"You said I was a kickoff specialist, and that's the role I've take on, but not necessarily by choice. I want to kick field goals. That's part of the reason why I'm here. I didn't have the opportunity to do that at Duke."
With the focus on the quarterback competition during Ohio State's training camp, one positional battle that is getting overlooked is the competition for field goal kicking duties between Sean Nuernberger and Jack Willoughby. During his freshman season last year, Nuernberger was 13/20 on field goal attempts, with 8 of the 13 makes coming from inside 30 yards. Nuernberger was a little more spotty on his long-distance attempts, hitting 5 of his 10 attempts from the 40-49 yard range. The 65% clip Nuernberger hit his field goal attempts at ranked just 91st among FBS kickers. Head coach Urban Meyer is hoping the competition from Willoughby will raise the stakes and resulted in the Buckeyes getting a little more consistency this year from their kicker.
Even if Willoughby isn't able to wrestle the field goal kicking duties away from Nuernberger, he already looks to have a handle on the kickoff specialist job, where he figures to get plenty of work this year. While at Duke last year, Willoughby's work as kickoff specialist helped the Blue Devils to rank 21st in opponent starting field position according to FootballOutsiders.com. With his desire to kick field goals, Willoughby decided to come to Ohio State as a fifth-year transfer since he wasn't going to beat out Ross Martin, who hit 19 of 21 field goals last year, at Duke. Willoughby has never kicked a field goal during a game, but he has certainly showed he has the leg to hit some long field goals during practices. The fifth-year senior says he'd be comfortable attempting 60-yarders during games, which is pretty impressive for a guy who didn't kick a football until the summer before his freshman year at Duke. While fans are hoping that touchdowns and not field goals are the norm this year for the Buckeyes, the competition between the kickers certainly is worthy of keeping an eye on.
Five Ohio State Buckeyes – a total that tops all but one school – are represented on the FWAA's 75th Anniversary All-America Team.— Jerry Emig (@BuckeyeNotes) August 20, 2015
Earlier today the FWAA released their 75th Anniversary All-America Team, which featured 75 of the best college football players over the past 75 years spread amongst three teams. Ohio State was well-represented, placing five players on the 75-man roster which tied Pittsburgh and was only eclipsed by the six players Nebraska had selected. On the first team the Buckeyes had three players named, again placing just behind the four players Nebraska had selected to the first team. Archie Griffin, the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, was selected alongside Georgia's Herschel Walker at running back. Legendary offensive lineman Orlando Pace was selected to the first team, along with recent Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee Will Shields of Nebraska, John Hannah of Alabama, Ron Yary of USC, and center Dave Rimington of Nebraska. Defensive back Jack Tatum rounds out the Buckeyes named to the first team, alongside Deion Sanders of Florida State, Ronnie Lott of USC, and Charles Woodson of Michigan in the defensive backfield.
Griffin, Pace, and Tatum weren't the only Buckeyes recognized, as John Hicks was named to the second team offensive line, and Chris Spielman was one of the third team linebackers. The Cornhuskers and Buckeyes named to the teams made up over half of the 19 Big Ten players recognized, which was the most by a conference. The ACC had 15 players named to the anniversary team and the SEC had the third-most with 13 players recognized. The anniversary team was selected by nomination ballots sent out to FWAA members in the spring, with the final squad being compiled by the Blue Ribbon Committee, which was made up of past FWAA past presidents and current board members and officers. To be considered for inclusion on the anniversary team, a player had to be included on a past FWAA All-American team.
"Braxton Miller is one of the reasons that I came here. Most of the guys on the team were like, 'Man, I want to play with Braxton Miller one day.' Seeing him across the field, it's like, 'Man, this guy is really out here right now.'"
When Raekwon McMillan talks about one of the reasons he came to Ohio State, it might be a surprise that Braxton Miller was a big reason why McMillan decided to leave Georgia for Ohio. With McMillan playing on the defensive side of the football, it might seems a little odd that a guy playing quarterback factored into his decision. But a reason McMillan came to Ohio State is he wanted to be on the same team with one of the best players in the country to get to see just how electrifying Miller is in-person. After Miller was injured throughout McMillan's freshman year, the linebacker is finally getting to see Miller in action, but not exactly as he planned when he committed to Ohio State.
Playing on the same team as Miller was enough for McMillan to head to Ohio State, but he got an added bonus last year when he was given the No. 5 to wear, the same one as Miller at the time. McMillan wasn't planning on wearing No. 5 when he arrived at Ohio State, and even had Miller saying "What's up 5" prior to some games last year. For his final season in Columbus, Miller has switched to No. 1 and that wasn't the only change he made. With the switch to receiver, now McMillan will get the chance to try and tackle Miller during training camp and practices this year. With the talent both players possess, getting to lineup on opposites of the football in camp and practices, will only help to make them better as they both try to help Ohio State repeat as national champs.
"They love him in the weight room. He got an award this summer for maybe being the hardest working freshman. He loves to grind."
- Ohio State offensive line coach Ed Warinner on freshman Kevin Feder via Marcus Hartman, FoxSports.com
Ohio State is set on the offensive line this year, with four starters returning, but the future is bright, especially with 6-foot-9 Kevin Feder in the fold. Not only is the true freshman already making waves with his height, but he is also impressing with his work ethic. Feder also has the luxury of working behind and learning from senior offensive lineman Taylor Decker. The true freshman knows just how beneficial being able to work with and watch the future NFL offensive lineman is for his own development. When considering Feder really only focused on football from his sophomore year at Don Bosco Prep in New Jersey, getting to learn from Decker should only help the enormous strides Feder has made as a lineman in just a few years.
A lot of the growth for Feder as a lineman can be attributed to his wrestling background, which helped his conditioning and the leverage he exhibits while blocking. Often times with taller offensive lineman, they can be susceptible to being beaten low by some of the faster defensive players. The wrestling background Feder has helps to neutralize some of the stereotype that offensive lineman can only be so tall before being ineffective at a point. It also doesn't hurt that Feder has been making a name for himself with his work in the weight room during his short time at Ohio State. While the Buckeyes don't figure to need Feder this year with the talent they have at offensive line, it will be very interesting to see what Feder can do in the near future.
STICK TO SPORTS:
- CD102.5 is opening the Big Room Bar tomorrow.
- The Grandview Craft Beer Summer Session is on Saturday for all you beer lovers.
- Kings Island is opening a 7-story waterslide complex in 2016.
- You won't believe what a man got tasered over as a plane was on the tarmac waiting to leave London.
- The first hurricane of the year has formed in the Atlantic Ocean.