"Definitely from a young age, I've always been the energizer guy, the guy diving on the floor for loose balls. I feel like that made me a better leader."
Bill Landis of the Northeast Ohio Media Group wrote up quite a story on Ohio State freshman Jae'Sean Tate and the progress he's made over the course of not only this season, but his life as well. Tate is averaging 8.9 points per game and 4.9 rebounds this season, but his stats don't tell you everything you need to know about what Tate has done for the Buckeyes. His quote might, though. Tate has been one of the very consistent players for Ohio State, with a field goal percentage close to 60 percent.
Tate provides an extra burst of energy to the team and is always willing to give that extra effort for loose balls or defend teams' best offensive player. To this point in the season, Tate is arguably the Buckeyes' second most important player, behind only freshman superstar D'Angelo Russell. For Ohio State to have success in the upcoming Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, Tate will have to be at his best once again for Thad Matta and the rest of team.
"I'm very disappointed in the young defensive linemen we brought in here, not with what kind of people they are, just with performance. That's a position I'm watching closely, because it has to get better."
Much like the criticism the wide receivers received when Urban Meyer first took over as head coach of Ohio State, the defensive tackles are receiving the same treatment during this spring. Tasked with replacing Michael Bennett, a former All-American defensive tackle for the Buckeyes and a part of one of the more fearsome defensive lines in the country, is no small feat. But coach Meyer is looking to repeat with Ohio State, and to do that is going to take some doing, starting with positions.
If the wide receivers were any indication of how coach Meyer can light a fire under players, then the defensive tackle spot should be something that finds the right player soon enough. These comments are certainly targeted at Tommy Schutt and Donovan Munger, and could be a warning to any incoming defensive line recruits. If you're not going to give it all you've got, then there's no point in being around at all.
"I wouldn't say Shabazz and Kemba-type like thing, but I would definitely do a 'D'Angelo Russell' approach and do whatever I gotta do to lead this team. If it's scoring, rebounding, whatever coach needs me to do I'm willing. I just want to win. I know the guys I got around me and the coaching staff want the same thing."
March Madness is just a week and a half away. The conference tournaments start this week. Expect all eyes to be glued on D'Angelo Russell over the course of this month, as he looks to try and carry Ohio State to a NCAA tournament run. Many members of the media have already compared Russell to the Connecticut teams that were led by guards Kemba Walker and Shabazz Napier. Both players led the Huskies to a Final Four and national championship game appearance and would end up winning the titles.
Russell has a similar opportunity. Napier's UConn team was a 7-seed in the NCAA tournament, making a run that ended with them defeating the Kentucky Wildcats for the championship. Russell and Ohio State will likely enter the tournament around the same realm, depending on how the team performs in the Big Ten tournament. Regardless, it should set up quite a spectacular show for fans to watch.
"A lot of guys would be selfish. From the start, he was switching positions. For him to say, ‘I'm just going to give the Ohio State Buckeyes what they need right now,' and not be worried about himself is huge. It says a lot about his character and a lot about his parents and how they raised him. I'm blessed to be his teammate."
Ryan Ginn from BuckeyeSports did a wonderful feature on Ohio State defensive end Sam Hubbard, detailing his journey to Ohio State from his high school days of playing lacrosse, to becoming a do-it-all student-athlete in Columbus. With an oral history provided from teammates, scouts and coaches, it's a pretty good read that I'd recommend checking out.
From trying out three different positions, Hubbard soon learned that defensive end was the spot for him, and he'll look to get some playing time as he enters his redshirt freshman season. Since Meyer said he almost had to pull Hubbard's redshirt last season because his effort and intensity was so high, I think it's safe to assume that Hubbard is a name that Buckeye fans should get familiar with soon enough.