“Yeah, it's amazing -- I haven't missed a day of practice. It's been a long time since I've done that. It was amazing to be out there every day, bringing energy to the group and all that. It was an amazing feeling. It's always fun to go out there and be able to compete and feel fully healthy. I mean, I haven't been able to catch a passing touchdown since my high school days.”
Up to this point, Johnnie Dixon’s career at Ohio State hasn’t quite lived up to expectations. The third-year receiver has had trouble staying on the field with multiple injuries over the past couple of seasons. After arriving in 2014 as a four-star talent, there were hopes that Dixon could be the next big playmaker for the Buckeyes. But problems with his knee made it impossible for him to shine on gamedays and was incredibly inconsistent with his practicing routine. Often times Dixon would practice for two days and be off two days because of the injury. Now, Dixon is healthy and it’s showing on the field.
On Saturday, Dixon hauled in six passes for 108 yards and two touchdowns. He was unquestionably the star of the spring game, and provided fans a glimpse of what he’s capable of when he’s not bothered by injuries. And in coming off a season where the wide receiver talent failed to show up in the key moments, a playmaker like Dixon could change everything for the better of Ohio State’s offense. After talking with the coaching staff about whether it was worth it to keep playing football at Ohio State, it looks like Dixon made the right move and he hasn’t missed a practice all spring.
“However, the bottom line for many NFL teams is that the best ability is availability, and Lattimore’s long history of hamstring issues — including surgery as a freshman, further complications that limited him to seven games as a redshirt freshman, and a reported flare-up at the combine that Lattimore claims was actually his hip flexor — could portend major injury issues at the next level.”
The 2017 NFL draft is almost upon us. In just over a week from now, teams will be drafting the best of the best when it comes to college players, including several members of Ohio State. Danny Kelly of The Ringer took an interesting look at some of the riskier NFL prospects for the upcoming draft. One of the nine players listed was Marshon Lattimore, the former cornerback for the Buckeyes. Kelly’s main point with Lattimore being a risk was his history with injuries. And although Lattimore struggled to stay healthy early on in his Ohio State career, there wasn’t a point last season where Lattimore missed any time.
It also just so happens that last year was his breakout year, and it’s possible the two coincide. Still, Kelly did mention that Lattimore’s issue was with his hamstring which is a pretty commonly known injury to be dangerous for flaring up at times. But with Lattimore playing the entire season for the Buckeyes in 2016, it’s hard to imagine that someone with his potential wouldn’t be aware of it and make any necessary precautions to avoid hurting his hamstring again. To be fair to Kelly, he does state at the start of the paragraph that Lattimore could very well be one of the NFL’s top shutdown corners when it’s all said and done.
“Here's why it matters: It's always important when a guy says he's been working on something, and then you actually get to see it in the spring game. Weber said he wanted to work on the little things that make a great running back, including pass protection, and it appears that's happening.”
Bill Landis of Cleveland.com had eight takeaways from Ohio State’s spring game to look at and one of those was the improvement made from Mike Weber when it came to pass protection. Back when Ezekiel Elliott was around, he was well known across the country at being one of the best blocking running backs in college football. And Weber has been taking advice from Elliott as the two still keep in touch. It looks like Elliott’s techniques are rubbing off on Weber which is good news for the Buckeyes. When Weber picked up a corner blitz on Saturday, it allowed J.T. Barrett just enough time to find an open receiver.
After last season’s nightmares with quarterback protection it’s not a bad thing to have a good blocker in the backfield capable of protecting his quarterback and providing time for Barrett to look down the field. And Weber has talked frequently about wanting to improve his overall game as a running back, and blocking would be a large chunk of that improvement so far.