Friday, January 29, 2010

LONGHORNS HOOK JORDAN HICKS

WEST CHESTER, Ohio — "He may go down as the most celebrated high school (football) player in Ohio — ever."

Those were the words offered up by Lakota West High School football coach, Larry Cox, about his all-American linebacker Jordan Hicks, during a press conference Friday afternoon at the school in West Chester.

Well, the "most celebrated" player in Ohio will not be playing at the state's most celebrated college — Ohio State — as Hicks announced during the presser that he will be heading to Texas to play football next fall for Mack Brown and the Longhorns.

"I just felt like (Texas) was the best fit for me," Hicks said following the announcement. "I feel real comfortable there.

"It was just in my heart."

Hicks selected the Longhorns over Ohio State and Florida.

It wasn't much of a surprise to anyone that Hicks chose Texas. The star linebacker — who recorded nearly 100 tackles, three sacks and two interceptions as a senior for the Firebirds in 2009 — seemed to be a Longhorns lean for the past few weeks.

Many didn't feel the Buckeyes had a real chance of landing Hicks, who moved to Ohio when he was in the sixth grade. But it didn't keep OSU fans from pressuring him to go there.

"I wasn't born here," Hicks said. "I don't look at it like I turned my back on Ohio State."

Hicks said OSU wasn't the only school he was feeling pressure from the fans.

"I felt like I had pressure to go everywhere," Hicks said. "It wasn't just Ohio State. I was trying to handle it the best way I could."

Hicks went on to utter the same sentiment he declared earlier ... "It was just in my heart."

With the Buckeyes losing out on the services of Hicks, Jim Tressel and company will now await the announcements of two more blue-chip prospects, as Parade Magazine player of the year, offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (Cretin Derham Hall/St. Paul, MN) and Ohio star offensive lineman Matt James (St. Xavier/Cincinnati) will make their decisions known next Wednesday on National Signing Day.

The Buckeyes are among the leaders for both players.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

HENDERSON NAMED PARADE MAGAZINE PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Seantrel Henderson

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Seantrel Henderson, a 6-foot-8, 330-pound offensive tackle from St. Paul's Cretin-Derham Hall High School, was named the 2010 Parade Magazine prep football player of the year.

Henderson, who is considered the nation's top recruit by Scout.com, will make his collegiate choice known next Wednesday (National Signing Day) in New York.

Ohio State, Southern California, Notre Dame, Florida, Iowa, Miami (FL) and Minnesota are all in major recruiting battle for the Minnesota prep star.

According to respected recruiting analysts' Bill Greene (SuperPrep) and Bruce Feldman (ESPN), the Buckeyes are the leaders for Henderson coming down the stretch.

Greene's take: "I've always seen Ohio State as a major player to land Henderson, and I still feel that way. I really think this one comes down to Notre Dame, USC, Florida and Ohio State. I'm not ready to scream to the heavens, but I feel Ohio State has a great chance to land Henderson, and I'm sticking with it."

Feldman's take: "My hunch is that with so much uncertainty (with coaching changes), you'd think it would help Ohio State's chances to land Henderson since things in Columbus appear rock steady with Jim Tressel ... My guess: Ohio State."

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel will be holding a signing day press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus next Wednesday at 4 p.m.

The Buckeye Times will be on hand to provide complete coverage.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

BRYANT IS COMING TO COLUMBUS

CLEVELAND — Ohio State picked up another prized recruit on Tuesday, as Cleveland Glenville star defensive back Christian Bryant announced that he will be playing his college football for Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes next fall.

Bryant, a 5-11, 180-pound do-it-all athlete, chose to play at Ohio State over the likes of North Carolina, Notre Dame, Tennessee, West Virginia, Iowa, Michigan State, Wisconsin and Stanford.

The US Army All-American attributed his decision to his parents.

"I want to thank my mom and dad for being there the entire recruiting process. It had its ups and downs, but it was great," Bryant said Tuesday during a press conference at Glenville High School. "My mom and dad both played a big role in this.

"They just settled me down and talked me through it all."

Bryant helped lead the Tarblooders — the same school which produced former Buckeye stars' Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr. and Donte Whitner — to a state championship berth this past season.

