Monday, April 19, 2010

CLASS OF 2008 LEADING THE WAY

Class of 2008 recruits photo by The Buckeye Times' Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

COLUMBUS — When Terrelle Pryor signed with Ohio State back in March of 2008, many thought that the Buckeyes landed the gem of that season's recruiting class, citing that the big, athletic quarterback would lead the team to great things during his career in Columbus.

Well ... so far, so good.

Pryor is 19-3 overall (1-0 in BCS bowls) in his career as a starter and has the Buckeyes looking at a possible No. 2 ranking coming into his junior season — a year in which many experts have OSU finishing in the BCS Championship Game in Glendale, Arizona.

These are things that OSU head coach Jim Tressel, Buckeye fans and pretty much every expert in the nation expected when the western Pennsylvania signal caller put his John Hancock on the national letter of intent two years ago.

However, the high rankings, the big wins and the lofty expectations aren't just about the prized recruit of 2008, but more that year's class as a whole. Pryor wasn't the entire puzzle, as many thought. He was just the final piece.

Coming into the 2010 season, there are 10 players from the class of 2008 that are starting for the Buckeyes (six on offense) and another four in the two-deep.

The starters from that class include: wide receiver DeVier Posey, tight end Jake Stoneburner, left tackle Mike Adams, center Michael Brewster, right tackle J.B. Shugarts, defensive end Nathan Williams, linebacker Etienne Sabino, safety Orhian Johnson, punter Ben Buchanan, and of course, Pryor under center.

The two-deep players include: cornerback Travis Howard, safety Zach Domicone, linebacker Andrew Sweat and defensive tackle Garrett Goebel.

If the Buckeyes win their sixth straight Big Ten title and another BCS Championship — two goals that they have set for 2010 — a huge reason will be the way the 2008 class leads the way.

Posey, who has become Pryor's No. 1 target in the passing game, said that it's strange how quickly they have went from young up-and-comers, to the leaders of the team.

"I was talking to Brewster about that earlier today," Posey said, about the class coming into their third season and being looked to as leaders. "It's weird that we're growing up, our priorities are different. Aside from being talented youngsters, we're being expected to be seasoned veterans.

"It's crazy how your role just flips within a winter. I don't know, it's a different transition. But it's a good transition and we do want to be the leaders of this team."

Posey, who hauled in eight receptions for 101 yards and the game-clinching touchdown during last January's Rose Bowl win over Oregon, stated that the coaches trust them more now that they are older, more experienced and big-game tested.

"I definitely see that," Posey said, about the coaches trusting the class more. "They're giving us a lot more ability to make our own things. There's a lot more coaching conversation with the players and I think that comes with losing your youth, getting older and them being able to trust you.

"It's all about the trust factor. If the coaches can trust that you're getting your job done, I think it's a good thing."

Pryor said that he and his other 2008 classmates have spoken about doing something special together ever since their high school days. He said that time to do "something special" is now.

"Just from talking to Brewster — and I just talked to DeVier earlier — we were just talking about the (U.S. Army) All-American game and how they were trying to recruit me to come here, because they had already committed," Pryor smiled. "We were just talking about how this is the opportunity we wanted. It's our time.

"It's amazing, man, growing up. Just playing here for two years already, it goes by very fast. You just have to enjoy it.

"I've enjoyed our first two years and I'm going to enjoy this year coming up."

OSU RECRUIT SHOT ON FRIDAY NIGHT ... Ohio State class of 2010 recruit, Jamel Turner, was shot twice on Friday night in an apparent drive-by shooting in Youngstown.

Turner, a defensive end/outside linebacker from Youngstown Ursuline and Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia, was shot in the ankle and hip.

His injuries aren't considered to be serious and no arrests have been made.

SPRING GAME DRAFT ... The Ohio State spring game draft will be held on Wednesday at 1:30 p.m. inside the team room at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

The Buckeye Times will be on hand for complete coverage.