"If I'm going to be a leader I've got to make guys around me better. That's my job. That's my duty. I owe it to those guys. I think that's how my role is now."
There was plenty of storylines in Ohio State's run to the title last year, but one of the most pleasant surprises might have been the emergence of linebacker Darron Lee. This year Lee won't sneak up on anybody on the field as he wants to be one of the leaders of the Ohio State defense. After playing quarterback in high school for New Albany, there was some schools who recruited Lee as a quarterback, but Lee already had his heart set on being a Buckeye. Ohio State wasn't interested at first, but Lee showed plenty of persistence, which eventually got him noticed by Urban Meyer and the Ohio State staff. Once Lee received the offer he coveted from the Buckeyes there was another obstacle from him. The Buckeyes offered him as a linebacker.
When he came to Ohio State, Lee only weighed in at 195 pounds, which meant he had to put some weight on his frame if he wanted to become an effective linebacker. With a diet to bulk himself up created by strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti, the size of meals Lee was eating as a freshman would have made plenty of other college freshmen jealous. Often Lee had to finish four peanut butter and jelly sandwiches before bed, and while a lot of the times he didn't want to finish them, he did to make sure he made weight. The work has paid off, as Lee now weighs in around 230 pounds, and his pro prospects are bright after the breakout season he had for the Buckeyes last year.
"Really, though, there's one pretty obvious choice: Split the gig between Jones and Miller."
Ask three different people about who they think should be the starting quarterback for Ohio State this year and you'll get three different answers. Some say use each quarterback in a different package or a different game situation. Others say have each quarterback start a quarter and the one who has played best can play the fourth quarter. Brian Bennett of ESPN.com has a pretty sensible plan on how Urban Meyer should handle the unprecedented situation, even if it does end up with one of the three quarterbacks being left out. With Braxton Miller being a fifth-year senior, and Cardale Jones likely declaring for the NFL Draft after this season, Bennett suggests for the two to split time, while Barrett heads to the bench since he has a couple years of eligibility left.
Bennett's plan has Jones being the starter and Miller being a "super-Tebow" type of quarterback, who could be utilized on different parts of the field because of his tremendous athletic ability. It probably isn't exactly how Miller wants to spend his final year with the Buckeyes, but it could be what's best for not only Miller, but also the Buckeyes as well. While it might take some convincing, Bennett thinks Meyer would be able to sell the idea to Miller because it will not only limit the hits that Miller takes, but also could help the Buckeyes bring home another national title. Along with selling the idea to Miller, Meyer would also have to sell it to Barrett, but the lure of having the starting job to himself in the following two years could just be enough to make all three happy.
"What stood out on tape is that Devin has the vertical skills to stretch the field. We felt his hands were good, and at the Senior Bowl we thought he had all the skills, quickness out of his breaks, ability to track the ball."
Now that the dust from the 2015 NFL Draft has started to settle and all the picks have been made, there is a better idea of just how impactful some of the players taken can be this coming season. One player that looks like he could be a standout immediately in the National Football League is Devin Smith, who was taken in the second round by the New York Jets. Buckeye fans saw just how much Smith could change a game with his big play ability during his career in Columbus, and the Jets are hoping to see that translate this fall to an offense that struggled woefully passing the football last season.
Geno Smith might leave a lot to be desired with Jet fans, but at least New York is doing their best to try and give the former West Virginia quarterback some weapons. Not only did New York bring in Brandon Marshall, but the better haul for the future looks to be the Buckeye wide receiver. After averaging 28.2 yards per catch in his senior season, Smith looks primed to be able to help the Jets stretch the field. What really impressed the Jets was Smith's ability to run a variety of routes, which should set him apart from some of the wide receivers that only possess straight-line speed and aren't as strong with their route-running. Don't be surprised to see Smith in the running for Offensive Rookie of the Year when the NFL season comes to a close.
"It's more of a power game now, and I'm so proud of our team for embracing that. So many of us have gotten stronger, and that's really helped our team. You can't pitch around four or five players. If one of us is not hitting, the rest of us are going to get it done."
The Big Ten Softball Tournament starts today at Buckeye Field, and Ohio State will be hoping to add to the record breaking power numbers they have put up this season. So far on the year, Ohio State has hit a school record 70 home runs. For the first time in school history more than three Buckeyes have hit 10 or more home runs, with four players doing so this year. Center fielder Caitlin Conrad has been a major power source for Kelly Kovach Schoenly's team, tying infielder Maddy McIntyre for the team lead with 14 home runs so far this season, while adding a team-high 51 RBIs and registering a Big Ten leading slugging percentage.
The sixth-seeded Buckeyes open up the Big Ten Tournament against Indiana, who they outscored 30-5 in a three-game sweep to end the regular season. Saturday's 17-2 victory over Indiana saw Ohio State hit a school-record five home runs. The Buckeyes will need to continue their powerful hitting if they hope to have any chance at earning an NCAA Tournament bid, something that has eluded them since the 2010 season, after a 29-21 regular season. Even with the power surge from the Buckeyes, they still have some work to do to catch up with Big Ten powers like Michigan, Minnesota, and Nebraska.
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