Bryant registered 57 tackles and three interceptions as a senior cornerback, as well as throwing for 194 yards as a quarterback, 150 yards as a running back — including 100 yards and a touchdown against Huber Heights Wayne in September — and 150 yards as a pass catcher. He also did the kicking for Ted Ginn Sr. at Glenville this past season.

The Tarblooder standout said that Ohio State assistant coach Taver Johnson informed him that he will play cornerback at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes still have some blue-chip targets remaining on their radar before National Signing Day on February 3, including Minnesota offensive tackle Seantrel Henderson (the nation's No. 1 recruit), linebacker Jordan Hicks (Lakota West/West Chester) and offensive lineman Matt James (St. Xavier/Cincinnati).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

THE BACHELOR: BIG TEN VERSION


Last month, the Big Ten conference issued a statement about the possibility of expanding to 12 schools.

By the way, for those of you who can count, the Big "Ten" currently has 11 schools.

— Warning: The aforementioned statement is quite long and extremely boring ...

"The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors believes that the timing is right for the conference to once again conduct a thorough evaluation of options for conference structure and expansion.

"As a result, the Commissioner (James Delany) was asked to provide recommendations for consideration by the Council of Presidents/Chancellors over the next 12 to 18 months.

"The Council of Presidents/Chancellors has asked the conference office to obtain, to the extent possible, information necessary to construct preliminary options and recommendations without engaging in formal discussions with leadership of other institutions."

So in essence, the Big Ten conference is "The Bachelor" and it is looking for bride No. 12. Perhaps they should look for her in the mountains of Utah instead ... BA-ZING!

Sure, there are many quality candidates to sift through before presenting that final rose. So, I have listed the Big Ten's final 10 "preliminary options" below (in alphabetical order) and which ones deserve more consideration.

CINCINNATI — UC is the young, hot girl of the bunch.

The Bearcats football program finished the 2009 regular season unbeaten. Yes, I know, they ended up being lambasted by Florida in their BCS bowl game, but come on, that shouldn't disqualify them from entry into the Big Ten, that's for sure.

No, what will ultimately keep the Bearcats from getting the final rose is their sub-par athletic facilities. Their football stadium just simply wouldn't be able to hold Big Ten games. Nippert Stadium's capacity is 35,097 — 15,000 less than the smallest Big Ten stadium (Northwestern). Their suffering basketball program also doesn't help their cause.

Recommendation: No rose. She's hot, but that will probably diminish in time. There's no future with her.

CONNECTICUT — When it comes to basketball, both men's and women's, UConn is a real catch. Their football program is on the rise, as well.

With a few touch-ups — expanding the seating at Rentschler Field to 50,000-plus — UConn could be really appealing to the Big Ten.

Recommendation: She has a lot of redeeming qualities — solid athletics, good facilities and would expand the conference into the New England region. Keep a rose handy!

LOUISVILLE — Very attractive and has a little bit of staying power, as well. The sports programs are up to Big Ten standards and the facilities are top notch. Not much else to say.

Recommendation: Dipping into SEC country should be enough to garner consideration. But, when you factor in her well-rounded credentials, both athletically and academically — you may have a winner here.

MISSOURI — Talk about your perfect Big Ten woman — Mizzou is definitely her. Great athletic facilities? Check. Solid sports programs? Check. Great academics? CHA-CHECK!

Missouri has arguably the greatest journalism school on the planet. With Northwestern already in the conference, the folks at the Big Ten Network will have the pick of the nation's top j-school grads. Oh, and picking up the St. Louis and Kansas City market doesn't hurt matters much, either.

Recommendation: Will you marry me, Mizzou?

NEBRASKA — I'm still thinking about, Mizzou!

Recommendation: Mizzou!

NOTRE DAME — Super hot, but she's definitely a tease.

Recommendation: No rose. She's just not that into you.

PITTSBURGH — Please see Cincinnati.

Recommendation: She isn't exactly your independent woman (Pittsburgh plays their football games at Heinz Field, the home of the Steelers). No rose.

RUTGERS — Ok, now we have another candidate that will turn your head. Rutgers' football program has become quite solid under head coach Greg Schiano and their women's basketball team is always amongst the nation's elite.

She will also bring in the New York/New Jersey market, something the Big Ten is very, very interested in.

Recommendation: Perhaps not as great a catch as Mizzou, Rutgers can deliver a similar resume. Can we have two roses?

SYRACUSE — The Orange are like Rutgers' twin sister. The only problem is, she lives too far from the Big Apple.

