Drew Thurman (9:19 pm)

I hope everyone is having a great Sunday night, even though tonight's Elite 8 games left something to be desired. If nothing else, tonight did at least produce one of the funniest commercials out there featuring none other than Bob Knight himself. Hope it puts a smile on your face...

 
 

Drew Thurman (1:12 pm)

With the firing of Billy Gillispie this week, there has been a surprising amount of buzz about Kentucky basketball on the Ohio State boards and blogs. Most of this is centered around internet rumors and reports that Thad Matta is a leading candidate to replace Gillispie at UK, which may be exaggerated a bit at the moment.

According to KentuckySportsRadio.com, which is one of the best insiders out there for UK Sports, Matta actually finds himself on the third tier of the Wildcat basketball coaching search. Of course, the first tier on that list includes one name: Billy Donovan. According to their reports, Donovan is still considering UK even though he came out with the statement saying otherwise. So, you take that or leave it. The second coaching tier consist of the names of John Calapari and Tom Izzo. I don't see Izzo ever leaving Michigan State, and Calapari could do whatever his ego feels like at the moment. The third and final coaching tier, which is most important for our purposes, consists of Sean Miller, Jamie Dixon, Travis Ford, and Thad Matta. So unlike the interet rumors, Matta finds himself at the bottom of a list of names for the search committee. With that said, KSR does throw in the detail that Athletic Director Mitch Barnhart does like Matta and his coaching style.

So what should Buckeye fans think about all this? Well, honestly I think they should realize that the odds seem pretty slim right now that Kentucky will pursue Matta. If UK fails miserably with those top two tiers, Matta would still be one of four candidates that the committee would like at. Those four names also include Travis Ford, a former UK point guard and Sean Miller, who is one of the hottest coaching names on the market. On top of all of that, Matta's interest could very well be next to none. So, rest easy tonight because I really don't think Matta is going anywhere. As of where things stand today, I give it about a ten percent chance.

 
 

Drew Thurman (10:51 pm)

The 6-8 310 pound Henderson may be the most impressive offensive lineman the Buckeyes have pursued in recent years, and is ranked the number one offensive linemen by almost all the services in 2010. He hails from St. Paul, Minnesota, and is holding offers from a bevy of schools including Notre Dame, Michigan, Florida, UCLA, Boston College, and North Carolina. Ohio State has offered as well, but things haven't quite heated up yet. Regardless, no one knows the future, so enjoy the impressive play of this young man.

 
 

Dave Thurman (1:23 pm)

Earlier this week we talked about the best players to wear the Scarlet and Gray who came from states other than Ohio.  Now, let's do a flip-flop and consider the best Ohio high school players to go out of state.  Obviously there have been so many that it is impossible to chronicle all of them, so I am listing the very best by school. Of course this is subjective, but my intent is to look at players who had excellent, not merely good, careers, limited to the past three decades. (For example: When I considered Michigan guys like Vada Murray, B.J.Askew and Prescott Burgess didn't make the cut even though they were nice players).

Michigan: Too many to count.  The ones that hurt the most: Charles Woodson, Desmond Howard, Elvis Grbac, Trent Zenkewicz, Ricky Powers, Mario Manningham, John Kolesar, Pierre Woods and Shawn Crable.

Penn State: Another big time thief of Ohio talent, inculding: KiJana Carter, Curtis Ennis, Jeff Hartings, Kim Herring, Sean McHugh, and Joe Jurevicius.

Notre Dame: Used to be Cincinnati north under Faust but most didn't live up to their press clippings (e.g. the Francisco brothers).  A few who excelled: Bob Crable, Marc Edwards, Rocky Boiman, Brady Quinn, Tony Fisher, Tom Lopienski, Chinedum Ndukwe, and Kyle Rudolph (maybe) (pictured).

Michigan State: Percy Snow, Ike Reese, Paul Harker and Javon Ringer.

Wisconsin: Chris Chambers and Lee Evans.

