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Aug. 4, 2014

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VIDEO: Coach Meyer Press Conference

COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 125th season of Ohio State football kicked off today with the first practices of the 2014 fall camp season. Third-year head coach Urban Meyer (24-2 at Ohio State and with the highest winning percentage – .837; 128-25 – of any active major college coach with at least 10 years of experience) put his 13th team through a morning practice for the newcomers and a late afternoon practice with the veterans.

Some of Meyer’s first comments following the latter practice were about his freshman class.

“It’s really early, but I’m really impressed with our freshman class,” Meyer told an assembly of about 50 members of the media following practice. “It was a good day.”

He also said there is a key position battle already ongoing at left guard. He said it’s going to be interesting to see who emerges from a quartet of players: fourth-year team members Antonio Underwood and Chase Farris, senior and recently-converted lineman Joel Hale, and second-year freshman Billy Price.

Meyer also touched briefly on:

  • Quarterback Braxton Miller, saying the senior is 100 percent but that they would monitor the amount he throws each practice;
  • Second year cornerback Gareon Conley, who missed practice today because of flu-like symptoms; and
  • The battle at safety, where second-year players Tyvis Powell, Cameron Burrows and Vonn Bell are all battling for the two starting positions.

There were 38 players – scholarship and invited walk-ons – in the morning practice that included a number of collegiate veterans, namely offensive lineman Chad Lindsay, who came to Ohio State this summer after graduating from Alabama, and Jeff Greene, a wide receiver who arrived last season from Georgia Tech but had to sit out the season. All 23 of the scholarship true freshman also practiced in the morning except for January enrollees Raekwon McMillan and Johnnie Dixon.

Braxton’s back: As Mayer said, Braxton Miller was back at quarterback for the Buckeyes after missing all of spring drills after having shoulder surgery. Miller enters his senior season as a contender and possibly a leading contender for all of the major national awards, be it most outstanding performer, most valuable player and/or outstanding quarterback. Miller currently holds nine school records and he could break no less than eight more in 2014.

Braxton Miller in the Record Books

National

  • One of *approx. 30 D-I players with 2,000 rushing & 4,000 passing yards
  • Needs eight rushing TDs to become ninth player in D-I with 40 rushing and 40 passing touchdowns

*Uncertain until 2014 NCAA records book is published (25 entering 2013 season)

Big Ten

  • Third among QBs in rushing yards (3,054)
  • Sixth in passing efficiency (146.7)
  • First in conference awards (7)
  • Has 2nd- and 6th-highest single season rushing totals
  • Needs 23 TD passes for No. 2 ranking in Big Ten history
  • Needs 3,445 offensive yards for No. 2 ranking in Big Ten history

Ohio State

  • Fourth in wins by starting QB (26)
  • Ninth in passing yards (5,292)
  • Fourth in touchdown passes (52)
  • Third in passing efficiency (146.7)
  • Third in completion percentage (59.3)
  • Eighth in pass attempts (666)
  • Sixth in pass completions (395)
  • Sixth in passing yards per game (147.0)
  • Eighth in 200-yard passing games (10)
  • Second in total offense (8,346)
  • First in total offense per game (231.8)
  • Second in touchdowns responsible for (84)
  • First in 200-yard total offense games (22)
  • First in 300-yard total offense games (10)
  • Eighth in rushing yards (3,054)
  • Seventh in rushing touchdowns (32)
  • Fifth in 100-yard rushing games (15)
  • One of seven Buckeyes with multiple 1,000-yard rushing seasons

No more Moore: There were 37 returning lettermen taking part in the afternoon practice for the veterans. One letterman missing was J.T. Moore, who has had to hang up his pads after chronic knee issues. Moore will continue to be a part of the football program as a student coach. Moore will graduate in December with his degree in family resource management. 

More on personnel: Second-year defensive lineman Tracy Sprinkle, from Elyria, Ohio, has rejoined the team. Coach Urban Meyer said Sprinkle lost his scholarship for the summer, he will be suspended for the first football game of the season, Aug. 30 vs. Navy, and he will take part in weekly community service projects during the season. Meyer invited Sprinkle, who was involved in a legal altercation in July, back onto the team after charges were reduced and after an independent investigation into the incident. He was at the morning practice today. 

And junior offensive lineman Tommy Brown, from Akron, Ohio, has left the program with the intent of transferring to another school.

Hill is a freshman: Defensive lineman Michael Hill has received a medical red-shirt season for 2013 and he enters the 2014 campaign a second-year player with four years of eligibility to play. Hill was another veteran who practiced with the newcomers during the a.m. practice today.  

Hubbard is a LB: True freshman Sam Hubbard, who arrived at Ohio State in June projected to play linebacker but who was switched to tight end, has moved back to linebacker. He’ll wear jersey number 49 this season. 

This is finals week: The Buckeyes are involved in final exams this week. Exams for the summer session started today and will extend through Wednesday.

Up next: The Buckeyes will hold a full squad practice Tuesday afternoon beginning at 4:30 p.m. The Big Ten Network is in town Wednesday for their annual fall camp tour.