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Drew Thurman (5:19 pm)

Rumors have been circling the recruitment of Trey DePriest for months now, many of them regarding his relationship with Alabama. It's always hard to put much stock in the rumor mill, but this time those rumors came true. DePriest announced this evening that he is headed to join Saban and company in SEC Country, which means the Buckeyes lost the top in-state linebacker for a second year in a row.

As Alex at 11W pointed out earlier this week though, there is no reason to panic over losing DePriest. Not only is linebacker the deepest position for the Buckeyes (along with running back), but the staff still has plenty of options left on the board in this class. The big three guys to watch in the coming weeks will be Ejuan Price, Conner Crowell and Andre Sturdivant, but also on the radar are Kent Turene and Michael Caputo.

Source: http://bucknuts.com/index.php/Football-Recruiting-Article/depriest-breaks-the-streak/menu-id-1346.html
 
 
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Maurice Clarett - trading handcuffs for textbooks
Dave Thurman (10:15 am)

"Strange days have found us."  To borrow a line from The Doors (and yes I am showing my age), the past week has been a very interesting one in Columbus, and at times, downright bizzare.  Here are the items that have headlined Buckeye news:

1.  Jack Tatum passes away - Indeed, he was a legend, and none of us was ready to bid farewell.  When I recently ranked Ohio State's greatest defensive backs, Tatum ended up number one, above notables like Mike Doss, Antoine Winfield, and Mike Sensibaugh.  Not only was Jack a great player in college and the NFL, but he was a true Buckeye through and through, who bled Scarlet and Gray.  It is a shame that so many remember him only for his hit on Darryl Stingley.  Tatum was a "throwback" football player who personified the old maxim, "No quarter asked, no quarter given."  But he was also a humanitarian who worked tirelessly raising money to fight diabetes.  Certainly he will be missed, and our thoughts and prayers go out to his wife and three children.

2.  Maurice Clarett returns to class - When Maurice bid farewell to Columbus seven years ago, nobody would have ever dreamed that he would be returning in 2010 to take classes.  Things didn't turn out as he planned, and instead of NFL stardom, he spent 3 1/2 years in a Toledo prison.  Now, attempting to pick up the pieces of his shattered life, Clarett is going to try hitting the books, presumably for the first time!  Some fans have cut all ties with Maurice, and wish he would just disappear forever, but I for one, am rooting for him.

Call me sentimental if you want, but I can't help but remember his contributions to the 2002 National Championship team.  Ohio State would not have won that title without him.  And, I also sympathize with his rough upbringing, and the intense pressure Clarett faced as the spotlight was cast on him from the moment he entered high school.  While I am not excusing his behavior or actions, I do believe that few people would have handled that kind of situation well.  So I am cheering for Maurice, even though I have not forgotten some of his deragatory remarks towards the Buckeyes. 
 
 
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Buckeye Nation lost one of it's greatest members today, Jack Tatum, to a heart attack at the age of 61. Tatum played under Woody Hayes from 1968-1970, was a two-time All-American, and helped the Buckeyes win a National Championship in 1968. Though he will always be known as "The Assassin" for being one of the most feared hitters in football, many knew how good of a man he was off the field. Former Buckeye teammate John Hicks had this to say to the Plain Dealer:

"He endured a lot of problems, and it's unfortunate he passed away so young," Hicks said. "He was a tremendous athlete and a great person."

Tressel also released this statement. 

“We have lost one of our greatest Buckeyes. When you think of Ohio State defense, the first name that comes to mind is Jack Tatum. His loss touches every era of Ohio State players and fans."

Source: http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=5413917
 
 
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Ben Hartsock, back in the day!
Dave Thurman (2:00 PM)

It's Buckeye Week on the Big Ten Network, and it has been enjoyable to watch telecasts of exciting games from earlier this decade.  Last night's replay of the 2003 contest between Ohio State and North Carolina State jogged my memory in concern to a number of facts.  But the thing that stood out most to me was how well the Buckeyes used the tight end in that game.  Ben Hartsock finished with 7 catches for 65 yards and a touchdown, and even the oft-mailigned Ryan Hamby snared a big touchdown pass in overtime.  Pretty impressive stuff!

Obviously, the past few seasons have seen the tight end become little more than a glorified extra offensive tackle, as has been well documented in numerous articles as well as thousands of barroom discussions.  But its not like Tressel has never employed the tight end, as the NC State game proves. So, why is it that OSU has thrown so sparingly to this position over the past 4-5 years?  

1.  Weak Offensive Line Play - Certainly the o-line has sprung some big leaks in recent seasons, and there have been some times when the tight end was desperately needed for pass protection. 

2.  Lack of Talent at Tight End - No doubt about it, OSU has missed out on a number of big name tight ends and hasn't been as stocked at this position as they would like.  And, one guy the staff thought would be an excellent receiver, Louis Irrizary, got kicked out of school.  However, you can't convince me that Jake Ballard didn't have good hands.  On the rare ocassions the ball came his way he did a good job of bringing in it.  He may not have been fast, but Jake could definitely catch the pigskin. 
 
