Saturday, January 31, 2009

Buckeyes land quarterback from Texas

A few days after Virginia prep passer Tajh Boyd and Ohio-native Austin Boucher passed on Ohio State to play at Clemson and Miami University, respectively, the Buckeyes have finally landed a quarterback from the class of 2009.

Kenneth Guiton, a 6-2, 175-pound multi-threat quarterback from Houston, Texas (Eisenhower High School), announced Saturday that he will play for the Buckeyes next fall.

Guiton, who was being recruited heavily by Kansas, Northwestern, Houston and Iowa State, threw for more than 2,500 yards during his senior season at Eisenhower and added 17 touchdown tosses. He also ran for nearly 300 yards and 12 touchdowns.

According to Scout.com, the Buckeyes have the No. 1 recruiting class for 2009.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

OSU FOOTBALL: Boucher turns down offer

Kettering Alter quarterback, Austin Boucher, who was offered a scholarship by Jim Tressel to play quarterback for the Ohio State Buckeyes, turned down the opportunity Wednesday night, to honor his commitment to Miami University.

The 6-1, 210-pound passer from the Dayton area, stated that he was honored to get the invite from Coach Tressel, but after a couple days of pondering and praying about his future, Boucher just felt that Miami was a better fit.

As of right now, the Buckeyes have just two quarterbacks — Terrelle Pryor and Joe Bauserman — on scholarship.


Wednesday, January 28, 2009

OSU FOOTBALL: Ohio prep passer offered by Buckeyes

After missing out on Virginia prep quarterback, Tajh Boyd, the Ohio State Buckeyes have shifted their focus to an in-state passer.

On Tuesday evening, the Buckeyes offered a scholarship to Kettering Alter quarterback, Austin Boucher.

Boucher, who led the Knights to a Division IV state championship in 2008, committed to Miami University on Sunday. However, that was before OSU head coach Jim Tressel offered the 6-1, 210-pound passer from the Dayton area a scholarship.

Boucher had been a University of Toledo verbal, but backed out of his commitment when Rockets head coach Tom Amstutz resigned from the team.

It is yet to be seen if Boucher will de-commit from Miami and accept Tressel's offer to play for the Buckeyes, who as of right now, have just two quarterbacks on scholarship for next season.

To be continued ...


Tuesday, January 27, 2009

OSU FOOTBALL: Boyd chooses Clemson over OSU

Tajh Boyd (Phoebus, H.S./Hampton, VA.), the No. 4 rated prep quarterback by Scout.com, announced on Tuesday that he will play his collegiate football at Clemson.

Boyd, the 2009 U.S. Army All-American game Co-MVP, selected the Tigers over Ohio State and Oregon.

The decision by Boyd means that the Buckeyes will have just two quarterbacks — Terrelle Pryor and Joe Bauserman — on scholarship in 2009.

The Buckeyes were in the running for Austin Boucher of Kettering Alter High School, but Boucher decided to attend Miami University, instead.

Currently, the Buckeyes still have the No. 1 rated recruiting class in the country, according to Scout.com.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

OSU Football: Another blue-chip quarterback coming to Columbus?

Tajh Boyd, the nation's No. 4 prep quarterback according to Scout.com, will make his collegiate choice known on Tuesday afternoon at his high school in Hampton, Virginia.

Boyd — a 6-1, 210-pound pro style quarterback — who verballed to Tennessee last November, but pulled his commitment less than a month later after the Volunteers fired head coach Phillip Fulmer, has narrowed his college choices down to three — Ohio State, Oregon and Clemson.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel has worked diligently to snare the five-star signal caller, who looks like a mirror image of former Buckeyes and current Baltimore Ravens quarterback, Troy Smith.

Boyd dazzled in the U.S. Army All-American Game earlier this month, copping himself a Co-MVP award, by leading the East team to victory with 187 yards and three touchdown tosses on 7-of-9 passing. Boyd's stock has sky rocketed in recent weeks.

Now, before OSU fans start salivating over the prospects of having another blue-chip quarterback donning the Scarlet and Gray, the Virginia-product will have to decide whether or not he's up to the challenge of trying to de-thrown incumbent quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, who was the nation's top prep signal caller just a season ago.

Pryor, in just his freshman season, led Ohio State to an 8-2 record as a starter, and helped the Buckeyes grab themselves a share of the Big Ten title and an appearance in a BCS bowl game (Fiesta Bowl).

