Friday, July 30, 2010

DEPRIEST HEADING DOWN SOUTH

SPRINGFIELD — Springfield (Oh) linebacker Trey DePriest announced on Friday evening in his hometown that he will be playing his collegiate football at Alabama.

(left, photo of DePriest by the Springfield News-Sun)

DePriest, considered one of the best linebacker prospects in the country for the class of 2011, chose the Crimson Tide over in-state power Ohio State.

DePriest made his announcement at Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant in Springfield.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

JFK STAR CARTER IS HUNGRY TO SUCCEED, ON AND OFF THE FIELD

(Photo of Cleveland John F. Kennedy OL Chris Carter by ScoutingOhio.com)

CLEVELAND — John F. Kennedy (Cleveland) offensive guard Chris Carter isn't the man an opposing defensive lineman wants to see lining up across from him on Friday night.

He's huge in stature (6-4, 335), he's athletic, he's mean, and his tenacious play can be infectious to all of his teammates.

"I bring fire and intimidation," Carter told The Buckeye Times. "I bring dedication, I bring heart. I bring an aura of myself to the team."

Carter will be taking that aura to Columbus in the fall of 2011, as the young man they call "Big Hungry" — a nickname given to him by his track coach — has already given his verbal commitment to play football at Ohio State.

Carter said he chose the Buckeyes for a number of reasons, most notably their academics.

"It was the academic and athletic atmospheres they have at Ohio State," Carter said. "It's the legendary Ohio State University, but with the new and improved academic process where you cannot fail. If you want help, you'll get help. If you don't want help, you'll still get help. You will get to finish your career there.

"Another thing I love about Ohio State is the pressure."

There's definitely a whole lot of pressure that comes with playing at Ohio State, especially on the offensive line where former OSU greats like Orlando Pace, Jim Lachey, LeCharles Bentley and Nick Mangold once played and etched their names in Buckeye lore.

Carter doesn't mind the pressure, though. In fact, he's ready to take it head on — kind of like he does against opposing defenders.

"I want to start at Ohio State as a freshman," Carter said. "That's a goal of mine that I'm really working hard towards."

Talk about a lofty goal! But if any player can do it, it's "Big Hungry."

Although Carter has the prototypical size of a left tackle, it's at the guard position that Ohio State envisions him playing.

"Ohio State is looking at me at guard," Carter said. "We haven't talked anything official but when I talked to Coach (Jim) Bollman he's thinking of me more as a guard."

Carter, who can be fiery and destructive on the field, is quite the opposite off of it. He's the perfect definition of a gentle giant.

"I'm an ultra relaxed person off the field," Carter said. "I like reading books, playing video games and just relaxing. I also like being adventurous, I like getting lost in a city. I can go to downtown Cleveland and just be lost with myself. I can have fun where ever I'm at."

Carter also isn't your typical star athlete. Where many players today want to graduate high school early and get to their collegiate teams as soon as possible, "Big Hungry" is quite the opposite.

"I want to finish out my senior year," Carter said. "I could graduate early but I want to have my full high school experience. I want to walk at my graduation. I want to go to the prom. Once I leave high school I'm no longer a child. It'll be time to work on my adult life — and I want to hold on to my childhood as long as I can."

Carter also has some big goals he would like to accomplish before he heads to Columbus.

"Athletic wise my goals are to be on the first team at Kennedy to make the playoffs," Carter said. "That's one of the big goals for our whole team and myself. Also, I want to play in the Big 33 game. That's my other big athletic goal.

"With my academic goals, I plan on achieving a perfect 4.0 (grade point average) and getting into the National Honor Society. My core GPA is a 2.79 and I need a 3.5 to be inducted."

Carter plans on majoring in Information Technology at Ohio State.

"I want to be an I.T. specialist," Carter said. "I really like working on and fixing computers."

Of course, being a native Clevelander the topic of LeBron James leaving the Cavaliers to play in Miami came up in our conversation.

Was Carter upset about LeBron's exit? Well, let's just say he didn't lose any sleep over it.

"People get surprised when I tell them that I didn't even see 'The Decision,'" Carter laughed. "That day I had practice and I was tired. I didn't stay up to see it, I just went to sleep."

So does that mean Chris Carter doesn't care for LeBron James?

"If it comes down to LeBron James and sleep ... I'm choosing sleep," Carter laughed. "I would rather get prepared and rested for practice the next day than to stay up and watch LeBron say he's going somewhere else."

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

OSU COMMIT SMITH HAS ALWAYS BEEN A BUCKEYE AT HEART

MASSILLON — Massillon (OH) Washington wide receiver Devin Smith has always had scarlet and gray flowing through his veins.

(left, photo of Devin Smith by FridayNightOhio.com)

He knew he was destined to end up in Columbus, even if his journey there wasn't exactly a straight shot.

After playing his freshman and sophomore seasons at Ellet High School in Akron, the 6-foot-2, 180 pound speedster decided to transfer to Ohio prep powerhouse Massillon Washington for his junior campaign in 2009.

The ultra-talented Smith immediately made an impact, hauling in 50 passes for nearly 1,000 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Tigers en route to a Division I state semi-final appearance.

The decision to move to Massillon — and his great production that followed — put the speedy wideout on the class of 2011 radar, not only in the state of Ohio but the nation as well.

Smith was reeling in offers left and right following his junior season, including ones from Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State, Pittsburgh and Nebraska just to name a few.

But as we all know, there was only school that resided in Smith's heart. There was only one place he envisioned himself going to, and when they offered him a scholarship in June, that vision became a reality.

"(Ohio State) was my dream school," Smith told The Buckeye Times on Wednesday. "I always wanted to be a Buckeye. Ohio State is a special place and I wanted to be a part of something special."

By judging the class of 2011 so far, it looks to be something very special. Especially for Smith.

Just two weeks prior to Smith's verbal to the Buckeyes, the top quarterback prospect in the nation — Huber Heights (OH) Wayne's Braxton Miller — announced that he would be playing his college football at The Ohio State University.

It's no wonder Smith wasted little time giving the Buckeyes his commitment. Just thinking about the best QB in the nation connecting with the best wide receiver in the state would make anyone giddy, especially if you're said receiver.

Smith admits that he and Miller are beginning to become closer.

"Me and Braxton are good friends," Smith said. "We are talking here and there."

Smith is a huge pickup for the Buckeyes who will be losing starter Dane Sanzenbacher to graduation after this season, and could possibly lose No. 1 receiver DeVier Posey who will become draft eligible after this year.

Smith possesses ideal size, tremendous speed and incredible hands — he's a prototype receiver.

When I asked Smith to give a scouting report of himself, the first word he uttered hit the nail right on the head.

"Excitement." Smith said.

The Massillon star continued the report by saying ... "I'm a hard worker with speed. I pattern my game after (Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver) Jeremy Maclin."

Exciting? Hard worker? Speed? Now that's something Ohio State fans love to hear.

Smith still has a year left at Massillon before he heads to Columbus, and he has set a very lofty goal.

"In high school I want to win a state title," Smith proclaimed.

His expectations at Ohio State are just as big.

