Picture
Spencer Ware is headed to LSU // Photo via InsideCarolina.com
1) Cincinnati Princeton product Spencer Ware committed yesterday to Les Miles and LSU. Though the Buckeyes had offered, the interest between both parties never truly heated up. Ware is an all around good athlete, and it will be interesting to see if he gets lost in the shuffle down there or becomes a superstar. Regardless, it is another Cincinnati kid lost to an out-of-state school.
 
2) Adam Rittenberg has been ranking teams in the Big Ten position by position, and today he has the linebacker rankings up. The Buckeyes come up at number four, which is understandable after all we lost from last year there. Ahead of Ohio State was Penn State, Iowa, and Michigan State. It's hard to argue with Penn State being on top with Bowman and Lee returning after very solid seasons last year. I will say though, the Buckeyes have the depth and talent level to be the best linebacking core by seasons end.

3) Pete "da Cheat" Carroll might have USC in more trouble. The latest problems come from Carroll bringing in an NFL tactican to help with their kicking and punting game. Just one more reason why the NCAA needs to bring down the hammer on the Trojans!
 
4) In other USC related news, Frankie Telfort will not play football for the Trojans because of a heart condition. Telfort was a Buckeye recruit, and was an incredible talent. You have to feel for the young man!
 
5) Finally, head over to Our Honor Defend to check out the piece on James Louis. While there is reason for celebration, it seems as if his commitment might be a "soft verbal" at best. Louis has yet to even visit the campus, and it appears he also wants to stick it to Urban Meyer. Let's see if his commitment makes it the long haul or not...
 
 
Picture
WR James Louis from Delray Beach, FL // Photo via InsideTheU.com
Today the Buckeyes picked up their 10th commitment from wide receiver James Louis, from Delray Beach, Florida. He comes in at 5-11 180 pounds, and held scholarships offers from a ton of top schools including LSU, Georgia, and Florida State. Last year as a junior he caught 56 passes for 1,128 yards. He marks yet another recruiting victory the Buckeyes have won in recent years in Florida. Congrats, and welcome to the family James!
 
 
Picture
Tressel's 2010 offers have fans wondering. // Photo via NYtimes.com
Drew Thurman (12:27 pm)

I would be lying if I said there has not been major disappointment surrounding Buckeye fans after the last few seasons. It is hard to swallow when you think you are the bully on the block, and then find out you may be a pretender when getting beat up by a bully from another neighborhood. It seems with each of those "primetime" losses, Tressel starts to loose just a little trust from the fans that once held him in such high esteem. Not that they aren't excited about the future, because there is still hope, but the aura that once surrounded Tressel seems to be slipping.

Maybe the most telling sign of this is the recent outburst from fans on the 2010 class. Check out any forum or message board, and you will see several "hot" threads discussing the displeasure in the 2010 class thus far. Fans are questioning the offers the staff have out, but are even more outraged with the number of quality prospects that still hold no offers. No doubt, we live in an age where fans overanalyze and second guess every move a head coach makes, but Buckeye fans where much more reserved just a few seasons ago. The "In Tressel We Trust" motto seems to be losing its glamour.
 
 
Picture
Did Arrelious Benn get the shaft? // Photo via ESPN.com

Drew Thurman (1:29 pm)

Well the Buckeyes made out like bandits with the Big Ten Preseason Awards. Not only were the Buckeyes named the Big Ten Preseason favorite, Terrelle Pryor also took in the preseason Offensive Player of the Year honor. Both are actually a surprise, considering the fact the Big Ten is much more wide open than it has been in recent years.

I am sure that Penn State fans are a little displeased that no love was shown to them, considering they were the Big Ten's best team last year, but I understand the thinking there. They lost a lot in the trenches and have to show they have the experience to take the title with fresh faces in the secondary and at wide receiver. I think the Big Ten could be stolen from about anyone not named Purdue or Indiana, but naming Ohio State after our recent dominance isn't a bad move.

I am shocked however in Pryor's honor. Not only does the Big Ten rarely waste time giving such high praise to a sophomore, there are also other candidates that could have been named. The two big guns that Pryor passed are Daryll Clark of Penn State and Arrelious Benn of Illinois. I am sure bloggers and fans of both schools were a little surprised to say the least at the news. Quite honestly, I think either may have been a better choice. There is something to be said about giving such an honor to upperclassmen, especially to two guys who are coming off such solid seasons.     

