Friday, April 2, 2010

BOLLMAN: FOUR MAN RACE AT LT; STONEBURNER STANDING OUT

The Buckeye Times' file photo of Mike Adams, left, and Jake Stoneburner by Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

COLUMBUS — If you think you know who the starting left tackle for Ohio State will be this fall, then you better inform Buckeyes offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, because even he doesn't have an answer just yet.

After junior Mike Adams ran with the first team during Thursday's opening session of spring football practice in Columbus, it was junior Andrew Miller's turn to give it a go with the starters on Friday.

According to Bollman, two other players — junior J.B. Shugarts and sophomore Marcus Hall — are also in the mix, as well.

"We'll be rolling them around," Bollman said Friday after practice. "There will be four guys playing left tackle before the spring's over, okay? Michael Adams, Andy Miller, Marcus Hall and J.B. Shugarts all will play on the left side at different times. We'll continue to roll those guys in and out until we feel like we're settled in there doing what we want to do.

"It's nice that we have four guys that have some experience and we'll see how things develop."

One would think that it's really a two-man race on the left side between Adams and Miller, being that both have game experience at the position. It also seems logical that it will be a two-player competition at right tackle between Shugarts and Hall, because each have game experience on that side of the line.

However, Bollman made it extremely clear that he doesn't care where they've played in the past, the best men will win the jobs.

"We're not going to talk about who will play right and who will play left. We're just going to see who's going to play tackle, period!" Bollman laughed. "I hope you know that we are not afraid to play who we feel is the best guy."

OSU senior left guard Justin Boren did reveal a little bit of insight on the left tackle position.

"I'm not going to be the left tackle," Boren joked, when asked if he could possibly be moved to tackle. "No, we have enough left tackles, I don't think we need to do that.

"If I actually had to, maybe. But, we're not going to need that."

There's no battle going on the interior offensive line, that's for sure, as Boren, along with junior center Michael Brewster and senior right guard Bryant Browning, have their spots locked up inside with a dead bolt.

"It's always a luxury when you have the same three guys back in there who have played a lot of games last year," Bollman said of his interior trio. "Just knowledge-wise, experience, just knowing each other, they can help the tackles because they are always going to be there."

Bollman did say, though, that depth behind Brewster at center is as important as deciding who will play at the tackles.

"One of the most critical spots of this spring is being able to come out of here with more guys who have the ability to play center," Bollman said. "When we lost Jimmy Cordle and Andrew Moses (to graduation), we lost a lot of juice at the center position. We need to make sure that if we get a nick in there with Michael Brewster — and I hope not — we have to make sure we have someone who can run the show in there."

Those players Bollman is looking at for depth at center could come in freshman Jack Mewhort and senior Scott Sika, who have been running with the second and third teams, respectively.

STONEBURNER LOOKING GOOD — With the graduation of Jake Ballard at the tight end position, the Buckeyes needed someone to step up and take the reins. That player is sophomore Jake Stoneburner.

The 6-foot-5, 245-pound player from Dublin has gotten all of the reps with the first team and has made the most of it, as he has been an early favorite of quarterback Terrelle Pryor.

Of course, Stoneburner is more of a receiving tight end than the Buckeyes are used to, so the biggest question will be his blocking ability.

"So far without pads, he's doing real good," Bollman joked, about Stoneburner's blocking skills thus far. "He's a great route runner, he runs really fast, he's done a great job of getting bigger and stronger. We would like to think that he can handle all of the aspects of the deal. We'll test that out as spring goes on."

HALL NEEDS TO SEE THE FIELD — After two days of observing these spring sessions in Columbus, one thing has clearly stood out to me ... sophomore Jordan Hall needs to be on the field.

Hall looks bigger this spring, but he's also just as quick as he was last season and is playing with tremendous confidence thus far. He looks great catching and running the football, albeit in shorts, but he also seems to be standing out in special teams drills as well.

Not only does he look natural with the football in his hands, but he looks extremely solid as a returner and a punt team gunner. In just a few days of practices, Hall reminds me of Cleveland Browns pro bowler, Joshua Cribbs.

ONE PLAYER THAT I HAVE THAT SPECIAL FEELING ABOUT — Freshman running back, Carlos Hyde.

I don't know how he will perform once the pads are put on, but the frosh from Naples, Florida certainly passes the eye test. He already has an NFL body (6-0, 235), and the way he runs in drills makes me think that he can deliver a Beanie Wells type of pop to the backfield.

Time will tell whether that feeling I'm having is real, or just gas.

YELLOW JERSEYS — Those notable players who were participating with the no contact yellow jersey during Friday's practice were cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, linebacker Andrew Sweat, defensive back Thomas Howard and running back Jermil Martin.

Chekwa, the only starter not participating in scrimmage style drills, was replaced on the first team by junior Donnie Evege.