"In college I want to become the best player I can be." Smith said.

"I want to be one of the great receivers to come out of Ohio State."

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

OSU COMMIT 'PEEWEE' GAMBRELL PLAYS THE GAME LIKE A GIANT

(DerJuan Gambrell photo by Scott Grau/nwoprepsports.com)

TOLEDO — When Toledo Rogers defensive back DerJuan Gambrell steps on the football field you immediately take notice.

The 6-foot-2, 180 pound athlete is electrifying, he has blazing speed, lightning quickness, incredible leaping ability and gritty toughness. Gambrell is the definition of what every coach looks for in a defensive back.

Not bad for a kid whose nickname is "Peewee."

Gambrell, who will be entering his senior season at Rogers this fall, has been Mr. Everything for the Rams during his high school career. He has played quarterback, running back and wide receiver at Rogers, and has shown an ability to find his way to the end zone. In 2009 — his junior season — Gambrell scored seven touchdowns on the offensive side of the ball.

However, it is in the defensive backfield where Gambrell makes the most noise. After recording more than 50 tackles and an interception in 2009, the class of 2011 product began getting some serious attention from some big-time collegiate programs.

The talented Gambrell didn't waste much time deciding where he wanted to play his college ball, though, selecting Ohio State as his school back in March.

"Ohio State was the place for me in many ways," Gambrell told The Buckeye Times on Tuesday. "I wanted to go to a school that could make me a better person on and off the field. I also felt that if I wanted to be the best I had to learn from the best coaches in the country."

Gambrell said that his relationship with OSU cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson cemented his decision.

"Me and Coach Johnson just had that connection when I came down a weekend to visit," Gambrell said. "I understood him clearly."

Gambrell said that his ultimate goal is to play in the National Football League, so choosing a school who could get him there was a major priority to the speedy defensive back.

"I knew in the last couple years the Buckeyes have been having DB's move on to the next level," Gambrell said. "So I wanted to give myself a chance to learn what they were teaching their guys."

But before Gambrell makes his way to Columbus, he will first focus on helping his current team make a run to the post-season. And "Peewee" has some giant expectations for his senior year.

"My goal for my final year at Rogers is simple ... State Championship!" Gambrell said. "We made it to the first round and lost and that felt so crazy to me. I promised my coach (Ric) Rios that we are going back and making a run in the playoffs."

Of course he still has time to dream about the day he puts on the scarlet and gray uniform, and with that great class of recruits coming in with him in 2011, who could blame the kid?

"I want to remember my career at Ohio State as being a national champion," Gambrell said. "Along with the great class that's coming in with me."

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

BUCKEYES OR TIDE? TREY DEPRIEST TO ANNOUNCE IT THIS FRIDAY

(Photo of Braxton Miller, left, and Trey DePriest by the Springfield News-Sun)

SPRINGFIELD — Highly touted Springfield linebacker Trey DePriest will announce where he intends to play his collegiate football on Friday at 5 p.m., according to the Springfield News-Sun.

DePriest, who is considered one of the top linebacker prospects in the country has narrowed his list to two schools, Alabama and Ohio State. He has visited both schools in the past week.

Many feel that Alabama is his likely choice, but he has yet to declare either school as his official leader.

One thing to note in his decision is that he is lifelong best friends with Ohio State commit Braxton Miller. He and Miller played together from peewee to junior high, before Miller moved to Huber Heights to play quarterback at Wayne.

During Miller's announcement press conference back in June — with DePriest on hand — he stated that he would be trying to recruit his good buddy to Columbus.

"I'm going to be like, you know, you're an Ohio kid," Miller said in June about DePriest. "You want to be a national champion? Then come and stay with your boy, get a room with me and it'll be all good."

That could play a huge role in DePriest's decision, even though the Springfield star has indicated numerous times that it will not be a factor.

We shall see this Friday.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Monday, July 26, 2010

OSU LEGEND JACK TATUM DIES AT 61

Ohio State legend Jack Tatum passed away on Tuesday after suffering a heart attack in California. Tatum was 61.

(left, Tatum)

Tatum, who started at safety for Ohio State from 1968-70, was a two-time all-American for the Woody Hayes-led Buckeyes. He was a major part of the Buckeyes 1968 National Championship team.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel issued a statement about Tatum's passing on Tuesday.

"We have lost one of our greatest Buckeyes," Tressel said. "When you think of Ohio State defense, the first name that comes to mind is Jack Tatum. His loss touches every era of Ohio State players and fans."

Tatum was a first round selection by the Oakland Raiders in 1971, where he made a name for himself as one of the hardest hitting players in the history of the league. He was a three-time pro bowler and a Super Bowl champion (1976).

He was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

THE WHOLE NINE — BARRON COLLIER (FL) TIGHT END JEFF HEUERMAN

NAPLES, Fla. — It is no secret that Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel loves to run the football.

So it's natural that when he recruits tight ends he's always looking to land the ones who can put defenders on their backs.

(left, Jeff Heuerman)

Barron Collier (FL) star Jeff Heuerman is definitely that kind of player.

Heuerman — who issued his verbal commitment to the Buckeyes in April after receiving a plethora of offers from some of the nation's best like Alabama, LSU, Tennessee and Iowa — is big (6-5, 230), strong, athletic and knows a thing or two about pancaking opposing defenders. He is considered one of the best pure blocking tight ends in the country for the class of 2011.

Although he plays in mostly a run-oriented offense at Barron Collier, Heuerman has also displayed that he can be a formidable pass catcher as well, snagging 12 receptions during his junior season for 300 yards and four touchdowns. On tape Heuerman looks a lot like a young Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys.

Yeah, it's no wonder why the Buckeyes boss wanted Heuerman in a scarlet and gray uniform, is it?

Heuerman took time to talk with The Buckeye Times on Monday evening for this edition of "The Whole Nine" — nine questions that give Buckeye fans a little more insight into the recruit, both on and off the field.

The Buckeye Times: What made you commit to OSU so early?
Jeff Heuerman: I had visited about 10 schools when I got to OSU and I after I left Ohio State I just knew it was the right fit. I wasn't planning on committing so early, but when I got home I knew where I wanted to go and there was no since in waiting.

TBT: What is it about Ohio State that made them stand out from the other schools recruiting you?
Heuerman: Every school I visited there was always something or a few things that I didn't like about the school, the atmosphere or the football program. I didn't find that at Ohio State. There wasn't anything that I didn't like, which made it special.

TBT: Give me a scouting report on Jeff Heuerman?
Heuerman: Jeff Heuerman brings a positive winning attitude combined with love and passion for the game of football. The team is a family, and family comes first for me.

TBT: The Buckeyes landed the top quarterback in the country for the class of 2011 in Braxton Miller. Have you become good buddies with Braxton yet? Perhaps you've provided him with some video footage of Peyton Manning and Dallas Clark?
Heuerman: No I haven't become very close with Braxton yet. I've had a few conversations with him on the phone but I haven't met him in person yet. And now that you mention that about Manning and Clark, that sounds like a good idea (laughing).