 
 
Picture

Drew Thurman (5:27 pm)

It is truly a year of uncertainty for Buckeye fans. Will the running backs fill in Beanie's absence? Do we have the athletes to fill the corner spot effective? Will the offensive line play be sufficient? There is obviously lots of question marks, but I think there is one that could define the success of this 2009 team above all others. Will we develop a short and intermediate passing game?

I like many people have been wondering this question since Troy Smith's departure in 2006. I mean we know Tressel can coach a team to run the ball, like Mike Shanahan did with the Broncos in the prime of his coaching career. We also know the staff is solid in coaching up the defense, well at least against opponents not from the SEC or named USC. What the staff has yet to prove is that they have the capability to develop a consistent passing game that doesn't depend on forty and fifty yard bombs down the sideline. The only time this wasn't case was when number 10 was at the helm, and I think that was his ability and not the play calling.   

 
 
Picture
Boom Herron maybe? // Photo via ohiostatebuckeyes.com

Dave Thurman (4:31 pm)

In Jim Tressel's "run it and chuck it offense," the normal gameplan is to run the ball between the tackles over and over again to bait the corners and then try and hit the homerun with a long pass play.  Although this approach can be frustrating at times it has worked pretty well the past few years, but a big part of that is because there have been some bonafide homerun hitters at the skill positions. 

Think about it.  From 2004-06 the Bucks had the services of Ted Ginn Jr. who was a human highlight film.  He could take a screen to the house, get behind the defense on a bomb, turn a simple reverse into six, and even return a punt or kick for a touchdown.  During his tenure, OSU also was able to utlilize the skills of Antonio Pittman who had the speed to break away from the defense on ocassion, as well.

After TGII took his game to the the pros, The Buckeyes were able to turn to Beanie Wells, who has that rare combination of power and speed.  How often did he take a simple run play, hit the hole between the guard and tackle, break away from a linebacker or defensive back and not stop until he found paydirt?  He made play calling easy, although it also led to some pretty stale gameplans.

So, with no Teddy or Beanie on the roster, who will make the big plays in '09?  I contend that JT will be forced to develop the intermediate game more this season, but there are a few legitmate candidates to be breakaway threats.  While I don't think any one player will have the impact of Ginn or Wells, here are a few guys who might become big play options: 

1. Boom Herron - As he showed in the second half of the Michigan game, Herron has the ability to take one to the house.  Although he is neither the strongest or fastest running back around, he has enough of both skills to break an occasional long run.

2. Brandon Saine - If "Zoom" can stay healthy and confident the sky is the limit because few players have more speed, and he is not exactly a small back. My guess is that sometime early this season we'll see Saine break a longer play than his infamous last second run at Washington his freshman season.

3. Lamaar Thomas - They don't call him "Flash" for nothing, as this guy has a jet in his rear end.  Besides the possibilbity of taking a kick return all the way, Thomas will hopefully be utlilized on screens and reverses, because anytime he touches it there is a chance he could change the scoreboard.

4. Ray Small - We all know he has the potential but Ray must, #1 - Get his grades in order, and, #2 - Stay out of the doghouse.  If those things are accomplished, and that is no small "if", then he may finally realize his vast potential as a game turner.

5. Jake Stoneburner - This guy is more "burner" and less "stone" despite his large frame.  If he develops into an average blocker and if JT decides to actually utilize the tight end this year, there is the chance that he could split the defense, especially if he is being defended by a linebacker.

6. Terrelle Pryor - Rarely do you see a quarterback break a long run to the endzone, but Pryor is not your normal QB.  While I think the staff wants to see him think pass first, developing along the same lines as Troy Smith did, the fact is that Pryor's legs and feet are special.  He is big, fast and shifty, and that is an extremely rare combination.  Hopefully this year will see TP throw for lots of touchdowns, but run for quite a few as well.

That's my list of potential game breakers.  Of course any wideout has the potential to hit a big play, but I am guessing the above six players our the best bet for the big strike in '09. 

 
 
Picture
Martin #41, is a power back option. // Photo via theozone.net

Drew Thurman (11:49 am)

The Columbus Dispatch has reported today that Jermil Martin will first get his reps at running back this fall
. Martin was considered a fullback for the Buckeyes previously, but the news of Carlos Hyde's academic problems has forced the staff to make the switch. At 6-0 230 pounds, Martin provides that power option that the Buckeyes would have used Hyde for. Obviously there is no guarantees of carries for Martin, especially since Boom Herron runs like a power back, but this move is probably for insurance sake. Berry, Hall, and Saine are all more speed backs that can take it to the house, and the staff is making sure they have another option to pound the ball when necessary.