Boyd stated that Coach Tressel has told him that he will play the best man at quarterback next fall. Boyd said that he feels sure he can compete with Pryor, who has yet to show that he can be a formidable passer at the collegiate level.

However, actions speak louder than words.

Will Boyd walk it like he talks it and head to Columbus to try and win the starting job on a team that will once again have conference title and national championship hopes on their minds? Or, will he elect the path of least resistance and head out to Oregon or down to Clemson, where he'll surely be the starter the moment he steps onto campus?

Tuesday at 5 p.m. the college football world will know.

My gut feeling says, his path (of least resistance) will lead to South Carolina.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

OSU MEN'S HOOPS: Bucks show their weaknesses

Tuesday night in Champaign, Illinois, the Ohio State Buckeyes basketball team showed two glaring weaknesses.

The first weakness is that they don't seem to possess a core of players who can shoot somebody's eyes out. Evan Turner and Jon Diebler have shown signs at times this season, but are far too inconsistent to be a factor come Big Ten tourney time. 

Both sophomore players combined for just 10 points in Tuesday's loss to Illinois on 4-of-12 shooting.

Buckeyes freshman, William Buford (Toledo Libbey), has emerged as a scoring threat for Thad Matta's squad, dropping in double figures in eight of the Buckeyes' last nine games, including 19 and 15 in respective wins against Indiana and Michigan.

However, Buford's scoring will not get the Buckeyes to where they want to be, if he doesn't get some help from his teammates, most notably, Turner and Diebler.

The other shortcoming for the Buckeyes is their noticeable hole at the point guard position. This team is playing without a quarterback. Jeremie Simmons and P.J. Hill, along with freshman Walter Offutt, lack the court vision and play making ability to tangle with the NCAA big boys — especially when they don't have a player on the team who can fill it up on a consistent basis.

When you look back at the past few seasons and see players like Mike Conley Jr. and Jamar Butler playing at the point for the Buckeyes, and then you look at this season's group, that hole at the one spot looks like the Grand Canyon.

Also, Coach Matta must get freshman center B.J. Mullens more minutes. The 7-0, 275-pounder from Canal Winchester has been a force in the paint for the Buckeyes in limited action this season, averaging 8.8 points, 4.2 rebounds and 1.2 blocks in less than 20 minutes per game.

Playing the big man for less than a half per game is totally unacceptable. 

Thursday, January 15, 2009

OSU Football: Washington joins Wells, Hartline



Someone must be feeding the Ohio State underclassmen some seriously poor intelligence on their draft status.

Sure, Beanie Wells' move to "The League" was probably the right one, because with his history of injuries the past two seasons, the big back needed to strike while his stock was still on the up.

However, OSU receiver Brian Hartline and cornerback Donald Washington's decision to make the leap to the pros, seems as silly to me as a skydiver jumping out of a plane with nothing in his hands but an umbrella and a plastic Glad bag.

Now, I've already discussed in another blog why Hartline's decision to go pro was a poor one, so I'll focus on Washington's muck up, instead.

Washington logged just two interceptions in his career with the Buckeyes. Sure, a lot of times you can't base a cornerback's performance strictly by the number of INTs he's snagged. But, when you're playing opposite of Malcolm Jenkins — the nation's top corner, who quarterbacks just flat out avoid throwing toward — grabbing just two picks is totally unacceptable.

Not only is Washington behind Jenkins on everybody's list of top corners in the draft, but he may not even rank in the top 15. Shoot, he isn't even in the top 3 in the state of Ohio. Cincinnati's Mike Mickens and DeAngelo Smith rate higher than Mr. Washington on the majority of scouting boards.

OSU head coach Jim Tressel said that he always tells his players that if they have a chance of being selected in the first round of the NFL Draft that they should probably make the leap.

Don't you think it's strange that Tressel made a public statement about how he was thrilled for Wells and his decision to go pro, but hasn't said a word about either Hartline or Washington and their declaration?

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

OSU Football: Coleman stays, Hartline goes

Bucks win one and lose one.

Ohio State junior safety, Kurt Coleman, decided on Wednesday to return to Columbus for his senior campaign with the Buckeyes, instead of entering the 2009 NFL Draft. 

After USC safety Taylor Mays announced on Tuesday that he will return to the Trojans in 2009, I really thought that Coleman would decide to test the NFL waters. With a solid combine performance and the lack of a top-flight safety coming out, Coleman may have parlayed the move into a low first round, high second round selection.

