COLUMBUS — Ohio State head football coach Urban Meyer is always pushing his players to perform at their highest levels.
He has said numerous times in his year and a half in Columbus that he despises average. That being just average is plain unacceptable. He will not be around average.
Sure, he has had his number of athletes who have left the program because they couldn't ascend above run-of-the-mill status.
However, he has had some players who were dwelling in mediocrity, but ended up heeding the coach's call by turning their fortunes around with supreme effort and determination.
Former Buckeyes offensive tackle Reid Fragel exemplifies the "average" player who transformed into a Meyer favorite.
Fragel, who was a tight end his entire career at Ohio State, switched to right tackle last season under Meyer, and the big man from Michigan excelled, anchoring an offense line which helped the team run through the 2012 season unbeaten.
Now Meyer is looking for another Fragel to step up this season. In fact, he may name an award after the lineman.
"Who’s going to be our Fragel?" Meyer said. “We’re going to call that the Fragel Award. He was a very below-average football player, and he turned out to be a very good player for the Ohio State University’s undefeated season.
"Who’s going to be the Fragel?"
One player which could be the next Fragel is junior cornerback Doran Grant.
Grant — a blue-chip athlete out of Akron — hasn't lived up to the great hype coming out of high school, unable to crack the starting roster unless it was for an injured player.
In practices, Grant passes the eye test, displaying incredible quickness, speed and athleticism, as well great instincts. But the ultra-athletic Grant has yet to make his mark when the whistle blows on Saturdays in the fall.
He has all of the abilities it takes to be a shutdown cornerback, and with the graduation of Travis Howard, Grant should get all the opportunity to show the college football world why he was such a highly-regarded player coming out of St. Vincent-St. Mary.
Should be interesting to see if Grant can hold off blue-chip freshmen, Eli Apple and Cam Burrows, for the starting spot opposite All-American Bradley Roby.
It's certain Meyer will have his eye on that position all spring long.
FRAGEL'S REPLACEMENT? ... As for Fragel's vacant position at right tackle, the leading candidates are sophomores, Taylor Decker and Chase Farris.
Decker was a prized recruit for Meyer in 2012 out of Vandalia-Butler (OH) and will have every opportunity to win the starting spot. However, Farris has become a favorite of Meyer and could go to the top of the depth chart if the 6-foot-7, 315-pound Decker stumbles during spring camp.
PRO DAY ... Ohio State will hold its pro day for NFL teams today at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in Columbus.
Buckeyes expected to be competing at pro day include: FB/LB Zach Boren, DB Zach Domicone, OT Reid Fragel, DT Garrett Goebel, DT Johnathan Hankins, CB Travis Howard, SAF Orhian Johnson, WR Taylor Rice, TE/H Jake Stoneburner, DE/LB John Simon, DE/LB Nathan Williams, LB Etienne Sabino and DL Kharim Stephens.