Football tour notebook: Fun takes from Ohio State football practice
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State put on a high-tempo, intense practice with no wasted motion Tuesday morning. There also was a lot of contact, as players went through pass rush drills live. No shortage of action on what was just the third practice of camp in Columbus.
Most impressive player: LB Raekwon McMillan is a living, breathing NFL player who is still in college.
Top specimen: It’s impossible not to notice 6-5, 266-pound DE Sam Hubbard, who looks primed for stardom with Joey Bosa gone.
Loudest coach: DB coach Kerry Coombs could be cast as a drill sergeant in a remake of “Full Metal Jacket.” He is epic.
Impressive newcomer: Rarely do true freshmen start on the o-line. But 6-7, 320-pound Michael Jordan is slated to start at one guard slot. How good can this guy be?
On the rise: Redshirt freshman RB Mike Weber is the heir at Ezekiel Elliott. And, he looks up to the task.
Best drill: Watching running backs battle linebackers in pass protection drills always gets the juices flowing.
Nagging question: Will the offense regain its lost mojo? J.T. Barrett as the unquestioned starter at quarterback should help return the unit to its dominant 2014 form.
Under the radar: Keep an eye on true freshman QB Dwayne Haskins, who may be the future at the position.
OHIO STATE PRACTICE NOTES
The Buckeyes lack experience. Check this out: OSU has just 35 letter winners and six starters back, the fewest Urban Meyer ever has had at any coaching stop. Want more? Forty-two of the 85 scholarship players are freshmen or redshirt freshmen. The Buckeyes’ six returning starters are the fewest among FBS teams. They also have the second-fewest returning experience from both units.
D-line coach Larry Johnson loves his guys. He told me after practice he would feel more than comfortable playing 10 or more guys a game with ends Sam Hubbard, Jayln Holmes and Tyquan Lewis leading the way off the edge and Michael Hill and Tracy Sprinkle inside. I asked him to compare Nick Bosa to Joey, and Johnson said both are similar but that Nick is one of the most advanced freshmen he ever has coach. Growing up in a football family helps. Johnson said Joey was more powerful and could slide inside, while Nick still needs to add some strength and will primarily work on the edge this fall. So much speed, athletic ability and talent. An embarrassment of riches up front for OSU.
OSU needs a CB to start opposite Gareon Conley. Sophomore Marshon Lattimore was with the first team today. At 6-0, 192, he has nice size. Malik Hooker and Damon Webb look good at safety.
There were scouts from the Steelers, Eagles, Lions, Browns and Colts on hand. FOX Sports Joel Klatt also was here.
Backup QB is interesting. “Joey Football” Burrow is the backup, but true freshman Dwayne Haskins was very impressive.
There may not be a better trio of linebackers in the Big Ten than Raekwon McMillan, Donte Booker and Chris Worley. The three are physical freaks. This could be a special group and the backbone of the defense.
Lots of impressive freshmen: DE Jashon Cornell, RB Mike Weber, WR Austin Mack, OG Michael Jordan, RB Demario McCall; DE Jonathan Cooper; DE Nick Bosa. The guys who impressed the most were Weber and Jordan. Urban Meyer never has been shy about playing true freshmen. I expect several to see the field this fall.
Keep an eye on H-backs Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson. Each is a wild card who could be used at receiver—or in the backfield. Samuel was Ohio State’s leading returning pass catcher from last season, grabbing 22 passes for 289 yards with two touchdowns. He also ran for 132 yards and a touchdown. Wilson nabbed only seven passes in four games last year but has 50 career catches. These guys are playmakers and showed it today.
No school made a more significant assistant coach hire than Ohio State, as Urban Meyer tabbed Greg Schiano as defensive coordinator after Chris Ash left to coach Rutgers. It’ll be interesting to see how his defense performs in Columbus. He sat out the last two years after being head coach in the NFL with Tampa Bay and at Rutgers. FYI: The Buckeyes won the national championship in Ash’s first season as defensive coordinator in Columbus. If Schiano can help guide OSU to a national title, he could become a hot commodity.
Perhaps best of all of the off-the-field action was this:
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