Recommendation: Did I mention that I really love Mizzou?

WEST VIRGINIA — Wow! Stunning — in that country-ish, Carrie Underwood sort of way. West Virginia has great athletics, impressive facilities and good solid academics.

Where the Mountaineers make their strong case, though, is location. Immediately upon their entry into the Big Ten, they will become arch-rivals with Penn State, and to a degree, Ohio State. West Virginia possesses that rabid, Big Ten-type fan base, as well.

Recommendation: Mizzou now has an equal.

To be continued ...

Monday, January 18, 2010

WORTHINGTON, CORDLE TO PLAY IN 85TH EAST-WEST SHRINE GAME

ORLANDO — Ohio State senior defensive end Doug Worthington and offensive lineman Jim Cordle will be participating in this Saturday's 85th Annual East-West Shrine game at the Florida Citrus Bowl in Orlando.

Both Buckeye players will be members of the East team, which will be coached by former Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel.

The East-West Shrine Game is the longest running college football all-star game in the country. The game is to benefit the Shriners Hospitals for Children.

ESPN2 will provide live coverage of the game beginning on Saturday at 3 p.m.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

BUCKEYES WILL OPEN 2010 SEASON ON A THURSDAY NIGHT

COLUMBUS — Ohio State announced Wednesday that they will open their 2010 football season against Marshall on Thursday, September 2, at Ohio Stadium.

Below is the statement issued by the university ...

The 2010 season football opener between Ohio State and Marshall will be Thursday evening, Sept. 2 at Ohio Stadium in Columbus. Kickoff time and television plans will be announced at a later date.

"This change to a Thursday night opener offers a number of positives for Ohio State," Ohio State associate vice-president and director of athletics Gene Smith explained. "Summer quarter classes end the week before, so there will be minimal campus impact on students, faculty and staff that day.

"Along with providing maximum national exposure for our Rose Bowl champions, this unique starting date and time allows our team and fans to escape the heat of the day, and breaks up a string of four consecutive Saturday home games to start the season.

"It will allow fans to enjoy other events throughout the Labor Day weekend. We see it as a treat for Buckeye fans and an exciting way to open the 2010 campaign."

Specific game-day information, including parking, transportation and other logistics, will be announced at a later time.

Ohio State's last mid-week regular season home game was in 1997, in a season-opening 24-10 win over Wyoming that was played on a Thursday evening.

ROBY COMING TO OSU

Ohio State landed another player — their 17th — from the class of 2010, as Georgia defensive back, Bradley Roby, declared to play his collegiate football next fall at Ohio State.

The 6-1, 170-pound cornerback, who had previously committed to Vanderbilt, is an ultra speedy defender who has caught the eye of many schools across the country, gaining offers from Mississippi, Auburn and South Carolina, just to name a few.

Roby — who played at the the same high school (Peachtree Ridge/Suwanee, GA) as current Buckeyes defensive end Cameron Heyward — is a big pickup for the Buckeyes secondary, and he may not be the last.

Cleveland Glenville's Christian Bryant looks like he will be a Buckeye when he decides to commit later this month.

More to come ...

COLLEGE COACHING HAS BECOME QUITE A BAD SOAP OPERA

Photo of Former Tennessee and new USC head coach Lane Kiffin, by the Associated Press

Loyalty, honesty and family values are just a few of the qualities that today's athletes are lacking.

They do come by it honestly, though.

The people who should be most influential in developing these important virtues into today's young athletes don't possess any themselves.

Just look at the recent college football coaching scene. It's like watching a bad soap opera — everyone is cheating and moving from one person to the next.

Let's take former Cincinnati head coach, Brian Kelly, for example. The offensive guru leaves the Bearcats for Notre Dame — and doesn't even stay for the biggest game in the school's history (the Sugar Bowl against Florida).

That's like leaving your wife for another woman while she's heading to the hospital to give birth to your first child. And all because he thinks the other woman is hotter. Come on, Notre Dame is like Sharon Stone — they haven't been hot since the 80's.

The players and the entire institution at the University of Cincinnati was distraught, heart broken, smitten over Kelly's decision to ditch them. So how do they react? They do the very same thing that was done to them, snagging Central Michigan head coach, Butch Jones, away from the Chippewas — prior to their bowl game against Troy.