Maybe someday people will be able to compare the Manning/Clark connection to Miller/Heuerman (laughing).

TBT: Are there any players you would say you try to play the game like?
Heuerman: I would say I pattern my game after Jason Witten. Not saying I'm as good as him (laughing) but the way he combines blocking, receiving and running is a lot like how I combine them.

TBT: What are some goals you have set for yourself ... high school and college?
Heuerman: One goal I have set for my high school career doesn't have anything to do with catches, blocks or wins, but more just being there for the team. I want them to know that if they need someone to lean on or come to, whether in life or on the field, I'm there for them.

Same goes with college and anywhere else.

Another college goal would be to win a national championship. That's what we'll work for everyday. I want to fill my right hand fingers with rings before I graduate (laughing).

TBT: What are your interests off the football field?
Heuerman: Off the field I enjoy working out, spending time with my brothers, family and friends, and just having a good time. Down in Naples we go out on boats a lot, so boating and fishing is also a big part of my free time.

TBT: Do you know what your college major will be? If so, what are your plans with it in the future?
Heuerman: I think I'm going to do a criminal justice major for something a little different rather than just pre-law. My dad is a lawyer and after it's all said and done that's what I would like to be also.

TBT: How do you want to be remembered when your career is over at Ohio State?
Heuerman: After my career at Ohio State I would like to be remembered as a good christian, a good person and a good football player. Someone that always worked hard and gave their all for their family, friends and Ohio State.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

TBT FORUM POST OF THE WEEK

Each Monday, The Buckeye Times will have a TBT Forum post of the week.

(left, photo of Terrelle Pryor by The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)

This week's post comes from "BucksStopHere" who wrote on the topic: Is Pryor a prima donna?

"Everybody seems to be coming down on Terrelle Pryor for not going to the Big Ten day. I don't think it's him as much as it's Tressel. I think (Tressel) wants him to keep focused on the season instead of all the hype. I think people are hitting on him way too hard."

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

CHECK OUR NEW TBT FAN FORUM

The Buckeye Times has added a community forum for readers and fans to post topics and generate conversation about the Ohio State University and college football.

The forum is absolutely free to join, so sign up and start talking about what matters most ... Buckeyes football!

You can access the forum by clicking on the icon below the header — TBT Forum — or you can just click here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

SHELL COULD BE A TOP TARGET FOR BUCKEYES IN THE CLASS OF 2012

ALIQUIPPA, Pa. — Hopewell (Pa.) tailback Rushel Shell has rushed for more than 4,000 yards and 46 touchdowns during his high school career.

(left, Shell)

Putting up those type of numbers in a football hotbed like western Pennsylvania seems daunting to say the least. However, when you take into account that Shell is only halfway through his high school career, the thought of 4,000 yards just leaves you shaking your head in total disbelief.

The 5-foot-11, 210 pound junior broke onto the scene as a freshman at Hopewell, rushing for more than 1,500 yards and 14 scores, while earning Pittsburgh Post Gazette "Fabulous 22" honors.

After making his presence known in a huge way during his freshman campaign, Shell followed it up with an even bigger explosion in 2009, totaling 2,465 yards and 32 touchdowns on a ridiculous 9.9 yards per carry.

So much for the sophomore slump, huh?

Hailing from the same school that produced hall of fame running back Tony Dorsett, Shell brings a much different style to the backfield than T.D. did. Dorsett was smooth and graceful. Shell is about passion and punishment.

"I try to pattern my game after (Minnesota Vikings All-Pro) Adrian Peterson," Shell told The Buckeye Times on Tuesday. "I bring unselfishness and heart to a football team. I never give up no matter what."

Shell has been such a dominating runner early on in his prep career that the University of Pittsburgh — also Dorsett's alma mater — offered the star tailback a scholarship when he was just a freshman.

Of course, Shell's incredible numbers coupled with his great size, speed and tenacious running style has garnered a whole lot of attention from some of the best collegiate programs in the country.

Shell said that Florida, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee, UCLA, Oklahoma, Oregon and Pittsburgh have all displayed a vested interest in him thus far in the recruiting process.

However, Shell informed The Buckeye Times that he does have one school at the top of his interest list.

"Ohio State is my No. 1 school as of right now," Shell said. "Ohio State has a great atmosphere and always has a great team.

"I'm an Ohio State fan."

The Buckeyes have yet to offer Shell but one could definitely be coming in the near future. Ohio State hasn't offered a running back in the 2011 class, and as it appears, aren't planning to do so.

This means the tailback position could be the Buckeyes top priority for the class of 2012. With outstanding tailback prospects like Warren Ball (Columbus DeSales), Barry Sanders Jr. (Heritage Hall/Oklahoma City), Bri'onte Dunn (Canton GlenOak) and Shell all in the class, the Buckeyes could really make up for passing on 2011.

Ball recently informed The Buckeye Times that Ohio State is atop his interest list, as well.

As of right now though, Shell isn't dwelling on where he will be playing in the future, he is completely focused on the upcoming season for Hopewell.

"My goals that I have for myself this year is to make my team better, and for my team to go further than we did last season." Shell said.

The Buckeye Times will continue to keep close tabs on this star runner from western PA.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

THE WHOLE NINE — HERITAGE HALL (OKLA) RB BARRY SANDERS JR.

OKLAHOMA CITY — Every college football coach in the country is looking for a tailback with great size, speed, power and elusiveness. In other words, they're all searching for another Barry Sanders.

Well, the search is over. There actually is another Barry Sanders coming through the prep ranks and his name is ... Barry Sanders Jr.

(right, Sanders Jr.)

The Heritage Hall (Okla) class of 2012 product is a carbon copy of his hall of fame father, possessing great size (5-11, 195), speed, power, elusiveness, as well as the vision of a 10-year NFL veteran.

As a freshman, Sanders Jr. helped lead his team to a state championship, and last season — his sophomore campaign — the shifty runner compiled 1,700 yards on the ground with 22 touchdowns.

Of course, college coaches and scouts from all across the country are already showing great interest in the Oklahoma rising star, and at this rate he could become the most sought after runner in the class of 2012 before it's all said and done.

Sanders took time to talk with The Buckeye Times on Monday night for this edition of "The Whole Nine" — nine questions that give Buckeye fans a little more insight into the recruit, both on and off the field.

The Buckeye Times: I know it's early in the recruiting process but what kind of interest do you have in Ohio State, if any?
Barry Sanders Jr.: I'm interested in any team that's interested in me at this point. (Ohio State) sent me a questionnaire so I know somebody in the program is thinking about me. I look forward to talking to some coaches when the time comes.

TBT: What is it about Ohio State that attracts you?
Sanders: Ohio State is a program with a lot of tradition and that's something that is high on my interest level when I'm thinking about schools. They seem to be getting better year after year, and I hope to see them continue to do so.

TBT: Is there any college team that you are a fan of?
Sanders: The only team I can call myself a real fan of is Oklahoma State (his father's alma mater), for obvious reasons (laughing). But Barry "the fan" won't be making the decision where I'm going to school.

