Well, the stripes on the helmets of incoming freshmen have taken on a life of their own. I have to give credit to Urban and the staff for this creative way of making freshmen earn their way onto the squad. So far, De'Van Bogard, Noah Spence, Tommy Schutt, and Taylor Decker have had their black stripes removed. One wonders what happens if some have not achieved what is necessary for stripe removal by the first game! Hmm! Anyway, onto some hump day news and notes:
The Looks Test: Ever since the days of John Cooper I have always looked forward to fall practice to see who passes the "looks test." Some freshmen come in looking like men, with bodies that appear NFL ready, while others look like boys, who need a lot of time in the weight room. And, some upperclassmen make it clear that they have used the offseason to transform their bodies, and look a lot different than they did the previous season.
Viewing pictures from Media Day and some of the early practices posted on various sites, a few things have jumped out at me. As expected, Noah Spence is an impressive specimen but the freshman who immediately grabs your attention is Adolphus Washington. Wow! Dude is huge and looks like he is 25 years old. I love the slim-downed and chiseled version of Johnathan Hankins. He was really good last year and looks like he might be ready to step into stardom in 2012. Of course, number 54, John Simon, still wins the award for the most eye-popping physique. Yes, I confess to having a bit of a man crush. It would be fun to walk into my gym one time with that body!
Another player who jumps out at you is Rod Smith. He is flat put together for a running back, and though he may not have the game to match, Smith sure does pass the looks test. Naturally Ryan Shazier looks a lot bigger (and he reports that he has clocked some 40's in the 4.3 to 4.4 range). After a fine freshman season, it has to scare opponents to consider a bigger and faster Shazier. Although I like the way Andrew Norwell plays, I have to say that his recent pictures are frightening, and not in a good way. Not sure what is up with the hair, but he looks awful (and I am being kind). And one last comment: walk-on kicker Kyle Clinton looks about 15. If you have not seen him yet, Clinton wears number 39.
At receiver, Michael Thomas could start this season, as he has been exceptional. On the other hand, Ricquan Southward has been unimpressive, and could be a major disappointment. Taylor Decker and Joey O'Connor seem destined to play on the o-line for sure as true freshmen, and Jacoby Boren should also wind up in the two-deep when he returns from injury.
The defensive line is stacked, and besides the players already mentioned, look for Tommy Schutt and Se'von Pittman to see the field this year. All the linebackers have had their moments, but the two that are receiving rave reviews are Jamal Marcus and David Perkins, both of whom can fly. And in the defensive backfield, although Armani Reeves was the highest ranked recruit, others are getting more press this fall, including Najee Murray and Tyvis Powell. Although I have not done a scientific study, my guess is that at least 2/3 of this class plays in 2012.
Bits and Pieces: Here are a few interesting tidbits I have picked up here and there: John Simon says this off-season was the toughest he has ever seen, but of course, he loved it...Jake Stoneburner is moving back to wide receiver for a couple of reasons: 1) He has the size, hands and speed to be a major matchup problem for defenses; and 2) The coaching staff really likes Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett at tight end...Outside of Jordan Hall there does not seem to be a good candidate to play in the famed pivot position this year. Many have been tried including Philly Brown, Verlon Reed, and Devin Smith, but it seems that all lack at least one ingredient Urban covets. Truth is, this team needs Hall to return healthy before the B1G conference season begins!
Worth Checking Out: Once again this week, the ESPN B1G blog has some good stuff with an OSU flavor. Austin Ward talks about the state of the Buckeye brand, concluding that sanctions have not kept Ohio State from having expectations of going 12-0. Brian Bennett ranks the top players in the secondary in the B1G this year, placing C.J. Barnett at fourth and Bradley Roby at sixth in the conference. Most OSU fans would agree that Roby's ranking is too low. Bennett's top overall player is Johnny Adams of Michigan State, who hails from the state of Ohio. I like Adams, who is a burner, but I'm not sure he deserves the top spot. However the best entry in this week's B1g blog is an all-access video from Ohio State's fall camp, which you can check out below (thanks to shardin10):