“It’s going to be a mind game. I’m going to make the defensive coordinator at Ohio State pull his hair out.”
It’s great for morale when incoming players and coaches demonstrate confidence in their new teams. Tennessee fans went wild when then-Vols coach Lane Kiffin declared they would be “singing Rocky Top all night long after we beat Florida next year.” And just a few weeks ago, Cleveland Browns fans swooned when Odell Beckham Jr. declared that the Browns would be the next Patriots. Hopefully the latter declaration holds more truth than the former.
Things tend to get hairier, however, when those personnel are incoming college freshmen who have not yet earned their respective starting spots on their new teams. Or, worse, when they still have another year of high school ball to play before they can even come to campus. But that’s the situation incoming Iowa freshman quarterback Deuce Hogan is in. Hogan, a three-star recruit from Grapevine, Texas, was the first player to commit to Iowa’s 2020 recruiting class. Despite still awaiting his senior season at Grapevine Faith Christian School, he has already started talking about how he’ll handle opposing offenses in the Big Ten. Worse (probably for him), he decided to call out Ohio State in particular, stating that he would make the Buckeyes’ defensive coordinator “pull his hair out.” Hogan should have done a little more research, since Greg Mattison, Ohio State’s defensive coordinator, doesn’t have all that much hair to begin with.
The Buckeyes are currently slated to play Iowa Oct. 10, 2020 during Hogan’s freshman season. It’ll be the first time the teams have squared off since that infamous day in Iowa City in 2017, when the Hawkeyes steamrolled Ohio State 55-24. The 2020 matchup is scheduled as a home game for the Buckeyes, who still remember the 2017 game with bitterness and will almost assuredly be looking for revenge. Or at least the fans will be.
There’s something about the transfer pool, quarterbacks and Ohio State that seems to have clicked. Perhaps it is one of the benefits of having a former quarterbacks coach as the new head coach at Ohio State, or of having a first round draft pick at quarterback for the first time in decades. Regardless, the Buckeyes now have six quarterbacks on the roster — including four who were not part of the team last season and who all came to Ohio State as transfers. It should also be mentioned that one of the two remaining quarterbacks — Chris Chugunov — also transferred into the program, but arrived last fall as a graduate transfer before the 2018 season. As a result, only preferred walk-ons Danny Vanatsky, who came to Columbus last year, and J.P. Andrade, an incoming freshman, have started their college careers at Ohio State.
Former Texas A&M quarterback Jagger LaRoe became the latest quarterback to join the program, coming to Columbus after spending last season with the Aggies. LaRoe joins the Buckeyes as a preferred walk-on, along with Gunnar Hoak from Kentucky who also arrived this past offseason. With the new NCAA transfer rules, walk-ons are generally able to immediately join their new teams without needing to submit a waiver to request immediate eligibility. As a result, LaRoe, who did not play in any games last season, should still be able to maintain four years of remaining eligibility after his transfer and redshirt.
Along with the three walk-ons, Justin Fields has been the biggest name to join the program in the offseason as the de facto starting quarterback heading into the fall. Fields’ arrival set off a chain of events, including the transfer of quarterbacks Tate Martell and Matthew Baldwin out of the program, which have been reflected at large-scale at other programs due to the new NCAA transfer rules in place this offseason.
Ohio State spring sports are continuing on in their postseason runs. Headlining the weekend’s events was a strong performance from the women’s rowing team, which finished second in the Big Ten Championships. The Buckeyes will need to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA Championships as the sixth-ranked rowing squad in the country, just behind Michigan, who holds the No. 5 spot. The championships are scheduled for May 31 in Indianapolis.
On the track and field side, 28 women and 25 men qualified for the Jacksonville Regional later this week as part of the NCAA Championships. The women’s squad completed a sweep of the Big Ten indoor and outdoor championships last week.
With three huge victories over Purdue over the weekend, the baseball team earned a bid to the Big Ten Tournament. First up for the Buckeyes is Michigan in Omaha Wednesday.
Unfortunately all the tournament news was not so positive for the Buckeyes. Softball fell in the Knoxville Regional of the NCAA Tournament, dropping games against Tennessee and North Carolina to end the season. Still, it was a record-setting season for the softball team, which finished the year with a 35-18 record. On the court, despite its top-seeding, men’s tennis was bounced from the NCAA Tournament against North Carolina by a score of 4-2 Thursday. However, the post-season continues on for a number of individuals. Between the men’s and women’s teams, tennis sent six individuals to singles and doubles play for the individual championships next week.