March 7, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The first week of Ohio State's 2014 spring drills is complete. The week started with coach Urban Meyer, just three days removed from a surgical procedure to alleviate headaches, leading his third Ohio State Buckeye football team into spring drills with practices Tuesday and Thursday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. And it ended Friday with many of the current players watching their former teammates take part in Ohio State's NFL Pro Day.
Meyer, addressing the media after Tuesday's initial practice of the spring, said he "felt good" and is "ready to go." He put his players, wearing shorts, jerseys and helmets, through extensive workouts each day. The players are now off from school and practices until March 18 as next week is spring break for the Ohio State students.
All 32 NFL teams at pro day
Ohio State's Pro Day, a tradition for this school that has produced 71 first-round NFL Draft picks and has had 60 players drafted in the last 10 years alone, was attended by coaching, scouting and administrative personnel from all 32 NFL teams. Approximately 80 individuals from NFL teams were in attendance, including Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly, Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer and general manager Rick Spielman.
The NFL Network, too
The NFL Network was at pro day as well. Analyst and talent expert Mike Mayock spent the morning at the Woody filing reports and meeting with the players and coaches. It was Mayock's first visit to Ohio State's football facilities and he leaves quite impressed.
"I thought today was an awesome day for Ohio State football," Mayock said. "The entire NFL community was here. You have three potential first-round draft picks working out. The energy in the building was great. And I thought the Ohio State coaching staff and strength staff did a great job in putting together a first-class pro day."
Seventeen (17) former Buckeyes worked out or did some drills during pro day, including the three potential first-round picks that Mayock was referencing: linebacker Ryan Shazier, cornerback Bradley Roby and running back Carlos Hyde.
Shazier was impressive in his less than five seconds on the turf, running an unofficial 4.36/4.38 40-yard dash despite, "re-straining his hamstring" at the end of his dash.
"I'm really happy with what I did," Shazier said, referring to his time.
Buckeyes lose Bell
The biggest news to come out of the first two days of spring drills was the loss of sophomore safety Vonn Bellfor the remainder of the spring. Bell injured his left knee on Tuesday and had surgery to repair an MCL knee sprain on Thursday. He is expected to be back at full strength and to resume off-season conditioning in May.
Senior quarterback Braxton Miller, who will not practice this spring after having shoulder surgery Feb. 21, was on the field both days taking mental reps. He was outfitted for a time during each session with a small camera and an attached microphone to record what Braxton sees and describes with regard to play calls and pass coverages. WR Evan Spencer, OL Chase Farris and LB Devan Bogardare joining Miller on the sidelines this spring while recovering from surgeries.
Standout senior tight end Jeff Heuermandid not practice this week. He suffered an injury to his nose during a conditioning, tug-of-war workout last week. He is expected to be ready to go and back on the field when the team resumes practices March 18.
Some parting thoughts
One of the last things Urban Meyersaid to his players following practice Thursday afternoon was to be careful while on spring break and to be safe. And then he had each of his position coaches reiterate those messages in their unit discussions with players before practice ended.
And some bullet points...
- Talking about his defense, coach Urban Meyersaid he "felt like we were a `what if' defense last year. `What if they did this?' I saw it from our coaches; I saw it from our players."
- OC/QB coach Tom Herman said the silver lining with Braxton Miller's surgery is that by fall Ohio State should have one or two reliable backup quarterbacks with third-year sophomore Cardale Jones and red-shirt freshman J.T. Barretttaking all the snaps.
- Co-OC/OL coach Ed Warinner said converted defensive lineman Joel Halecan be a major contributor on the offensive line this year.
- The first offensive line of the spring featured returning starter Taylor Decker at left tackle with Pat Elflein at LG, Jacoby Boren at C, Antonio Underwood, healthy after missing all of last season, at RG and Darryl Baldwinat RT. Baldwin is the only senior in the group.
- Probably the biggest news on defense, next to the loss of Vonn Bell, is that second-year linebacker Darron Lee lined up with the first unit. Ryan Shazierhad been in that position the past three years.
- Marcus Hall, at Pro Day, admitted he made a mistake with his behavior during the Michigan game and says he doesn't want people "to think he is proud of it."
- Freshman H-back Johnny Samuel was riding the stationary bicycle during Thursday's practice while he continues to recover from a minor hamstring issue.
- Meyer on his health: "I'm not going to be ignorant like I was before. If something's wrong, I'm going to get it fixed."
- ESPN travelled to Columbus with its broadcast bus to cover Ohio State's first practice of the season. Quint Kessenich and Todd Blackledge were at the Woody all day Tuesday with behind the scenes updates. ESPN plans to visit 10 schools this spring.