Drew Thurman (5:34 pm)
Today's news and views is brought to us by Maurice Clarett. This time Clarett finds himself back in the news because he wants to play football again. It's not bad enough that Michael Vick wants to return to the league, but now fellow convict Clarett wants to do the same. Even more scary was Clarett's quote on his blog about returning!
"I can’t hold these feelings in anymore," Clarett said. "I want to play football again. I have a deep desire to play. I love the game. I have so much penitentiary aggression pinned up inside of me. I want to hit someone. I want to run the ball. I want to tackle someone. I want to play. I am going to play somewhere."
Sounds like a scene from The Longest Yard. Anyways, to some news and views:
1) Buckeye safety Kurt Coleman found himself ranked as the 13th best player in the Big Ten on Adam Rittenberg's blog. The list has been counting down from 30, and hasn't seen a lot of Buckeyes on it. Before Coleman, Thaddeus Gibson was the only Buckeye on the list, coming in at 26th.
2) There is a must read blog post by Duane Long on the recruiting situation. In Long's estimation, the staff wasted their time early on chasing players that never had interest in the Buckeyes. He says that the staff has recently gotten things back on track, and are offering kids that have a real shot at becoming Buckeyes. I have been complaining about the recruiting situation for quite sometime now, and I echo Long's sentiments.
3) Some of the most interesting news that came out today came from prom pictures of William Gholston. He finally got an offer from the Buckeyes a few weeks back, which many have been begging for, but it appears from the picture below that he may be headed to the Spartans. I guess we chalk one up to Dantonio, and smile that he at least isn't headed to Michigan.
Family Feud is a feature where Dave and Drew throw their opinions in on various Buckeye football subjects, which most of the time are quite opposite. This edition takes a look at the recruiting situation, Terrelle Pryor, and Twitter. Enjoy...
1) What do you think about the slow start in the 2010 recruiting class? Is there anything to read into?
Dave: I definitely think the Buckeyes are not going to have as strong of a class as the last few years, which is due in part to the lack of scholarships available. It also doesn't seem as if they are in on as many out-of-state players as in the past, but I still think they will have a good class, not a great one.
Drew: I have been majorly disappointed with how this class has been shaping up, but over the last week or so I am starting to sense a spark. I didn't feel as if the staff was as urgent as in years past (early on), but lately it seems as if a new prospect is interested everyday, which shows how hard the staff is hitting the recruiting trail. Obviously this class is not going to be quite as stellar as the last two, but I think that is because there will be less skill players taken.
2) Andrew Hendrix just received a scholarship offer from the staff, and he appears to be the prime candidate to be the quarterback commit in this class. Your thoughts on Hendrix and the offer?
Dave: I was pleased that they offered him, because I have always felt that Montana was an extreme longshot to come to OSU. I think the staff feels good about getting Miller next year, but Hendrix is a solid player and I think he would be a nice pick up for the Buckeyes.
Drew: Hendrix to me is a quality prospect. He has a very solid arm, pretty decent wheels, and he knows how to win. I think this offer solidifies that Tressel wants to bring in more of a pro-style quarterback in this class, and I think he likes having both mobile and pro-style quarterbacks on the roster. Braxton Miller will obviously bring the mobile aspect if he comes in the 2011 class.
3) Any guesses on who the next Buckeye commitment will be?
Dave: I will say Darryl Baldwin, but I honestly don't know of anyone who is ready to pull the trigger.
Drew: I think this is anyone's guess considering that the Buckeyes summer camp throws new names into the mix. Of the guys that are showing the most current interest, my guess is that Roderick Smith will be the first guy to jump on board.
4) There has been a lot of mixed emotions on Andy Staples article (SI.com) on Terrelle Pryor. Can Pryor live up to that hype this season? Can Pryor live up to that hype over his career?