As the great philosopher Archie Bunker once said, "Do unto them, before they can do unto you."

It doesn't end there.

Perhaps the best college football coach of the past decade, Southern California's Pete Carroll, decided to leave the perennial powerhouse Trojans earlier this week — or shall I say run away from the plethora of NCAA violations that are stacking up — to take over for the NFL's Seattle Seahawks.

Carroll was like, "well, it was fun SC, we had some great times. But, you're getting a little too high maintenance for me, so ... see ya!"

Much like Jessica Simpson did after being dumped by Tony Romo, the Trojans just batted their eyelashes, showed off their pearly whites, among other things and bing, bang, boom ... the young — and dumb — Lane Kiffin of the University of Tennessee came calling. And only after one year of marriage with the Volunteers.

"This was not an easy decision," Kiffin stated at his press conference following his hiring at USC. "I really believe this is the only place I would have left (Tennessee) to go to."

Interesting? Do you think Kiffin told that to the prep stars he was trying to recruit at Tennessee?

"Hey kid, I really hope you come play for me at Tennessee. But, you know, if a school like USC offers you a scholarship, you should probably go there, instead ... I mean, I would!"

It's highly doubtful that those words were ever uttered. However, Kiffin may be saying that to those same recruits now that he's in SoCal.

Kelly, Jones, Carroll and Kiffin are not the only ones ... Rich Rodriguez (Michigan), Bobby Petrino (Arkansas), Nick Saban (Alabama) and Urban Meyer (Florida) are just a few of the coaches who left their former programs reeling following their abrupt departures.

These guys will be fine, though. Millions of dollars can do that. But the ones who are being hurt by this behavior, are the same ones who are damaged following a nasty divorce — the kids.

How are the athletes today going to learn what it's like to have honor, integrity and be part of a family unit, when the ones who are molding them are as straight as a paper clip?

Seriously, how in the world can these coaches look at these young recruits — with a straight face — and say "I care for you and your future, come play for me and this great institution," knowing that they will bolt if a better situation presents itself?

Seantrel Henderson — the nation's top prep football prospect in the nation, according to numerous scouting services — has been greatly affected by this crazy coaching carousel. The 6-8, 330-pound offensive tackle from St. Paul, Minnesota has schools like USC, Notre Dame and Florida amongst the top places on his wish list, along with Ohio State and Miami, FL.

However, with Carroll leaving USC, Notre Dame canning former coach Charlie Weis for Kelly and the uncertain status of Meyer down in Florida, what should have been a fun recruiting adventure has become a major headache for the country's best high school football player.

"This definitely has an effect on our situation," Seantrel Henderson's father, Sean, told Scout.com recruiting analyst, Bill Greene. "To be honest, I'm not really looking forward to any of the visits at all at this point. It just keeps becoming more and more stressful.

"I don't know."

Neither do any of the rest of us.

And that's the sad, sad truth.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

FLOYD PICKS GATORS OVER BUCKS

SAN ANTONIO — Blue chip defensive tackle, Sharrif Floyd, from Philadelphia's George Washington High School, used the big stage at the US Army All-American Bowl to announce that he will play his collegiate football at the University of Florida.

"It was battle between Ohio State and Florida," Floyd said. "I just wanted to go where I was most comfortable."

No other Ohio State prospects are expected to announce their declarations today.

ANDERSON SELECTS WEST VIRGINIA

SAN ANTONIO — Cleveland Genville standout safety, Latwan Anderson, has selected to play his collegiate football at West Virginia over Ohio State.

Anderson made the announcement midway through the first quarter of the US Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio, Texas.

Anderson's Glenville and Army All-American teammate, Christian Bryant, will not make a decision today.

Sharrif Floyd, a 6-2, 310-pound blue chip defensive tackle from Philadelphia (G. Washington H.S.) who has Ohio State listed as one of his finalists, will make his selection at half time.

Many recruiting insiders feel Floyd will choose to play at Florida.

Friday, January 8, 2010

MORE OF THE BUCKEYE TIMES' VIDEO FOOTAGE FROM THE ROSE BOWL

Below is The Buckeye Times video footage of the post-game celebrations at mid-field ...

video

OSU quarterback Terrelle Pryor throwing to DeVier Posey in pre-game warm-ups (with commentary from The Buckeye Times' Lee Hudnell) ...

video

THOSE PLAYERS TO KEEP AN EYE ON SATURDAY IN SAN ANTONIO

Seantrel Henderson

SAN ANTONIO — Saturday afternoon in San Antonio, the 2010 U.S. Army All-American Bowl will be played for the tenth time, showcasing some of the top prep football prospects in the nation.

