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Ohio State’s Mike Weber is trying to outdo Ezekiel Elliott

That’s a solid goal for the sophomore.

Playstation Fiesta Bowl - Ohio State v Clemson Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

“A complete escape from his predecessor might not be possible.”

- Austin Ward, ESPN

Mike Weber had one of the best freshman seasons by an Ohio State running back in program history. He had only the third 1,000-yard season by a freshman, which is dang good for a program with great running backs in its past. But there’s a bit of an Ezekiel Elliott hangover because of how great Zeke was. the WHAC features plenty of Zeke memorabilia, and his name still comes up in practice. It’s why comparisons between the two backs still come up.

“Oh yeah, he was tired of all the comparisons,” running backs coach Tony Alford told Ward. “We’re beyond that point. Mike Weber is Mike Weber. Now, do we have a guy who showed how to grind and how to do it right? We sure do, and it’s Zeke. But do we want him to be Zeke? No, don’t be Zeke. Do things like Zeke? Absolutely.” Alford then offered up a pretty simple solution for it to stop. “Man, here’s the deal,” he said. “If you don’t want to hear about him anymore, I know a surefire way to stop it: Outdo him.”

Seems like good advice.

“After reaching the College Football Playoff last season with only six returning starters, Ohio State returns 15 starters and is the top team in preseason FPI 2.0.”

- ESPN Stats & Information

ESPN’s preseason Football Power Index 2.0 was released today, and it took into account returning starters and recruiting rankings for each team in FBS. Per ESPN, the FBI is “a measure of team strength that is meant to be the best predictor of a team's performance going forward for the rest of the season. FPI represents how many points above or below average a team is. Projected results are based on 10,000 simulations of the rest of the season using FPI, results to date, and the remaining schedule. Ratings and projections update daily.”

Ohio State was atop those rankings, as one of the most balanced teams in college football. The projection had Ohio State with the No. 2 offense, No. 2 defense, and No. 2 special teams unit in the country. According to ESPN, no team finished in the top 15 in those categories last season. Despite the Buckeyes losing another wave of talent to the NFL draft, there’s still clearly a “reload” and not a “rebuild” mentality in Columbus.

“The Ohio State rowing team’s competition schedule lasts only 65 days, beginning on March 25 and ending at the NCAA Championships on May 28.”

- Kyle McKinnon, The Lantern

That’s a pretty short season, but the Buckeyes always make the most of it — at least recently. The Buckeyes have won four straight Big Ten championships, and will be looking for their fourth national championship in five years. Preparation has been big for the rowing Bucks. “We’ll spend an entire year preparing for six or seven minutes. That’s how long the races normally are and there aren’t many of them to begin with,” said junior Cassandra Johnson. “It makes the races that much more special. Every single one counts and requires the entire year of work beforehand.”

Last season was the first time since 2013 the team didn’t win the national championship, and they’re trying to get back to form this time around. Discipline has been key to the success of the team, which is needed in a sport that’s taxing on the body physically, but mentally as well. “Mentally, I’m a whole lot stronger than I was before I came here because you have to stay mentally strong to do what we do.” Senior Stephanie Williams encourages people to come out and see the dominating Bucks. “Rowing is a very pure, athletic sport and is unique in the fact that everybody is as important as the other person,” she said.

When May 28 comes up, don’t be surprised if the Buckeyes are showing off some more hardware.

“Not only is Grimes off crutches, he is running again and very confident he will be on the field when fall camp starts for the Buckeyes.”

- Bill Kurelic, 247Sports

Ohio State wide receiver signee Trevon Grimes will be cleared for fall camp, according to 247Sports. Grimes tore his ACL against Bishop Gorman in late September, and underwent surgery. He will attend the Buckeyes’ spring game on April 15, and he’s off crutches.

Grimes is a four-star recruit per the 247Sports composite, and the 5th-ranked wide receiver in the 2017 class. Grimes officially committed to Ohio State on August 22.

Ohio State softball player Emily Clark named espnW’s player of the week

- Graham Hays, espnW

Ohio State softball had one heck of a week, with players like Lilli Piper, Alex Bayne, and Taylor White putting up huge numbers. All of them hit at least .667, while White drove in nine runs. But none of those players had the best week, it was Emily Clark.

In 12 plate appearances, she reached base 11 times, batting .889 with two home runs, driving in 11 runs and scoring seven runs. Along with her 11 hits, she walked four times, with her on-base percentage at .917.

Way to go Emily, and the rest of the Buckeyes softball team!