"The University of Texas was working him very hard, but they didn't offer him a scholarship. I think it bothered him a little bit because he was a Texas kid."
-Jim Garfield, J.T. Barrett's high school football coach (per Cleveland.com)
J.T. Barrett's explosive first season with the Buckeyes might never have happened, had Texas offered him a scholarship when they had the chance. In the summer of 2011, Barrett and Garfield took a 300-mile trip to UT with the assumption that Barrett would leave with a scholarship offer from the Longhorns. Barrett was put through his paces during the one-day camp in Austin, but the offer never materialized.
Barrett also failed to grab an offer from Texas A&M, his other hopeful choice. That left the door wide open for the Buckeyes. Barrett became the first Ohio State quarterback recruited by Urban Meyer, aided by the services of Tom Herman. It's always a big victory to "plant the flag" in Texas, and the Ohio State coaching staff has made it something of a routine. Still, getting a commit from Barrett was not as easy as Herman, a consummate joker, had hoped. "He's a pretty serious dude," said Herman.
The QB finally committed in April of 2012, choosing Ohio State over LSU and Baylor. In a move uncharacteristic of Meyer's staff, they took the commitment without ever having seen Barrett throw in person. "I knew if we hemmed and hawwed, we might lose him," said Herman. So the staff took a chance. Through 5 games this season, they haven't regretted it.
"If he's not the most improved player on the team, he's one of them."
-Urban Meyer, on Buckeye OL Darryl Baldwin (via the Dispatch)
Darryl Baldwin's football story is not the usual one. Baldwin, a graduate student in sports management, is finally seeing the field in his 5th year in Columbus. The offensive line needed to replace 4 starters heading into this season, and the unproven Baldwin was given the chance to make an impact. So far, so good. Despite a shaky start, Baldwin and his linemates have shaped up, helping the Buckeyes score 168 points in their last three games. The offense has totaled 1,871 yards across that same span.
Baldwin wasn't always an offensive lineman--in fact, when Urban Meyer arrived in Columbus, Baldwin was a limited prospect at defensive end who never saw the field. The coaching staff convinced him to switch to the offensive line, where for 2 seasons he backed up current Indianapolis Colt Jack Mewhort. Baldwin won the starting job in camp, though not everyone was sold.
"Everyone wanted to talk about how inexperienced we were with the four guys graduating...I just felt we had something to prove going into this year," said Baldwin. The Solon product has overcome a lot in his life, from losing his father at the age of 10 to his in-limbo status on the Buckeye depth chart for years, and his story is worth checking out in full.
"Throw in a solid recruiting class headlined by McDonald's All-American guard D'Angelo Russell, and the pieces are there. It's just a wonder how they'll grow together."
-Kevin Zimmerman, SBNation
The Buckeyes will look quite a bit different on the court this season after losing their three top scorers--Aaron Craft, LaQuinton Ross, and Lenzelle Smith, Jr.--to graduation and various pro leagues. Ohio State has the pieces to replace their production, but it will take some time to gain the kind of cohesion that's lost when such an experienced group leaves school. One new piece is Temple graduate transfer Anthony Lee, who will add some depth in the front court.
Can new starter Shannon Scott be the kind of player that Aaron Craft was for the Buckeyes? Ohio State will need him to be, to keep the team primed for a postseason run. Scott certainly provided some pop off the bench last season, but it will be interesting to see how he handles starter's minutes for an entire year. Scott is an aggressive defender of Craft's ilk, though obviously without the same level of production that Craft strung together year after year.
There are a lot of question marks heading into the season, as is inevitable when a team faces such high turnover. The hallmark of Thad Matta's Buckeye teams has been great defense, and the team looks solid on that front. What remains to be seen is whether or not the team has the kind of scoring depth that will allow the Buckeyes to keep pace with more fast-paced offensive units.
"We're happy with what we've done, but we're not happy with where we're at right now."
-Jacoby Boren, via Cleveland.com's Bill Landis
Through the last three games, the Buckeyes have been outstanding on offense. But where does this stretch rank historically in the pantheon of great Ohio State offensive runs? As it turns out, they're pretty high up there.
The Buckeyes are 15th in the country in yards per game (524), second in the Big Ten. J.T. Barrett is fourth in the nation in passing efficiency in the last 3 games, with a 186.3 rating. The freshman QB is also 13th in total offense in the country, at 326 yards per game.
Ohio State has amassed over 500 yards in each of those games. With another 500-yard performance next week against Rutgers, this year's team will match the record set by the 1998 squad, who totaled 500 yards or more in 4 consecutive contests. Should the Buckeyes rack up 50 points or more, it would mark the first time in school history that the team hit that mark for 4 consecutive games.
These totals, while outstanding, have obviously not come against the the most stalwart of defensive competition. The Buckeyes face off against Michigan State on Nov. 8, which will put these gaudy numbers to the test.
STICK TO SPORTS
- In a move that clearly demands some sort of frontier justice, an unknown assailant threw a rock at the window of Buckeye Donuts. No one was harmed, but that person really sucks.
- In another weird OSU true-crime moment, a man was caught with a "base of operations" in the basement of the Baker Systems building.
- Uhh...don't call 911 to report that your CDs are scratched.
- They're making a Labyrinth sequel?? Sign us up.
- Columbus schoolteachers are losing the bonuses they earned for gains that weren't real.