As always at the USAAA Bowl, some of the players will make their collegiate choices known.

Listed below are some players Ohio State fans should keep an eye on ...

SEANTREL HENDERSON - OT (Derham Hall/St. Paul, MN)
Henderson (6-8, 338) is a once-in-a-generation type offensive tackle. He has NFL size and abilities, who walk right into the starting left tackle spot where ever he chooses to play his collegiate football. Henderson is not only the top offensive tackle prospect in the nation, he is the best player in the country — regardless of position. Henderson stated that he will not make a decision on where he will play until signing day. He has the pick of the litter, but his top three schools are Ohio State, Florida and USC.

SHARIFF FLOYD - DT (George Washington/Philadelphia)
The 6-2, 310-pound beast is one of the nation's top defensive line prospects, attacking opposing offenses with his great quickness and strength. Floyd announced that he will commit during Saturday's game and the Buckeyes, Florida, North Carolina and South Carolina are on his short list.

CHRISTIAN BRYANT - CB (Glenville/Cleveland)
Bryant (5-10, 175) is a difference making cornerback, who uses unbelievable athleticism to shut down receivers. He has incredible football smarts, which makes him a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks. He's a typical Glenville athlete. Bryant will not announce during the USAAAB, but his likelihood of becoming a Buckeye — on Jan 26, the day he said he would announce — is nearly a lock.

LATWAN ANDERSON - CB (Glenville/Cleveland)
Anderson (5-10, 185) is an ultra aggressive, hard hitting safety who the Buckeyes would love to land. He has the speed (4.38) to neutralize speedy receivers down field, and the size to come up to line and help in run support. He has hinted that he may announce during Saturday's game. The Buckeyes and West Virginia have the best chances of landing this Glenville star.

MATT JAMES - OT (St. Xavier/Cincinnati)
James (6-7, 280) is a very technically sound offensive tackle, who come in and give whichever college he chooses a game-ready offensive lineman. James will probably not announce Saturday. However, when he does, it will be between Ohio State and Notre Dame.

ANDREW NORWELL - OT (Anderson/Cincinnati)
Norwell (6-6, 260) has already committed to Ohio State. He will not participate in the game due to injury.

The USAAAB will be broadcasted live on Saturday (NBC) at 1 p.m.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

HOMAN ALSO STAYING PUT; THOMAS LEAVING TEAM

COLUMBUS — Ohio State's leading tackler will be returning to Columbus for his senior season next fall.

Junior linebacker Ross Homan — who recorded a team-high 108 tackles for the Big Ten and Rose Bowl champion Buckeyes — stated Wednesday that he wanted to return to Ohio State to help the Buckeyes win a national championship and a sixth straight conference title.

"I look forward to being a senior leader, and helping try and lead our team to the Big Ten title and national championship," Homan said. "I know this upcoming year will help me improve as a player and also help our team.

"I believe we can even outwork ourselves from what we did this past season."

Homan was a second team all-Big Ten selection and a key figure of the Buckeyes' Rose Bowl winning defense, recording a game-high 12 tackles and an interception in OSU's 26-17 win over Oregon last Friday night in Pasadena.

Homan said winning the Rose Bowl was something he had always dreamed of doing ever since he was a child in Coldwater, Ohio.

"Winning the Rose Bowl was a dream come true for me," Homan said. "I remember watching the 1997 game (against Arizona State) as a little kid. To get to play in the Rose Bowl and win, it was something special.

"I believe we can have that kind of success again in 2010."

With defensive standouts' Cameron Heyward and Chimdi Chekwa, as well as Homan all deciding to stay in Columbus for their senior season, the Buckeyes will have 15 returning starters next fall.

Defensive end/linebacker, Thaddeus Gibson, announced Tuesday that he will enter the 2010 NFL draft.

HEADING ELSEWHERE — Buckeyes kick returner Lamaar Thomas and defensive back Rocco Pentello have decided to transfer from Ohio State.

