"I walked into the school, the coach, Jim Meyer, great guy, probably in 1998 or '99, and he said, 'Hey, come here a minute. I want to show you this. What do you think of this kid?' I started watching the video, and I was like, 'Oh, my God.' He was six-foot-whatever, obviously real big back then, too. He asked me what I thought and I said, 'I want to offer him right now. Who is he?'"
With the NBA Finals starting in just a few hours, it's not too hard to figure out who Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer will be rooting for to take home the title. As James has supported Meyer and the Buckeyes over the years, Meyer will be on James' side as Cleveland takes on the Golden State Warriors. James will be hoping that he can lead a team from Ohio to a championship, something Meyer did with the Buckeyes in the first College Football Playoff. For many years Meyer has been an admirer of what James has done on and off the court. A lot of why Meyer holds James in high regard is because the NBA superstar is a lot of what he wants his players to be. Fierce competitors, good leaders, and dedicated to family.
Years ago when Meyer first met James he didn't have any idea who he was, even though the national media was hyping him as the "next Michael Jordan". When Meyer was a wide receivers coach at Notre Dame, he was at St. Vincent-St. Mary's when a coach pulled him aside to show him tape on James. During his time on the football field in high school, James pulled down 99 receptions, 27 of which were touchdowns. After seeing the tape, Meyer was ready to offer James a scholarship. The two met briefly that day, and while Meyer stated how he'd love to have James playing for the Fighting Irish, most everybody else knew that James was likely headed to the NBA. Had James not taken the path he did, Meyer is confident he would have been able to get a commitment from James.
"We do feel the pressure, but we also have confidence in our unit that we can make plays. One through 12 in that room can make plays. We have to be the unit that the offense can depend on to make that play."
With players like Michael Thomas, Braxton Miller and Jalin Marshall all having moved on, there will be plenty of new blood at wide receiver for Ohio State this year. One of the players hoping to make a name for himself and earn a big chunk of playing time is Terry McLaurin. During the Spring Game, McLaurin stated his case, grabbing four passes for 111 yards and a touchdown in the 28-17 win by the Gray team. Most of the work McLaurin did in April's game came on two passes, when he caught a 52-yard pass in the second quarter, and followed that up with a 47-yard catch in the third quarter. After Devin Smith graduated following the 2014 season, Ohio State wasn't able to find much of a deep threat in the passing game last season. McLaurin is hoping that he can be the guy to fill that role this year.
If McLaurin wants to get significant time at wide receiver this year, he'll have quite a fight on his hands, as Ohio State will have as many as 15 scholarship players vying for time at receiver. Even though he spent most of the time on special teams last season and didn't record a reception, McLaurin has taken more of a leadership role so far this offseason. Even though he'll be competing for time with them heading into the year, the junior did his best to help the younger players during the spring. McLaurin's hard work hasn't gone unnoticed, as wide receivers coach Zach Smith said McLaurin took a step forward this spring. Hopefully the growth continues, with Ohio State being able to find their next consistent deep threat.
"Ohio State's 2017 recruiting class currently checks in at No.1 in the country on every major recruiting service (it finished No. 2 in 2016). The group counts 13 commitments; an average star rating of 4.00, according to Scout.com, second only to Alabama's 4.11; and is led by four players ranked in the top-50 nationally by Scout.com: offensive tackles Josh Meyers and Jake Moretti, defensive tackle Haskell Garrett, and cornerback Shaun Wade."
National Signing Day is still months away, but Urban Meyer and his staff have already begun to assemble quite a 2017 recruiting class. This is on the heels of a second-ranked recruiting class in 2016, which should help to start fill some of the holes left by the 10 Ohio State players selected in the first three rounds of April's 2016 NFL Draft. So far, the Buckeyes have verbal commitments from 13 players, with four them currently being ranked in the top-50 nationally. Even though for many coaches that would be a great class, Urban Meyer is hoping to grab the commitments of even more top-rated talent.
Meyer may already have a commitment from 2017 quarterback Danny Clark, but that isn't stopping the head coach from exploring some of the other options out there. Quarterback Tate Martell decommitted from Texas A&M, and Ohio State is still in the mix. Also, recently, four-star quarterback Kellen Mond decommitted from Baylor, and Ohio State is high on Mond's list. Meyer is trying to get whoever the future Buckeye quarterback is some offensive weapons. Ohio State is hoping to get the commitment of wide receiver Trevon Grimes, who attends St. Thomas Aquinas, the same high school the Bosa brothers attended. Meyer is also working to try and shore up his secondary for the future, by gaining the commitments of safety Jeffrey Okudah and cornerback Lamont Wade. There are assuredly plenty of other talent targets that Meyer has on his radar as he hopes to put together another stellar recruiting class.
"I'll always be football ready, physically for sure and definitely mentally. I feel really good about where I'm at right now. It's something where I'm definitely looking for the right situation to come up. It could be a little while for that so in the mean time I'm trying to jump forward into different broadcasting and media type things."
Just over a month ago the Cincinnati Bengals released linebacker A.J. Hawk, and although since then the former Buckeye hasn't latched on with another team, he is still keeping himself busy. Last year was Hawk's 10th season in the NFL, and while he is still keeping himself in shape in case he gets a call from another team, the Centerville native is beginning to ready himself for life after football. Hawk knows he could be waiting a while if he were to get a call from other NFL teams, since training camps don't open until late July. It could be even later than that, since veteran salaries aren't guaranteed after the first week of the regular season.
In the meantime, Hawk has been focused on his podcast, "The Hawk Cast". The linebacker started the podcast in 2014, since he thought it would help his goals of getting into broadcasting once his playing career was over. Hawk had a pretty impressive guest list in May, with former teammate Aaron Rodgers, author Jeff Pearlman, and Richard Deitsch all joining the podcast as guests. One guest who Hawk hasn't been able to book yet, but would love to, is former baseball player Pete Rose. At least if Hawk isn't signed by another NFL team, he has already laid some of the groundwork for a career after his playing days are over.