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2014 WR Braxton Berrios (JWinslow.com)
Drew Thurman (5:41 pm)

If you're a fan that loves to follow recruiting, this last weekend was a lot of fun for you. Not only did the staff host the first ever Friday Night Lights at Ohio Stadium, but a handful of Buckeye commits and prospects were also competing in Gridiron Kings 7-on-7 tournament at ESPN's Wide World of Sports. Both of produced a lot of news already, so let's take a deeper look...

Derrick Green is Gone...

The big news heading into Friday Night Lights was the fact that 2013 running back Derrick Green would no longer be attending the event. News broke that the staff had "pulled" his scholarship offer and would filling the remaining spots in the class for bigger needs. 

Of course, this created mass pandemonium on message boards and social media. Green, who grew up a huge fan of Eddie George, always seemed like a heavy Buckeye lean. Even when schools like Clemson climbed to the top of his list and he made comments about not liking the spread, it still seemed like the staff had the ability to rope him if they wanted to, much like they did with Bri'onte Dunn a year ago. At least that was the persona among most Buckeye recruiting fans. That wasn't really the case though. In fact, that was part of the reason it was easy for the staff to move on, because they didn't foresee him coming to Columbus. While many will want to argue this, Green made it very clear via Twitter (when agitated by ignorant OSU blogger) that the staff wasn't going to wait around and then get burned. They had solid players ready to jump on board now at positions of greater need. 

What makes the timing of this more interesting is the citation of Bri'onte Dunn this weekend. While he isn't likely to be kicked off the team, his future is unclear to us at the moment. If something were to happen, some fans will be upset that we pulled out of the Derrick Green race. Don't be, I just don't think the Buckeyes were going to win anyway. It's also interesting because he had a great visit to Michigan this last weekend. Can you imagine what will happens if he commits to TSUN? Cue the meltdown...


 
 
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Drew Thurman (4:53 pm)

Fans were wondering when the staff would add another offensive lineman in the 2013 class, and they will wonder no longer. Timothy Gardner (Indianapolis, IN) has committed, according to 247Sports, giving the Buckeyes 16 commitments in the class (two offensive lineman). 

Garnder's recruitment has been a bit peculiar, as he has claimed via Twitter that he was committed to the Buckeyes back in June. There was never any confirmation though, and eventually he took down the tweet making many believe that the staff wasn't ready to accept his commitment. He then attended Friday Night Lights last night and apparently did enough to allow the staff to honor his previous commitment and make it public. In fact, I should have caught on sooner as Gardner retweeted some of my tweets prior to event. Apparently, due to what he retweeted, he had some idea that this could happen. 

Part of the hold up was his weight. At 6-5 315 pounds, he is down 20 or so pounds, something the staff was wanting to see him do. If you watch his film, you will see he is more than just a big guy though. The Lawrence Central product plays mean and physical. 

He held offers from Indiana, Purdue, Notre Dame, Louisville and Toledo before committing to the Buckeyes. 

Nice to see Friday Night Lights already paying off. Welcome to the Buckeye family Timothy! 

 
 
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Coach Kirk Ferentz suits up for his 14th season with the Hawkeyes
Zach Clark (10:26 am)

Team:

Iowa Hawkeyes

Head Coach:

Kirk Ferentz (14th year at Iowa)
2011 Record: 7-6 (4-4 Conference)
Overall Head Coaching Record: 108-87

Schedule Preview:

In 2012, the Iowa Hawkeyes start up with a very feasible non-conference schedule only to face a challenging B1G slate.  They should start 5-0, with home games against Northern Illinois (neutral location), Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Central Michigan and Minnesota.  However, the lack of viable competition in the first 4 games may put the Hawkeyes to sleep week 5 vs. the Minnesota Golden Gophers.  Also, it is worth noting that the battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy (Iowa vs. Iowa State) has gone either way in recent years.  Coach Ferentz’s Hawkeyes only lead the series 4-3 in the past 7 seasons.  Things start to get rough for Iowa come week 7 when they hit the road for the first time to take on the Michigan State Spartans.  I see Spartans coach Mark Dantonio coming out on top in this one, but the Hawkeyes should rebound and dominate the next 4 weeks (vs. Penn State, at Northwestern, at Indiana, vs. Purdue) before dropping their final 2 games at Michigan and vs. Nebraska.  Who knows, maybe the projected 8-4 record for the Hawkeyes may be unimpressive enough to extend Coach Ferentz’s never-ending contract several more decades.


 
 
One of the center characters in today's B1G Media Day in Chicago was Urban Meyer, who was making his debut at the media spectacle. It was a rather boring affair though, as the members of the media seemed much more interested in asking him about the Penn State situation and his thoughts on the B1G compared to the SEC. He did have this to say about where the team is currently:

"I like our players, I like our team. We had a conditioning test that our players are telling me about. The energy level on our team in Columbus is real high right now. The thing I don't understand or have a real grasp of is our opposition, our opponents. I don't know the league real well. I'm anxious to get going."

