"The linebacking corps in the Big Ten East are measured by Ohio State's unit, which teems with athletic ability and talent."
-Tom Dienhart, BTN.com
Penn State might have the historical reputation of being "Linebacker U," but for this year, they may have to cede the title to Ohio State. The Big Ten Network ranks the Buckeyes' linebackers as the best in the conference's East division (which is the far superior of the two), and that's no shock. There's a lot to like there.
Darron Lee, a high school quarterback, is the Buckeyes' most electric defensive playmaker outside of Joey Bosa. The redshirt sophomore from New Albany will lock down one outside LB spot this season. Beyond that? He could depart early for the NFL, if he continues the rocket-like trajectory that started last season, one that saw him emerge as an invaluable part of a terrific defense.
Lee will partner with sophomore Raekwon McMillan and senior Joshua Perry, both of whom bring unique talents to Ohio State's defense. Perry quietly finished last season with the second-most tackles in the Big Ten, with 124, and is about as reliable as outside LBs come. McMillan, who arrived at Ohio State with expectations of greatness, poached playing time from senior Curtis Grant last season and will have a chance to shine in a full time role at middle linebacker in 2015.
"He took the time out of all the recruits here to really help me train and learn more technique. That meant a lot."
-2017 ATH Jamyest Williams on Kerry Coombs (via Ari Wasserman, NE Ohio Media Group)
Urban Meyer rightfully has a reputation as one of the best recruiters in college football. He has put together a string of noteworthy recruiting classes since his arrival at Ohio State, and the Buckeyes look to be loaded with young talent for years to come. But part of every coach's process is delegation, and Meyer has found all-world help in the form of assistant Kerry Coombs. Coombs "plants flags" all over the country, and has an uncanny way of convincing recruits that they should don the Scarlet and Gray.
A textbook example of this is Coombs' relationship with Jamyest Williams, one of the top athletes in the class of 2017. The Buckeyes are "showing a lot of interest" in Williams, and he's reciprocated that, putting Ohio State in his top 10. The driver of Williams' interest in the Buckeyes has been Coach Coombs, who speaks to him on the phone "at least once a week," and who took the time during last week's Sound Mind Sound Body camp to work with Williams on improving his skillset. In a sea of more than 1,000 top high school football players, Coombs sought out Williams to give instruction and guidance. That kind of commitment to potential Buckeyes is what separates Coombs from the pack.
Williams doesn't need to announce his college decision any time soon, and it's become commonplace in college football recruiting for high school athletes to flip their commitments a time or two before actually enrolling in a program. Still, with Williams and other recruits, having Kerry Coombs in Ohio State's corner is a major leg up on just about everyone.
"All of the current players are contributors to their teams and are finding ways to make their mark in Ohio State and NBA history."
-Josh Wiley, BT Powerhouse
This week, SB Nation's Big Ten blog, BT Powerhouse (which you should check out IMO), broke down Ohio State's NBA Draft history in light of D'Angelo Russell's probable lottery pick selection in next week's edition of the draft. While Ohio State players haven't always lit the NBA on fire, there have been a heap of notable Buckeyes taken over the years (and some snubs, too!), which Josh Wiley does a great job of detailing.
The most prominent Buckeye pick in recent years is also the one that crashed the hardest. Greg Oden was famously taken No. 1 overall by the Portland Trailblazers in 2007 (the only Ohio State player to go first), one spot ahead of Kevin Durant. A host of injuries kept Oden from ever reaching his potential in the NBA, and he's out of the league. Also drafted in 2007 were point guard Mike Conley and SF/SG Daequan Cook. Cook bounced around the league for several years and now plays abroad. Conley, however, has been a stalwart for the Memphis Grizzlies ever since they took him fourth overall. His court vision and glue-like handles have helped him carve out a nice career in the NBA.
Conley is one of four current NBA players who suited up for the Buckeyes in the past, joining Jared Sullinger, Kosta Koufos, and Evan Turner. Other notable Ohio State draftees include Michael Redd (a 2004 All-Star and 2008 Olympic gold medalist), Byron Mullens (I guess we're calling him that now), Jon Diebler (also taken by the Trailblazers, never saw the floor in the NBA, now playing in Turkey) and Deshaun Thomas (taken by the Spurs, yet to see NBA minutes, currently playing in Spain). Russell, who will hear his name called early on Thursday, is a surer thing than anyone else on this list was, and the future looks bright for his basketball career.
STICK TO SPORTS:
- Meta-stick-to-sports: PFTCommenter tells it like it is.
- Apparently, Central Ohio's roads and bridges are in really, really bad shape. No word as to whether everyone in Ohio thinking you're supposed to camp out in the left lane and go 64 MPH has anything to do with it.
- The Ohio River Paddlefest has been cancelled for this year.
- The annual poultry skillathon competition (?) has been rejiggered after a breakout of deadly bird flu.
- The impact of Buckeye Country Superfest on Ohio State