“To be honest with you, I don’t want to recruit a guy that doesn’t want to be a first-round pick. If that’s the standard and that’s what they want to be, there’s a platform here for the elite person to achieve that. That’s what is really exciting about being in my office everyday.”
- Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs via Austin Ward, ESPN
With the NFL Scouting Combine in full swing, it’s a big week for former Buckeye cornerbacks Gareon Conley and Marshon Lattimore. The two corners will get to show their skills in Indianapolis on Monday, but one person who won’t be able to watch them in-person is Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs. While Coombs might make the trip over to Indianapolis on Sunday to show his support, his Monday is already spoken for. With spring practices starting for Ohio State on Tuesday, Coombs will be in meetings all day Monday as the Buckeye coaches and players prepare for what lies ahead.
Conley and Lattimore are just the latest in a recent line of talented defensive backs to come out of Ohio State. Lattimore should be taken early in April’s NFL Draft, but it is also possible that Conley joins Bradley Roby and Eli Apple as Buckeye cornerbacks who have been taken in the first round recently. Now when spring practices start, Coombs will be looking to help groom the next duo of Ohio State cornerbacks to make a name for themselves, and possibly get taken early in the NFL Draft in the near future. With cornerbacks like Shaun Wade and JUCO transfer Kendall Sheffield coming in, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see Coombs add to the list of players he coached who went on to make a splash in the NFL.
“Ohio State sits at the inverse position of a year ago when it comes to the linebacker position. Last offseason, the Buckeyes had to replace both outside linebackers, but this year, both players return.”
- Patrick Murphy, Bucknuts
While Ohio State does have two returning starters at linebacker, they still have a couple questions they have to answer. First, the Buckeyes must try to replace middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan, who was the leader of the Ohio State defense. Last year Chris Worley recorded 70 tackles at outside linebacker, and it’s likely that Worley will get the first shot to slide to the inside to takeover McMillan’s position. Jerome Baker had an outstanding season in his first year as a starter at the other linebacker position, recording 83 tackles, which was the second-highest total on the team. Baker took over after Dante Booker was lost early in the season to a knee injury. As long as he plays up to his expectations, Booker should be the other starter on the outside for the Buckeyes. There also is always the possibility that five-star prospect Baron Browning impresses enough to earn some playing time, much like McMillan did in his freshman year.
The other big question that looms over the Ohio State linebackers is how will they respond now that co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell has moved on to take the head coaching job at Cincinnati? Former NFL assistant Bill Davis will take over for Fickell as linebackers coach, and the transition might be smoother than some are expecting. Last year Davis was an advisor to the program, so he is already familiar with how Urban Meyer expects things to be done. While it will be odd to see a different face coaching up the linebackers, it might also help to breathe some new fire into a unit that has been outstanding for the Buckeyes over the past few years.
“I think we’re deeper than most teams we play and, you know, hopefully that will mean something heading into a tournament where you have to play back-to-back games. You get in a situation where you get in foul trouble or where you’re playing multiple games and, with our style of play, we need depth. I’m hoping that will wear on other teams.”
- Ohio State women’s basketball coach Kevin McGuff via Mackenzie Gignac, The Lantern
After finishing the regular season 15-1, Ohio State’s women’s basketball team heads into the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis as the No. 1 seed. The Buckeyes will take an 11-game winning streak into the Big Ten Tournament, and will be looking for a strong showing to improve their seeding for the NCAA Tournament in a couple weeks. As with the last few years, Ohio State will look to ride the talents of junior guard Kelsey Mitchell, who was named Big Ten Player of the Year. Mitchell has excelled in the two previous Big Ten Tournaments she has participated in, averaging 30.4 points per game over five games.
Ohio State will tip off at noon Friday against the winner of today’s contest between Northwestern and Iowa. The Buckeyes played each team once during the regular season, winning both games by seven points. Ohio State head coach Kevin McGuff is optimistic for a strong showing from his team in Indianapolis because of the depth they possess, something they needed to continue to be successful after the loss of the Big Ten’s leading rebounder, Stephanie Mavunga, to injury. Even if the Buckeyes stumble in Indianapolis, they should be seeded pretty high in the NCAA Tournament, but a sweep of the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles would only strengthen their case.
STICK TO SPORTS
- The Buckeye Cruise for Cancer raised $2.5 million for cancer research.
- The Arnold Sports Festival begins today in downtown Columbus.
- Looking for a job in Columbus? The Home Depot is hiring 600 new associates.
- “Stone Cold” Steve Austin describes in-depth the science of delivering a “Stone Cold Stunner”.