"I've been in scenarios where you don't have a lot of conversations about the NFL because you don't have that caliber of players. This was over the top."
Following winning last year's College Football Playoff, Urban Meyer didn't have to worry nearly as much about players declaring for the NFL Draft than he had to this year. It wasn't because he didn't have talented players, but it was because many of those talented players weren't yet eligible to declare. This year Meyer was prepared to lose a good amount of talent, but the nine players who declared for the NFL Draft were even more than he had imagined. Players like Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa, and Cardale Jones seemed like givens to declare, but there were a few players who declared that surprised Meyer.
While the declarations from the talented underclassmen came fast and furious, Meyer knows they are making the right decisions. The ultimate goal for many players is to play in the NFL, and Meyer knows many of these players are going to have a lengthy NFL career. When amassing the kind of talent Meyer does each year, it is something the head coach has gotten used to. This is certainly the most declarations Meyer has had while at Ohio State, but he did have a year with 12 players filing their paperwork. Now the coach has to hit the recruiting trail and find his next crop of players he can ready to fulfill their NFL dreams.
One of Ohio State's underclassmen that recently declared for the NFL Draft will get a chance to showcase his skills later this month. Redshirt junior safety Tyvis Powell has accepted an invitation to play in the Reese's Senior Bowl, which takes place on January 30th. Powell joins seniors Taylor Decker, Braxton Miller, Joshua Perry, Nick Vannett, and Adolphus Washington.
Powell has already graduated from Ohio State, and had a number of key interceptions during his time with the Buckeyes. Not only did Powell intercept a pass in the second half against Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl in his final game with the Buckeyes, but he also clinched the Sugar Bowl last year with an interception on an Alabama hail mary, as well as picking off Michigan's two-point conversion attempt in Ohio State's 42-41 win over the Wolverines in 2013.
"It's obviously going to affect you because you can only recruit to the number of scholarships you have. And for us, while recruiting is a 365 day process, we were recruiting guys in December without necessarily having a scholarship to offer them."
If there is a silver lining to so many underclassmen declaring for the NFL Draft, it is that it opens up more scholarships for Urban Meyer and Ohio State to use this year. As of now, Ohio State has 63 scholarships on the roster, and already has 18 commits in the class of 2016, leaving them at 81 scholarships with less than a month before National Signing Day. Urban Meyer didn't think he would lose quite as many underclassmen following this season, so the extra departures creates a few more spots that Meyer and staff might have not counted on being available.
With Ohio State routinely getting some of the best talent in the country, Meyer and staff will likely hit the recruiting trail hard in the weeks leading up to National Signing Day. Ohio State will now be able to go after talent they had liked, but were unable to give a committable offer since they were unsure if they would have the room in this year's class. With Urban Meyer's history of flipping recruits, it should create an entertaining last month of recruiting season for the 2016 class.
"I think you look at for both he and A.J., this is their first road Big Ten game. JaQuan, look at the second half he had the other night against Illinois. The game before that, he's been effective. Some of the time, those things happen. These guys have to learn to play through their mistakes."
After watching how JaQuan Lyle played in the first half last night against Northwestern, it was a wonder during halftime if Thad Matta would favor A.J. Harris more in the second half. It'd be hard to blame Matta, after Lyle turned the ball over five times in the first 20 minutes in Evanston. Matta stuck with Lyle, and was rewarded for it, as the Buckeye were able to pull away from the Wildcats late in the second half. While Lyle only hit one of his seven field goals, he picked up his play in the second half with four assists and just one turnover.
After 13 assists in the Big Ten opener against Minnesota last week, Lyle struggled in the first half on Sunday against Illinois. The freshman responded by finishing with 14 points, five assists, and four rebounds in the win over the Fighting Illini. Since Matta has such a young roster this season, he knows he'll have to give his players time to work through their mistakes, and not immediately bench them at the first sign of trouble. The head coach is hoping games like last night are games his young players can build on, making them better players going forward.
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