"Coach Meyer put a big emphasis on who can take over to be that deep threat, and that's the competition, we all want that spot. The pressure is definitely on."
-Terry McLaurin via Doug Lesmerises, Cleveland.com
Urban Meyer made it clear after the Fiesta Bowl win over Notre Dame that he wants Ohio State to throw it much more in 2016 than the team did in 2015. Fans got to see 13 "big" passing plays in the spring game this past Saturday and while it had its ups and downs during the contest, it proved that Meyer is serious about throwing it deep this year.
Of course, throwing it deep requires deep threats at wide receiver. After Saturday's game, Terry McLaurin is making a nice case for himself early on. McLaurin hauled in a couple of passes that he broke for 40+ yard gains - including a touchdown - but did drop a few balls here and there.
If the Buckeyes want to air it out, they'll need their receivers to be able to grab just about everything thrown their way. In addition to McLaurin, Torrance Gibson and Parris Campbell also provided some highlights, while Austin Mack nearly hauled in a deep pass but eventually fell to the turf. Gibson had an opportunity of his own that he probably should have brought down but escaped the young receiver. There's plenty of room for improvement for the receiving core and they'll have all summer and fall to get ready for the upcoming season.
ESPN draft analyst Todd McShay on #OhioState's 2016 draft class: "It’s one of the best classes of all time."— Bill Rabinowitz (@brdispatch) April 19, 2016
ESPN's Todd McShay made quite a statement on Tuesday about Ohio State's 2016 draft class, calling it one of the best draft classes of all time. That's pretty heavy praise coming from someone that has covered the NFL draft for a large portion of his career with ESPN. McShay currently projects four Buckeyes to be drafted in the top 20, which would certainly be a tremendous accomplishment for Urban Meyer's program. With names like Joey Bosa, Ezekiel Elliott, Taylor Decker, Darron Lee, Michael Thomas, Vonn Bell, Braxton Miller, Jalin Marshall, and Tyvis Powell, there's plenty of talent to choose from on Ohio State's draft class alone.
There's plenty of examples of college teams with excellent draft classes to be drafted into the NFL, but Ohio State's certainly makes the claim to be one of the best. Some of the more dominant teams in the past couple of decades have similar cases too, such as those impressive Miami Hurricanes teams back in the early 2000s with players like Ed Reed, Andre Johnson, Sean Taylor, Kellen Winslow Jr., Jonathan Vilma, Vince Wolfork, etc. Alabama has produced a couple of epic classes as well in the past few years, but McShay's praise isn't unwarranted. He's seen those classes (as well as a couple of Ohio State classes before this one) and if he's making that claim, I'm sure he's confident they can live up to the praise.
"I'm going to work really hard to get where I need to be to be the backup at Ohio State. I know I can play here now, and I know what I need to do to be the starting quarterback and I know what I need to do to be the backup this season. I think I showed that I can play here."
- Joe Burrow via Austin Ward, ESPN
Going hand-in-hand with the previous story, to get the ball to the receivers, Ohio State's quarterbacks are focusing on improving their arm strength. Starting quarterback J.T. Barrett has heard some outside criticism in the past that his deep ball left something to be desired but in his time in Columbus, he's steadily improved in that department and is definitely more than capable at producing quality throws on deep passes. Joe Burrow, the presumed backup for Barrett this season, is taking extra steps to improve his arm strength and deep passing. Burrow will have a lot of work to do to catch himself up to speed physically this summer, but he's already been praised as a hard worker by his head coach.
Urban Meyer will need both quarterbacks to be at their best once the season comes around and if Burrow should ever need to come in for Barrett, the transition should be as simple as possible to not throw off the rhythm of the offense as a whole. Similar to when Kenny Guiton would come in for Braxton Miller in 2012 and 2013, if Burrow can have his arm and his body ready for any situation, he and the Buckeyes will be better for it.
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