Shedding the Stripe

By Joe Beale on August 1, 2013 at 11:30a

Imagine being first in your class at Ohio State, in anything where success is measured individually. Also imagine that when it happens, there will be a visible representation that will remind all of your classmates every day. How proud would it make you to be recognized this way? Now imagine you receive this honor without doing anything that is tracked or measured in any way.

A happy story that is worth telling againEli Apple with Tim Apple. 

Being a freshman or transfer at Ohio State and being part of the football program means that you have this opportunity. This is because of a tradition Urban Meyer brought with him when he was hired as head coach. And that would be the tradition of the black stripe.

Last year Kyle attempted to explain it: "When he got his first head coaching job at Bowling Green in 2001, Meyer started putting a stripe down the middle of the freshmen’s helmets. When they’re removed, they officially become a member of the team." Or as Meyer himself described it back when he was at Florida: “It’s basically to de-recruit, to get rid of the nonsense, to make them understand that they’re not an outstanding freshman...They’re just another guy on the team trying to make their way.” 

The criteria for removing the stripe is subjective to a point: how well the player is practicing, is he showing leadership, is he being a good teammate. The evaluation is done by the coaches but with generous input from the player's "big brother" (an upperclassman at the same position who is assigned to mentor that particular newcomer). The first to lose the stripe will be remembered by everyone. Last year only Devan Bogard and Noah Spence managed to earn removal during the first week of practice.

Back in June, we ran a poll asking which freshman will be the first to lose his black stripe. A third of the responders chose Eli Apple, a stud DB recruit from New Jersey who enrolled early at OSU in order to take part in spring practice. Another 40% chose either Vonn Bell (22%) or Mike Mitchell (18%) and the rest of the choices all got less than 10% of the vote. 

Based on Meyer's comments above, it appears that humility and a sense of perspective on the part of the player regarding his place on the team is one of the main reasons for the stripe. Therefore demonstrating those qualities might be a prime consideration for those who have it removed. In that case, it would be almost foolish to try to predict who would be the first to lose his stripe, since those qualities are seldom shown in the public light before they are noticed in the private confines of the team space. But, being the fool that I am, I'll try to predict it anyway. Here goes.


As mentioned above, Apple was the top choice of the poll responders, and with good reason. Not only is he a great prospect, but he is apparently a person who understands how much he owes to at least one other person. Right before he went to play in the Army All-American game in January he announced that he was changing his last name from Woodard to Apple. This was to reflect the fact that his step-father Tim Apple had been his father in all respects since he was a 2-year old. It was a very public recognition of how much this man had sacrificed while helping mold him into the person he was. 

I have a soft spot for this kind of story, partly because it is such a departure from the normal behavior of star athletes on whom coaches and fans shower accolades and adoration. But the other part of it is because I also had a name change due to the fact that my former step-father adopted me and my two brothers (I now have three brothers; it's complicated) when I was only a kid. If humility is a big part of the equation, you have to think this kid is one of the leading candidates to lose his stripe quickly.

That being said, probably no one predicted Devan Bogard as the first last season, and so it is far from certain that it will be one of the obvious choices. Still, let's talk about another one.


Sometimes the quiet ones are the most dangerous.Billy Price: explosive energy behind a calm exterior. 

The thought here is that Mitchell is a freak of an athlete and he plays at a "position of need" on this team. Linebacker is a place where depth was a problem last season and where the team lost two starters from the 2012 team. Mitchell's performance alone might be enough to remove the stripe quickly, assuming he doesn't come off as too high on himself in the locker room. Speaking of which...


Bell was the other popular choice of poll responders, and at first glance is an obvious choice. As Vico mentioned, Bell is the crown jewel of the 2013 recruiting class, due to his high ratings from all the services and the fact that he made his decision on signing day, thus ensuring maximum fanfare. But for this reason, I think it will be hard for him to gain perspective quickly and so I don't look for Bell to be the first non-striper.


Elliott is another freakish athlete who comes in with accolades galore from those who have seen him play. I also like the close relationship he has with his parents. This guy seems very mature and I wouldn't be surprised to see him lose the stripe first. One that might work against him is practice reps, since there is a crowd of players vying for playing time at running back.


This is my dark horse pick. Price has a low profile in this recruiting class for several reasons. First, he was an early commitment (3rd verbal for the 2013 class), thus avoiding the publicity that accompanies delaying the announcement. Second, he plays at the ultimate "grunt" position: defensive tackle. Third, he's a quiet person who likes to work and sweat and just tough it out, as evidenced by his eagerness to get into "mental toughness Tuesdays" with his high school track team.

The fact that Price declined to attend the spring game because of his track schedule tells you that he takes his commitments seriously, and this is the type of quality that might be the deciding factor in losing the stripe. That, and the fact that defensive tackle is a position where reps should be available since both 2012 starters have departed. I wouldn't be a bit surprised to see Price shed his stripe before anyone else. 


