"Sean Payton turned to an old friend with some pretty good insight on [Vonn Bell and Michael Thomas] -- Ohio State coach Urban Meyer."
Triplett goes into great detail here about how despite not ever being on the same coaching staff, Urban Meyer and New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton have developed a good relationship over the years. Both of them had their starts at smaller schools, with both working their way up to their respective jobs now, while keeping in contact. The two met while recruiting in similar areas, and have always stayed in touch. The two being friends is somewhat unexpected, but seems totally right, as they're both considered top coaches in their respective arenas.
So naturally, when looking into Vonn Bell and Michael Thomas, Payton had no better person to go to for an evaluation than Urban Meyer. Meyer told Payton that Michael Thomas was immature when he first got to Ohio State, but added that he was a good person. Meyer added that Thomas thought he was better than what he was, and thought he worked harder than he actually did. Of course, Meyer helped Thomas turn things around, and credited him for it. His evaluation of Bell was that he's got a corner skill set, and that he had a similar beginning at Ohio State that Thomas did, but he helped him turn things around as well. Meyer said both players were first-round talents, and it's admirable to see how Meyer is able to get the most out of his players, and it explains why the Buckeyes had such a great 2016 NFL Draft.
"Corey Smith was summoned to coach Urban Meyer's office last week. In the past, such a call would have been akin to a trip to the principal's office. This time was different."
Corey Smith, like a lot of his Buckeye teammates came to Ohio State, and became a better player and a person by the time they finished up. Smith still has this season to play, but his turnaround has been extremely impressive. Rabinowitz describes Smith being called into Urban Meyer's office, but this time it was for a good reason, outside of his early troubles. Smith graduated with a degree in African American and African Studies on Sunday. He was one of nine players who earned their diplomas.
Rabinowitz says that Smith had a tough childhood in Akron, and attended two junior colleges before he came to Columbus. He wasn't big on his studies, and told Rabinowitz, ""I just feel like certain people are made to go to school and some people, that's not the path they go on." But Smith not only turned his books around, but his efforts on the field as well, after nearly quitting back in 2014 during the week of the Michigan State game. Wide receivers coach Zach Smith talked him out of it, though. He's also strongly motivated by his five kids, which has been a big part of his turnaround. Much like his teammates, he credited Urban Meyer for helping him turn from a boy into a man. It's great to hear stories like Smith's, who appears to be heading in the right direction.
"I know I had said it before, playing on the opposite side of the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry, I know how passionate people are up here about football, about their sports."
The Detroit Lions shared their history with their rookies, a substitute for the rookie symposium which the NFL is no longer holding. The team shared its Ohio roots, as well as their Thanksgiving tradition. Taylor Decker pointed out to Birkett that the team shared only the positives of their history, and understandably so since it's not exactly one of the franchises that has seen its fair share of success really ever.
Decker told Birkett that outside of a single team meeting with veterans, the rookies have had most of the time to themselves to get to know each other and to catch up to the rest of the team. Decker noted the biggest things were learning the offense, as well as holding their own in the weight room. The one thing that threw Decker off (unsurprisingly) was the depth of the playbook, and how it was much greater than what it was in college. But surely Decker will be able to hold his own, and it should be fun watching him on Sundays, trying to help turn the Lions around.