Pittsburgh: Nick Goings (though he started out at OSU)

Illinois: Ty Douthard and Jeff Cumberland (maybe)

Florida: DeShawn Wynn and Keiwan Ratliff

Tennessee: Chuck Webb, Michael Munoz and Ben Martin (maybe)

Minnesota: Anthony Montgomery, Thomas Hamner, Gary Russell and Ernie Wheelwright

USC: Fred Davis

UCLA: Carlton Gray

Miami (Florida): Bernie Kosar

Indiana: Thomas Lewis

Northwestern: Tyrell Sutton, Zach Strief and Barry Cofield

Purdue: Ray Edwards

Kentucky: Antonio Hall

Boston College: Mark Kamphaus and Ricky Brown

Louisville: Dave Ragone, Anthony Floyd and Josh Chichester (maybe)

Missouri: Brad Smith

Oklahoma: Brandon Braxton

Special Mention: Ben Roethlisberger, who didn't leave the state but did spurn some late love from the Bucks to choose Miami (Ohio)

That's a lot of talent and I've made a bunch of cuts, especially at places like Michigan and Notre Dame.  Of course OSU didn't go after many of the guys on this list, who peaked after they left high school. 

So who do you think I missed?  Drop me a note and let me know.

 
 

Drew Thurman (9:57 am)

Tressel and the staff are coming off two of the most successful classes of his tenure, but now the focus must be shifted to the 2010 class. Things have started off pretty solidly thus far with commitments from DE J.T Moore, OL Andrew Norwell, DE Jamel Turner, and LB David Durham. Yet negativity has surrounded this class on the boards, even before summer has arrived. While I do not understand the negativity this early, the reality is that this class does not have the make up to rank with the last two. There are several factors leading to this, so let's take a look:

Problem #1 - Lack of Scholarships:

Many fans are pointing to the 20 plus commitments that Texas already has in this class, and have totally forgotten the lack of scholarships the Buckeyes have to hand out in 2010. Due to this, there are a handful of Ohio kids that will not receive offers who in other years may have already committed. The staff has already shown that they are going to be selective in this class, and are looking to out-of-state talent to try to fill some holes first.

Problem #2 - Enemies Attack:

With the Buckeyes not being able to offer some in-state kids, there are other schools already grabbing up commitments. The two schools that have primarily been pulling this sneak attack are Cincinnati and Michigan. The Bearcats already have six commitments from Ohio kids, including tight end Alex Smith of Lakota West, who recently impressed at the Nike Combine in Cincinnati. The Wolverines have three commitments from Ohio themselves, most notably Jerald Robinson of Canton South. It's hard to believe that these young men would be looking elsewhere if the Buckeyes had scholarships to offer.

Problem #3 - The Chance of Losing the Best:

With that said, Jordan Hicks (pictured above) does hold an offer and could go elsewhere. Hicks recently found himself on top of Bill Kurelic's Ohio Class rankings, and has offers from a lot of the big time programs around the country. Many say his early leader is Texas, which would be a killer considering the talent Hicks is. If the staff is going to be so insistent in looking beyond on the borders of Ohio, they need to at least lock in the top tier talent inside. Let's just hope the Buckeyes don't lose two big talents from Lakota West High School in one year.

Another Cincinnati product is offensive lineman Matt James of St. Xavier. Though the Buckeyes are one of the three schools at the top of his list, it is very realistic that they could lose him to Notre Dame or Cincinnati. Cincinnati as a whole has always been a tough battle for Ohio State, especially for the guys that look to continue their Catholic roots with the Irish. So losing James and Hicks in the same year would really leave a scar on this class. Yes the staff has already locked in Turner and Norwell, a couple of the best in the state, but one could argue that Hicks and James are the best two overall players in Ohio.    

Problem #4 - Ohio is Bloated:

One of the biggest problems that faces the staff in the 2010 class is the fact that the Ohio talent is bloated at certain positions, while being vacant at others. For instances, Ohio has lots to offer at linebacker and defensive end (there seems to be 100 solid DE's), and even has a variety of talent on the offensive line. Outside of this the Buckeyes are having to look around the country to fill needs, including some key positions like quarterback and running back. This has been a problem with Ohio classes before, but with the lack of scholarship this year, it is even more evident.

All in all:

The makeup of this class will not hold its weight with the last two. With that said, Tressel and the staff always bring in talent and fill the needs. It may not be as exciting for us fans because the recruiting news will not be as flashy, but this class will be solid. Some have already compared this class to the 2006 class, but it is way too early to project that kind of disappointment on these young men.

