Well, It's About Time
This week's this and that: new rules to help the kids, Urbz names his guy, a summer haul for two cycles, another says something dumb.
Finally, Two For The Players
As I said in my last blog, I wasn't planning on writing too in-depth about the upcoming season until later in July. But, the NCAA has given me a good reason to write about 2018 and, for once, it is because they did something positive for the players. I know we're not used to the governing body of college athletics putting the players first, but the two rules they adopted recently really do seem to favor the athletes. Here's a look at the new rules:
1. The NCAA did away with the rule which said the player must get permission from his school before transferring. Previously a player informed his school he'd like to transfer and would ask permission to contact other schools. Now a player tells his school of his intent to transfer and can immediately begin looking for other opportunities. Schools routinely limited where a player could transfer by giving them a list of programs they could not contact. This was complete garbage and forced a lot of players, like Ohio State's Antwuan Jackson, to go to a junior college for a semester, before they could transfer to the school of their choice. Jackson began his college career at Auburn and decided to transfer after one season. Auburn's list of schools Jackson could not contact included Ohio State. He had been heavily recruited by the Buckeyes and Auburn knew he wanted to transfer to them. Keeping him from moving to Ohio State was simply a matter of spite. Under this new rule, scumbag programs like Auburn can't do this anymore.
However, there is risk involved, if you play for a team in a Power 5 conference. Those schools have said, if you say you're transferring, they can revoke your scholarship at the end of the term. Keep in mind, before the new rule, simply because a player announced he was transferring, it doesn't mean it had already happened. Players would ask permission to contact other schools and, if they did not find the type of opportunity they were looking for, they could stay with their current team. Because of the new rule, that's all changed and a player takes the risk of being left without a scholarship, if he can't find a suitable program to join.
Why did the NCAA do this? Noah Knight, the chairman of the NCAA's Student Athletic Advisory Committee explains: “In fairness to the transfer student-athlete’s teammates, coaching staff and overall team dynamic, the Division I SAAC felt that a student-athlete should not be able to give notification, search for other opportunities, then return to their institution if dissatisfied with their options with no repercussions.”
Sounds fair to me. If a player says he is looking to leave, why shouldn't a program be able to plan for the future and move on from him? But, let's face it, schools are going to be choosy about who they decide to take scholarships away from. Here is an example using the Buckeyes: not too long ago, defensive back Wayne Davis announced he was transferring. Coming out of spring practice, Davis did not appear to be anywhere near in position to crack the two-deep depth chart at safety. In this case, the Buckeyes would probably have taken away his scholarship. But, let's say it is highly-recruited Isaiah Pryor, who is battling for playing time at safety, announcing he may transfer. I seriously doubt the Buckeyes would cut loose a player of this caliber. By the way, Davis wound up at James Madison.
2. The NCAA, also, has changed the rule for redshirting players. Previously, if a player appeared for even a single play in any game, their redshirt opportunity was gone. The new rule allows for a player to appear in up to four games in a season and still be able to redshirt. This is something the coaches have pushed for and who can blame them. It gives them more bodies to use during a season and allows for more and better opportunities to develop players. James Blake, chairman of the NCAA Division I council and Miami athletic director said, “This change promotes not only fairness for college athletes, but also their health and well-being. Redshirt football student-athletes are more likely to remain engaged with the team, and starters will be less likely to feel pressure to play through injuries. Coaches will appreciate the additional flexibility and ability to give younger players an opportunity to participate in limited competition.”
Looking back at the 2017 season, receiver Jaylen Harris is the only Buckeye freshman, who saw playing time, the rule change would have affected. Harris played in three games and caught a couple of passes. He's a big kid, 6-feet-2 and 215 pounds, who would have benefited from being able to redshirt, after getting a taste of game action. But, the Buckeye freshman, who would profited the most from this rule in 2017 is Tate Martell. Meyer said many times he was VERY close to playing him just to see what he could do. There is no doubt in my mind, if Martell had been able to play in a few games last season, the quarterback battle in spring practice would have been even more of a dogfight and, quite possibly, end with a different outcome. Don't get me wrong, I'm quite happy with Dwayne Haskins as the starter, but you see my point as to how this new rule can affect things.
I'm going to be surprised if Urban Meyer doesn't get everyone of his 2018 recruiting class on the field at one time or another this season. Unless a player is absolutley not grasping the offensive or defensive schemes, why would you not give them a chance to appear in a game? I really, really like this new rule and think it will benefit college football as a whole.
Coming out of spring practice it was pretty obvious Dwayne Haskins would be the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes, when they open the season against Oregon State on September 1st. Urban Meyer didn't come right out and say Haskins is his guy, instead saying he would be given the first shot at being the starter. That all changed recently when he was asked about the situation by Bucknuts. Meyer said, "Dwayne's our starting quarterback. And then, like any position, right now Thayer Munford's our left tackle, you're competing for that spot. The better you recruit, the more competition you have."
So, there you have it. Haskins is officially the starting quarterback for the Buckeyes going into fall camp. But, Meyer does stress there's still a competition for the position. Urbz isn't one to let guys sit back and relax when it comes to where they are listed on the depth chart. On top of that, don't think Tate Martell is throwing in the towel on starting the season as the number one signal caller. Martell is an intense competitor, who is going to push Haskins every day. That's exactly what we want, because both will benefit from the competition.