Jim Bollman, who broke the news about Martin, also said that Zach Boren will work at fullback. That means the Buckeyes will have Boren along with Adam Homan and James Georgiades as serious options there. 

 
 
Picture

Both of us here at The Silver Bullet have been amazed and fascinated with Penn State's 2010 recruiting class. So we sought out some help putting the pieces together with what is going on over in Happy Valley. So enjoy our interview with Will and Greg of WeWantTheLion.net!

Q: For those who have not been following closely, describe what has been going on for Penn State in the 2010 class?

A: Things have been going exceptionally well.  Penn State has arguably the best recruiting class in the conference to this point, and one of the tops in the nation, pulling in top-flight recruits in positions across the board.  PSU currently has nine 4-star and above recruits (according to scout.com) at positions like quarterback (x2), running back, wide receiver, middle linebacker, defensive tackle and on the o-line.  The two quarterbacks that have committed are Robert Bolden and Paul Jones,  4 and 5 star recruits, respectively,  and are both cut from the dual-threat mold that will be a necessity as PSU ventures deeper into the Spread HD offense.  Speed has also been an emphasis at the skill positions, adding guys like Alex Kenney, Adrian Coxson and Levi Norwood at the WR position and Silas Redd at RB.  With big talent coming in at the skill positions, it seems that the coaches have been able to sell the Spread HD to the guys they think can make it work. So as far as quality for this years class, it's there with plenty of high-end recruits and as for direction, it seems like the PSU staff is getting the guys that will fit the offense they unveiled last season.

 
 
Picture
'The Mt. Olympus of athletic contests...' // Photo via Scout.com

Dave Thurman (2:23 pm)

I picked up the newspaper this morning and flipped to the sports section (doesn't every self-respecting man begin there?) and read with great apathy the carte du jour for the day.  Now it strikes me that I should be fairly excited since there is plenty of sports news to choose from as we move into the middle of July.  For instance:

1.  The Major League Baseball All-Star Game...As a kid I remember waiting with tremendous anticipation for the night when all the stars came out - guys like Johnny Bench, Willie Stargell, Hank Aaron, Tom Seaver and Willie Mays (can you tell that I rooted for the National League?)  Now I find the Homerun Derby more compelling that the game itself.  Maybe it's because so many of the players have tainted baseball and themselves by consuming massive amounts of illegal substances.  Or possibly it's due to the fact that they make a gazillion dollars and play like primma donnas who are afraid of getting hurt.  Heck, Pete Rose took a few years off of Ray Fosse's career because the Cleveland catcher dared to stand between him and home plate (and victory for the NL).  I realize that I sound old but those were the days!  Now I just can't get fired up about this annual rite of summer.

2.  The British Open...I love golf, and like most Americans I especially enjoy watching Tiger Woods but I'm having a hard time getting up for this event.  I suppose it would be more fun if Phil Mickelson was involved, although there are still plenty of great players to follow.  Then there's that whole time change thing which keeps me for enjoying this tournament as much as the Masters or the U.S. Open.  I'm sure I'll watch some of it but it's not like I am filled with eagerness and expectation.

3.  Big offseason trades and acquisitions in the NBA...I can't remember a summer with more blockbuster deals than this one, highlighted by Shaq joining our boy LeBron in Cleveland.  Yawn!  I lost interest in the NBA years ago. My son Drew disagrees with me here, but the last few times I have attended a game (and I'll only go if somone gives me seats down near the floor), I was amazed by the fact that: a) the teams don't really play until the fourth quarter; and, b) they bring out every "dog and pony show" iminagable in an effort to engage and entertain fans - dunking mascots, insanely crazy contests, loud music, barely-clad-dancers and acrobats from the Far East to name a few.  Sure the players are awesome athletes and LeBron is captivating, but I can't stay tuned in for more than a few minutes.  So excuse me if I don't get super excited by all the offseason moves.

4.  Athletes being murdered (by their lovers no less) - Wow!  When can you remember two big name athletes being killed so closely togetehr and under eerily similar circumstances?  First it was Steve McNair, killed by his young girlfriend, and then Arturo Gatti, supposedly by his young wife.  This is the stuff the paparazzi lives for, but it doesn't fill the vacuum I am feeling right now that can only be satiated by big-time sports actually being played on the field or court! 