Thomas hasn't made it known where he will be heading. However, Pentello, who never play a single game at OSU, will be playing at Ashland.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

HEYWARD, CHEKWA COMING BACK

COLUMBUS — Cameron Heyward and Chimdi Chekwa, two critical components of the stingy Ohio State defense, have decided that they will return to Columbus for their senior seasons.

Heyward, who recorded the Buckeyes only sack in last Friday's Rose Bowl victory over Oregon, stated that a national championship, as well as being a leader for the Buckeyes defense are major reasons why he will be returning to Columbus in 2010.

"I want to help our team achieve the goals of winning another Big Ten title and possibly accomplishing a national championship," Heyward said in a statement Tuesday. "If I could win some recognition, that would be great as well. I think I can be a leader for our team, and I know another season will help me become a better player."

Heyward, the son of former NFL running back, Craig "Iron Head" Heyward, finished the season with a team-high 6.5 sacks.

Chekwa, an all-around cornerback who finished his junior campaign with 43 tackles, an interception, eight passes defended and a team-high seven breakups, also returned to OSU because of the opportunity to be a team leader and play for a national title.

"I am not ready to leave Ohio State, and I am looking forward to my senior season," Checkwa said Tuesday. "I prayed about this decision and talked about it with my parents, and I know this is the right decision for me.

"I will graduate next fall, and I am looking forward to being a leader on what can be a very special defense for the Buckeyes. After the Rose Bowl win, we are working toward accomplishing more great things, including another Big Ten title and a run at the national championship."

The Buckeyes will return 15 starters in 2010.

GIBSON HEADING TO THE NFL

COLUMBUS — Ohio State junior defensive end, Thaddeus Gibson, has announced that he will be skipping his senior season to enter the 2010 NFL draft.

"I would like to thank Coach (Jim) Tressel, Coach (Luke) Fickell, Coach (Jim) Heacock, (SID) Shelly Poe, and the entire Ohio State football staff, as well as my mother, brother and of course God, for helping me to have the opportunity to enter the draft, and for the support from my teammates, alumni and Ohio State fans across the nation." Gibson said in a statement which was released by the university on Tuesday.

"I am not leaving the Buckeye family. I wish the team the very best in the upcoming years and I thank all my teammates for all their support. I will keep in touch with my Buckeye family and I love them all.

"I will always bleed Scarlet and Gray."

Gibson, an all-Big Ten selection on the defensive line, helped lead the Buckeyes to a Big Ten title and a Rose Bowl victory this season, by recording 45 tackles (13 TFL), four sacks and an interception.

According to NFL scouting services, Gibson is projected as a third round pick in the upcoming draft.

PRYOR HAS TURNED THE CORNER

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel, left, and MVP Terrelle Pryor celebrate after winning the Rose Bowl against Oregon last Friday in Pasadena, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

PASADENA, Calif. — Following Ohio State's 26-17 win over Oregon in last Friday's Rose Bowl Game in California, Buckeyes sophomore quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, couldn't hold back his emotions.

As the team was celebrating their first bowl win in four seasons — by jumping around and singing at midfield — Pryor just leaned over, put his hands on his knees and began to weep.

It was the culmination of hard work and a desire to be great — after such a trying season — that brought the Buckeyes signal caller to tears.

"I was a little light-headed," Pryor laughed on the field during the celebration. "I'm glad they just stuck with me. There are more wins to come, definitely.

"We're just going to keep on getting better as an organization, as a program, and try to keep fighting and carry this on to next year."

Pryor, who has had his ups and downs during his sophomore campaign, showed the nation that he can be a complete quarterback, not just a running back under center, which he has been labeled during his first two seasons at Ohio State.

"I knew what I could do ... " Pryor said after finishing the game 23-of-37 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns. "I thought I could have a game like this anytime.

"I mean, I've gotten a lot better in this bowl practice, a lot better. Just in and out, smart, and just meeting with Coach Tressel all the time. Staying in the film room, studying the film a lot more. It helps a lot."

The film the seventh-ranked Ducks had on Pryor didn't reveal anything like what they witnessed on the field.

"The plan was to make him throw the ball," Oregon defensive end Kenny Rowe said of Pryor. "But when he threw it that good, well, that plan didn't go so well."

Oregon head coach Chip Kelly uttered the same sentiments as his star defensive end.