Thanks to various camps and their annual "Friday Night Lights" session, the Buckeyes received their usual haul of commitments.
Fort Wayne, Indiana's Craig Young is listed as a wide receiver by recruiting services, but Urban Meyer and his staff seem to have him pegged for the defensive side of the ball. It isn't hard to see why. He's 6-feet-4, 212 pounds and an outstanding all-around athlete. He reminds me a bit of Sam Hubbard at that age. Hubbard was bigger (6-feet-6, 225 pounds), but was, also, a great athlete. Once Buckeye strength and conditioning guru Mick Marotti gets his hands on Young, I can easily see him growing into an outside linebacker or defensive end. While attending a Buckeye camp in June, Meyer had him lining up at those positions.
One of the biggest concerns for Urban Meyer and his 2019 recruiting class was finding a quarterback; he likes to bring in at least one in every class. Notice I said "was" because thanks to Dwan Mathis flipping his commitment from Michigan State, the Buckeyes have the quarterback commit they needed. The 6-foot-5, 195 pounder from Oak Park, Michigan was very impressive at Buckeye camps last June, but never received an offer. Once communication between he and the Buckeye staff fell off, Mathis commited to the Spartans. But, that all changed in early May when he received an offer from the Buckeyes. After showing up unannounced at Friday Night Lights, it was a matter of time before he decommited from the Spartans and pledged to OSU. He is the number nine pro-style quarterback nationally.
Two of the top five players nationally, according to 247 Sports, are thought to be heavily leaning towards the Buckeyes. The top player in Ohio, Zach Harrison of Olentangy Orange High School, is thought to be a virtual lock to commit to Urban Meyer's program. But, the 6-foot-5, 244 pound defensive end said recently he's more confused than ever, after having taken official visits to various schools. Right now, Michigan appears to be Ohio State's biggest competitor for Harrison. He still maintains he wants to make a decision on his birthday, which August 14th. Also, most "experts" have Huntington, WV offensive tackle Darnell Wright pegged for the Buckeyes. Harrison and Wright are ranked fourth and fifth in the 247 Sports rankings.
Usually I don't mention much about the 2020 recruiting class. The signing day for them is a long way off and a lot can change. But, I think a recent commitment the Buckeyes received is worth talking about. Cincinnti St. Xavier's Paris Johnson, Jr., the class of 2020's number two offensive tackle has pledged to join Urban Meyer's program. His twitter announcement of his decision says it all, "I'm Staying Home!!" After watching Ohio's 2018 top player, offensive tackle Jackson Carmen of Fairfield, bolt the state for Clemson (I'll be nice and leave it at that), it is great to see Johnson, Jr.'s excitement over joining the Buckeyes. Although he's already 6-feet-7 and 285 pounds, there's still a lot of time for physical maturing.
Ohio State received another important commitment for the 2020 recruiting class when Scottsdale, Arizona quarterback Jack Miller said he's joining the Buckeyes. The number three pro-style quarterback and number eighty overall recruit, in the 2020 recruitiing cycle, is 6-feet-4 and 210 pounds.
Think Before You Speak II
If you haven't noticed, when people say dumb things about the Buckeyes (or the Big Ten), I like to point it out. The latest person to shoot off their mouth before thinking is Auburn quarterback Jarrett Stidham. He was asked what advice he would give former Buckeye quarterback Joe Burrow on his transfer to LSU. Ready for what he said? See if you can read it all the way through without doubling over with laughter. "I don't how it was up north, but people down south love their football. That's No. 1. No. 2, the SEC, it's a lot of fun. It's a grind. Every single week, you've got to be on your game. There's no cupcake teams in our league. You're going to get somebody's best every single week, so you've got to be physically and mentally prepared for those types of games and situations."
Finished laughing yet? Well, Stidham is right about one thing, like most in the south, he knows nothing about the north. Does he think 105,000 people show up at each Buckeye home game because they're bored and don't have anything better to do? Those of us who are OSU/Big Ten fans know, without a doubt, people in the north love their football. But, my favorite thing he said is there aren't any cupcake teams in the SEC. Sure big guy, whatever you say. Let's keep in mind the SEC had a losing record in bowl games and a losing record against the Power 5 conferences. Yes, I know two of its teams met for the national championship, but you judge a conference from its best team to its worst. As I detailed in a recent blog, the SEC is not college football's top conference at this time (you can read that blog by clicking here). After being a part of Buckeye teams, which played on the road at places like Michigan, Penn State, and Michigan State, I'm fairly sure Joe Burrow knows how to prepare for "those types of games and situations." Also, let's not forget Burrow and the Buckeyes traveled to Oklahoma to play the Sooners. We all know SEC schools are far too chickenshit to ever take on an assignment like that. The arrogance of everyone involved with SEC football never ceases to amaze me.
Oh, by the way, Stidham's Auburn Tigers lost to UCF in the Peach Bowl this past season. That's right, Auburn, of the big, bad SEC LOST to a team from the America Athletic Conference. That's L-O-S-T...LOST! I don't care if UCF was undefeated; if the SEC is as dominant as Stidham claims, his Tigers should have steamrolled them. Stidham will find out on September 15th just how well Burrow prepares for games, when his team takes on LSU.
Well, it's July. That means camp opens for the Buckeyes in about a month. Not all that concerned about it yet. I'm still enjoying my summer.