TBT: Are there any players you try to emulate?
Sanders: I don't try to pattern my game around anybody. I think if I can stay healthy and keep getting better, whatever style I have will make me successful.

TBT: What does Barry Sanders Jr. bring to a football team?
Sanders: I think I provide a knowledge for the game when I'm out there on the field. Yes, athleticism is great to have but the guys that know the game and can help his teammates get better when the coaches aren't there to help is critical to the success of a team.

TBT: What are some goals that you've set for yourself?
Sanders: Well I'm always trying to beat myself, so last year I rushed for 1,700 yards with 30 total touchdowns — 22 of those rushing and seven interceptions. This year, I hope to surpass those numbers.

TBT: Which schools — who have offered you a scholarship — has you the most excited at this moment?
Sanders: I have seven offers at this point and all seven are good programs. But the three that stand out are Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Tennessee.

TBT: What are your interests off the field?
Sanders: I love playing video games and just hanging with friends like any other kid. During football season there are few times to get rest so I cherish the few moments that I get.

TBT: What are your goals in case football doesn't work out?
Sanders: After football is over I would like to get into something that has to do with numbers. Growing up I said I wanted to be a doctor, but I think me owning my own something in the business life would be more amusing.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Monday, July 19, 2010

TBT 2010 SCHEDULE BREAKDOWN

Below is a breakdown of each team on the OSU 2010 schedule ...

Sept. 2 vs. MARSHALL
2009 record: 7-6 (2-4 road); Returning starters: 14 (7 off., 7 def.); Key offensive player: WR Antavious Wilson (60 rec, 724 yds, 3 TD); Key defensive player: LB Mario Harvey (117 tackles, 7 sacks); TBT Rank: NR.


Sept. 11 vs. MIAMI (FL)
2009 record: 9-4 (4-2 road); Returning starters: 13 (6 off, 7 def); Key offensive player: QB Jacory Harris (3,352 yds, 24 TD, 17 int); Key defensive player: LB Colin McCarthy (95 tackle, 1 sacks); TBT Rank: 9.


Sept. 18 vs. OHIO
2009 record: 9-5 (5-2 road); Returning starters: 12 (6 off., 6 def.); Key offensive player: WR LaVon Brazill (53 rec, 702 yds, 6 TD); Key defensive player: LB Noah Keller (155 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 int); TBT Rank: NR.


Sept. 25 vs. EASTERN MICHIGAN
2009 record: 0-12 (0-7 road); Returning starters: 15 (8 off., 7 def.); Key offensive player: QB Alex Gillett (763 yds, 3 TD, 7 int); Key defensive player: S Marty Cardwell (105 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 int); TBT Rank: NR.


Oct. 2 at ILLINOIS
2009 record: 3-9 (2-4 home); Returning starters: 12 (5 off., 7 def.); Key offensive player: RB Mikel Leshoure (108 rush, 765 yds, 5 TD); Key defensive player: DE Clay Nurse (31 tackles, 5.5 sacks); TBT Rank: NR.


Oct. 9 vs. INDIANA
2009 record: 4-8 (1-5 road); Returning starters: 13 (9 off., 4 def.); Key offensive player: WR Tandon Doss (77 rec, 962 yds, 5 TD); Key defensive player: LB Tyler Replogle (80 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 int); TBT Rank: NR.


Oct. 16 at WISCONSIN
2009 record: 10-3 (6-1 home); Returning starters: 16 (10 off., 6 def.); Key offensive player: RB John Clay (287 rush, 1,548 yds, 18 TD); Key defensive player: DE JJ Watt (44 tackles, 4.5 sacks); TBT Rank: 11.


Oct. 23 vs. PURDUE
2009 record: 5-7 (2-3 road); Returning starters: 11 (5 off., 6 def.); Key offensive player: WR Keith Smith (91 rec, 1,100 yds, 6 TD); Key defensive player: DE Ryan Kerrigan (66 tackles, 13 sacks); TBT Rank: NR.


Oct. 30 at MINNESOTA
2009 record: 6-7 (4-3 home); Returning starters: 11 (9 off., 2 def.); Key offensive player: QB Adam Weber (2,582 yds, 13 TD, 15 int); Key defensive player: S Kim Royston (86 tackles, 1 sacks, 1 int); TBT Rank: NR.


Nov. 13 vs PENN STATE
2009 record: 11-2 (4-0 road); Returning starters: 13 (8 off., 5 def.); Key offensive player: RB Evan Royster (205 rush, 1,195 yds, 6 TD); Key defensive player: DE Jack Crawford (31 tackles, 5.5 sacks); TBT Rank: 12.


Nov. 20 at IOWA
2009 record: 11-2 (6-1 home); Returning starters: 14 (6 off., 8 def.); Key offensive player: QB Ricky Stanzi (2,417 yds, 17 TD, 15 int); Key defensive player: DE Adrian Clayborn (70 tackles, 11.5 sacks); TBT Rank: 4.


Nov. 27 vs MICHIGAN
2009 record: 5-7 (0-4 road); Returning starters: 15 (7 off., 8 def.); Key offensive player: WR Roy Roundtree (32 rec, 434 yds, 3 TD); Key defensive player: S Jordan Kovacs (75 tackles, 1 int); TBT Rank: NR.


— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Friday, July 16, 2010

TBT 2010 PRESEASON TOP 25

Photo of DeVier Posey, left, and Terrelle Pryor
by The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell

Listed below is The Buckeye Times 2010 Preseason College Football Top 25.

Contributing to the poll are TBT staffers Lee Hudnell, Joshua Stueve, Joseph Stueve and Brent VanFleet II.

Note: During the 2010 season, The Buckeye Times will issue a weekly poll every Monday.

The Buckeye Times Top 25 (first place votes)
1. ALABAMA (4) 100
2009 record: 14-0; Returning starters: 10 (8 Off., 2 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 11 vs. No. 12 Penn State, Oct. 2 vs. No. 7 Florida, Nov. 6 at No. 17 LSU.

2. OHIO STATE 94
2009 record: 11-2; Returning starters: 15 (9 Off., 6 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 11 vs. No. 9 Miami (FL), Oct. 16 at No. 11 Wisconsin, Nov. 20 at No. 4 Iowa.

3. BOISE STATE 81
2009 record: 14-0; Returning starters: 20 (10 Off., 10 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 6 vs No. 6 Virginia Tech (Landover, MD.), Sept. 25 vs. Oregon State, Nov. 26 at Nevada.

4. IOWA 79
2009 record: 11-2; Returning starters: 14 (6 Off., 8 Def.); Three games to watch: Oct. 2 vs. No. 12 Penn State, Oct. 23 vs. No. 11 Wisconsin, Nov. 20 vs. No. 2 Ohio State.

5. TEXAS 78
2009 record: 13-1; Returning starters: 12 (5 Off., 7 Def.); Three games to watch: Oct. 2 vs. No. 16 Oklahoma (Dallas), Oct. 16 at No. 10 Nebraska, Nov. 25 vs. Texas A&M.

