"We are Buckeye fans from way back. We want you and your family to join us at the bowl."
It truly is better to give than receive, and Ohio State Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer has just granted a wish to a child this holiday season that he and his family will never forget. Ohio State, the Make-A-Wish Foundation and Good Day Columbus came together to make a young boy’s wish come true just in time for the holidays.
Kevin Jones, a five-year-old with a life-threatening blood disease, and his family were given a rare, behind-the-scenes look at the Buckeyes’ practice facilities. The group got to tour the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, the team locker room and even go on the practice field, where Kevin got to play football with Meyer, who handed off the ball to Kevin for a touchdown. The family also got to meet quarterback J.T. Barrett and defensive end Joey Bosa. Kevin also got to try on several Big Ten and national championship rings.
But even that didn’t top Meyer’s biggest surprise for Kevin, when he gave tickets for the whole family to attend the Fiesta Bowl Jan. 1 in Arizona.
Kevin was diagnosed with the blood disease when he was just one year old, which has resulted in tumors on two occasions.
Congrats to the newest graduates who received their degree today! Very proud of their hard work on & off field. pic.twitter.com/9NV6TeQycg— Urban Meyer (@OSUCoachMeyer) December 20, 2015
On Sunday, 41 current and former student athletes from 22 sports graduated from the Ohio State University during autumn commencement at the Schottenstein Center.
Among those receiving their degrees were senior linebacker Joshua Perry and redshirt junior receiver Michael Thomas. Perry earned his degree in Family Resource Management, while Thomas graduated with a Sport Industry degree. In all, six members of the football team earned their degrees Sunday.
Thomas, who still has a year of eligibility, has led Ohio State in receiving the last two seasons, and may forego his fifth-year senior season to opt for the NFL Draft. In 2015, Thomas had 49 catches for 709 yards and eight touchdowns.
Perry led the Buckeyes in tackles in 2014 during the team’s national championship run, and was second on the team in 2015 with 98 tackles, including 7.5 for loss.
Receiver Jeff Greene and linebacker Camren Williams, both members of the 2014 championship team, also earned their degrees Sunday.
Ben Gilbert and Reggie Germany, who played for Ohio State in the late 1990s, also earned earned their degrees.
Other standout graduates include three-time national champion Sami Jurofsky of the women’s rowing team, who earned a Communications degree, and Greysen McCaig, a five-time All American and two-time national champion from the pistol team.
Communications was the most popular major among student athletes, with six graduates earning their degrees in the field. Student athletes earned degrees in 24 different majors.
In all, 3,000 students graduated Sunday.
"He just loves the game. He’s a grinder and he loves his players. He loves to get them better each week. He loves to see the growth of young players and how you grow each week from game to game."
-Ohio State safety Vonn Bell, via Dan Duggan, NJ.com
Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Chris Ash has made his expectations for his future Rutgers players very clear over the past few weeks. After being hired as head coach for the Scarlet Knights Dec. 5, Ash made no secret about the disciplined culture he would be implementing in the ensuing months in Piscataway. Even so, his current Ohio State players think fondly of their soon-to-be former coach, which does nothing to alter what Rutgers players can expect from their new head coach in just a few weeks.
Many of Ohio State’s players learned to respect the fiery work ethic that made Ash the first person in the practice facility each morning, having woken up at 4 a.m. each day. While junior safety Vonn Bell used to try to beat Ash to the film room in the morning, he ultimately conceded to his coordinator. Bell acknowledged Ash’s attention to detail, which Bell says was a big reason for Ash’s (and the Buckeyes’) success.
Ash had an immediate impact on the Buckeyes when he arrived from Arkansas in 2014. As secondary coach over the past two seasons with the Buckeyes, Ash has improved a pass defense that was ranked 112th nationally following the 2013 season. In just one season, the pass defense improved to 29th nationally, and was a major contributing factor of the Buckeyes’ national championship. This season, Ohio State finished ranked 10th nationally in the same category.
While Ash was highly-focused and extremely serious upon arriving in Columbus, he ultimately developed a strong relationship with his players. Junior defensive end Joey Bosa echoed these sentiments, saying that Ash had the impact with players to help them improve that made it easy to trust the new coach: "After we gave him our trust, I think that relationship was able to grow a lot easier."
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