With Ohio State’s football season coming to an end earlier this week, the majority of our focus now shifts over to the basketball side of things. However, as you all know, Buckeye football is a year-round business, with recruiting, the NFL Draft, and all different kinds of miscellaneous offseason topics continuing to dominate the headlines even when the team isn't between the hashmarks.
This was a particularly busy week in Buckeye Nation, as both a former head coach and a highly-touted member of the 2020 roster are now off to next level to pursue careers in the NFL. Let’s get caught up with all the latest Ohio State happenings to kick off the weekend.
Jacksonville Jaguars hire Urban Meyer as head coach
The rumor mill had been circulating around this happening for quite some time now, but this week Urban Meyer officially took the job as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. Just two years after stepping down as Ohio State’s headman as a result of medical complications and other external issues, Meyer is back on the coaching scene with his first gig in the NFL as he returns to the state where he won a pair of national titles as the head coach of the Florida Gators.
In Matt’s column last night, he took a look at why it makes sense for Meyer to jump on this opportunity, and discussed what level of success we can expect from the storied college program builder. The biggest question on the minds of Ohio State fans, however, is what kind of impact this could have on the staff in Columbus. Upon hearing Meyer’s intentions to coach in the league, some began to speculate which of the Buckeyes’ assistants he would look to take with him to Jacksonville. Fortunately, we got a clear answer to this question on Friday, and it is one that will quell any fears of the Ohio State faithful.
Urban Meyer holding his intro press conference. Says he won’t bring Mickey Marotti or Mark Pantoni with him. Won’t hurt Ohio State’s infrastructure and said he’s not sure people would come even if he asks. “There might be one,” he said. But he won’t be raiding Ryan Day’s staff.— Bill Landis (@BillLandis25) January 15, 2021
In his introductory press conference with the Jaguars, Meyer said he will not do anything to hurt the infrastructure set up at Ohio State, which means guys like Mickey Marotti, Mark Pantoni, and Brian Hartline — the incredibly important trio some thought could potentially make the NFL leap with Meyer — will be staying put in Columbus. Meyer says he spoke with both Gene Smith and Ryan Day, and that his affection for the university would discourage him from taking anything away from the Buckeyes.
He did, however, say there “might be one,” staffer who could join him in Jacksonville, and later Friday afternoon it was announced that guy would be OSU director of player development Ryan Stamper. Stamper is a Jacksonville native, and played linebacker for Meyer at Florida. He spent the last eight seasons overseeing player development at Ohio State, and was promoted to assistant athletic director in 2018. His role was obviously important, but nothing that will derail the direction of the team.
Either way, the core of what Day has going for him in Columbus will not be seeing any sort of mass exodus to Meyer’s Jaguars. Behind the scenes, Marotti and Pantoni are the lifeblood of the Ohio State program, and it is good to know they will continue to fuel the Buckeyes’ success.
Shaun Wade declares for the NFL Draft
While some had speculated that Shaun Wade could return to Ohio State for one more season — a la Damon Arnette in 2019 — the former five-star cornerback has elected to enter the NFL Draft, for real this time. Wade had previously opted out before the year began when the Big Ten was dragging its feet on starting the season, but once fall football became official he quickly rejoined his teammates to prepare for the 2020 campaign.
It is no secret that Wade struggled mightily this past season as he transitioned from the slot corner position, where he had flourished in 2019, to the outside spot where you can really earn that NFL money. Whether it be the result of a weird start-and-stop offseason, a lack of consistency in the schedule with few games and multiple cancellations, or just a failure to adopt the necessary changes needed to play on the outside, Wade was nowhere near the shut down corner we saw when he played inside.
In turn, his draft stock has taken a hit, and he certainly didn’t help himself with a poor performance on the biggest stage in the national title game. After being looked at as a likely first-round pick at the end of last season had he left, Wade is now a late second to early third-rounder in most mock drafts. It will be interesting to see how NFL teams value the consensus All-American corner, as the talent is clearly there. Will they ask him to play inside where he looked his best, or will he continue to improve on the outside and eventually earn his place in the league?
Wade is the first of a number of guys who have to make a tough decision in the next few days, as the deadline for underclassmen to declare for the NFL Draft is Monday. Other big names yet to announce their intentions are Justin Fields and Chris Olave (although both will certainly be NFL-bound) as well as Wyatt Davis, Josh Myers, Tommy Togiai, Jeremy Ruckert, and others. With the weird eligibility rules resulting from the COVID-19 affected season, we could also see some of the seniors return, like Marcus Williamson has already decided to do.
Make your 2021 Ohio State predictions!
The 2020 season just came to an end, but it’s never too early to look ahead to next season. Be sure to cast your votes in our poll as we look to get the fans’ perspective on what will happen at Ohio State in 2021.
What are you most looking forward to? Who do you think will start at quarterback? Which exiting piece from the 2020 roster will the Buckeyes miss the most? Let us know!
You guys decide!— Land-Grant Holy Land (@Landgrant33) January 14, 2021
The 2020 season just ended, but it's never too early to look ahead to 2021. Make your predictions for what will happen at Ohio State next year (poll will close this Saturday at midnight ET):https://t.co/TzICxhn19o
This week’s top stories from around Land-Grant Holy Land
Catch up on anything you may have missed from all of your favorite LGHL writers.
Of course, for all of your Ohio State recruiting interests, you’ll want to head over to our State Secrets section, where we’ve got all the latest info on that front five times a week in addition to commitments and other breaking news stories.
Have a safe and happy weekend, Buckeye Nation!