 
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1995 Heisman Trophy winner Eddie George
Dave Thurman (9:22 AM)

In our ongoing series we have already looked at the following positions: wide receiver, linebacker, offensive line, defensive backs, fullbacks & tight ends, defensive line, quarterbacks, and specialists.

The rich tradition of Ohio State football includes All-Americans at every position.  Still the signature position, at least in the minds of most fans, is tailback.  For that reason, we have saved this spot for last, and conclude our series by looking at the ten greatest halfbacks in Buckeye history. 

10. Michael Wiley - He burst onto the scene in 1996, scroing three long touchdowns in his first game as a true freshman, and went on to rush for nearly 3000 yards in his career, averaging close to six yards per carry.  Dangerous as a receiver, too, Wiley was a homerun hitter who was always a threat to take it to the house. 

9.  Raymont Harris - This big guy nicknamed himself "The Ultraback" because of his versatility, and though he played for John Cooper, there is no doubt Woody Hayes would have loved Raymont's power and durability.  As a senior he ran for 1344 yards, and ranks tenth on the Buckeye career rushing list. 

8.  Antonio Pittman - Pittman had back to back 1000 yard seasons, before bolting early for the NFL.  All told, Antonio rushed for 2945 yards in his career, but was often overshadowed by Troy Smith, Teddy Ginn, and company.

7.  Robert Smith - When he arrived as a freshman in 1990 it was with lofty expectations, and Smith immediately delivered.  Until Maurice Clarret came along, it could be argued that Smith was the most impressive first year runner in OSU history.  Although he only played two seasons, Robert excited fans with his speed, which Indiana coach Bill Mallory described as a "rocket in his butt."

6.  Tim Spencer - Sometimes overlooked in discussions of best Buckeye tailbacks, Spencer was a force in the early 80s and still ranks third on the career rushing list with 3553 yards.
 
 
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Drew Thurman (3:34 am)

It's been a decade of dominance for the Buckeyes, especially at the linebacker position. From Wilhem to Hawk to Laurinaitis, there has been some serious hardware collected in the 2000's. Those names don't even include consistent players like Cie Grant, Robert Reynolds, Bobby Carpenter, and Marcus Freeman. It's hard to imagine anyone in the country boasting a better combination of quantity and quality.

As Buckeye fans we love watching the linebacker position, and at times they become the rock stars of the team. Any given Saturday in the fall, the Shoe is filled with overzealous fans still wearing jerseys with the numbers 47 and 33 on them. Yet the star of this year's linebacking core, Ross Homan, hardly gets the recognition he deserves. I mean seriously, the team shop doesn't even sell his jersey.

Understandably, both Terrelle Pryor and Cameron Heyward grab most of the limelight, but in many Buckeye circles even Brian Rolle gets more publicity than Homan. No offense to Rolle, but after last year it's pretty clear that he is the second best linebacker on this team. Homan's stat sheet was easily the most impressive of any defensive player on the roster. He led the team with 108 tackles (57 solo compared to Rolle's 37), while recording five tackles for loss and a ridiculous five interceptions. He was a 2nd-Team Big Ten performer and is easily a front runner for 1st Team in 2010. So, where is the love for Ross Homan?       
 
 
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The 'Nuge'
Dave Thurman (8:42 am)

In our ongoing series we have already looked at the following positions: wide receiver, linebacker, offensive line, defensive backs, fullbacks & tight ends, defensive line, and quarterback.

Through the years Ohio State has been blessed with some tremendous kickers, punters and returners.  Since there is such diversity in these positions, it is difficult to rate them, but here is my attempt at the top ten all-time Buckeye specialists:

10. Garcia Lane - A dangerous punt returner, Garcia actually took two to the house in one game against Purdue in 1983.  Although he was a fine defensive back, Lane is probably best remembered as a special teams' demon.

9.  B.J Sander - Although he didn't come into his own until his senior year (2003), it was such a great season that Sander was selected as the Ray Guy award winner as the nation's best punter.

8.  Neal Colzie - A fabulous defensive back who was just as good in the return game, Colzie averaged a Buckeye record 14.3 yards per punt return for his career including a couple of touchdowns. 

7.  Vlade Janakievski - An all-time fan favorite, Vlade was a walk-on from the soccer team who played on some high scoring squads, and kicked 172 extra points and 41 field goals in his career, before opening up a popular deli on Lane Street.

6.  Andy Groom - An integral part of the 2002 National Championship team, Andy is still number one in career punting average at Ohio State, at 45.0 yards per punt.  Considering that the '02 team won with defense first, one cannot overestimate the importance of Groom's punting, and he was rewarded by being named a first team All-American.
 
 
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Drew Thurman (3:24 pm)

In this series of profiles, we are taking a look at some of the under the radar Buckeye players who play a vital role in a championship run. Everyone knows the importance of players like Pryor, Saine, Posey, Brewster, Boren, Heyward, Homan, and Rolle. This series is not about those big names players, rather the indispensable guys that get looked over. Check out #6 Jermale Hines...