 
 

Drew Thurman (11:57 pm)

Since we often like to give updates to the frequent Buckeye news going on, we have now broken down and joined Twitter. By following our account, you can plan on receiving updates and links to news and information of what is going in the Scarlet and Gray Nation. Check it out...

 
 

Dave Thurman (10:12 am)

Everyone knows that the state of Ohio produces amazing football talent, and the Buckeyes usually get the lion's share of the great ones.  From Archie to Beanie, its like a conveyor belt that keeps spitting out amazing players: Art Schlichter, Troy Smith, Cris Carter, Orlando Pace, Dan Wilkinson, A.J. Hawk, Andy Katzenmoyer, Mike Doss and Antoine Winfield to name just a few.

But what about the topnotch talent the Bucks have harvested from out of state?  Who are the best players to come from beyond the sacred borderlines of Ohio?  And (dare we ask) what about the great Ohio high school talent that headed to other schools? Which players got branded as traitors for spurning the Bucks?  Let's examine those questions in two parts, beginning with the out of staters who were wise enough to leave home and don the Scarlet and Gray.

Rather than try and come up with an exhaustive list I'll give you my choice for best player to come to OSU by state (limited to the past three decades):

FL: Chris Gamble (No state has been kinder to the Bucks, especially in regard to speed. Honorable mention to Santonio Holmes and Michael Jenkins)

PA: Eddie George (Lots of good ones from our neighbors to the east, but none as great as the sweet strider from Phily.  Here's hoping Pryor gives him a run for his money)

MI: Pepper Johnson (Nothing sweeter than stealing one from up north, and I'll take Pepper by a nose over Vern Gholston, though Krenzel will always have a special place in my heart)

IL: Mike Tomczak, just slightly over Eric Kumerow

NY: Will Smith

TX: David Boston (How'd Coop ever talk him into coming?)

CA: Michael Wiley (Speaking of Cooper, he used to get a bunch of guys from the left coast.  Honorable mention: Nail Diggs)

AZ: Joe Germaine

NJ: Malcom Jenkins (For years it was Alonzo Spellman, but Jenkins passed him in my book, not to mention that MJ's actually sane!)

GA: Rory Graves (Got to go back a ways fort this one, but Cam Heyward has two years to catch or surpass him)

LA: Jonathan Wells

MD: Shawn Springs

WV: Darrion Scott

KY: Jeff Ellis, barely over "The Strangler" Robert Reynolds 

MN: James Laurinaitis

MO: Reggie "Did I Skip Class" Germany

MD: Stan White Jr.

IN: Donald Washington

CO: Chris Sanders

KS: Jamie Summer

SC: Derek Ross

Hope you enjoy the list.  Who'd I miss?  Send me a note and let me know.

Next up, "Installment two - The good guys who crossed the border into enemy territory."

 
 

Dave Thurman (11:54 pm)

First, an apology for the lack of updates as Drew is finishing his last semester of college, and has been busy playing spring golf, in his final weeks of eligibility.  Don't feel bad for him, though, as he spent the weekend in Arizona! Of course next year he'll have to pay to play like the rest of us. He will be back in normal form later this week.

As for me, I spent this first weekend of spring watching NCAA hoops on TV only because there was no football to be found. Here are my brief musings from the first weekend of March Madness:

Ohio State played pretty well and was rather unlucky as Ronald Moore of Siena hit not one but two threes as time expired.  The first sent the game to a second overtime and his second trey sent the Bucks packing.  Now everyone waits to see what Mullens, Turner and Buford will do.  My guess is Mullens is the only one who goes pro, and if that's the case OSU should be better next year with the return of Lighty.

The Big East came out the big winner as all three of their number one seeds advanced and Syracuse and Villanova looked pretty awesome as three seeds.  Marquette almost gave them six of the sweet sixteen.  Of course seeding has something to do with all of this as each of the five who advanced played lower seeds in both games.  Pittsburgh and Louisville both looked beatable and had to dig deep to advance.

The Big Ten did quite well with Michigan State and Purdue moving on, but both of them will have tough matchups and must improve if they are to move into the elite eight.