So what does all this mean?  Very simply that it's time to bring on the college football season - unequivocally the greatest sport played at the most exciting level in the entire world.  You heard it right.  College football is the Mt. Olympus of athletic contests.  Nothing else compares.  And Ohio State?  They are perched on top of Olympus as Zeus.  Give me a Saturday afternoon in Ohio Stadium and it will warm my heart for months.  I confess that during the fall I count down the days like a kid at Christmas.  Saturday morning it's hard to concentrate on anything, as butterflies churn in my stomach, and I look down at my watch every fifteen minutes wondering if game time will ever arrive.  After kickoff, pity the poor fool who dares call my cell phone.  For three hours I am in the zone, transfixed, an armchair quarterback, so into the game that it's downright scary.  I have told my wife that I am not responsible for my actions, although she has yet to make this concession.  There is nothing in the world of sports that comes close in my book - not March Madness, the Olympics, or the Superbowl.  I enjoy them all, but none fills that sports vacuum like college football and my beloved Buckyes.  So with apologies to old Hank, I simply ask, "Are you ready for some Saturday afternoon football?"

 
 
Picture
Jordan Hicks is one of two Lakota West studs the Buckeyes need!

Drew Thurman (5:23 pm)

The Buckeyes have eight commitments so far in the class of 2010, but there is still a ton of work left to be done. Not only do the Buckeyes have some serious needs to fill, but are watching many of the other schools in the Big Ten rack up commitments. So, let's take a look at the top five guys I think the Buckeyes need to lock up. These are not unrealistic prospects that the Buckeyes have just simply offered, this list includes five guys who the Buckeyes have at least a decent shot at landing. 

5. Spencer Ware - Running Back // Cincinnati (Princeton)

Some of you may be surprised that Ware finds himself on this list ahead of guys like Matt James, Darryl Baldwin, and Christian Bryant. I put him ahead of those other guys because of the recent problems the Buckeyes are facing with Jaamal Berry and Carlos Hyde. On top of that, it has come to light that recent commitment Roderick Smith is facing some grade problems himself. So, another running back for insurance would be huge for the Buckeyes. Ware is much more than insurance though, he is an incredibly talented back with offers from North Carolina, LSU, Wisconsin, and Cincinnati. 

4. LaMarcus Joyner - Defensive Back // Miami, FL (Southwest)

The Buckeyes have had some serious luck in Florida the last several years, and they look the continue that with Joyner. He has offers from USC, Alabama, Tennessee, Georgia, and Florida, but everyone thinks that it will come down to Ohio State and Florida State. He will be in Columbus for the USC game, and a win could help sway him our way. Not to mention the fact that Florida State has enough issues going on to scare anyone away. I throw Joyner this high on this list because of his speed and athleticism. Not to mention that the Buckeyes also lost out on a couple defensive backs late in the process last year. 

3. Alex Smith - Tight End // Cincinnati (Lakota West)

The tight end situation has been well noted in recent months, and the staff obviously is hungry for a top tier talent there. After missing out on Alex Welch and C.J. Fiedorowicz it appeared as if the Buckeyes would have to settle for a more blocking oriented tight end, but Smith is very much a possibility. He has yet to have received an offer, but is the most likely candidate to receive one in the near future. I put Smith this high on the list because the Buckeyes disparately need a tight end. No offense to Reid Fragel or Nic DiLillo, who were both brought in the last couple of years, but I do not see either as a serious pass catcher. On the other hand, I think Smith has the athleticism to be big time talent for the Buckeyes.   

2. Brandon Linder - Offensive Lineman // Fort Lauderdale, FL (St. Thomas Aqunias)

Linder is one of the most talented offensive linemen in the entire country. He is incredibly versatile, and has played both offensive tackle and center in high school. He has about everyone in the country looking at him, but it will be tough for anyone to pull him away from the state of Florida (UF or Miami). He is visiting the Buckeyes both unofficially and officially, so they will have their shot for his services. Offensive linemen are always a priority, and so Linder has to be high on the list of "must gets." If you haven't seen his film, check it out.   

1. Jordan Hicks - Linebacker // Cincinnati (Lakota West)

Hicks has to be one of the most talented linebackers I have seen on film in recent years. His offers from Florida, Texas, USC, West Virginia, and Alabama back that up. He would find himself on the top of this list even if he was not from Ohio, but because he is, it makes grabbing him even more urgent. His size, speed, and instincts are rare to find, especially in your own backyard. The class of 2010 definitely has not lived up to the hype of the previous two, but if Hicks jumps on board some of that criticism will silence.