Why he is important:

With Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell now gone, it's pretty obvious why Jermale Hines is important. He is the only player on the depth chart at safety that has any experience, and you better believe the staff is counting on him for leadership. Coleman was a leader on and off the field, which will be missed, especially in the secondary. Torrence and Chekwa don't have the leadership swagger, so Hines stepping into that role could be vital. There is no doubt that the staff is pushing this too. Check out Hines' words this spring:

"It actually hit me the first day after winter workouts when we had to gather up and stretch," Hines said. He took what had been his regular position in the circle the past three years when he said safeties coach Paul Haynes yelled, "'Get in the middle.'"  

Hines will also play a huge role in how good the Buckeye defense really is. Last year he was quietly fourth on the team in tackles with 57, while also recording 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Look for Hines to build on those numbers this season, and quite frankly, the team needs him to. Safety play was a huge part of the success of the Buckeyes in '09, especially in the turnover department, so don't underestimate how important Hines will be to this year's squad. 
 
 
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Washington is headed to UC, will the Buckeyes regret it?
Drew Thurman (3:59 pm)

Seventeen commitments are in the bag for 2011 and things are looking great for the staff. This week though, the message boards have started to be filled with some worrying and complaining for the first time with this class. Let's take a look at some of those issues and dive into them a little deeper...

1) Did the Buckeyes miss out on Shaq Washington?

Today Cincinnati got a huge commitment from Maple Heights star Shaq Washington. He didn't have an offer from the Buckeyes, and his list of offers mainly featured MAC schools (with some BCS schools like Colorado and UCLA). Yet, there are a lot of people that believe the Buckeyes may have missed on Washington's talent. Not only did he put up some serious stats this last year as a quarterback, but his film showcases how incredible he is as a wideout. Watching him in one-on-one drills during camp shows you a young man who has speed, acceleration, and the ability to change direction like few players I have watched.

Washington's problem is that he is listed at 5-9 163 pounds and is in the same class as Glenville's Shane Wynn (5-7 150). Wynn by many accounts is a much better prospect, mainly because of his speed and play making ability. He did run a 4.37 forty! I find it interesting though that Ohio High/Scouting Ohio rank Shaq Washington No. 17 in the state, while Wynn comes in at No. 37. No doubt Wynn is the more explosive player, but Washington could transition better to the next level. Who knows?

Regardless, if Wynn gives the Buckeyes the cold shoulder there will be many that wish the staff had gone after Washington. 
 
 
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Did anyone ever throw a prettier spiral than Joe Germaine?
Dave Thurman (10:54 am)

In our ongoing series we have already looked at the following positions: wide receiver, linebacker, offensive line, defensive backs, fullbacks & tight ends, and defensive line.

Quarterback probably isn't the most famous position at Ohio State -- that would be running back, which, by the way, we are saving until last.  However, no position has been as greatly scrutinized by fans as quarterback, which means that there will probably be some strong reaction to this list.  Certainly opinions are varied when it comes to ranking the best to don the scarlet and gray at this position.  Some think that you have to start with the signal callers who led their team to a National Championships, even if they didn't put up eye catching statistics or win individual awards.  Others contend that you have to look at the numbers (completion percentage, yards, and touchdowns) as the most important consideration.  At TSB we are trying to find some middle ground, factoring in all of the above.  Anyway, here is our top ten list of greatest Buckeye quarterbacks.

10. Jim Karsotos - This gunslinger hailed from California, and put up some big numbers in the mid 80s in his two seasons as a starter.  In fact he became the first Buckeye quarterback to register two seasons of passing for more than 2000 yards.

9.  Mike Tomczak - Definitely a better passer than commentator, Mike started for three seasons in Columbus, throwing for a total of 5569 yards in his career.  He then went on to a lengthy though somewhat star-crossed NFL career.

8.  Les Horvath - The first Buckeye to win the Heisman, Les was really a halfback who played quarterback his senior season.  He rarely ever threw the ball, and it is difficult to place him higher on the list for that reason.

7.  Cornelius Greene - A brilliant runner (he rushed for 842 yards in '74 alone), Greene started three seasons, and was overshadowed by Archie Griffin, but was an excellent leader, who improved each year as a passer, and was actually voted the Big Ten MVP in 1975.  Some would contend he should be ranked higher since the team went 31-3-1 with Cornelius at the controls. 

6.  Joe Germaine - Although he did not become a full-time starter until his senior season, Joe enjoyed three fine years in Columbus, and I contend he threw the prettiest spiral of anyone on this list.  His OSU career was highlighted by a Rose Bowl win over Arizona State which he orchestrated with a great last minute drive, and he nearly led the Bucks to a perfect season as a senior, coming up just short against Michigan State.  Joe still holds the record for most yards passing in a season - 3330 in 1998.