Dave: Terrelle Pryor definitely has the talent to be one of the best of all time. He also seems to have a tremendous work ethic. However, I see a couple of potential problems. One, the fact that OSU is not known for having the most creative offensive play calling. And two, the offensive line has not given the kind of protection needed the last few years. If those questions get answered, Pryor might be an all-time great.
Drew: I am obviously biased, but yes I think Pryor has that ability. Remaining healthy is important, and he also needs the wideouts to step up big. Just like with Troy Smith, the play calling is going to open up, but I do worry about the wideouts. Guys like Holmes, Ginn, and Gonzalez made Smith a superstar, and the current wideouts need to step up to help Pryor in the same way.
5) Tyler Moeller made the front of the college football page on ESPN.com as a player who is going to help the Buckeyes in 2009. So, with the all the buzz about Sabino and Rolle, is it Moeller that will actually step into the spotlight for the Buckeyes at linebacker?
Dave: It just might be that Moeller is the secret weapon in 09. The kid is not an overally impressive physical speciman, but he just seems to make plays. Because he can blitz the quarterback or fall back into pass coverage, you can afford to keep him on the field in almost any set. However, the Buckeyes are flat loaded at linebacker.
Drew: Moeller will be a name you hear called a lot this season. The young man is constantly around the football, and Tressel always finds playing time for players of this breed. With that said, I think Rolle is the guy to watch this year. Unlike Moeller, Rolle has the speed and hitting ability to be special. I am not taking anything away from Moeller though, and I think he has a solid year.
6) What do you think of the Twitter revolution and college coaches? Should Tressel jump on board?
Dave: As the old man in this tandem, I am not all that taken by Twitter. I could care less if Pete Carroll is taking a crap. With that being said, recruits are no doubt part of the Twitter revolution, and a coaching staff has to stay current. So Tressel probably should be ready to jump on board.
Drew: I like Twitter, and I have it myself. With that said, there are a few college coaches that truly annoy me with their attempt to be witty with it. I don't think Tressel would be so careless or stupid with Twitter though, so I think he should join. On top of that, people like to hear what he has to say.
Drew Thurman (10:04 pm)
1) Defensive back Lamarcus Joyner (pictured) is still being reported as having heavy interest in the Buckeyes. The Plain Dealer picked up a story yesterday by the Miami Herald that Joyner will be in attendance at the USC game on September 12th. Even more interesting was this quote:
"With Joyner on campus, a win by the Buckeyes in September could sway things their way."
2) Moeller quarterback Andrew Hendrix now has a Buckeye offer. This is interesting because it may indicate that Nick Montana's interest is fading (which I have suspected for sometime). This is also caught my attention because several names have been thrown out as the back up plan for Montana, but it is indeed Hendrix that has gotten the offer.
3) Finally, tight end Alex Welch (Elder HS) has committed to Notre Dame. I am sure this is a major shocker to all of you that understand the recruiting situation in Cincinnati, and the love for Notre Dame. Anyways, the importance of this story goes far beyond Ohio State's interest in Welch. This commitment may indeed elimate the Irish from C.J. Fiedorowicz's list, making Iowa the biggest competition left for his services. I really like Fiedorowicz, and I would love to see him in scarlet and gray!
Hopefully Lebron and company can win one the easy way tonight...