Comments Show All Comments

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

First comment. Boom.

highwire's picture

Brace yourself.

toad1204's picture

Mirror Lake has a slide. 
(Dont do that.)

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

mh277907's picture

Por que?


buckeyeEddie27's picture

I see you're new around here.   Do yourself a favor and read the commenting policy.  

I know there's a game Saturday, and my ass will be there.

Oyster's picture

If you haven't bashed him yet, why not give him a break?  I'm sure he has seen the error in his ways (at what was -16 when I posted this). 

"Scrolling hurts my finger"

(and FitzBuck was clearly the winner)

Mirror Lake Jump's picture

I appreciate this a lot Oyster. Thank you. Rookie mistake, my apologies.

toad1204's picture

Mea culpas usually get more upvotes- than those 'other' votes...  You'll get there young grasshopper.

Nothing like dancing on the field in 02... 

BuckeyeVet's picture

Up vote for a rookie mistake. Your black stripe removal will get postponed a week, though! 

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read."          - Groucho Marx

"The recipient of Oyster's ONLY down vote".

JayDonk's picture

I feel like you are Ryan Braun in this situation lol. You were suspended for 52 downvotes, but still had the 64 upvote contract :)

They only hate us because we're great.

USMC11917's picture

That boom is the sound of your downvotes breaking the sound barrier!

Crimson's picture

If anyone reads down this far first, Mirror has only been on the site for a few days, so I recommend cutting him some slack for the first slip up.  Maybe I just like the username . . .

Optimistic Buckeye Pessimist's picture

Been seeing a few "First!" comments, so I'll try to nip it in the bud....
Characteristics of comments left by jerks:
- Abusive or hateful comments related to race, gender, sexual orientation, or religious beliefs.
- Ad-hominem attacks on another site member
- Extremely profane material or disgusting images
- "If you knew anything about football..." or "It's obvious you never played the game..."
- "FIRST!"

Read my entire screen name....

JayDonk's picture

How do I upvote and/or downvote?

They only hate us because we're great.

Joe Beale's picture

Use the tiny arrows just to the left of the user's name on the timestamp line in the upper right corner of your comment.

Ethos's picture

by contributing.  You earn the right to cast votes depending on your posts and how many upvotes your comments receive.  As you gain votes you also can eventually post blog posts.  This keeps the trolls down to the absolute minimum, awesome system.  
Of course, if you are a troll, you just get downvoted into oblivion to the point that you can only read posts if you are really bad.

"I spent 90 percent of my money on women and drink. The rest I wasted." - George Best

JayDonk's picture

Thanks for the info. I was thinking there might be some kind of system like that in place. It is quite fantastic. I've been reading the site daily for about a year and just got around to making an account, so here's to some helmet stickers and someday far down the road... removing the stripe!
I'm not a troll, but I appreciate the enthusiasm. If I had the ability to upvote I would definitely upvote your comment! 

They only hate us because we're great.

cplunk's picture

I'm sure I missed this somewhere on 11W, but what event does Billy Price do with track?
If we have a 6'4", 350lb D-lineman that runs the 100, I'm going to poop myself. But in a good way. If that is possible.

mh277907's picture

Shot put and discus.


cplunk's picture

That makes more sense than the 100 and keeps my pants clean. Thanks

mh277907's picture

Last year was my first year really following recruiting so I may be a little bias but I think when it is all said and done, this class will go down as one of the best in OSU history.


rdubs's picture

I like Billy Price as a dark horse.  Seems like a no frills guy who will lead by example.

pjtobin's picture

Mike Mitchell seems like a family man. I read an article here at 11w about his whole family going to each family members sporting events. And how close his big family is. I am hoping he is the first to remove his stripe. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

German Buckeye's picture

I hope Mitchell's 6'8 younger brother comes here to play basketball - keep it in the family!

pjtobin's picture

From what I've learned on here, his bro could do either sport. He is a freak athlete. Like Mike. The entire family is. His dad played in the nfl. Idk anything more about his dads career than that. I am glad he passed his genes on. I hope the whole family becomes Buckeyes. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

RunEddieRun1983's picture

Don't be shocked when Cam Burrows gets his striped pulled first.  I'm telling you, speaking from experience and seeing this kid first hand, not only will he work as hard, or harder than anyone, but he will put his teammates needs above his own.
He was a kid who would decline to do interviews, and talk to people about his recruitment during the season because he didn't want to take away from what his team at Trotwood was doing.  He's a special kid that looks out for his team and wants to give guys who don't have the spotlight on them a chance to shine so that the whole group looks better.
So proud that he's a buckeye.

I don't always downvote, but I do always downvote a Michigan fan trolling the Buckeye boards.

clint5507's picture

I like Corey Smith as a dark horse as well.  I know he has had his issues in the past, but I have to think that it has made him more mature and more eager to show those problems no longer plague him.  He also has the chance to shine at WR.  It will be an interesting race for sure.