All-in-all, though, I feel Coleman made the right choice coming back to Columbus. He should emerge as one of the nation's best safeties, and with Malcolm Jenkins, James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman all gone, Coleman will be the unquestioned leader of the Buckeyes defense — which should still be one of the best units in the country.

On the other side, Buckeyes wide receiver Brian Hartline — who announced on Wednesday that he will forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft — is making a grave decision.

Not only will Hartline not be selected on the first day of the draft, I don't see him getting selected, period. His forty time is decent (4.4), but he definitely doesn't play at that speed on the field. He lacks the NFL size, his route running is suspect and he hardly ever gets separation from opposing defensive backs.

If I were OSU head coach Jim Tressel, I would ask Hartline this — if you can't get separation past Boubacar Cissoko, how in the world are you going to make it by Champ Bailey?

Hartline dropped the ball on this one.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

OSU Football: Coleman needs to stay put


A few days after Ohio State tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells announced that he was entering the 2009 NFL Draft, there are reports surfacing that he may not be the only OSU underclassman throwing his name into the ring.

Buckeyes junior safety, Kurt Coleman, is seriously thinking about joining Wells in this season's draft.

According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises — who spoke with Coleman's father, Ron Coleman, on Monday — the Buckeyes safety has been weighing his options and had discussed the possibility of making the leap with his dad for about three hours on Sunday night.

I'm sure Coleman is a bit upset about his team dropping their third straight BCS bowl game, but to even think about making the jump to the pros, if you ask me, is a bit premature.

For one, safeties usually don't get drafted early. In the last six drafts, only seven safeties have been selected in the first round. Basically, only one safety gets selected in the first round per year.

As of right now, only USC's Taylor Mays projects as a first round pick at the safety position. And, when you take into account that Coleman would more than likely fall behind Missouri's William Moore, Oklahoma's Nic Harris and possibly Oregon's Patrick Chung, you're talking about perhaps sliding to the second day of the draft.

Also, Coleman is a relatively unknown player to the rest of the college football world, being stuck on the same team as major NFL prospects' Malcolm Jenkins, James Laurinaitis and Wells. Should he come back, Coleman would have the nation's full attention, as well as the scouts. And that should equal to many more zeros on his bank account statement.

Hopefully, Coleman realizes this and chooses to return to Columbus to be the Buckeyes' unquestioned leader in the secondary, not a fifth round choice, buried on the depth chart.

Friday, January 9, 2009

OSU Football: Pryor's growth is critical for Bucks success

I can't remember any high school football player ever getting more publicity and hype than Terrelle Pryor.

Coming out of Jeannette, Pennsylvania, the 6-6, 230-pound Pryor had the athletic skills to cure a dude with lock-jaw. From the moment he stepped onto the field in the first quarter of the Buckeyes' opening game with Youngstown State, he demonstrated his knack for the dramatic.

Shoot, by the Buckeyes fourth game of the season, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel had no choice but to pull the ultra-talented kid off the pine, and hand him the reins for the rest of the season.

In nine games as a starter, the freshman signal caller led the Buckeyes to an 8-1 record and a share of the Big Ten title. On the year, Pryor put up decent numbers, going 100-of-166 passing for 1,311 yards and 12 touchdown tosses. However, it was his legs that made Pryor so dangerous to opposing defenses, as he rushed for 631 yards and six touchdowns, giving him nearly 2,000 total yards on the year.

But as good as Pryor played during his freshman season with the Buckeyes, one can't get away from the fact that his inability to see downfield in the passing game, is what prevented the Buckeyes from winning another outright Big Ten championship. It also cost them a Fiesta Bowl victory.

Early on in Monday night's Fiesta Bowl game with Texas, the Buckeyes managed to successfully move the football against the Longhorns defense. But once Ohio State got it into Texas territory, the offense stalled. Much of the reason why the offense faltered so many times was the fact that Pryor wasn't able to find the open receiver. And believe me, there were many times his receivers were wide open.

No better example than in the first half, when Pryor was being rushed from the backside and forced to roll right. Being the great athlete that he is, Pryor simply out ran the oncoming defender for a 12-yard gain and a Buckeyes first down in Texas territory.