Dave Thurman (11:15 pm)
We all have our favorite players, and I have seen many different all-time OSU teams selected. But what about an all-time best squad for each of the past four coaching regimes? In this "down time" for football news, I will give you my personal picks for the following eras: Woody (W); Earle (E), Coop (C) and Tress (T). As a bonus I will place an asterisk by the player I would choose as the best of the best - taking into consideration their college career only. Feel free to share your thoughts below. Here goes:
W: Jim Kern; E: Art Schlichter*; C: Joe Germaine; T: Troy Smith
W: Archie Griffin; E: Keith Byers; C: Eddie George*; T: Beanie Wells
W: Pete Johnson*; E: Vaughn Broadnax; C: Jamar Martin; T: Brandon Joe
W: Paul Warfield; E: Cris Carter; C: David Boston*; T: Michael Jenkins
W: Fred Pagac; E: John Frank*; C: Ricky Dudley; T: Ben Hartsock
W: Jim Parker*; E: Jim Lachey; C: LeCharles Bentley; T: Nick Mangold
W: John Hicks*; E: Joe Staysniak; C: Orlando Pace; T: Shane Olivia
W: Neal Colzie; E: Garcia Lane; C: Joey Galloway; T: Ted Ginn Jr.*
W: Valde Janakeivski; E: Matt Frantz; C: Dan Stultz; T: Mike Nugent*
W: Jim Stillwagon*; E: Jerome Foster; C: Dan Wilkinson; T: Tim Anderson
W: Jim Houston; E: Eric Kumerow; C: Mike Vrabel*; T: Will Smith
W: Randy Gradishar; E: Chris Spielman*; C: Andy Katzenmoyer; T: A.J. Hawk
W: Stan White*; E: Pepper Johnson; C: Nail Diggs; T: Bobby Carpenter
W: Mike Sensibaugh; E: Sonny Gordon; C: Roger Harper; T: Mike Doss*
W: Jack Tatum*; E: William White; C: Antoine Winfield; T: Malcolm Jenkins
W: Tom Skladany; E: Tom Tupa*; C: Brent Bartholomew; T: Andy Groom
2005 was Troy Smith's coming out party, especially against Notre Dame!
Drew Thurman (1:17 pm)
The 2005 season seems like it happened decades ago. We now stand seperated by two National Championship losses, and a heartbreaking defeat in the Fiesta Bowl to Texas. But if we put on our Scarlet and Gray glasses again, we can remember how exciting the 2005 season was. The Buckeyes first ushered in a two part series with Texas by hosting the Longhorns at Ohio Stadium. Though the Buckeyes would lose 22-25 because of a late scoring drive by Vince Young and company, the game was thrilling. The Penn State game would be in a similar mold. It was frustrating because of the 10-17 loss, but still exciting because the Buckeyes were starting to build something.
After that loss the Buckeyes didn't look back for the rest of the season. They won a hard fought battle against Michigan State, and then blew out everyone they played heading into the Michigan game. That game against the Wolverines would go down in history as well. The Buckeyes were down 21-12 with less than eight minutes to go, when Troy Smith led the team to two scoring drives to win the game 25-21. Smith threw for 300 yards, none of which were more memorable than "the catch" by Anthony Gonzalez which set up the winning touchdown. The Buckeyes then took this momentum into the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame, compiling more than 600 yards in a 34-20 win. All in all, the Buckeyes finished the season with a 10-2 record.
The reason I am reliving what happened in the 2005 season is because I see some major comparisons between that squad and the 2009 squad. First of all, the schedule has some striking resemblance. Like in 2005, the Buckeyes host a big time opponent in week two, this time it is USC instead of Texas. Also the Buckeyes go on the road against their two biggest rivals Penn State and Michigan, like they did in 2005. The only major difference is that the Buckeyes have one extra non-conference game this year in New Mexico State on October 31st.
Second, I see a team that has several players that could break out this season like some of the players in 2005. First, I think DeVier Posey and Dane Sanzenbacher will break out like Anthony Gonzalez and Ted Ginn did. I also think Boom Herron is going to hit his stride just as Antonio Pittman did in his sophomore season. I know Boom is going to be sharing carries more than Pittman did in 2005, but I see his progression taking shape much like Pittman's did. Finally of course, Terrelle Pryor should take the next step towards greatness as Troy Smith did. Pryor is obviously a year younger than Smith was in 2005, but besides that the amount of similarities are scary.
