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Buckeye Bits: Ohio State players voice support for the school’s COVID protocols, new hoops scholarship offer, more

All of the latest Ohio State news from around the beat and beyond.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: DEC 07 Big Ten Championship Game Photo by Michael Allio/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Welcome to Buckeyes Bits — our daily news roundup of all things Ohio State. We’ve made it to yet another Friday in quarantine land, but things feel a little bit different this time around. The Buckeyes are back on the practice field, and while a college football season is by no means a guarantee at this point, we are a lot closer to action than we were last week at this time.

A lot has happened this week, including the release of the new Big Ten schedule — which I broke down on Thursday — and a number of big names in the conference opting out of the 2020 season, among the biggest being Purdue’s Rondale Moore and Penn State’s Micah Parsons. However, the big Ohio State news of the day was quite the opposite of an opt out. Instead, it was the players voicing their opinions about the program’s current safety protocols.

In a letter that has since been posted by a number of Ohio State’s captains on social media, the players lauded the schools health and safety efforts in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. They said the Big Ten United letter does not reflect the concerns and comfort level of the Buckeyes, who trust everything their institution has done to keep them safe. The players said they hope that the protocols by which Ohio State has been operating will become the standard across all Big Ten universities.

From Ryan Day and his staff all the way up to Gene Smith and the rest of the athletic department, Ohio State’s players clearly feel as though the program has their best interests at heart, which of course means keeping guys healthy. They recognize the risk that comes with being a college athlete in these tough times, but they are standing by their university and are comfortable competing under the current guidelines. They are hoping other schools will adopt similar practices and follow in Ohio State’s footsteps.

Some people are #madonline about this statement, feeling like the Buckeyes are going against their fellow student-athletes in the Big Ten. However, in my opinion, the players just feel like their school is doing the best job at creating a safe environment for them to play football, and they want the same to be the case elsewhere. People just love to be angry on the internet, I suppose.

With that out of the way, let’s get to the rest of today’s headlines.

From around Land-Grant Holy Land...

Like we saw recently with Jordan Hancock, just because a player is committed elsewhere does not mean Ohio State is going to stop pursuing them hard — especially if they’re a defensive back. Treyaun Webb, who will likely be one of the top athletes in the 2023 class when the initial rankings are released, attends the same high school as Shaun Wade, and the Buckeyes are hoping their connections down in Florida can help steal a big name from the hands of the Georgia Bulldogs.

You’re well aware that Ohio State’s starting linebackers come September will be Baron Browning, Tuf Borland and Pete Werner, but what about the guys behind them? The Buckeyes have a ton of depth at the position this year, and the highly-touted juniors have patiently waited their turn to get on the field. They’re unlikely to take over any of the top spots on the depth chart barring injuries, but the linebacker core will see more than just those three names make an impact in 2020.

Everyone once and a while, some people need a reminder that the players they are yelling at through their TV and on social media are mostly 18-22 year old kids. In today’s crazy society, players are opting out of the 2020 college football season in order to preserve their health and safety amid a global pandemic. Even if that hurts your favorite team, you should support those players’ decisions, because at the end of the day they are only doing what is best for themselves and their families outside of just football.

As if the Ohio State-Michigan rivalry needed anymore added fuel to the fire, Jim Harbaugh really pissed off Ryan Day when he interrupted him during a Big Ten teleconference to claim the Buckeyes were violating preseason camp protocols. As a result, Day told his players in a team meeting that the Big Ten better institute a mercy rule, because he wants to “hang 100” on the Wolverines. I, for one, love the sentiment. Buy the shirt!

From around the gridiron...

The vibe around this year’s Ohio State team has been nothing but positive, and it appears as though Ryan Day has created one heck of a culture around the program which has without a doubt been aided by a core of mature, veteran players. The Buckeyes just named seven captains for the 2020 campaign, but Day said they easily could have named 11 or 12 guys with all of the leadership he has on his roster.

Justin Hilliard was a five-star prospect coming out of high school, and has battled through seemingly unending injuries throughout his entire Ohio State career. His collegiate playing days haven’t exactly gone as planned, but he never allowed himself to give up, and as a result he has earned himself a captaincy role as a sixth-year senior. Despite it all, Hilliard says he has had “the time of [his] life,” in Columbus, and can show fellow five-star recruits that you can't let adversity get in the way of chasing your dreams.

  • On Friday morning, Maryland head coach Mike Locksley announced that a number of his players had decided to opt out of the 2020 season, including projected starting quarterback Josh Jackson. Luckily for the Terrapins, they learned today that Alabama transfer QB Taulia Tagovailoa — the younger brother of Tua Tagovailoa — has been deemed immediately eligible by the NCAA. The former four-star prospect now figures to be their starter.
  • Speaking of opt outs, Michigan State’s starting right tackle Jordan Reid has elected to sit out the 2020 season, with plans to return for a fifth year with the Spartans following his graduation in December. Reid, who has started 27 games for MSU, was one of the most experienced offensive lineman on this year’s roster.

From around the hardwood...

  • Ohio State hoops sent out a new scholarship offer on Friday to 2022 power forward Kyle Filipowski. The 6-foot-10 Massachusetts native is a four-star prospect as the No. 81 player in the country, according to 247Sports’ own rankings. Filipowski currently holds 15 offers, including from some top basketball programs among the likes of Creighton, Georgetown, Providence, UCLA and Xavier.

From everywhere else...

  • The Ohio High School Athletic Association has amended its 2020 football season in an attempt to provide the best opportunity to play games this fall. The OHSAA approved a proposal to shorten the season from 10 games to six, with all teams eligible for the playoffs.
  • The MLB season continues to go... smoothly.
  • I don't know about this one, chief.
  • This is pretty cool.