(Virginia Tech tailback Ryan Williams)

6. VIRGINIA TECH 76
2009 record: 10-3; Returning starters: 12 (8 Off., 4 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 6 vs. No. 3 Boise State (Landover, MD.), Nov. 4 vs. No. 19 Georgia Tech, Nov. 20 at No. 9 Miami (FL).

7. FLORIDA 75
2009 record: 13-1; Returning starters: 11 (6 Off., 5 Def.); Three games to watch: Oct. 2 at No. 1 Alabama, Oct. 9 vs. No. 17 LSU, Nov. 27 at No. 21 Florida State.

8. TEXAS CHRISTIAN 74
2009 record: 12-1; Returning starters: 16 (9 Off., 7 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 4 vs. Oregon State (Arlington, TX), Oct. 16 vs. BYU, Nov. 6 at No. 20 Utah.

9. MIAMI (FL) 72
2009 record: 9-4; Returning starters: 13 (6 Off., 7 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 11 at No. 2 Ohio State, Sept. 23 at No. 14 Pittsburgh, Nov. 20 vs. No. 6 Virginia Tech.

10. NEBRASKA 57
2009 record: 10-4; Returning starters: 15 (9 Off., 6 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 18 at Washington, Oct. 16 vs. No. 5 Texas, Nov. 26 at Colorado.

(Wisconsin tailback John Clay)

11. WISCONSIN 56
2009 record: 10-3; Returning starters: 16 (10 Off., 6 Def.); Three games to watch: Oct. 16 vs. No. 2 Ohio State, Oct. 23 at No. 4 Iowa, Nov. 20 at Michigan.

12. PENN STATE 48
2009 record: 11-2; Returning starters: 13 (8 Off., 5 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 11 at No. 1 Alabama, Oct. 2 at No. 4 Iowa, Nov. 13 at No. 2 Ohio State.

13. SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA 47
2009 record: 9-4; Returning starters: 10 (5 Off., 5 Def.); Three games to watch: Oct. 30 vs. No. 15 Oregon, Nov. 20 at Oregon State, Nov. 27 vs. Notre Dame.

14. PITTSBURGH 45
2009 record: 10-3; Returning starters: 11 (5 Off., 6 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 2 at No. 20 Utah, Sept. 23 vs. No. 9 Miami (FL), Dec. 4 at No. 22 Cincinnati.

15. OREGON 43
2009 record: 10-3; Returning starters: 17 (9 Off., 8 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 11 at Tennessee, Oct. 30 at No. 13 USC, Dec. 4 at Oregon State.

(Oklahoma tailback DeMarco Murray)

16. OKLAHOMA 36
2009 record: 8-5; Returning starters: 13 (8 Off., 5 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 11 vs. No. 21 Florida State, Sept. 25 at No. 22 Cincinnati, Oct. 2 at No. 5 Texas.

17. LSU 31
2009 record: 9-4; Returning starters: 10 (6 Off., 4 Def.); Three games to watch: Oct. 9 at No. 7 Florida, Nov. 6 vs. No. 1 Alabama, Nov. 27 at No. 18 Arkansas.

18. ARKANSAS 30
2009 record: 8-5; Returning starters: 17 (10 Off., 7 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 25 vs. No. 1 Alabama, Oct. 16 at No. 24 Auburn, Nov. 27 vs. No. 17 LSU.

19. GEORGIA TECH 29
2009 record: 11-3; Returning starters: 14 (6 Off., 8 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 18 at No. 23 North Carolina, Nov. 4 at No. 6 Virginia Tech, Nov. 13 vs. No. 9 Miami (FL).

20. UTAH 22
2009 record: 10-3; Returning starters: 12 (8 Off., 4 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 2 vs. No. 14 Pittsburgh, Nov. 6 vs. No. 8 TCU, Nov. 27 vs. BYU.

(Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder)

21. FLORIDA STATE 20
2009 record: 7-6; Returning starters: 15 (9 Off., 6 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 11 at No. 16 Oklahoma, Oct. 9 at No. 9 Miami (FL), Nov. 27 vs. No. 7 Florida.

22. CINCINNATI 17
2009 record: 12-1; Returning starters: 12 (7 Off., 5 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 25 vs. No. 16 Oklahoma, Nov. 13 at No. 25 West Virginia, Dec. 4 vs. No. 14 Pittsburgh.

23. NORTH CAROLINA 15
2009 record: 8-5; Returning starters: 19 (10 Off., 9 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 4 vs. No. 17 LSU (Atlanta), Oct. 23 at No. 9 Miami (FL), Nov. 13 vs. No. 6 Virginia Tech.

24. AUBURN 14
2009 record: 8-5; Returning starters: 15 (7 Off., 8 Def.); Three games to watch: Oct. 16 vs. No. 18 Arkansas, Oct. 23 vs. No. 17 LSU, Nov. 26 at No. 1 Alabama.

25. WEST VIRGINIA 11
2009 record: 9-4; Returning starters: 16 (7 Off., 9 Def.); Three games to watch: Sept. 25 at No. 17 LSU, Nov. 13 vs. No. 22 Cincinnati, Nov. 26 at No. 14 Pittsburgh.

OTHERS WHICH RECEIVED VOTES: BYU 9; (tie) Georgia, Oregon State 8; Washington 7; Clemson 6; Texas Tech 4; (tie) Notre Dame, Stanford 3; Houston 1.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

TBT WIRE: TERRELLE PRYOR NAMED TO O'BRIEN AWARD WATCH LIST

(Photo of Terrelle Pryor by The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)

COLUMBUS — The following release was sent to The Buckeye Times on Wednesday by Adam Widman, assistant director of the Ohio State Athletics Communications office ...

Ohio State junior quarterback Terrelle Pryor is among 30 of the nation's top collegiate quarterbacks who were selected to the 2010 Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award watch list. Preseason consideration is based on player performance during the previous year and expectations heading into the 2010 college football season.


Last season Pryor passed for 2,094 yards with 18 touchdowns and led the Buckeyes with 779 yards and seven TDs on the ground. The Rose Bowl MVP passed for a season-high 266 yards and two touchdowns, rushed for 72 more and set an Ohio State bowl game record with 338 yards of total offense as the Buckeyes upset the Oregon Ducks on New Year's Day, 26-17. He enters his junior year with more than 4,800 yards of total offense and is the fifth Buckeye quarterback to rush for more than 1,000 career yards with two years of eligibility remaining.


Pryor is one of 13 juniors to make the list and joins counterparts Ricky Stanzi (Iowa) and Scott Tolzien (Wisconsin) from the Big Ten.


Appearing on the Watch List is not a requirement for a player to be awarded The O'Brien. Quarterbacks from all 120 NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools are eligible for the award until the field is narrowed to 16 semifinalists Monday, Oct. 25. The Foundation and the Selection Committee will announce three finalists Monday, Nov. 22. The 2010 winner will be announced on The Home Depot ESPNU College Football Awards Show Thursday, Dec. 9.


The 34th Annual O'Brien Awards Dinner will be held Feb. 21, 2011 at The Fort Worth Club in Fort Worth, Texas.


— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

HYDE COULD BE A DIFFERENCE MAKER IN THE OSU BACKFIELD

COLUMBUS — Carlos Hyde's journey to Columbus has been a long one to say the least.

(left, Hyde)

The 6-foot-1, 235 pound tailback from southwest Florida was one of Ohio State's top recruits in the class of 2009. The All-Florida runner was expected to come in as a true freshman and give the Buckeyes that bruising presence in the backfield that was left void when Beanie Wells decided to forgo his senior season.

Hyde — who rushed for more than 1,650 yards and 16 touchdowns as a senior at Naples (FL) High School — was going to be that complimentary power back to Brandon Saine and Dan Herron, much like Wells was to Antonio Pittman during his freshman campaign in 2006.

(To see film of Hyde, click here.)

However, that plan didn't exactly pan out as Hyde was unable to qualify to Ohio State academically. Instead of hitting those short yardage and goal line plays in Columbus, the Florida star instead found himself hitting the books at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia. Quite a long, long way from the Horseshoe, that's for sure.

But just like he does against opposing defenders, Hyde simply put his head down and blasted through the obstacle with brute force. The talented youngster became eligible academically and enrolled at Ohio State this past January.

Hyde immediately turned heads on the practice field during Ohio State's spring camp in April. The big man not only displayed his great power game during the camp, but he showed an elusive running style that many didn't know he possessed.

Hyde also showcased those skills in front of 65,000 fans at the Scarlet and Gray game, carrying the ball a game-high six times for 26 yards (4.3 avg.). He also hauled in an 11-yard reception on the Gray squad's game-winning scoring drive in the fourth quarter.

According to Ohio State running backs coach Doc Tressel, the adversity that Hyde has faced on his journey will help him become a better player for the Buckeyes.

"I think if we all stop and think about adversity ... when you come out of adversity, it always helps you," Tressel said on signing day in February. "The adversity that he's gone through is going to help him. It's going to add to his mental toughness."

Toughness is a word that fully describes Carlos Hyde.

"Carlos is a physical, explosive ball carrier," Tressel said. "A tough player. A football player. Hard nosed.

"He's the type of back that you need because backs have to be the toughest guys on the field. Everybody's after him. We're excited that this big, strong guy is finally on our campus and he's excited to help the Buckeyes be the best we can be."

Yes, Saine and Herron will surely see the bulk of the carries this season — at least early on — while sophomore Jordan Hall and red-shirt freshman Jaamal Berry will fight for playing time in the Buckeye backfield.

But Hyde brings something to the table that none of the other four backs can, and that's pure power. Not only is Hyde a punishing runner who can pick up the short yardage when called upon, but he can also block like a fullback — something which could come in handy when the Buckeyes open up the passing game this fall.

Tressel is excited about seeing what his young bruiser can do in the Buckeyes' system.

"(Hyde) played awfully close to the line of scrimmage (in high school)," Tressel said. "It's going to be interesting to see him line up about seven and a half yards deep and get his big body rolling, taking on some of those guys."

Oh yes, it's going to be interesting indeed.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

THE WHOLE NINE — AKRON HOBAN DEFENSIVE END LATROY LEWIS

AKRON — Akron Hoban junior LaTroy Lewis may look like a grizzly bear out on the football field, but the big defensive end gets off the edge with the swiftness of a gazelle.

(right, Lewis)

The 6-foot-4, 230 pound youngster from northeast Ohio is one of the top defensive players in the Buckeye State for the class of 2012.

In 2009 — Lewis' sophomore season — the Akron product seemed to be in the backfield more often than the opposing quarterback, recording eight sacks and 14 tackles for losses. His stellar play earned himself All-North Coast League first team honors.

The rising star is already getting some attention from collegiate scouts and coaches throughout the country, and with his recent performance at the OSU Position Camp, those numbers should continue to grow tremendously.

Lewis took time on Sunday to take part in The Buckeye Times edition of "The Whole Nine" — nine questions that give Buckeye fans a little more insight into the player, both on and off the field.

The Buckeye Times: Where does Ohio State stand for you right now in terms of interest?
LaTroy Lewis: It's a little early, but OSU is in the top three for me.

TBT: What is it about Ohio State that you like?
Lewis: I like the proximity from home. And I like how the whole organization is like a huge family.

TBT: Besides Ohio State, which schools that have displayed interest has you the most excited?
Lewis: Notre Dame, Michigan, Pitt and Oklahoma. They are all nice schools.

TBT: Which college would you say you're a fan of, if any?
Lewis: Growing up I was an Oklahoma fan. I just kind of fell in love with Sooner football at the time.

TBT: Are there any players you pattern your game after?
Lewis: I watch (Indianapolis Colts defensive end) Dwight Freeney a lot. He's big, but very quick.

TBT: Give me a scouting report on LaTroy Lewis?
Lewis: LaTroy Lewis has a good first step and quickness off the edge. But he could work more with his hands.

TBT: What are some of your interests off the field?
Lewis: I like to play basketball. And a little Xbox here and there.

TBT: I know it's early, but what are your plans for a college major?
Lewis: I plan on majoring in nursing.

TBT: What are some goals that you've set for yourself?
Lewis: I want to become the OHSAA Division III defensive player of the year. And also become a U.S. Army All-American.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Friday, July 9, 2010

BALL CAN PLAY SOME BALL, AND DREAMS OF DOING SO AT OSU

COLUMBUS — St. Francis DeSales tailback Warren Ball Jr. has college football coaches from all across the country drooling over the possibility of signing the dynamic runner to their class.

(left, photo of Ball by The Columbus Dispatch)

The 6-foot-2, 200 pounder from Columbus has the size, the speed, the talent, and an IQ for the game not often seen at the high school level.

And the crazy thing is ... Ball still has two years remaining in the prep ranks.

The class of 2012 recruit recently participated in the two-day Ohio State Position Camp and was the most impressive runner amongst the sophomores and juniors who were on hand. His stellar performance at the prestigious showcase cemented himself as one of the top young tailbacks in the nation.

I was wanting to get to know a little bit more about this rising star from central Ohio, so I went to the person who could give me the breakdown of Warren Ball Jr. better than anyone in the national scouting circles could ... Warren Ball Jr. himself.

"Warren Ball is a team player who looks to do whatever it takes to help his team win," Ball said Friday, after I asked him to give a scouting report of himself. "He loves football, and gives his all on every play."

Ball — who helped DeSales reach the Division III state championship game as a sophomore last season — rushed for more than 700 yards, despite sharing time in the backfield and missing four games due to injury.

Ball has made a name for himself as a splat and scat back during his high school career. But ... the rising star doesn't want to rest on his laurels — he wants to continue to grind.

"I want to play to the best of my ability," Ball said. "Block until the whistle, run hard, catch the football, and do whatever it takes to help my team win."

There he goes again ... talking about helping the team. Boy, sounds a lot like another runner who used to wear the same No. 34 on his jersey, doesn't it?

"I pattern my game after the late Walter Payton," Ball said. (Payton's) also the reason I wear No. 34."

I have to say that's not a bad player to model yourself after, that's for sure.