Finally, I see a team that will play a very similar style of football to that of the 2005 squad. The Buckeyes spread the field in 2005 and let Troy Smith use his athleticism to inflict damage on opponents, and you better believe Tressel and the staff has the same thing in mind this season. In the first half of the Spring Game, when Pryor started, the Gray Squad did not run a single time. Instead they took the field in four and five receiver sets, allowing Pryor to have options to throw to and space to use his legs. We can expect to see a similar style once the season starts, which models what Troy Smith and the gang did in 2005.
I obviously know that there are differences between these two squads, and critics of this comparison will point to differences in the defenses. Honestly though, besides the experience at linebacker the 2005 squad had (Carpenter, Schlegel, and Hawk), there are even some comparisons between the two defenses. Both squads have very experienced defensive lines, bloated with upperclassman. Also, like in 2005, the Buckeyes have the safety position locked up while having questions at cornerback. Four years ago Youboty took the top corner spot, while questions surrounded the other one (Everett, Jenkins, and others would get time there). This year Chekwa will be the top corner, while three or four guys have a shot at the other side.
Like I previously mentioned, not every single thing between these two squads is the same, but there still are similarities. In fact I even think the two losses the Buckeyes ended with in 2005 could be a realistic prediction for this squad. Also like four years ago, this could be a building block year for the Buckeyes to propel themselves onto the national stage once again in 2010. Don't be surprised to see this young team take a few lumps early on before building momentum into becoming a stellar team by the time bowl season comes around. So I am no mathematician, but I say 2009 = 2005!
Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/ Getty Images
Drew Thurman (10:07 am)
Chimdi Chekwa has been running track along with Buckeye wideout Lamaar Thomas, and things were going well until yesterday's Big Ten championship. During the 100 meter dash, Chekwa pulled up and appeared to have injured his hamstring. Ken Gordon of the Dispatch says that it may not be that serious, but it will be interesting to see what news comes out in the coming days. The Buckeyes need their number one corner healthy.
Drew Thurman (12:39 pm)
We are in a dead period when it comes to news, so it's time for some predictions. So below check out my top ten teams for 2009...
#1 - Florida Gators
It kills me to have to put Florida at the number one spot, but it is hard to ignore the return of Tebow, their top three running backs, and the majority of defensive starters. On top of that, Urban Meyer is proving he might be the best in the business.
#2 Texas Longhorns
Texas has some things to prove with their running game and on the defensive line, but we all know they have the recruits to step in. Plus, it is hard to knock on any team that has Colt McCoy behind center.
#3 - USC Trojans
USC has lost a ton on the defensive side of the ball, but Petey has been great at "reloading" in years past. If the Trojans lose to the Buckeyes or if the Pac-10 decides to step up its game (don't hold your breath), USC could drop out of the top ten.
#4 - Alabama Crimson Tide
Like USC, the Crimson Tide have some questions to answer. With that said, I think the departure of John Parker Wilson at quarterback will actually be a plus for Alabama. So, if they get anything from the offensive line, they will be special.
#5 - Oklahoma Sooners
Reigning Heisman trophy winner Sam Bradford returns to a team that wants redemption after losing in the National Championship game. Who will actually surround Bradford on the offense is still a question mark, but I think Stoops and company will answer those questions.
#6 - Ohio State Buckeyes
There are a ton of new faces for the Buckeyes, and what Tressel gets out of cornerback, offensive tackle, and running back will affect how good this team is. On top of that, if Terrelle Pryor proves to be a passer, watch out!
#7 - Virginia Tech Hokies
Virginia Tech could be one of the biggest surprise teams in 2009. The backfield of Taylor and Evans have a ton of potential, and the defense should be a strength. The ACC gained some respect after last year's bowl season, and I think they build on that.
#8 - Ole Miss Rebels
The Rebels gained my respect last season after an upset of Florida and a victory over Texas Tech in the Cotton Bowl. Jevan Snead is maybe the best quarterback in the SEC, and I think he helps lead Ole Miss to the next level.
#9 - Boise State Broncos
My placement of the Boise State at nine has less to do with my overall respect of Broncos and more to do with their dominance of the WAC. I think they run the table again on the blue turf, and stir up the BCS. Also keep an eye on quarterback Kellen Moore.