However, on that very play, OSU senior receiver Brian Robiskie, had broken off his route when Pryor escaped the pocket, and was streaking down the sideline — with the closest Longhorns player being more than 10 yards behind him. Pryor didn't see him and instead of hitting Robiskie on a sure 53-yard scoring strike, the frosh simply ran it to the sideline.

OSU would end up missing a 51-yard field goal.

In the second half, it seemed that Pryor had lost all confidence with his arm, throwing for just 16 yards in the final 30 minutes of action. His inability to make plays with his arm, forced Tressel to re-insert Boeckman at quarterback for most of final quarter of play. Pryor was moved to receiver.

Now, before everyone decides to overthrow Pryor as next season's quarterback, let's remember back to the early days of Troy Smith.

Smith, like Pryor, was an athletic phenom who could make plays simply by tucking the ball under his arm and grinding out yardage with his feet. Both were unpolished coming out of high school, mostly because their coaches were more interested in winning games than making sure they became ready for the next level.

That's no knock on Ted Ginn Sr. or Ray Reitz — Smith and Pryor's respective high school coaches — it's just stating a fact.

Just like Smith did a few years ago, Pryor will need to use the offseason to work harder on becoming a more polished passer, and that comes with tech drills and boatloads of film study.

There is no doubt that Pryor will do what it takes to become a great quarterback, because he understands that his growth will determine whether the Buckeyes become a national championship caliber team or just another Big Ten squad that plays the role of national punching bag.

Knowing Pryor — I'll bet on the prior.



Thursday, January 8, 2009

OSU Football: Good bye, Beanie


Just hours after posting my blog about the possibility of Ohio State running back, Chris "Beanie" Wells, leaving the Buckeyes for the National Football League, the star player out of Akron has made his decision known.

Wells announced in a school-issued statement, that he will forgo his senior season at Ohio State to enter the 2009 NFL Draft.

"This has been a difficult decision," Wells said in the statement. "But, in the best interest of my family, I have decided to enter my name into the 2009 National Football League draft.

"I want to thank my teammates, my coaches, my teachers and the academic advisors for all they have done, and I definitely want to thank the Buckeye fans for all their support. Ohio State has become like a family to me, and it will always be that way ...

"I will always appreciate everything Ohio State has done in helping me grow up and become a man, and I will always be a Buckeye."

Wells was one of the greatest running backs in the school's history, and that's saying a lot, since OSU is the place where the only two-time Heisman Trophy winner, Archie Griffin, played his collegiate ball.

In his three seasons in Columbus, Wells rushed for 3,382 yards (fourth in school history) and 30 touchdowns. He was voted as OSU's Most Valuable Player in 2007 and 2008.

Wells was also the biggest Michigan killer of them all, rushing for 222 yards and two touchdowns in the Buckeyes' 14-3 win over the Wolverines in 2007. And this past November, Wells ran for 134 yards and one score in OSU's 42-7 win over "That school up north."

Wells stated that his performances against Michigan is something he will always cherish.

"There are a lot of things I know I will miss," Wells said. "Just being in the locker room, spending time with my teammates and playing in the Michigan game."

Buckeyes head coach Jim Tressel stated that he will truly miss Wells — and his smile which stretches from Youngstown to Bryan.

"Ohio State football will miss Beanie's big runs," Tressel said. "But we will also miss his big smile.

"He has been a tremendous teammate and one of the all-time great performers in the greatest rivalry in college football (OSU-Michigan).

"He will always be an ambassador for Ohio State and all of us wish him well."

In numerous NFL Mock Drafts around the web, Wells has been projected as a first round pick. He has been listed to go as high as No. 5 to the Cleveland Browns and as low as No. 21 to the Arizona Cardinals.

OSU Football: Beanie done in Columbus?

Although he wouldn't say whether he would forgo his senior season at Ohio State to enter the 2009 NFL draft, all the signs were there that running back Chris "Beanie" Wells has played his last game in a Buckeyes uniform.

The first sign that this would be his last round with Ohio State came prior to the game, when the Buckeyes ran onto the field for their Fiesta Bowl showdown with Texas. Usually, the first players to run onto the field are head coach Jim Tressel, the captains and then the seniors. However, running amongst senior captains' James Laurinaitis, Malcolm Jenkins, Brian Robiskie and Todd Boeckman, was — you guessed it — No. 28 himself.

Another sign he would be leaving was his willingness to play through an injury that would've kept most people playing the role of sideline spectator.

