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New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick to speak at Ohio State coaches clinic

The five-time Super Bowl champion head coach will address Ohio high school football coaches tonight.

NFL: Super Bowl LI-Winning Team Press Conference Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

“How does Bill Belichick just continue to move the right pieces in, the right people in and be so professional about what they do? I admire that ... I’m so infatuated with that and I thought it would be great for our Ohio high school coaches to hear that.”

Tim Hinton, Ohio State Executive Director for Football Operations via Bill Landis, Northeast Ohio Media Group

When Ohio State’s annual coaches clinic kicks off tonight, the first speaker will be New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. Even though Belichick has long relationships with Urban Meyer and Greg Schiano, getting Belichick to come and speak at the event is a bit of a surprise. Belichick is a couple months removed from winning his fifth Super Bowl as New England’s head coach, and the NFL Draft is just a couple weeks away. This will be Belichick’s second visit to Columbus in a month, as he attended Ohio State’s Pro Day in March.

Tim Hinton, who puts the coaches clinic together, wanted to get Belichick as the featured speaker as he was watching the Patriots beat the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl in February. With the consistency and professionalism the Patriots always seem to display, Hinton thought that bringing in Belichick to speak would greatly benefit some of Ohio’s high school football coaches. While the event is technically for the high school football coaches, it could also help some of the coaches on Ohio State’s staff to hear some words of wisdom from one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. Boston College head coach Steve Addazio and College Football Hall of Fame coach Lou Holtz will also be speaking, as well as a number of Ohio State assistant coaches.

“Some of the biggest components of the defense now gone, and a bad taste in the mouths of the fans after the last lackluster performance, but there is still hope for the Buckeyes. A bevy of young talent is emerging during spring practice, and will soon be on display in Ohio Stadium.”

Nicholas McWilliams, The Lantern

When Ohio State takes the field in 2017, gone will be defenders Marshon Lattimore, Gareon Conley, Malik Hooker, and Raekwon McMillan. It’s never easy to replace talent like those four players, but it is something that Urban Meyer has become quite familiar with. Prior to last season, Ohio State had to replace even more starters on defense, and all the Buckeyes did was field one of the best defenses in the country. Now a new crop of stars must step up to fill the voids and help the Buckeyes make another run at the College Football Playoff.

Who might some of the players to ease the departures on defense? The first name that comes to mind is Dante Booker. The linebacker was a starter at linebacker last year, but suffered a knee injury in the season opener. After missing pretty much the whole year, Booker is itching to get back on the field and make up for lost time.

Tracy Sprinkle is another Buckeye who was showing some promise on the field, but saw his season cut short in the season opener. While Sprinkle might not be a starter at defensive tackle, he certainly will be a key piece on the interior of the line with the talent that is already in place on the defensive line, and with the way Ohio State substitutes players in to keep players fresh.

The third Buckeye defender who could make some noise this year actually started last year opposite Malik Hooker at safety. Damon Webb picked off a pass and recorded 57 tackles, and Ohio State is going to need even more from him this year. With Ohio State needing to replace three starters in the secondary, Webb’s veteran presence will be relied on heavily as the new starters find their legs.

“The objective for 2017-18 is to become a dominant player, not just a player that can be a second option. If he’s in college basketball, he wants to be a first option. He’s got to be a flat-out dominant player across the board, no question. If he’s at the pro level, that’s a different story. He’ll have to accept his role.”

Ryan Thompson, father of Trevor Thompson via Adam Jardy, The Columbus Dispatch

Many thought Trevor Thompson was a little crazy when he declared for the NBA Draft last year after averaging 6.5 points per game and 5.1 rebounds per game in 17.9 minutes on the floor. Thompson didn’t hire an agent, and returned to Ohio State, where he averaged nearly a double-double in 23 minutes per game. Thompson improved his game considerably as a redshirt junior in Columbus, and now is again exploring his professional options.

Much like last year, Thompson isn’t hiring an agent, and can decide to return to school up until 10 days following the NBA Draft Combine, which is held May 9-14. With the strides Thompson made this year, as well as the lack of depth Ohio State has at the center position, it might be possible to see Thompson return to Ohio State for his senior season. The choice might not be quite as easy as last year though, since Thompson has improved his game. Even though he currently doesn’t appear in any NBA mock drafts, a strong combine showing could generate some interest and make Thompson think a little longer about his decision than he had to last season, when returning to school was by far the best option.

After three years at Ohio State, center David Bell has announced he will be transferring to Jacksonville University. The Cleveland native was redshirted in the 2014-15 season, and played in 38 games over the past two years. Bell struggled to get time on the floor, averaging just 5.7 minutes per game in 2015-16 and 6.1 minutes per game this season. Bell’s best game came early on in the 2015-16 season when he scored seven points in 19 minutes against Air Force. With Bell transferring and Trevor Thompson declaring for the NBA Draft, Ohio State could be thin at center next year if Thompson decides not to return to school.