“Every significant decision I’ve made growing up in this profession was with him involved in it. His wife [Jean] and he were the role models for Shelley and me. They did everything with class. He was not afraid to show how much he loved his family and cared for his family.”
As Ohio State and the rest of the college football world mourn the death of former head coach Earle Bruce, numerous players and coaches have expressed their love and thanks for Bruce’s coaching, mentorship and friendship. Chief among this group is Urban Meyer, who began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Bruce from 1986-87.
Jim Harbaugh, who played at Michigan while Bruce was coaching Ohio State, also took to Twitter to express his condolences.
The UofM football program and Harbaugh family send our prayers and condolences to the Earle Bruce family on the passing of a football icon. Simply said Coach Bruce was a respected husband, father, friend and football coach.— Coach Harbaugh (@CoachJim4UM) April 20, 2018
Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith is Bruce’s grandson. Smith also shared a message on Twitter.
RIP to one of the finest men I’ve ever met. The impact he had on those he loved, cared about, coached and mentored has left a legacy that will pay forward for generations. No greater example than the impact he’s had on me. He will be missed but his presence here lives on. pic.twitter.com/pz5xdNPaPi— Zach S❌ith #Zone6 (@CoachZachSmith) April 20, 2018
Despite following in the footsteps of Woody Hayes, Bruce built a legacy for himself with the Ohio State football program and Columbus community as a coach and commentator. He amassed an 81-26-1 record over his nine-year tenure, and, despite a disappointing final season in Columbus, ended his career with a win over Michigan. Bruce first came to Columbus as a running back and began his coaching career as an assistant under Hayes from 1966-71.
“I didn’t do any recruiting camps or anything like that, so they didn’t want to give me love with those stars. But I don’t care. I think it was best to go to camps at schools because we got better results and offers.”
In a world where recruiting stars can make or break a shot at a scholarship offer, incoming Ohio State running back Master Teague seems unconcerned with his--a fact that has remained thus since his recruiting process began in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
“I’m glad to have experienced it, but I’m glad it’s over, too,” he said. “I’m not a big attention guy. I just want to do what I need to do and get it done. It was a good experience and I tried to enjoy it, but sometimes it was hard.”
According to his composite ranking, Teague started out as a three-star prospect but, according to the running back himself, he didn’t pay much attention to it. Teague also didn’t follow what has become the standard journey of attending high-profile camps in order to boost his recruiting ranking. Instead, the Tennessee-native opted to workout at camps put on by schools. That meant that Teague stayed relatively under the radar until literally everyone started to notice him last summer.
Teague’s unconventional approach paid off. By the time he signed with Ohio State, the back was considered a four-star recruit and the No. 11 running back in the 2018 recruiting class. In fact, Teague earned his spot at Ohio State following a camp in June 2017, where he ran two sub-4.4 second 40-yard dashes. It was clear that a scholarship was on the line, and Teague performed well up to the standards of Urban Meyer and Kevin Wilson.
Eventually, Teague made the decision to enroll early at Ohio State, and he has been participating in spring workouts, earning plenty of carries in the spring game last weekend. The Buckeyes are deep at running back with junior Mike Weber and sophomore J.K. Dobbins, and two more four-star backs, Brian Snead and Jaelen Gill, are set to arrive on campus in June and deepen the backfield even further. However, Teague showed in the spring game what he is capable of to his coaches and the rest of the offense, and could prove to be the next big freshman running back for the Buckeyes this season.
“This will go down as one of the special draft classes in Ohio State history. The Buckeyes had five first-round picks, including two in the top five in Bosa and Ezekiel Elliott.”
Ohio State’s NFL pipeline is one of the most productive in college football in recent years, and has become a major recruiting pitch for Urban Meyer and company as they continue to build some of the historically best recruiting classes in program history. In six of the last 10 seasons, the Buckeyes have had at least one first-round draft pick. Program success has continued to build, culminating in the dozen players taken in the 2016 NFL Draft, over the last decade, and the Buckeyes have been among the top schools in the Big Ten in sending players to the NFL year in and year out.
In fact, Ohio State led the conference in total NFL draft selections in 2009, 2014, 2015 and 2016. The 2009 class featured seven Buckeyes selected, and was headlined by safety Malcolm Jenkins, who has gone on to have a highly-successful NFL career with the Saints and the Eagles, earning two Super Bowl rings along the way. Coincidentally, Maryland and Rutgers each had five players selected in the 2009 draft. (Rutgers led current Big Ten teams in the 2013 draft with seven players selected to Ohio State’s three.)
The 2014 draft, in which six former Buckeyes were taken, also featured memorable names, including linebacker Ryan Shazier and safety Bradley Roby. Roby proved to be the first in what has been a strong lineage at defensive back for Ohio State in recent seasons. And while he was not a high selection, center Corey Linsley has put together a solid string of success as a starter in Green Bay. Of the five players selected in 2015, however, none have truly panned out.
The 2016 draft could prove the best-ever for Ohio State. With 12 players taken, the rest of the Big Ten had 35 combined. In addition to defensive end Joey Bosa and running back Ezekiel Elliott, both of whom were taken with top-five picks, wide receiver Michael Thomas would seem to be a steal having been taken in the second round.