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Big Ten Media Days 2014: Urban Meyer on linebacker growth, offensive line, and more

Urban Meyer discusses linebacker, the offensive line, leadership and more during his Big Ten media days

Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Urban Meyer wasted no time in getting right to what fans wanted to know in his Big Ten media days address, saying that Braxton Miller is in the best shape of his life, something that should be helpful, given the offensive load he'll likely be responsible for, and that he's had health concerns over the last season. Even after an offseason surgery, Meyer said Miller's shoulder is "full speed".

Meyer pointed to two major concerns with the squad at this point,  offensive line, and pass defense. The line, especially with Miller's injury history, is an especially large priority. "Protecting QB Braxton Miller is "concern number one."

Meyer says that Meyer said Jacoby Boren, Chad Lindsay and Billy Price are all in the running to start at center. "Chad is a tough guy and a hard worker, that's why we took him." Also, Meyer pointed out that he likes work ethic of the offensive line, but was expecting more growth over the spring. "We needed some maturity in the center of that offensive line".  "We've coached them hard".

Meyer added that the pass defense will be starting from scratch, with a brand new pass defense, which went very well during the spring. He said that new defensive coordinator Chris Ash has performed "admirably".

Meyer says linebackers are a strength of the team. "One of their stronger units" right now, and the "best the group has been as far as chemistry, trust, and operating as a unit". Says that Josh Perry and Curtis Grant have done a great job at linebacker, and that you'll see Ohio State play linebacker like they used to. Meyer also added that he may eventually move Sam Hubbard back to that unit (he's currently a tight end).

On Ohio State's leadership change, with Michael Drake becoming the new university president, Meyer didn't think it would impact his own job too much.  "We've spoken briefly, and have invited him to see our team" and that the two had spoken before. Meyer added that the Drake transition shouldn't impact Meyer's job if he is taking care of business.

On Tracy Sprinkle, "Sprinkle is no longer with the program. We'll readdress if something changes. Sprinkle was arrested in July.

"We have to be much more balanced {with Braxton's rushing attempts}. We'd like to be 50-50 running and passing. Carlos Hyde and the offensive line was so good, we're working to develop the WRs are a unit, and we think they're ready now." I really like our two tight ends.

Many media outlets are predicting Ohio State to win the Big Ten, or to be a possible playoff birth contender. In order to get to that point, Meyer emphasized two major points.  "Chemistry, trust and development of young players is the first thing that has to happen" to get to that level, along with development of the coaching staff. Number two will be injuries and health. We're just trying to get to training camp healthy", he added.

How big of an improvement as Dontre Wilson had, Meyer said "He's an impact guy. Last year, he had potential, but wasn't great at anything. Couldn't block at the level we expected to, wasn't strong enough to go inside. Now, he's much stronger, more prepared for this level of football. Always had the talent and always had the effort."

Finally, how big was the hire of Larry Johnson to replace Mike Vrabel? "We lost a home run. I loved Vrabel. He did a great job and is a great Buckeye, and a very good recruiter. If you lose a great player and don't replace him with a great player, you're not going to be as good. We replaced Mike with a top-shelf coach, he's a great recruiter and the players love him already. He walked into a good situation, a good mix of young and old players."