"(The passing) was surprising to us," Kelly said. "We felt watching their last couple of games where they didn't throw it very much and were rather conservative, they came in and opened it up. Obviously, Terrelle beat us."

Kelly, who recruited Pryor heavily coming out of high school in Pennsylvania, stated that he has become even more impressive than what he saw out of him just three years ago.

"When I saw him in high school, he was a man amongst boys," Kelly said of Pryor. "And at times tonight, he looked like a man amongst boys. He's bigger, stronger and more physical. He looks like a defensive end.

"He's an impressive player when you see him up close. He certainly beat us on how he threw the ball."

And, how well he continues to throw the ball will determine how far the Buckeyes go in 2010.

If Pryor can have the same sort of progression that former Texas quarterback Vince Young had — after using a stellar performance in the Rose Bowl during his sophomore season to lead the Longhorns to an undefeated national championship the next year as a junior — then great things could be on the horizon for the Buckeyes.

"We have ongoing discussions as to how we're progressing," Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said. "We felt like that this was a pivotal game because it marked the end of the first half of his career and that we felt like we needed to progress a little bit more. I think he did.

"We have some very definitive goals as to how good we would like to be and how good he would like to be at his craft.

"I thought tonight was a good step."

Ohio State defensive end Cameron Heyward believes that Pryor has turned the corner.

"He matured a lot this season," Heyward said of Pryor. "He took his lumps this season, but he just stepped forward and kept playing. He wanted to show that he could deliver for this team.

"And he went out there and delivered in a big way. He's a great player, who's just going to get better and better."

The Buckeyes could possibly have 16 returning starters coming into next season — pending those players who could choose to enter the NFL draft. If Pryor can continue to grow as much next season as he did this season, and the season before, the Buckeyes could be in store for another BCS championship run.

Pryor said that he believes that he can help lead the Buckeyes to the mountain top. But he stated that he's only as good as the players around him.

"You know, really for myself it's probably the sky is the limit," Pryor said. "But, it's not really about me. I'm just thankful for the teammates that I have.

"Without my teammates, I mean, I can't do anything."

But, with them, the Buckeyes could have a crystal football in the very near future.

Now that would surely bring tears to Pryor's eyes.

Monday, January 4, 2010

HEYWARD HASN'T DECIDED ON FUTURE JUST YET

PASADENA, Calif. — Ohio State junior defensive end, Cameron Heyward, told me following the Buckeyes 27-17 Rose Bowl victory over Oregon that he has not decided on whether he would be back in Columbus for his senior season in 2010.

"I haven't even thought about it yet," Heyward said, who finished the win over Oregon with four tackles and a sack.

However, he did state that playing for the Buckeyes is something he would love to do as a senior.

"You know, I love playing with these guys right here," Heyward continued. "I would love playing for another year. Being able to finish with my class would mean the world to me."

So, does that mean the big man will be harassing opposing quarterbacks in Columbus next fall?

"We'll see, man," Heyward smiled. "We'll see."

Friday, January 1, 2010

PRYOR, BUCKS SNAP BCS SLIDE

Ohio State quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, shares a hug with QB coach, Nick Siciliano, following the Buckeyes, 26-17 win over Oregon on Friday in Pasadena. (Photo by Joshua Stueve)

PASADENA, Calif. — Air Tressel?

That's exactly what the jam packed crowd of a little less than 94,000 at the Rose Bowl witnessed in the early going of Friday's game between Ohio State and Oregon in sunny Pasadena.

The eighth-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes, who snapped their three-game bowl losing streak with a 26-17 victory over Oregon Friday evening, came out tossing the pigskin all over the football field, as head coach Jim Tressel called for passes on nine of OSU's 10 plays during the opening possession of the game.

Ohio State sophomore quarterback, Terrelle Pryor, completed 5-of-8 passes on the first drive for 39 yards — as well as a 24-yard run on a called third down pass play. Pryor and the Buckeyes capped off the aerial show with a 13-yard touchdown throw to junior tailback, Brandon Saine for the 7-0 advantage.

"We thought that we needed to be balanced against this team," Tressel said following the win. "In this game, we felt like we really needed to come in and fling it around. We felt as long as we were doing it well, you know, TP (Pryor) was making some good decisions, not only good decisions, but knowing when to throw it away, when to run.

"He was engaged in the game."