#10 - Penn State Nittany Lions
Some may be surprised to see Paterno's boys so high on the list, but I don't see another SEC or Big 12 team in the top ten. Obviously the Nittany Lions are going to have to replace their wide receiving core, but quarterback Daryll Clark and running back Evan Royster can carry this team.
Drew Thurman (2:13 pm)
It has been awhile since Buckeye fans have had to deal with question marks. Whether it was the end of the Troy Smith era in the 2005 and 2006 seasons or even the upperclassmen laden teams of the last two years, Buckeye fans have been pretty sure of what was coming.
In fact, about this time of year over the past three or four seasons, there has been a "just don't screw this up" mentality from us fans. The Spring Game was less about excitement, and more about making sure none of the stars had digressed from the year before. Our nightmares were filled with the possibilities of injuries, and how they could spoil our chances at living up to the media hype. I mean, let's face it folks, we were suppose to be a BCS team the last four years.
That is not so much the case this year. As the 2009 edition of the Buckeyes get ready to head into the summer, there seem to be more question marks than answers. We now find ourselves reading headlines about position battles, and the progression of the multitude of youth that are trying to fill holes left by the departures of seniors and draft entries. We know the certainty of Terrelle Pryor and the running game, but almost every other position has some uncertainty to it.
So, does that make this season any less exciting?
Not at all, and in fact, it may make the season more interesting. First, this team has a ton of position battles taking place. Hearing the reports out of spring practice about what is going on at places like corner and at linebacker is pretty exciting. Sure there are some holes to fill and some questions to answer, but the competition taking place is going to make this team better. Guys are having to look over their shoulder, and they know that slacking means they will get passed up by one of the other talented youngsters waiting their turn. This was a big problem last year, at several positions the team had seniors that had lost their drive and hunger to some extent. That won't take place this year, and in fact it can't.
On top of that, sometimes the most exciting teams to watch are the "up-and-comers." This team is filled with youngsters, many who are waiting to prove their high recruiting rankings coming out of high school. Positions like offensive tackle, cornerback, wideout, and linebacker all have some questions marks, but most of them surround the lack of experience and not talent. There is no doubt that mistakes will be made by all these units early in the season, but as the season progresses, watching their transformation will be exciting. The 2009 Buckeyes could really become a force come the end of the season, once a lot of these talented youngsters get game experience.
All in all, enjoy the question marks. It is not always easy dealing with uncertainty, especially after the last four or five years, but this team will be exciting for new and different reasons. In fact maybe this new wave of players, question marks in all, will be exactly what the doctor ordered for the Buckeyes to get over the bowl blues.
Drew Thurman (11:34 am)
1) Glenville's latest product, Christian Bryant, finally got the offer he was waiting for. In fact, he described it as a "big relief." There have been a lot of fans, including me, who have been begging for this offer, and it is nice to see that it finally came. This young man has Buckeye written all over him.
2) Ken Bradley of the Sporting News takes time to ask Pryor five big questions. Pryor is well spoken as always, and discusses his recruitment, his "go-to guys," and the adjustments from high school to college.
3) Adam Rittenberg of ESPN has started ranking the Big Ten's best players, starting at 30 and counting down. Today, Thaddeus Gibson found himself at number 26 on the list. I think this is a pretty fair ranking for Gibson, but if improves as much as I think he will, he will be a lot better that the 26th best player in the Big Ten.
4) It is a few days old, but Scout wrote up a story on Michigan quarterback commit Devin Gardner. He gets awarded the MVP of the Cincinnati Combine in the article, and receives rave reviews from Dave Berk and the Scout recruiting team. I am still a little bitter that the Buckeyes never showed much interest, and that such a talented quarterback is headed to a rival school. With that said, if the Tressel can pull one out of his hat with Montana, Gardner will fade in everyone's memory quickly.