“The former soccer player arrived on campus the day his team won the national championship and Urban Meyer didn’t really have much reason to bother learning his name for more than a year after that.”
Ohio State’s newest kicker, Tyler Durbin, has had a very different road to his current position with the Buckeyes. Durbin spent most of his life playing soccer, never football. He had considered trying to be a kicker in high school, but that never came to fruition because his schedule wouldn’t allow it. He spent a pair of years at James Madison, and decided to give football a shot after needing to transfer to a university with a civil engineering program. This was also around the time the Buckeyes were making their College Football Playoff push in 2015.
So Durbin got a tape together, and sent it out to four schools, with Ohio State being one of them. Ohio State liked what they had seen out of Durbin, and took him on as a walk-on. It took Urban Meyer a little while to learn his name, but he certainly knows it now, especially after the kicker made all 11 of his extra points this past Saturday. “Kicker: I think you spell that kicker, K-I-C-K-E-R,” Meyer joked with Ward. “I love this guy, but I’m still giving him a hard time. His last name is Durbin.” Durbin is definitely making the most of his opportunity with Sean Nuernberger out to start the year. Hopefully for everybody involved, he’s able to keep it up.
“Ezekiel Elliott carried the ball only seven times in the preseason, but oh what a seven carries they were.”
Ezekiel Elliott has some of the most unfair expectations set upon him that we’ve seen in a while when it comes to NFL rookies. Archer points out that many people have anointed him as the next Tony Dorsett and Emmitt Smith. He’s expected to carry a big load for one of the NFL’s most storied franchises, and the most valuable sports team in North America. So far, he’s been living up to the hype. Archer describes the excitement that Elliott brought out of Dez Bryant, who was watching the Cowboys’ game against the Seahawks from home, “crazy on fire.”
Elliott’s impact won’t just be on the offensive end, although that’s where he plans on setting the attitude and tempo. And when it comes to big name opposing defenders, he says he doesn’t worry about the names. “I look at them as numbers,” he told Archer. “Honestly, the type of runner I am, I’m a physical guy and I try to set the tone early in the game, so you’re going to see it a lot in the first and second quarter. I’m going to finish my runs hard and I’m going to try to set the tone.” With this, Elliott will help the morale of an offensive line that has been one of the best in the league, but suffered after a 4-12 season. Keeping the defense off the field will also undoubtedly help the Cowboys. So it’s not just the offensive end of the field that Elliott will impact. It’s far reaching, and a lot of expectations to put on a rookie, but if there’s a guy who can handle them, it’s Elliott.
“So the longer it's on, the more stressful it becomes. Everyone in practice sees it and the player can't help but ask himself what [Jamarco] Jones was living with every day until it came off.”
The black stripe removal is one of the few highlights of the offseason. It’s a moment where the young Buckeyes officially become a part of the team, and it’s a way for many diehard fans to somewhat measure where those guys are at as far as performance goes. Wasserman talks about the stresses it caused Jamarco Jones, who was set on having his removed. "I asked (the coaches) all the time (why it was still on) just to try and get a feel for what I had to improve on," Jones told Wasserman.
Despite it being a stressful thing for the players who have it on for what feels like an extended period, it has definitely appeared to also be a very joyful event for some. All cases are different for the various players that come through the program, though. As Wasserman points out, there were three players who lost their black stripe before Ezekiel Elliott, and he turned out to be pretty dang good. So it’s not necessarily a measure of your skill, it’s more so about what is expected of the player from the coaching staff, and they might not be seeing that just quite yet.
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