Ball knows what kind of player he is and can be, but he also stated that it isn't just about scoring touchdowns and winning football games.

"I know there's a life after football, so I stress grades — a 4.0 GPA," Ball said. "I make sure I excel in the classroom, too."

Ball said he plans on majoring in engineering when he gets to college in two years. The only question is, where will that be?

Most of the top schools across the country are already showing great interest in the Columbus product, but Ball listed Notre Dame, LSU and Pittsburgh as a few of the prospective schools that he's really excited about hearing from.

However, the young star did say that he has his eye on one school in particular.

"Ohio State is the school I'm most interested in," Ball said. "I grew up here (in Columbus) and have watched the Buckeyes on television for years, dreaming of playing there one day."

The way Ball is heading — both on the field and in the classroom — that dream could become a reality, as the Buckeyes will surely be offering a scholarship to the talented young runner in the very near future. (August 1 is the first day that schools can officially issue written offers to juniors)

You see, the Buckeyes have not offered a running back for the class of 2011, and from what I understand will not be doing so.

Which means Ball could be the Buckeyes No. 1 target for 2012.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

WHEN IT COMES TO THE CLASS OF 2012, ALL EYES ARE ON BIG WORM


Toledo Whitmer defensive end, Chris Wormley


TOLEDO — In the motion picture Friday, whenever the character "Big Worm" comes rolling down the road, residents on the street run for cover. They quiver in their shoes just thinking that he may pay them a visit.

The same can also be said for opposing quarterbacks when Chris "Big Worm" Wormley steps onto the football field. All they can do is duck and run.

Wormley, a defensive end from Toledo Whitmer, is everything you look for in a pass rusher: big, strong, quick and athletic.

During his sophomore season in 2009, the young talent recorded 12 quarterback sacks for Whitmer, helping his team to a 9-1 regular season record and a berth in the Division I state playoffs.

Not bad for a player who is just half way through his high school career. His incredible play last season was well beyond his years and had college scouts already taking notice. He was definitely one player to keep an eye on in the future.

Well in recent weeks, those eyes have been opened even further, as the class of 2012 star has been absolutely skyrocketing up recruiting boards at an amazing clip due to his stellar performances in various elite scouting showcases — most notably the Ohio State Position Camp late last month.

The 6-foot-6, 255 pound junior-to-be definitely caught the attention of the Ohio State coaching staff on hand.

Although he has not been offered by Ohio State as of yet, there is no doubt that "Big Worm" will be receiving one from the Buckeyes in the very near future.

And, Wormley likes everything Ohio State has to offer, too.

"O-State is definitely in the top five schools of my choice," Wormley told The Buckeye Times on Wednesday. "The atmosphere of the place just makes you feel at home. All the coaches are nice and make you feel comfortable."

Of course, Ohio State isn't the only school that's showing the rising star great attention. Wormley said that Cincinnati, Michigan, Michigan State and Iowa are some of the schools who have been showing great interest in him early on, and he's excited about each and every one of them.

In fact, when I asked who his favorite team is Wormley replied, "Well, ever since I was a kid I've liked Michigan."

Now that's not something Buckeye fans want to hear, now is it?

"I also like Florida," Wormley continued.

Talk about adding insult to injury, huh?

The Toledo native did follow it up by saying that childhood favorites don't necessarily translate into verbal commitments.

"I mean those were the schools I've rooted for," Wormley said of Michigan and Florida. "But the school I've rooted for don't really matter when it comes to the school, coaches and the football program."

You can catch your breath now, Buckeye fans!

Wormley also plays at the same high school as OSU class of 2011 commit, Kenny Hayes.

Hayes plays opposite of Wormley on the Whitmer defensive line and has been a great example for the young up-and-comer.

"Playing alongside Kenny, he's been a great role model," Wormley said. "He has taught me a lot of things. We're like a dynamic duo."

So, with Hayes already committed to the Buckeyes for 2011, will he have any influence on the possibility of his high school teammate joining him in college?

"It would be cool to play with Kenny at O-State," Wormley said. "He is always egging me on to go there.

"He might have some influence in my decision, because it's like a piece of home away from home."

Definitely stay tuned ...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

CENTERVILLE STAR, OSU COMMIT IS A BULLY OUT ON THE FOOTBALL FIELD

CENTERVILLE — Centerville (OH) High School and Ohio State class of 2011 commit, Michael Bennett, is one intense player when you watch him on film.

(left, Michael Bennett)

The 6-foot-3, 280 pound defensive tackle from the Dayton area, dominates the interior line like no other, using his unbelievable motor and athleticism to embarrass opposing offensive linemen.

Yes, I am well aware that what I'm about to write is saying an awful lot, but Bennett's game to me resembles that of the late NFL hall of famer, Reggie White. Bennett just bullies the opposition with his strength, explosiveness and unrivaled intensity, much like White did during his playing days.

Bennett, who plays at the same high school as former OSU star A.J. Hawk, said he doesn't pattern his game after any one player, though. He just plays ball the only way he knows how — all out.

"I don't know of anyone in particular I try to play like," Bennett told The Buckeye Times on Tuesday. "I just kind of try to do whatever works."

Well, that simple style has worked wonders for the big man. In fact, college football giants like Alabama, Florida, USC and Notre Dame, among others, were all knocking on Bennett's door, hoping that he would bring his dominating style to their respective campus.

However, it was Jim Tressel and the Buckeyes who would get the early call (last May).

Bennett said he didn't want to prolong his decision any longer — he knew right where he wanted to be.

"I committed to OSU so early because I made my decision," Bennett laughed. "I wasn't going to wait if I'd already decided."

Bennett said he loved everything that is Ohio State, from their tradition to their location.

"I like the atmosphere that surrounds the team, the facilities, the school, the opportunities it opens up for me, the level of excellence I'll be held to on and off the field," Bennett said.

"And it's close to home."

Bennett, who plans on majoring in pre med at Ohio State, said Tuesday that his goals — just like his decision to play for the Buckeyes — are simple: He wants to be the best.

"My goals for high school and college are the same ... I plan to be the best at my position, no question," Bennett said. "If I accomplish that, then I don't need any other awards or honors. Those will come with being the best."

Bennett also plays in the same league as star quarterback and OSU commit, Braxton Miller. Miller's Huber Heights Wayne team is the rival school to Bennett's Centerville squad.

Bennett and Miller are considered two of the top players in the Buckeyes 2011 recruiting class, and are looking forward to being teammates at Ohio State. But ... Bennett says there won't be any backing off on his end this fall when the two powerhouse high schools do battle on the gridiron.

"Braxton isn't my teammate yet," Bennett laughed. "He'll be just another Wayne quarterback when we play them!"

I wouldn't expect it any other way from Bennett.

I told you ... he's a bully!

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Monday, July 5, 2010

TBT EXCLUSIVE Q&A: TYLER MOELLER

(Photo of Tyler Moeller by The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)

COLUMBUS — Ohio State senior safety Tyler Moeller is known in Columbus as a player who can deliver a crushing hit.

Going into the 2009 season, many felt that the Cincinnati-native was poised for greatness, a shoe-in to start at either linebacker or safety for the Buckeyes. Yes, he's that multi-talented.