If you missed it the press conference, you can view the video after the jump. You can also read the full transcript from the presser here.

 
 
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Drew Thurman (8:26 am)

One of the many 2014 attendees that will be present at Friday Night Lights this weekend is ATH Dareian Watkins. He is a 6-2 185 pound prospect from Galion, OH, who plays at quarterback, safety, cornerback, linebacker, punter, punt returner and kick returner for his high school team. He's been rated as one of the top Ohio prospects by Rivals OhioPrep.com, a top 100 player by 247Sports, and a rising 2014 prospect by Scout.com.

The staff has taken notice of his talents as well, and have had him on campus multiple times, including the spring game and summer camp. He will be back for FNL and will be looking to land an offer. I chatted with him about what he is expecting this weekend and where things stand on the recruiting trail.

What have you been up to this summer?

DW: I have been doing a lot of preparation for football. I've been to several college camps. I lift and do agility training 4 days per week. I do a lot of passing in my spare time.

What schools are showing interest in you?

DW: Right now I would say Illinois, West Virginia, Georgia Tech, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Ohio State and several MAC schools.

Who are you the most interested in?

DW: I am 100% open but I like Illinois a lot. I can't see Illinois not being one of my top choices. I would also not hesitate to go to the right MAC school.  Some schools present different opportunities but they all present some opportunity.


 
 
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The frame that will hold the Buckeye necklace
Dave Thurman (9:51 am)

Another week has reached the halfway point, and the good news is that Buckeye football is only 38 days away!  Of course the Penn State/Paterno scandal continues to dominate the college football world, but there is some other interesting stuff to sort through.  This week we'll start with some truly important (and life-changing) information, move on to some bad news from up north (which may be considered good news for OSU fans), and take a look at some B1G predictions concerning title game participants, best players. etc.  Oh, yes, we will also recommend a couple of links on good reads regarding - you guessed it - the PSU aftermath.  

World's Largest Buckeye Necklace:  Our good friend (and occasional contributor) Ken Kohl is a cancer survivor who keeps us up to date on news regarding the amazing efforts of the Arthur G. James Cancer Center and the Stefanie Spielman Fund.  The latest news on this front concerns a ceremony to unveil the world's largest Buckeye necklace at the Stefanie Spielman Comprehensive Cancer Center at 4 PM on July 31st.  The necklace will fill a 7-foot Block-O display that will showcase the necklace which will weigh about 1200 pounds when completed.  Those who purchase a ticket will be forever linked to Buckeyes For a Cure by having their name engraved on the display which will reside permanently at the Stefanie Spielman CCC at 1145 Olentangy River Road in Columbus.  

The Lantern recently published an article that provides details on this exciting fundraiser, including how individual buckeyes can be purchased for $2.50 apiece.  Additional information is available here, through the official press release.

One more resource worth checking is the Team Buckeye site, which encourages bike rides to help bring about a cancer free world.  

Thanks Ken for keeping us up to date on this opportunities to join a Great Buckeye, Chris Spielman, and many OSU fans in making a difference.  Lives are being saved through these efforts!


 
 
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Keep your eye on Crest over the coming months.
Drew Thurman (1:00 pm)

Name: William Crest
School:  Dunbar (Baltimore, Maryland)
Position: Quarterback
Height/Weight: 6-2/190
Offers: Maryland, Ohio State, Virginia, Virginia Tech, West Virginia, Purdue, Rutgers
Rankings: No. 47 2014 Prospect (247Sports), No. 2 Maryland 2014 Prospect (247Sports)

Background:

Baltimore's William Crest is an under-the-radar prospect in the 2014 class, who is starting to get a lot more attention nationally. There's a reason why, too. For starters, he just led Dunbar to the 1A state championship in Maryland last fall as a sophomore. He's also known as a very solid kid. He gets very good grades, and actually served as his school's class president this last year.

On the field, Crest is known more as a pocket quarterback with a big arm and a quick release. While he can run and is definitely mobile, as his film shows, he uses those tools more to move around in the pocket. In fact, he shows a lot of maturity in keeping his eyes down field when feeling pressure, rather than just tucking the ball away and running. He statistics back this up as well, as he threw for over 1,500 yards last season while only running for a little over 200.


 
 
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Zach Clark (8:22 am)

Twenty-four hours after NCAA president Mark Emmert shocked the nation and essentially laid down the “modern-day death penalty” on Penn State I take a look at exactly what caused the entire mess to occur, the chances PSU fields a team this year and the immediate impact on the B1G’s Leaders division race. 

Of course, we all turn to ex-PSU president Graham Spanier, suspended PSU athletic director Tim Curley, ex-PSU vice president Gary Schultz and, last but not certainly not least, ex-PSU head coach Joe Paterno, when looking to place the blame for the entire mess.  But, as indicated by Emmert on Monday morning, a much bigger problem is nationally present than a few corrupt, utterly immoral men holding absolute power in State College, PA.  At many major universities across the nation, administrators, coaches, staffs and fan bases seem to elevate certain athletic programs to a very unhealthy level.  This “hero worship” is the basis of the cover-up at Penn State and very well has caused/could cause/is in the process of causing many, many other problems at other universities.  

