"It's definitely tempting and interesting. Especially with [the ceremony] being in New York."
- Curtis Samuel via Pete Thamel, Sports Illustrated
Ohio State H-back Curtis Samuel has been one of the most electrifying Buckeyes and players in the country this season. The Brooklyn-native has only elevated his draft stock more after the regular season and now he’ll be put in front of a national audience with a chance to help Ohio State make another national championship appearance. But even with the chance to impress on an even larger stage, there’s no questioning Samuel’s talent. At one point this season, he was receiving just as much hype about the Heisman Trophy as J.T. Barrett initially was.
With that being said, it doesn’t seem impossible that Samuel could potentially return to Ohio State next season (he seems to be in no rush) and should that be the case, he would likely be near the top of the Heisman Trophy race to start the season. Known as a comedian on the team, it’s likely not an issue of enjoying the presence of his teammates. While scouts think he’ll likely end up as a top 60 pick in the NFL draft, Samuel may decide he still has some things he’d like to improve and work on. The article mentions as much, including working on getting off press coverage as a receiver.
“When he scored, it was like I scored. We had visions of playing well on Saturdays like we have been doing, and we've always talked about it. We view life through the same lens. And that's what it's all about. When you can live out your dream with your best friend? Not many people can say they did that. It's truly amazing.”
- Chris Worley via Austin Ward, ESPN
Not all defensive players start out that way, especially on a team as versatile and talented as Ohio State. Just ask Marshon Lattimore and Chris Worley. After all, the two childhood friends watched either weave between traffic constantly as youngsters carrying the football with little league teams. So it wasn’t a surprise for Worley to see Lattimore with the ball in his hands and scoring against Tulsa in early September. It’s a nice article to read as they talk about their glory days when they were younger, running over fellow kids into the endzone. Lattimore even mentions that Worley would sort of bowl people over because he was bigger than most of the other kids.
Both players have suffered through their own hardships at Ohio State. Lattimore couldn’t stay healthy long enough to see the field for very long, suffering several injuries before adding quality playing time last season and breaking out this year. Worley, meanwhile, very well could have been the starter before 2016. But Darron Lee won the job over Worley, and ended up being a first round draft pick in the NFL draft. After a lot of patience, Worley finally was named a starting linebacker and hasn’t looked back since, helping solidify one of the top defenses in the country.
“I can’t hold the ball. I have to make sure I get it out in a timely fashion. There were some things I could have done better to help the offensive line out, and that’s just getting the ball out as far as timing and things like that. It’s out pretty fast when we’re on time.”
- J.T. Barrett via Austin Ward, ESPN
There’s already been a magic number decided for J.T. Barrett and Ohio State when facing Clemson’s vaunted pass rush. 2.7 seconds is the goal, and actually has been all season long. When breaking down the most productive plays from training camp and measuring the time span from snap to pass down to the tenth of a second, 2.7 is what came out. That’s the measurement for Barrett and for the Buckeyes that would determine a failed or successful play.
Ohio State allowed just five sacks in its first six games, but in the next six games, Barrett was sacked 20 times. For the Buckeyes to be successful against Clemson, Barrett has to fire early and often when passing and more importantly, be decisive with the ball in his hands. And the offensive line needs to be able to hold their own much like they did at the start of the regular season. Of course, it’s easier said than done. The Tigers’ pass rush is certainly a formidable opponent and will provide plenty of challenges on Saturday. But if the receivers make good cuts and are able to be open in time for Barrett, then Ohio State has an excellent chance of emerging victorious.
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