Pryor finished as the game's Most Valuable Player, by going 23-of-37 passing for 266 yards and two touchdowns, as well as leading the Buckeyes in rushing with 72 yards on 20 carries.

This win was very reminiscent of former Texas star quarterback Vince Young's coming out party against Michigan in the Rose Bowl back in 2004. Young put up big numbers and led the Longhorns past the Wolverines. The next season, Young used the momentum from that game to catapult the Horns to a National Championship.

"That's a great comparison," Pryor said on the field following his first bowl victory as a starter. "But, I've got to be myself. Anytime you get a comparison with Vince Young — he's one of my idols, along with LeBron (James) — that's real special."

Later in the first quarter, Pryor hooked up with Saine again, this time on a beautiful 46-yard dig route down the sideline, which eventually set up a Devin Barclay 19-yard field goal for the 10-0 lead.

Of course, Oregon didn't become PAC 10 champions by rolling over and playing dead.

The Ducks offense, which averaged 37.6 points per game coming into the contest, answered the Buckeyes in a major way, by scoring 10 unanswered points, which included a LeGarrette Blount three-yard scoring plunge with 9:14 remaining in the first half.

Oregon, who didn't have much success early on against a stout Buckeyes defense, began to get things rolling on the ground late in the first quarter, as freshman phenoms' LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner started running at their usual pace, eating up turf at a premium.

"We weren't ready for a couple of their plays," OSU defensive end Cameron Heyward admitted.

The Buckeyes offense, which had become a little stagnant after their field goal scoring drive in the first quarter, had to answer the Ducks surging momentum.

With 1:51 to play before halftime, and the Buckeyes driving the football deep into Oregon territory, the team from Columbus found themselves with a critical fourth-and-one at the Oregon 14.

Tressel had to make a decision that he doesn't like making — going for it instead of kicking the field goal.

Tressel, unlike the Buckeyes' game earlier in the season with Southern California, elected to go for it instead of settling for three. Lining up in the "I-formation" and facing a stacked Oregon front, Pryor handed the ball off to Saine for a four-yard gain and a Buckeyes' first down.

Sure, the drive only culminated in another Barclay field goal, but the decision by Tressel three plays earlier to go for it, set the tone the rest of the way for the Buckeyes — they were there to win.

As Oregon tried to match the Buckeyes scoring drive late in the first half, Ohio State linebacker Ross Homan picked off a Jeremiah Masoli pass across the middle and returned it 20 yards into Oregon territory.

Following a Pryor to Dane Sanzenbacher hook up for 18 yards to the Oregon 28, OSU kicker Aaron Pettrey — who had missed the past three games due to injury — stepped up and drilled a 45-yard field goal with no time remaining on the clock, giving the Buckeyes a 16-10 halftime lead.

Special teams set the Ducks up nicely to begin the second half, giving them the ball at their own 47. The Ducks used a methodical 12-play drive to go ahead of the Buckeyes 17-16 with 11:03 to play in the third quarter, when Masoli scored on a one-yard quarterback keeper.

The Buckeyes would answer again.

Pryor used his arm to power the Buckeyes offense, yet again, on their opening drive of the half. The big signal caller laced a 36-yard strike to DeVier Posey down to the Oregon 29, which set up another Barclay field goal, this time from 38 yards out.

After Oregon was set up in good field position by their special teams, and began churning out yards on the ground, perhaps the biggest momentum changer of the game occurred with 5:12 to play in the third.

On a second-and-two on the Ohio State 18, Blount on an off tackle run, fumbled the football, which went rolling down the field and eventually knocked out of the end zone for an Ohio State touchback.

The Buckeyes dominated from that point on.

In the fourth quarter, Pryor put the exclamation point on a stellar Rose Bowl performance, leading the Buckeyes on a 13-play, 81 yard drive that saw the sophomore quarterback make some jaw-dropping plays with both his arm and his legs.

The drive — as well as the game — was sealed when Pryor tossed a 17-yard scoring toss into the hands of fellow sophomore Posey, who did a super-smooth balancing act for the game clinching touchdown.

"(The drive) started up front," Pryor said. "They were tired, but they had fire in their eyes. We were up by two and I knew for a fact that if we could score it would our defense the motivation to stop them. And they did.

"DeVier just made a great catch. We've been practicing that throw for a while."

Practice definitely paid off for the Buckeyes on Friday night.