Coaches had their whistles ready and players were prepared to sweat when the Ohio State football program put in Day 1 of spring practice on Tuesday. Following the return to indoor practice, head coach Urban Meyer spoke to the media about a few of the recent player departures and what he hopes to see out of the incoming freshman.
The Buckeyes welcomed back 15 starters — eight on offense and seven on defense -- and 43 Letterman when they opened the doors to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. This marks the 16th set of spring drills Meyer will oversee -- his sixth in Columbus — and once again coaches are looking for the next man up following six early departures for the NFL.
Meyer also welcomed a few new coaches to campus on Tuesday (in addition to players), offensive coordinator/tight ends coach Kevin Wilson, quarterbacks coach Ryan Day, and linebackers coach Bill Davis. And while he’s not new to the staff, Greg Schiano will take on a new role as the team’s sole defensive coordinator -- although Meyer took a step back from the announcement during his presser, saying that isn’t definitive.
- Meyer opened by talking about his 10 new players in the class of 2017, “They seem to seem to be everything we thought when we recruited them and then some."
- Normally Meyer likes to give guys who took a lot of snaps in the fall some rest during the spring, but he clarified that he does that more for guys who take a lot of contact, like the guys on the offense line, not guys like J.T. Barrett. He expects the quarterback to get a ton of reps this spring with some new things they are doing on offense.
- Meyer is specifically looking for Barrett to improve his accuracy. He noted that, “running the football is complicated, throwing the football is even more complicated, and it’s all tied to pass protection [...] obviously it that wasn’t a strength.”
- With the addition of Kevin Wilson, even though Meyer had said that Ohio State will continue to play like Ohio State, he admitted today that the route concepts and schemes will be updated with the new offensive coordinator. Meyer said “the key word is mesh, if it fits in conceptually” the team was open to “enhancing” what they do. The head coach doubled down saying the Buckeyes are “not changing, we’re enhancing”.
- The head coach was asked about how the team plans on filling the right guard spot. Meyer noted that Demetrious Knox is a guy who will be very involved — although he wouldn’t go as far to say he was the favorite for the starting role — and also noted Matt Burrell and Malcolm Pridgeon.
- Also on the move, Chris Worley is now at middle linebacker, Booker is back at the SAM and Jerome Backer at the WILL. Meyer did say that it’s just Day 1 though, and all that could change again. He specifically wants to make sure Worley’s body can hang at the linebacker spot.
- Meyer was also asked about Kyle Trout announcing his plan to transfer from Ohio State, yet still participating in spring practice. The head coach considered this situation a win-win, with Trout unable to transfer until he graduates, giving him a few more months with the program.
- He was also asked about Tyler Gerald leaving the program, to which Meyer succinctly replied, “He just quit” and that he wasn’t involved in that departure.
- When asked about young Buckeye Brendon White (currently getting reps at wide receiver), Meyer said he loves guys like that. White was a quarterback in high school, is fast enough to fill in at receiver and is learning to tackle on defense. His first impact will be on special teams, but Meyer expects to have to make a decision closer to the season about his role on offense or defense.
- Ohio State put together a leadership program with a growing group of upper classman. Meyer wasn’t ready to disclose the members of this committee just yet, but noted they have a “good solid group of older players”.