“Coach Alford is doing a good job of helping me lead the guys. We’ve been in the playbook, and everything that comes with being a leader, I’m learning that and taking on the task right now.”
Last year Mike Weber had the task of trying to fill the shoes of Ezekiel Elliott. The redshirt freshman did all he could to help the Buckeye running game continue their recent run of dominance, becoming just the third Buckeye freshman to top 1,000 yards on the ground. As Weber heads into his sophomore season he has a new task in front of him, becoming one of the leaders of the offense. So far Weber has impressed running backs coach Tony Alford with his growth not only on the field, but also in working with the running backs behind him on the depth chart.
Elliott had the luxury of learning from Carlos Hyde, and in turn Elliott passed on his knowledge to Weber. Now it’s Weber’s turn to try and help groom fellow running backs Demario McCall and J.K. Dobbins. Urban Meyer calls the Ohio State running back position as one of college football “Cadillac” positions, and Weber is just trying to earn the carries. After getting 182 carries last season, Weber figures to see his workload increase this year, especially with Curtis Samuel leaving for the NFL. While last year Weber made a bit of a name for himself nationally with the season he put together, this year he’s trying to make sure that everybody knows his name by the end of the year.
“It’s easier to work multiple guys in during spring ball. The sense of urgency to settle on a guy isn’t as great as it would be in August. But that Meyer seemed comfortable with three players for two guard spots is a good sign for the Buckeyes.”
Ohio State may have some questions to answer heading into the 2017 season as they have to replace a number of starters on both sides of the football, but one of the units the Buckeyes don’t have to worry about as much is the offensive line. Four starters return from last year’s squad, and with a few linemen putting together strong spring practices, it could allow Ohio State the luxury of a bit of depth on the offensive line, something they have been working towards. After receiving some inconsistent play from true freshman guard Michael Jordan last year, head coach Urban Meyer is hoping the progress of some of the backups on the interior of the line continue their growth.
There is still five months until the start of the regular season, but the favorites to start at guard for the Buckeyes are Jordan and Demetrius Knox. Matthew Burrell isn’t going to make Meyer’s decision in the coming months as he has impressed lately, getting snaps with the first-team. Junior college transfer Malcolm Pridgeon, who missed last year due to injury, will help to add to the depth, as will Wyatt Davis, the top guard prospect in the country, who will join the Buckeyes in the summer. Now what has been an area of weakness recently, could quickly turn into an area of strength for the Buckeyes.
“What Nate has done, it drives you (and) shows you it can be done. Like Nate, I walked on here; I played since my freshman year on. Now I look at it as kind of just walking on again, but this time in the NFL. Let’s see if I can get a spot in the league, let’s see if I can make a name for myself and go from there.”
While it might be tough to match the two Super Bowl rings and appearance in the Olympics as a member of the United States rugby team that Nate Ebner has, the former Buckeye has provided a blueprint for a couple of Ohio State’s special teams aces the last couple years. Linebacker Craig Fada and safety Jarrod Barnes made a name for themselves as members of the kick-coverages units, and now they are just hoping for the same opportunity that Ebner got when New England drafted him in the sixth round in the 2012 NFL Draft.
If Fada and Barnes are going to be drafted this year, it’s likely they’ll have to wait until later on day three of the NFL Draft, but they were able to at least showcase their skills at Ohio State’s pro day last week. Even if they aren’t drafted, Fada and Barnes should be able to sign as undrafted free agents, but both have confidence they’ll be able to impress if there are teams out there willing to give them a shot. It would be wise for teams to at least give Fada and Barnes a look, since they could be getting themselves their own Nate Ebner, and each team needs at least one of those.
STICK TO SPORTS
- With the start of the playoffs less than two weeks away, the Columbus Blue Jackets have announced Stanley Cup Playoff ticket information.
- After 10 years, the 2017 Independents’ Day Festival in downtown Columbus will be the last.
- Velvet ice cream is asking for help on creating a new flavor for the Ohio State Fair.
- The first trailer for the seventh season of Game Of Thrones has been released.