March 26, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State returned to its indoor practice venue - the Woody Hayes Athletic Center - Tuesday for practice No. 6 of the spring. The Buckeyes were in full pads for a physical, two-hour session that was witnessed by the media, collegiate and high school coaches and some from the professional ranks, including former St. Louis Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo.
Head coach Urban Meyer met with the assembled media contingent after practice and shared these comments:
On practicing indoors vs. outdoors: "It's more important to get good repetitions, especially throwing the ball."
On the offensive line: "I like the offensive line...80 percent of the offensive line. I don't know who the fifth guy is going to be yet. This group - the starters - have picked up where they left off last year."
On Braxton Miller: "He's doing very well. His quarterback decisions are behind a little, but [he's not behind] as a football player."
On safety Corey Brown: "I'm hoping he's a Reid Fragel [and plays really well as a senior]. He has confidence. It's his time."
Withers & CB3 Meet Media, Too
Also on the interview schedule for Tuesday afternoon was assistant head coach/co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Everett Withers and a trio of his safeties with the initials "C.B." - C.J. Barnett, Corey Brown and Christian Bryant. All three are seniors and all will be expected to provide excellent play and leadership on and off the field.
"They have the responsibility to make sure the other guys play well, every day in practice, and leading us," Withers said about his trio. "They have to guide some of these young guys. That's a responsibility of the senior class...to be an example to those young guys but also to show up every day and lead by example. I hope that's what they are doing more than anything else."
Barnett and Bryant together make up 50 percent of Ohio State's returning starters on defense and each will be in a starting role for a third season. Barnett has made 26 starts and was honorable mention all-Big Ten in 2012 after recording eight passes defended in nine games. He was second-team all-Big Ten in 2011.
Bryant, second-team all-Big Ten in 2012, was second on the team in both tackles (70) and solo tackles (36) last year, and he ranked sixth in the conference with 13 passes defended and 1.08 per game.
Brown is a veteran of 34 games and is a fifth-year senior in the Ohio State program. He played extensively in nickel situations last year for the Buckeyes - 211 snaps from the line of scrimmage - and his play and attitude have been drawing praise from the coaches already this spring.
Safeties First ... and Other Notes
The safety position has 45 of the 96 career starts for the Buckeyes on the defensive side of the ball, clearly the most among the defenders and second (to the offensive line's 81 starts) among Ohio State position groups. The wide receivers have made 33 starts. ... C.J. Barnett has played in 24 games and started 24 games. ... He led the Buckeyes in tackles in 2011 with 75 and ranked fourth last year with 56. He missed three games last year with an ankle issue. ... Bryant is second among current Buckeyes in career tackles (149 vs. 172 for LB Ryan Shazier) and career pass break-ups (21 vs. 23 for Bradley Roby). ... Third-year sophomore Ron Tanner is competing for playing time at safety this spring while senior Jamie Wood (shoulder) and sophomore Devan Bogard (knee) are being held out of contact while each continues to rehabilitate surgeries from last year. ... Converted kickers Russell Doup and Kevin Niehoff, a junior and sophomore, respectively, have gained muscle and added weight and both are contributing at safety this spring. Doup is 6-2, 195 and Niehoff is 6-3, 200.
For those of us who remember watching the original This Week in Baseball notes on Saturdays...
This time last year: Ohio State had not even started spring drills. The first practice was March 28.
Jordan Hall was not at practice Tuesday while working to complete some obligations. "He has to take care of his business off the field, and I trust he will," coach Urban Meyer said.
Graduated punter Ben Buchanan, currently working on his master's in sports administration, is one of five Ohio State male student-athletes nominated for the Big Ten Conference Medal of Honor. Each school in the conference presents the award annually to the male and female student-athletes in the graduating class who have attained the greatest proficiency in both academics and athletics. Buchanan is a four-time Academic All-Big Ten honoree, a five-time OSU Scholar-Athlete and he ranks fourth in school history in punts (177) and yards (7,286).
Christopher Rock, who prefers to be called Chris, has walked on to the program. He is a defensive lineman from Columbus DeSales High School who initially played at Michigan, red-shirting the 2011 season there before giving up the sport in May 2012. He started classes at Ohio State last August and recently asked for an opportunity to walk on to the team. He will be a third-year sophomore in the fall. He wears No. 91.
Ohio State will also practice Thursday and Saturday of this week.
Hundreds of high school coaches will hit campus and the Woody Hayes Athletic Center starting Thursday for the start of the annual High School Coaches' Clinic.