As a diehard fan myself, I am the first to admit that it would be impeccably difficult to set aside my ultimate desire for Ohio State football to succeed for the sake of accepting supposedly just NCAA punishment towards my beloved university’s athletic program.  As immoral as that may seem, America has seen an
extreme example in the mindset from many PSU faithful.  I understand waiting for the Freeh Report and all other investigations to be completed before commenting on the situation, but through message boards and social media, countless PSU fans and alumni indicate their unwavering support for Paterno and denial of any
wrongdoing of anyone not named Sandusky.  This is “Exhibit A” of hero worship.  The Penn State football program’s success was considered the single-most important item at the university and was elevated over the well being of children, to put it lightly.


 
 
Mark Emmert and the NCAA made a quick and harsh statement on the Penn State Football Program and the "hero worship" that led to sex abuse scandal with Jerry Sandusky that took place. While Emmert made it clear that no price the NCAA could levy could repair the damage inflicted by Jerry Sandusky on his victims, they definitely issued a price that made Penn State pay. Here are sanctions per NCAA.org:

$60 million fine. The NCAA imposes a $60 million fine, equivalent to the approximate average of one year's gross revenues from the Penn State football program, to be paid over a five-year period beginning in 2012 into an endowment for programs preventing child sexual abuse and/or assisting the victims of child sexual abuse. The minimum annual payment will be $12 million until the $60 million is paid. The proceeds of this fine may not be used to fund programs at the University. No current sponsored athletic team may be reduced or eliminated in order to fund this fine.

Four-year postseason ban. The NCAA imposes a four-year postseason ban on participation in postseason play in the sport of football, beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year and expiring at the conclusion of the 2015-2016 academic year. Therefore, the University's football team shall end its 2012 season and each season through 2015 with the playing if its last regularly scheduled, in-season contest and shall not be eligible to participate in any postseason competition, including a conference championship, any bowl game, or any postseason playoff competition.

Four-year reduction of grants-in-aid. For a period of four years commencing with the 2013-2014 academic year and expiring at the conclusion of the 2016-2017 academic year, the NCAA imposes a limit of 15 initial grants-in-aid (from a maximum of 25 allowed) and for a period of four years commencing with the 2014-2015 academic year and expiring at the conclusion of the 2017-2018 academic year a limit of 65 total grants-in-aid (from a maximum of 85 allowed) for football during each of those specified years. In the event the total number of grants-in-aid drops below 65, the University may award grants-in-aid to non-scholarship student-athletes who have been members of the football program as allowed under Bylaw 15.5.6.3.6.

Five years of probation. The NCAA imposes this period of probation, which will include the appointment of an on-campus, independent Integrity Monitor and periodic reporting as detailed in the Corrective Component of this Consent Decree. Failure to comply with the Consent Decree during this probationary period may result in additional, more severe sanctions.

Vacation of wins since 1998. The NCAA vacates all wins of the Penn State football team from 1998 to 2011. The career record of Coach “Joe” Paterno will reflect the vacated records.

Waiver of transfer rules and grant-in-aid retention. Any entering or returning football student-athlete will be allowed to immediately transfer and will be eligible to immediately compete at the transfer institution, provided he is otherwise eligible. Any football student-athlete who wants to remain at the University may retain his athletic grant-in-aid, as long as he meets and maintains applicable academic requirements, regardless of whether he competes on the football team.

Individual penalties to be determined. The NCAA reserves the right to initiate a formal investigatory and disciplinary process and impose sanctions on individuals after the conclusion of any criminal proceedings related to any individual involved.

 
 
Drew Thurman (1:30 pm)

With the 2013 class winding down already and the staff shifting their focus to 2014, we thought it would be a good idea to start introducing some of the key prospects in this class. We'll start with arguably the best player in the state next year, Dante Booker...

Name: Dante Booker
School: St. Vincent-St. Mary (Akron, OH)
Position: Linebacker
Height/Weight: 6-3/210
Offers: Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State
Rankings: No. 1 Ohio 2014 Prospect (247Sports), No. 1 OLB 2014 Prospect (247Sports), No. 1 Ohio 2014 Prospect (OhioPreps.com) 

Background:

Dante Booker Jr. is the son of Dante Booker Sr., a former Auburn defensive tackle and Canadian Football player. His father still plays a huge part in his life, and has been a great role model for him. He's also inherited a ton of measurables and athleticism from his father as well. At 6-3 210 pounds, Booker already has great size for a player just entering his junior season. Last year as a sophomore at St. Vincent-St. Mary, Booker amassed 157 tackles, 14 sacks, eight pass breakups, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and a defensive touchdown. He also plays tight end as well.