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Buckeye Bits: Justin Fields is really good, but his backups better be ready

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

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Michigan Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Hello, children. I am here today to tell you a story about the most impressive running back that I have ever seen. His name is Eddie George and today he turns 47 years old. Now, I am not as old as Eddie, but I am old enough to remember sitting in the stands on the west side of Ohio Stadium on or around Thanksgiving Day 1995 to witness King Eddie’s Senior Tackle.

With the Heisman Trophy all but wrapped up, the then-No. 2 Ohio State Buckeyes finished their final regular season practice as they had for generations previous, with the seniors ceremoniously hitting the tackling dummy one last time.

Back in the day, Senior Tackles were open to the public, and were a way for the most die-hard of fans to say goodbye to the players that had shaped their favorite team for the past four seasons. However, as time went on — especially when Urban Meyer came to Columbus — coaches became more guarded and the tradition transitioned to a more private version inside the hallowed walls of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

However, during that holiday season 25 years ago, a 14-year-old Ohio State superfan — and the legions of Buckeye fans around the world — had much to be thankful for in the legend from Philadelphia. I will never forget that experience, nor the pride or and awe I felt in watching No. 27 run through, around, and over defenses. Thank you and Happy Birthday, Eddie.

From around Land-Grant Holy Land...

Standout prospects express interest in Ohio State

Tia Johnston, LGHL

Recruiting is taking on a much different look and feel this fall with the prolonged dead period. However, if there is any program that can figure out how to manage this insane new scenario, it’s Ohio State. You never know when a #BOOM might explode.

12-for-12: Ohio State’s Perfect Season - Game 5 vs. Nebraska

Gene Ross, LGHL

As we continue to count down our fictional, retro perfect-season, I am glad that our friends from Lincoln were included. Last weekend, I spent a lovely hour chatting with a couple of the guys from Corn Nation about Big Ten football, the fight to get it back, and what this season will look like. Check it out.

Shaun Wade returns to shape Ohio State’s secondary

Brett Ludwiczak, LGHL

No one is going to be surprised when I say that getting Shaun Wade back is huge for Ohio State. I have no doubt that Kerry Coombs would be able to get the young, talented secondary ready to compete against his modified B1G schedule if Wade hadn’t returned, but having the talent and experience that he brings available to anchor the DBs is a huge plus in Ohio State’s quest for a national title; especially considering that with only nine games on the schedule, their margin of error is practically nonexistent.

From around the gridiron...

With virus lingering, Ohio State must build depth behind Fields

Steve Helwagen, 247Sports

Last season, there was no depth behind OSU quarterback Justin Fields. There were a couple of graduate transfers with minimal experience and a walk-on. This year, Ryan Day has not one, but two highly recruited freshman backing up his QB1 in C.J. Stroud and Jack Miller.

However, despite their exceptional talent, most Buckeye fans are hoping that these freshman won’t see the field this season until at least the third quarter with OSU up a minimum of five touchdowns.

But with the stringent restrictions put on players who test positive for COVID-19 — or are directly in contact with someone else who does — there is a definite possibility (if not probability) that the Buckeyes will have to be without a variety of major contributors for at least three weeks at a time throughout the course of the fall.

If Fields is one of those unfortunate few who have to sit out, Day and new QB coach Corey Dennis are going to have to have at least one of these young guns ready to go. I’m guessing that we will see more of Stroud, especially early on, as Miller is still on the mend from an injury that kept him out most of his senior season. But whenever — and why ever — they get the chance to get their first collegiate snaps, Stroud and Miller will need to be ready if they are to have any hope of being a bridge to the Buckeyes’ post-season dreams.

But, here’s why all of Buckeye Nation is rooting that Stroud and Miller aren’t forced into action anytime soon:

Ohio State defensive tackle Haskell Garrett recovering, could return soon to practice

Joey Kaufman, Columbus Dispatch

This is an absolutely unbelievable story. Haskell Garrett stepped in when he saw a man being abusive to a woman on the street, and he suffered a gunshot wound to the face as a consequence. Just weeks later, while still on the literal and physical mend, the senior defensive lineman is reportedly close to returning to practice.

I have always considered myself to be someone who had a high tolerance for pain, but damn, this is some next-level stuff from Haskell. I hope that he continues to heal and that we are able to see him on the field at some point this season.

With injury and cancellation behind him, Ohio State’s Cooper just wants to play

Kyle Rowland, The Blade

While a very different situation, Jonathon Cooper is another OSU defensive lineman who has faced unfortunate setbacks throughout his career. After redshirting last year, Cooper gets another shot at his senior season, and on a D-line without either Chase Young or a Bosa brother for the first time since 2012, his leadership and experience could very well be what helps the Rushmen maintain the dominant level of performance that we are used to seeing from that unit.

This is undoubtedly good for college football, the Big Ten, and Purdue. Fortunately, Ohio State likely won’t have to see Rondale on the field ever again.

Kerry Coombs grooming next wave of ‘gritty, competitive’ cornerbacks

Tim May, Lettermen Row

When I think of words to describe Kerry Coombs, gritty and competitive are certainly up there; energetic, intense, semi-insane also enter the mix. But, when it comes to prepping a defensive backfield, there’s just no one better. The legendary Tim May breaks down exactly what Coombs is looking to accomplish with this new Best In America unit heading into the weirdest college football season in recent memory.

Ryan Day took to the airwaves today to talk about how his team is prepping for the season, and this is a great Twitter thread covering everything that he discussed.

Is this good?

From around the hardwood...

Here’s how Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann’s pay cut compares to Big Ten brethren

Adam Jardy, Columbus Dispatch

Yesterday, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith announced a department-wide cost-cutting policy which included all head coaches taking a haircut on their salaries. However, when comparing OSU men’s basketball coach Chris Holtmann’s pay cut to those of his B1G colleagues, he actually gets off easy.

According to Jardy, only three league coaches (Illinois’ Brad Underwood, Nebraska’s Fred Hoiberg, and Penn State’s Pat Chamber) are getting smaller salary reductions than Holtmann. While I try to never be someone who talks or worries about someone else’s money (at least when it comes to sports), I think that the OSU head coaches, especially Day and Holtmann, could probably stand to sacrifice a bit more from their paycheck in order to help the athletic department as a whole.

Pretty impressive when one person can sweep the “best hustle players” category:

From everywhere else...

Bipartisan Name, Image, Likeness Bill Focused on Endorsements Introduced to Congress

Ross Dellenger, Sports Illustrated

A previously announced bipartisan NIL bill has yet to make it to the congressional floor, but this one, introduced by former Ohio State and Indianapolis Colts wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez is moving forward and looks to override individual state laws already passed on the subject, to assign student-athlete compensation oversight to the FTC, and to limit what types of companies athletes can make money for promoting.

I have not yet read the bill (not that I’m smart enough to understand it if I did), so instead, I will just wait for Matt Brown to break it all down in his exceptional college football newsletter, Extra Points.

What a rush it was to watch Animal throughout his career, and then to watch him watch James on the field. Godspeed, Road Warrior.

And now for something completely different...

eSports: Overwatch Premier Team Prepares for TESPA

Justin Herold, The Lantern

If Ohio State doesn’t win the Overwatch national title, I am withholding my annual donation!