catchable balls. He is a big play player with the ball in his hands. When he is dropping catchable balls it goes from a big play to a negative play. A no yardage play is a negative play. Woody Hayes said that no back is worth two fumbles a game. We all agree with that. How many dropped passes a game before we decide that a receiver is not worth it? I don't have a number in mind. All I know is we saw how much it hurt when DeVier Posey had a season full of drops. I think it is crucial that we find a way to get Brown past this. We do not have anybody on the roster who can do what Brown can do. T.Y. Williams has stood out. He is a split end so asking him to run the same routes as Brown is asking too much.
Quarterback battle. Drumroll please. The winner is............................................Taylor Graham. So far Graham has been the one who stands out. Joe Bauserman has been solid too. Kenny Guiton has had his moments too. Miller is playing just fine. No worries there. It is very early and he is, ......, is he 18 years old yet? I don't know. He will be the starter here and likely the benchmark for future quarterbacks. It is a matter of when not if. It still might be this year. Right now the veterans have the edge.
Rod Smith is everything he has been cracked up to be. He is a special runner but he is going to cut into the available reps because he is such a good receiver. That does not keep the other backs from taking a run at him. The Buckeyes have four backs who could not only start most anywhere but be stars.
Dionte Allen has been penciled in as the corner opposite Travis Howard. It appears that assumption is premature. We saw Dominic Clarke play awfully solid football in the Sugar Bowl when forced into action. I heard in off-season drills that the confidence he found from that performance has carried over. He looks like the starter if the season started Saturday. Clarke was frustrated. I always heard that term in regards to how he was coming along. Lack of confidence is a byproduct of frustration. A little bit of success can work wonders.
There is so much swirling around the football program that I bet the players were chomping at the bit more than usual to get back on the field. I have heard athletes who had complicated lives outside the field of play talk about the peace that came from being on the field, so I am not really concerned with what impact the controversy is having on the players.
I am concerned about recruiting. There is so much uncertainty around the program. Negative recruiting has always been a part of the process and unfortunately it is always going to be. Ohio State was always at a disadvantage in this ugly part of the recruiting process. I have told the story about the mother of an out of state target player for just about every major program telling me Jim Tressel was the only coach who did not negatively recruit her son, who eventually chose another school. Negative recruiting works. Telling a recruit that another school signed several players in the last class who play their position, or their skills will be wasted in a program that the player is known to favor are effective tools. One of the really big ones is the coach is in trouble.
Bet the farm that recruits are getting that one from every coach from other schools that they are speaking to. There is also the possibility of bans on postseason play and other possible sanctions that are going to be put in the ear of the recruits. I don't think we hear from the NCAA about the penalties for some time. I believe the next time they meet is in June. I doubt we can expect to hear anything until July at the earliest. That is a good deal of time for schools to embed the negative view of the program in recruits minds.
I would like to see a change in strategy. We see the Buckeye staff start out of state and work their way back home. It is the proper strategy. You have to get in on those out of state recruits as soon as possible because it is much harder to get recruits from out of state. There is less contact with out of state players. The big instate football powers in great high school football states have a huge advantage in the recruiting wars with high school coaches that tend to be very much pro instate schools. Players can get to those instate schools in a couple of hours in most cases so they can stop by anytime.
I would like for the Buckeyes to take advantage of that built in instate advantage. It just so happens to be a class for the ages in the state of Ohio. The offers are out there for the defensive linemen. We have our backs. I am still very high on the instate safeties. I understand the desire to go after the Florida safeties that are on the top of everyones want list. They are even better. It is going to be tough to get them out of there in the best of circumstances. Trying to get them with the cloud hanging over the program and no end in sight makes getting either a real pipe dream. Come back home. Get the great looking safeties we have here. Players that we can easily counter the negative news that they are hearing. Offensive linemen too. If we could add a Jordan Diamond or a Jonah Pirsig, great. Lets get an offer out there to Benny McGowan now. An instate class of Kalis, Dodson, Boren and McGowan is the second best offensive line haul in the Tressel era in my mind behind the Brew Crew. Tommy Schutt is a great looking prospect. I think Trae Clark is underrated. Get in on him now. He is right down the road, easy to get to and put up a shield around him to block the negative pub that is going to be coming his way about the Buckeyes.
In times of trouble it is best to come home and circle the wagons. As far as recruiting goes this year, home is nice place to be.