August 7, 2016

Fall Camp Update: Ohio State Opens 2016 Drills


Aug. 7, 2016


COLUMBUS, Ohio – The fifth season of the Urban Meyer coaching era at Ohio State, and the 127th season of football for the program last week judged No. 1 nationally over the last 80 years by the Associated Press, commenced today at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center with two practices under azure skies and warm sunshine.

Meyer, the winningest active coach with at least 10 years of experience with a 154-27 record (.851) and a 50-4 mark at Ohio State, and his staff worked their 2016 class of recruits through an 8:30 a.m. morning practice and then came back for a 3:30 p.m. session with the returning upperclassmen. The groups will combine for the first full team workout on Monday, set for 9:30 a.m.

Meyer met with the media following the second practice of the day. He said:

  • The theme right now is “the ‘edge’, where average stops and elite begins”
  • He won’t know what kind of team he has until about the 12th practice of fall camp
  • The team’s athleticism “won’t be an issue”
  • The coaching staff has an idea who who’s going to play “but we’ve got a lot of good young players”
  • One of his constant challenges is to “think like an 18-year-old” and not the 52-year-old that he is.

Some inexperienced Bucks

Six returning starters and 37 returning lettermen – but only 35 lettermen from 2015 – were on the field today for the coaches, numbers that are the fewest ever for a start of the season for Meyer. His four previous Ohio State teams returned 45, 38, 50 and 47 lettermen in 2015-14-13 and 2012, respectively, and they each returned double digit starters with 16, 12, 13 and 15 along the offensive and defensive sides of the ball.

And in Meyer’s previous 10 years as coach at Bowling Green, Utah and Florida, his teams never had fewer than 38 returning lettermen or fewer than eight returning starters.

More starter stats

This time last year Ohio State had 310 accumulated starts of experience across the offensive and defensive units: 161 starts on offense among 13 players; and 149 starts on defense by 13 players. This season, Ohio State has 134 combined starts: 90 on offense – with Pat Elflein and Billy Price owning 57 of them – and 44 on defense.

Outside of Elflein and Price’s experience, quarterback J.T. Barrett has 17 career starts – and he has averaged 302 yards of total offense per game in those starts while accounting for 58 touchdowns – and the H-back tandem of Dontre Wilson and Curtis Samuel have combined for eight starts. The positions of tight end (Marcus Baugh has four career starts but plenty of playing time), receiver (Parris Campbell has three; Corey Smith one) and running back (not only zero starts but also zero carries among those listed as RB on the roster) have the most glaring absences among starting assignments.

The defensive side of the ball is more balanced in terms of positional starts with 15 along the defensive line, 14 at linebacker and 15 in the secondary. And while seven players have started games on defense, three players account for 40 of the 44 starts: CB Gareon Conley has 14 and DE Tyquan Lewis and LB Raekwon McMillan have 13 apiece.

Five Buckeyes graduate today

Punter Cameron Johnston and safety Jarrod Barnes each practiced with the freshmen Sunday morning so their afternoon could be free … to walk in commencement exercises. It seems like only yesterday that Johnston arrived in America from Australia for his first-ever football practice and in three years he has pursued and received his degree in sport industry.

Barnes, a graduate transfer from Louisville in 2015, has spent one season with the Buckeyes and is four years removed from his high school playing days at Westerville (Ohio) South High School, but he graduated today with his master’s degree in kinesiology.

In addition, 2015 Sugar Bowl hero Steve Miller graduated today with his degree in African American studies, and Tommy Schutt and Armani Reeves received their degrees in communication.

Couple more newcomers

Two true freshman who started working out with the team in June are part of the 105-man fall camp roster: Jordan Leasure is a running back from Amanda-Clearcreek High School and Joe Schroer is a defensive end from Cincinnati Elder High School. Leasure is in jersey No. 28 and Schroer wears No. 98.