Knowing that he was still injured coming in, Wells tried to tough it out as if it was going to be his last time with his Buckeye teammates. Wells shined during the game, running for 106 yards on just 16 carries, with most coming in the first half. He would suffer a concussion early in the fourth quarter that kept him out of the game, but it was apparent that he was hurting prior to that play, because he limped off the field numerous times throughout the first half. 

Why would he continue to play, knowing that he was still injured? Because he wanted to go out with a bang.

The coaches finally had to step in and tell him that his night was over.

"The coaches wouldn't let me back in the game," he said. "I had blurry vision so they told me I was done."

The final sign that Wells has played his final game at OSU was the way he spoke about his teammates, especially backup tailback, Dan "Boom" Herron, who came in relief and rushed for 30 yards on five carries, including a 15-yard touchdown run late in the game which gave the Buckeyes a 21-17 lead.

Wells said that he was proud of the way he came in and played under the dire circumstances. He spoke as if he was handing the baton to Mr. Herron.

The fact is, it would be a smart decision for Wells to leave. For one, it appears that his team is in good hands — or legs — in the backfield. With Herron, Brandon Saine and the incoming star freshman Jamaal Berry carrying the load in 2009, the Buckeyes won't be falling from the ranks of the Big Ten elite any time soon.

And with Wells leaving, he would keep a hold of his solid draft ranking, because as of right now, he is viewed as the top running back prospect in the NFL draft. As of now, his injuries look to be just a one season thing, sort of like Adrian Peterson at Oklahoma a few seasons ago. One season of injuries won't hurt his stock. However, if he would return for his senior season and have the injuries resurface, that would cause his draft stock to plummet — as well as his bank account.

In this day of economic turmoil, he just can't afford to come back to Columbus.


Wednesday, January 7, 2009

OSU Football: No need to hang your head


GLENDALE, Ariz. — James Laurinaitis has been the quintessential Ohio State linebacker during his career with the Buckeyes.

The Minnesota-native has been an incredible talent in his four years with the Scarlet and Gray, using his uncanny instincts and a hard running motor, to wreak havoc on opposing offenses like no one in a Buckeyes' uniform has done since Chris Spielman did it more than 20 years ago.

Ever since the Buckeyes 2005 victory at Michigan — where a freshman Laurinaitis filled in for an injured Bobby Carpenter — everyone could see that the player known as "Little Animal" had something very special inside of him.

On Monday night, Laurinaitis — who copped himself a plethora of college football awards in his career with the Buckeyes — walked off the field for the final time in an OSU uniform at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale.

Unfortunately, it was with his head hanging down in shame.

Instead of riding off into the desert sunset, pumping his fists in glory, the Buckeyes star linebacker simply walked into the team's tunnel, shared a couple of hugs with former teammates' Antonio Pittman (St. Louis Rams) and Vernon Gholston (New York Jets), and then leisurely journeyed down the hallway toward the OSU locker room, stopping a few times to raise his hands behind his head in utter disappointment.

Laurinaitis — who finished the 24-21 Fiesta Bowl loss to No. 3 Texas with nine tackles — realized that the redemption of the last two BCS Championship defeats wouldn't come to fruition.

He understood that many would view he and his troops as washouts.

The Buckeyes were just 16 ticks away from sending Laurinaitis out a winner, but a missed tackle by Anderson Russell on Longhorns flanker, Quan Cosby, sealed the Buckeyes' fate as BCS bowl game losers once again.

But for Laurinaitis, it wasn't just simply "once again" — it was once and for all.
For those who have spent time around Laurinaitis, it came as no surprise that he quickly shook off the loss and reflected on the great accomplishments that he and his teammates racked up during their tenure in Columbus.

"I think it has been an amazing career for all of us (seniors)," Laurinaitis said, following the loss. "We have done a lot of special things. Obviously, it is not the way you want to go out. But regardless, I think this class has done a lot of, like I said, special things.

"Being part of two outright Big Ten championships, four BCS bowl games, two BCS championship (games).

"We have done some good things, and obviously, we wish we would have had this one tonight."

Laurinaitis, who has been the ambassador for the Buckeyes defense the past three seasons, shouldn't be looked at as a three-time loser.

He has helped lead the Buckeyes to many great feats in his career, including four wins over rival Michigan and three conference titles.

Laurinaitis is a winner and should be hailed as one of the greatest Buckeyes to have ever taken the field, while donning the Scarlet and Gray.

Those who don't understand that, should be the one's hanging their head's down in shame.