"I see a little more focus than I saw (early in his career), but that’s not because of the injury; that’s called maturity. The biggest difference I’ve seen this year probably more than ever is just a relentless attention to detail."
As Ohio State quarterbacks Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones prepare to face off in perhaps the most epic quarterback competition ever in college football, Buckeye fans may get more than they bargained for—maybe even all three on the field at the same time: "There’s a way," said Meyer. "And I’ve exhausted almost all my options this summer trying to draw pictures of how to do that. You’d love to get all three on the field at one time. But the problem is, there are other good players in the program, too." Not that that’s a bad problem to have.
Miller was injured in the fourth quarter of the Orange Bowl verses Clemson following the 2013 season. He has not played in a game in the year and a half since, having re-injured his shoulder and undergone surgery just a few weeks prior to the start of the 2014 season. Now, Miller is healthy, and expects to be able to throw a game-speed football soon. In fact, he is in the best shape he has ever been, having reduced his body fat from 11 percent last year to five currently. Since he has graduated, he has also been spending more time with coaches in the weight room, and now belongs to the elite "gold club" of the hardest working lifters on the team, according to Meyer. Miller has also earned props from Meyer for his outstanding play during Meyer’s first season at Ohio State, as well as his growing leadership and his decision to stick around Ohio State rather than transferring following his graduation.
With the quarterback competition still a month away, Meyer pointed out that the best option will likely win out: "I think the one thing about football, it has a tendency, with competition, that things usually surface."
Ohio State defensive line recruit Jonathon Cooper made it to the finals of Nike’s The Opening last week. So, however, did Michigan’s offensive line commit Michael Onwenu. The two faced off in one-on-ones at the end of the camp, and gave the world a first look on what we can expect to see when the two face off when they get to their respective campuses. Cooper bested Onwenu in two of three direct reps against each other.
The Opening, currently in its fifth year, is the premier camp for high school recruits in the summer, and is held at Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon. The four-day competition brings together some of the most elite players in high school football. In all, 166 players are selected. Of this group, Ohio State has a total of four verbal commits, including Cooper, tight end Jake Hausmann, running back Demario McCall and wide receiver Austin Mack, all of whom are four-star recruits.
Cooper, a Gahanna native, is a 6’3, 238-pound defensive end, and is the No. 4 player at his position in the 2016 recruiting class according to 247Sports. Onwenu, who committed to Michigan in June, is a four-star recruit and the No. 6 guard nationally in his class. He comes from Cass Tech, where Ohio State, Michigan and Michigan State have all been recruiting heavily as of late.
"I’ve been shocked to see how much he’s changed. He’s still really intense. It still really matters to him, obviously. But there’s something different about him. He seems to almost be at peace. He seems to have answers that maybe before he was stressing about, stuff on a personal level as far as the way he’s making time for family."
Urban Meyer celebrated his 51st birthday Friday. Fifty was good to Meyer as far as his work goes—he won a national title at Ohio State in the first College Football Playoff, and the Buckeyes are sitting pretty heading into the 2015 season with numerous preseason award candidates and, almost assuredly, a No. 1 ranking to start the season.
Even at a young age by college coaching standards, Meyer’s resume already ranks near the top of both active and former coaches. For example, he leads all active coaches in career winning percentage with 84.5 percent—more than five percent higher than the No. 2 coach (for coaches with more than 10 years’ experience). Meyer is fourth on the all-time list. Also, only four coaches (Paul "Bear" Bryant, Frank Leahy, John McKay and Nick Saban) have won more national titles. Of these, only Leahy won more titles than Meyer at a younger age, winning all four of his championships before the age of 42. Saban didn’t win any until he was 52.
Prior to his time at Florida, Meyer successfully turned around both Bowling Green’s and Utah’s football programs in quick succession. Meyer led Bowling Green to an 8-3 record in his first season there, following a 2-9 season the previous year. At Utah, which had gone 5-6 before his arrival, the Utes went 10-2 and 12-0 in Meyer’s two seasons with the school, including a win in the Fiesta Bowl in Utah’s first BCS appearance (which was also the first win by a non-BCS school in a BCS bowl game).
Meyer’s return to Ohio State, where he began his career as a graduate assistant under Earl Bruce, was uncertain, given that he left Florida over health concerns, as well as a need to balance his personal and coaching lives. He seems to have found such a balance at Ohio State. However, he has managed to continue to go full-throttle, continuing to hold his players to the same high standards that have created so much success throughout Meyer’s career.