And, Ohio teams were a big story of the weekend, with Cleveland State pulling a huge upset of Wake Forest out of the ACC, Dayton sneaking by Bob (T)Huggins' Mountaineers, and Xavier making it to the sweet sixteen.  Props to the X-men out of Cincy who keep winnign no matter who prowls the sideline.

Personally, I think seeding determines so much of what happens.  For instance, LSU of the much maligned SEC is a pretty good club but drew an 8 seed.  They had to play Butler (an unenviable task - just ask Xavier), and then got North Carolina in round two.  Had they been a 5 or 6 they might well have advacned, and people wouldn't be dogging the SEC quite as much. 

Truth is, Ohio State probably deserved their #8 seed, but when I saw that the opponent was Siena I knew it would be an uphill battle, because the Saints had tons of experience and had tasted success in last year's tournament.  Of course any time you draw an 8 it means a tough first game, and then the prospect of playing a #1.  So, here's hoping the Bucks can win a few more next year and get a higher seed.  And here's also hoping we get a little more pigskin news out of Columbus the next few weeks!

 
 

Drew Thurman (9:56 pm)

I just noticed that Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports, has his top ten football factories that crank out NFL talent. Though the article promotes Miami (FL) and USC, the Buckeyes find themselves at number three. Ohio State has in fact had more draft picks since 1999 then any other team, 17 which were first rounders. Robinson of course makes a pretty big statement based on these numbers.

"No college program produced more NFL draft picks over the past 10 years, and no team had a larger single haul than the Buckeyes’ monstrous 14-pick class in 2004. How Ohio State didn’t win more national championships over this span is anyone’s guess, particularly given the program’s absurd wealth of defensive talent. The Buckeyes were the preeminent producer of talent in the secondary over the last decade."

I think many Buckeyes fans have asked that same question many times.

 
 

Drew Thurman (10:33 am)

After the NFL Combine in Indianapolis had concluded, many of the former Buckeyes felt as if they had not performed to their best. Jenkins had a slow forty time pushing him to the saftey position in many people's minds, Laurinaitis dropped on the linebacker "big board" after running a 4.8, and Beanie lost ground with a 4.59. Maybe the only Buckeyes that had a strong performance were Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline. Yesterday though at Ohio State's pro day in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, a few of the Buckeyes showed that the Indy combine was a fluke. First Wells, who apparently ate his Fruity Pebbles, was clocked in the 4.39 to 4.41 range in the 40 yard dash. At his size and with his power, showing this speed no doubt impressed the scouts who were watching. This is what he had to say when interviewed by the Columbus Dispatch:

"I knew I was faster than what I ran at the combine," said Wells, who has been viewed as a mid to late first-round pick. "(At the combine) I wasn't relaxed at all, I fought it the whole way. Today I was relaxed. I definitely feel relieved."

Laurinaitis and Jenkins also improved their forty times at the OSU pro day, though neither had as drastic of a change as Wells. Laurinaitis was clocked at a range of 4.72 to 4.78, which was a slight improvement on his 4.8 at the combine. Jenkins ran in to 4.5 to 4.56 range after posting a 4.55 in Indy. The switch to safety seems like something he will indeed do, and Jenkins sounded very optimistic about it (Again, Dispatch):

"It was funny, because at the beginning of this (process) I was like, 'No, I'm not a safety, I'm a corner,' " Jenkins said. "Then I heard one coach kind of compared me to (Baltimore Ravens Pro Bowl safety) Ed Reed, (and) I'm like, 'Hey, if you're going to say that, then cool, I'll listen.'"

Also, Nadar Abdallah has continued to impress the scouts himself. He really looked sharp in the Texas vs. The Nation game, which was something he showed in the second half of the season for the Buckeyes. The film of the practices on The Plain Dealer's website is extremely impressive, and he shows a whole host of moves. He not only is proving that he can stuff the run, but also that he can get to the quarterback from the tackle position.

All of these young men look ahead to the NFL Draft, which takes place April 25-26. No doubt that after some disappointing performances at the combine, several of the former Buckeyes are increasing their stock again. Especially Beanie, who has already proved that he has the intangibles to be a big time pro running back.