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Sam Hubbard’s high school coach knew he was destined for greatness at defensive end

John Rodenberg correctly predicted Hubbard’s landing spot—and potentially his future draft status.

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Wisconsin Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

“You have a great feeling for all the guys that played for you but it’s just really neat when that one guy--how many coaches have a first-round draft pick?...It feels good to see that guy make it because there are a lot of guys that don’t.”

-John Rodenberg, via Tim Shoemaker, Eleven Warriors

The myth of Sam Hubbard’s beginnings at Ohio State often centers around Urban Meyer seeing Hubbard play dodgeball at Archbishop Moeller High School in Cincinnati, which boasts one of the best high school football programs in the nation. Hubbard, then committed to play lacrosse at Notre Dame, already had a major advocate to attest for his football ability in his head coach, John Rodenberg. And Rodenberg insists that he told Meyer and Kerry Coombs at that moment that Hubbard would be a first-round defensive end, even though Hubbard played at safety in high school. Now, as Hubbard returns for his fourth season with the Buckeyes, it seems that Rodenberg may have been spot on. Even on a loaded defensive line with ample star power, Hubbard is already a projected first-rounder in the 2018 NFL Draft.

But Hubbard is used to being surrounded by the best. In 2015, during his redshirt freshman season, Hubbard backed Joey Bosa, a future top-three pick, and Tyquan Lewis. Last season, in his sophomore campaign, Hubbard earned a starting role alongside Lewis while Jalyn Holmes and Nick Bosa rotated in at defensive end. And while Hubbard didn’t have the explosive production he displayed during his freshman year, registering just 3.5 sacks, he really wasn’t needed on the field as much with such a dynamic rotation.

Meyer calls Hubbard “the definition of elite,” highlighting his work ethic and demeanor as he continues to improve. After arriving on campus without knowing where to play, Hubbard spent his redshirt season figuring out where he would land, ultimately coming into his role at defensive end. But, said Rodenberg, Meyer and the recruiting team never promised any particular role or position for Hubbard, recruiting him instead as an outstanding athlete who they could find a spot for. And Rodenberg guessed right about where that would ultimately be.

Ohio State center Billy Price was selected to the Rimington Award watch list, honoring the nation’s best center. Last season, Pat Elflein took home the honor for Ohio State, becoming the first Buckeye to do so since LeCharles Bentley in 2001. Like Elflein last year, Price will be making the transition from guard to center. While at guard, Price earned first-team All-American honors.

In addition to price, both defensive ends Tyquan Lewis and Sam Hubbard were named as nominees for the Lott IMPACT trophy, which recognizes not just athletic performance but also character of the player. Last year, Lewis was named the Big Ten’s defensive lineman of the year, while Hubbard was a first-team Academic All-American.

Most of the remaining preseason watch lists will be released in July.

“Ohio State basketball is looking for good things to sell right now with the program in a state of flux, and the NBA selling point could be losing some of its luster.”

-Bill Landis, Cleveland.com

With talk of the 2017 NBA Draft heating up, the current projection is that the Los Angeles Lakers will likely take UCLA’s Lonzo Ball. Unfortunately for fellow guard and current Laker D’Angelo Russell, the current thought is also that Russell and Ball might not be able to play together, given their similar skillsets. While it is certainly possible that Russell will remain in L.A., the scenario of being traded to a new team in a new city and earning his time there means a kink on the way to his projected impact and relevance as a former No. 2-overall draft pick. And that, of course, has a ripple effect back to Ohio State, where Russell played for one season and where his image still hangs prominently for potential recruits to see.

At 21 years old, Russell is the most relevant Buckeye in the NBA for these recruits, as he is just a few years removed from high school himself. And Ohio State can continue to capitalize on his high draft status, though where Russell goes from here--whether remaining with the Lakers or starting over with a new franchise--will certainly play a role in how the Buckeyes use him in their pitch.

Still, the Buckeyes boast a number of other talented current players, including Mike Conley for the Memphis Grizzlies, Evan Turner, who last summer signed with the Portland Trail Blazers, and Kosta Koufos from the Sacramento Kings (the Phoenix Suns waived Jared Sullinger in February). However, despite Conley being the most successful of the bunch, he is 29 years old and plays in one of the NBA’s smallest markets. Turner, like Russell, was once a No. 2 draft pick, and while he has found success in the pros, his eight-year career has been spent with four different teams. Koufos, meanwhile, has been a journeyman in the NBA with a successful career, but without the kind of name recognition that resonates with five-star recruits.

Basketball recruiting is certainly a different beast than football, but the goal for the pitch remains the same: Ohio State puts players in the pros, and those players are successful.

In a monster weekend for Ohio State spring sports, the men’s lacrosse team, men’s tennis team and women’s tennis teams all made the national semi-finals in their respective NCAA tournaments.

This season marks the first trip in program history for the women’s tennis program as they swept No. 6 Texas Tech 4-0. It was a whirlwind day for the Buckeyes, the tournament’s three-seed, as they had to move both the time and location of their match from Athens, Georgia to indoor courts in Atlanta due to rain. The women’s squad won the doubles point before victories by Miho Kowase, Ferny Angeles Paz and Anna Sanford sealed the win on the singles courts. Ohio State faces Stanford in Athens this afternoon in the semi-final matchup, with the championship to be played Tuesday.

The men’s squad’s win over TCU Saturday gave the team its fourth semi-finals berth in program history. The 4-3 victory was a rare, gritty win for a team that has swept its competition for much of the season. Ohio State won the doubles point and, with singles wins by Hugo Di Deo, Herkko Pollanen and Kyle Seelig, sealed the match. Ohio State, the three-seed, faced No. 2 Virginia Monday in the semifinals, but the match was delayed due to rain.

For the men’s lacrosse team, their quarterfinals win over Duke Saturday earned them their first-ever appearance in the NCAA semi-finals. The team’s 15 wins on the season also match a program-best set in 1965. Against Duke, the Buckeyes, the No. 3-seed in the tournament, went up early and never relinquished their lead in the 16-11 victory at Hofstra, with senior attackman Eric Fannell leading the way with five goals and two assists on the day. Senior goalie Tom Carey also had a dominant day in goal, recording 14 saves against the nation’s seventh-best scoring offense. Next up, Ohio State will face Towson Saturday in Foxboro.

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