But just weeks before he was to make his first start for the Buckeyes, Moeller found himself on the wrong end of a vicious hit. The only difference was, this blow didn't happen on the gridiron — it happened in a Florida bar.

While patronizing the pub with his family on their vacation, a local man — Ralph Gray Decker — who heard that Moeller was a football player at Ohio State, began harassing him feverishly according to reports. Moeller, who decided to ignore the belligerent man, was then punched in the head from behind. The sucker shot caused him to fall hard to the ground where he would suffer another huge blow to the head when he hit the bar floor.

(Decker pleaded guilty last month to felony battery and will be sentenced in August.)

Moeller would have to spend a few days in a Florida hospital with head trauma before returning home to Columbus. However, once he made it back to Ohio he suffered another setback and had to be rushed into surgery to relieve the bleeding on his brain.

The player who was about to enter the biggest season of his life on the football field, was instead fighting for it on his back in a hospital bed. Moeller would eventually pull through, but the thought of him ever putting on a football uniform again seemed extremely unlikely.

Of course, Moeller — while sitting in his hospital bed following surgery — was already thinking about playing again.

This past April Moeller took a huge step toward making that comeback a reality, as he was able to participate in drills during OSU spring camp, albeit in a blue (non-contact) jersey.

Last month — less than a year removed from the injury — Moeller received the best news yet ... he has been fully cleared to play again for the Buckeyes this fall.

Moeller will surely play a major role for the Ohio State defense in 2010, a season that many feel could result in a crystal football coming back to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. He has the cover skills to play safety and the pass-rushing ability to do the trick at outside linebacker.

So can you say 'star' position? For those of you who are unfamiliar, the 'star' position at Ohio State is in essence a combination of linebacker and safety. Just think Troy Polamalu.

Moeller took some time on Monday to talk with me about the upcoming season, as well as what position he expects to be playing, his possible medical red-shirt, and how his perspective on life and football has changed since the assault at the Florida pub last July.

(Below is the complete transcript from the Moeller interview)

The Buckeye Times: After suffering the head injury less than a year ago many people thought that your playing career was over. Now you have been fully cleared for action. You must really feel like you have a new lease on life?
Tyler Moeller: I think everything that has happened has given me a new perspective on life. I didn't need someone "clearing" me to give me that. Having the final OK is really nice, but camp is going to determine if I am going to be able to play again.

The Buckeye Times: Was there ever a time where you thought, 'man, my career may be over?'
Moeller: (laughing) Yes, the first time the doctor said "you'll never play again." And then the second time the doctor in Columbus said "your playing career is over."

Personally, there was never really a time where I thought to myself that I wasn't going to play again. Even when I just got done with surgery, I was imagining coming back and being able to
play again.

The Buckeye Times: How much has your appreciation for the game of football changed in these past 11 months?
Moeller: Everything that has happened has made me realize a little bit more just how important the game is to me. But it's also showed me how important everything else other than football is to me, too.

The Buckeye Times: How was your support system throughout the entire comeback? Any one person stand out who was extra supportive?
Moeller: The support from my family and my team has meant everything to me and really showed how much they mean to me. The one person who stands out is my mother (Amy Moeller). She took care of me after surgery and is always there for me ... even when I don't want her there (laughing).

Also, she was so supportive during the trial, I really believe that without her, I would be going to trial and everyone would still think I was belligerent at a bar and started a fight with someone.

(left, photo of Moeller by The Buckeye Times/Darla Dunkle-Hudnell)

The Buckeye Times: During spring camp, I thought you looked really quick and decisive during drills. But unfortunately you had a blue jersey on the entire time. Knowing that you're such a competitor, how badly was that killing you? Did you feel like hitting someone out there?
Moeller: I love hitting. That is what makes me the player that I am. But I wasn't really worried about actually going out and hitting someone, but more so on how not being able to hit takes away that edge I have against my opponents.

The Buckeye Times: Well, I'm sure you want to look ahead now so let's talk about this season ... what are your expectations for the Buckeyes in 2010?
Moeller: I expect really big things from this team this year. I have been on some good teams in my career and this one is one of the best.

The Buckeye Times: What are your individual goals for this season? And where do you see yourself playing ... safety, linebacker, star?
Moeller: My individual goals I will keep to myself, but I see myself being at the safety position, most likely playing 'Star.'

The Buckeye Times: Give me a scouting report on Tyler Moeller?
Moeller: (laughing) I don't like to talk about myself, but I would say I'm fast, a play-maker and I try to knock someone out on every play.

The Buckeye Times: What are you planning to do with your degree once you graduate from OSU?
Moeller: Well I am a Consumer Affairs major with a minor in business. I would like to do something in sales, maybe pharmaceutical.

The Buckeye Times: What do you like to do in your spare time?
Moeller: Just hang out ... enjoy life!

The Buckeye Times: Tell me something about yourself that people may not know? And don't say that you're afraid of frogs like Brian Rolle did (laughing).
Moeller: Um, well ... I'm not afraid of frogs (laughing). I don't really have anything for you on this one.

The Buckeye Times: What will you remember most about playing at Ohio State when your college career is over?
Moeller: The friends that I have met and the opportunities that I have had. That is what I will remember the most.

The Buckeye Times: Final question ... Could you give me any info on your medical red-shirt? I know this is supposed to be your senior year, but what have you heard about possibly getting another year of eligibility?
Moeller: You probably know just as much a I do. I am going to petition for one after this year and hopefully they will give me another year. I think it would be wrong for them not to give me another year, being that I lost more than a year because someone hit me unprovoked because I am a football player.

It's frustrating to have to wait until then to find out, but hopefully everything will work out.

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

FLORIDA PREP STAR LYNCH SAYS OSU IS OFFICIALLY OUT OF THE RUNNING

CAPE CORAL, Fla. — Island Coast (FL) star defensive end Aaron Lynch informed The Buckeye Times on Sunday that he has officially eliminated Ohio State from his list of potential collegiate choices.

"At this point Ohio State is no longer in the running," Lynch said.

The 6-foot-5, 255 pounder said that he is getting closer to a decision and has listed four schools who are still in the running for his services.

"The teams that have caught my interest are Florida State, Notre Dame, Clemson and Florida," Lynch said. "I'm looking to commit at the end of this month or the first week of next month."

So, does the talented pass rusher have a leader as of right now? "The leader at this point is Florida State," Lynch said.

Lynch indicated that his top three priorities which will dictate where he ends up are: 1. Education. 2. His feel with the coaches. 3. Playing time/depth at defensive end.

Ohio State has already locked up two premier defensive ends for the class of 2011 in Canton McKinley's Steve Miller and Toledo Whitmer's Kenny Hayes.

Lynch finished by saying that his recruiting journey has been a great experience and he feels that all of those schools who have displayed interest have done so with class and integrity.

"I want to say every college I went to did a great job of recruiting me," Lynch said. Not one school showed negative recruiting. I respect every college (who recruited me) for that."

— To discuss this story or any others involving Ohio State football, click here.