SOF_Buckeye's picture

I think there are very strong candidates in this class, with those mentioned above, along with Worley, Burrows, Bosa; as well as Clark, Wilson, Johnson.... I'm very impressed with the total package of each of these men...

"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." Woody Hayes

USMC11917's picture

I hear wonderful things about Wilson but I wonder if Meyer will leave his on for a while in an attempt to ground Wilson and level the expectations?

InHartWeTrust's picture

I made my prediction of Wilson below, but I had the same thought here.  I'd UV you if I could (not to 100), but I think there is quite a high chance this is the case.  As good as he is, you've gotta keep him grounded early.

cajunbuckeye's picture

I think this is a "throw the dart and see what it hit's" situation. This is a class filled to the brim with great athletes. These young men have also shown great qualities off the field as well. To close to call. I'm going out on a limb and predicting a four way deadheat.

An angry fan...rooting for an angry team...led by angry coaches

BuckeyeFreak4844's picture

The way Braxton was talking about wilson i would'nt be shocked if his gets pulled week one.

Michigan Sucks!

USMC11917's picture

See my comment above.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

As I look through the list of 2013 commits, dare I say, I forgot just how many darn good players we hauled in.  Anyhow, as I try to psychoanalyze Meyer's psychoanylization of the team, I think its going to be a player (perhaps non immediate impact guy) from a spotty background that Meyer thinks a boost like this will get him to step up and turn the corner to be a blue collar type guy.  I do not know the socio-economic background on every recruit but this will go to a heart and soul, attitude type guy versus just pure performance.
I dont think is a cowards way out to say that I would not be surprised by any of these guys losing their stripe first.

ChazBuckeye's picture

In Order...
1.  Apple
2.  Wilson
3.  Bosa
4.  Bell
5.  EzE
6. J. Marshall (one and only reason I have him listed so high is he's had some injuries last season...I just wonder how much they'll use him this year.  I could be very wrong bc if he's good to go, then he'll play).

Some people think we’re the hunted.I don’t feel that way at all.We’re the hunter.Everybody wants an angry football team.Everybody wants a team on edge and a hungry team.If you’re a hunter,that usually equates to being hungry.

SOF_Buckeye's picture

I don't think we can make a bad list with all of the ingredients in this class. If there is a surprise pick, it could be Barrett. While he may be (probably) redshirted, he as shown the heart and character, during the recruitment process and since entering school. He has been a real leader off the field, and I think he will show it on the field also.

"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." Woody Hayes

gobucks96's picture

Sticking with Eli... I am in his corner. Just impressed on everything I've ever heard about that kid.

JayDonk's picture

I'm with you on this. Been super high on this kid since the first time I watched his highlight video. Love his size and athleticism. Kid is going to be a stud for the Scarlet and Gray.

They only hate us because we're great.

3GB's picture

I'll go with Burrows.  He was the first member of the class and helped to get it going, saw his rating go from a 5-star (on Rivals) to a 4-star, and as Apple's stock shot up during the recruiting process I think that Cam got overlooked a little bit.  I'm thinking he's ready to bring the juice for camp and show why he deserves some early playing time this season.

oregonianbuckeye's picture

I'm going with Bosa on this one. I think he's motor and physical manliness will impress folks early. So excited about this whole class though, so many guys to be excited about getting on the field early!

FitzBuck's picture

I'm with you Bosa.  Talk about a high profile recruit keeping his head down

Fitzbuck | Toledo - Ohio's right armpit | "A troll by any other name is still a troll".

UrbanCulture's picture

I think Jalin Marshall is getting overlooked a little bit. Every major recruiting source has him rated higher than Dontre Wilson, so I wouldn't be surprised if he lost a black stripe early. 

63tinman's picture

I like the tradition that this builds along with a valuable life lesson about these young men looking beyond themselves to bigger group purpose. I wish there was a way to expand this program to other elements of society, yet preserve the special place it holds for the players at tOSU.  Can you imagine seeing black stripes across the foreheads of every middle or high school student, new hire at work, or newly elected official?  

southernstatesbuckeye's picture

I'm afraid most of the "officials" may spend their life with that stripe...across multiple interpretations.

I like cookies.

umbyosu's picture

Did all of the 2012 class loose their stripes, or do some still have some work to do?

RedStorm45's picture

^+1.  Also, it will be tougher to follow without "Training Days" this year...thank goodness for 11W!

Hovenaut's picture

Like the defensive backs....Apple, Burrows or Bell here.

Dontre Wilson is my offensive choice.

Buckeye06's picture

Ill go out on a limb and say Tracy Sprinkle just because it will likely be one of those head games Meyer plays with the higher touted guys 

USMC11917's picture

I don't necessarily agree with the choice but I believe Meyer will use these types of motivational methods to inspire and ground these young men.

Txsbuckeye's picture

My vote is for Timothy Gardner. Everyone is overlooking him.

Graduate Assistant at the Vonn Bell Academy For Children Who Can't Read Good And Want To Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too

GABuckeye's picture

Not sure if you're serious or not, but he has been sent home for this year at least.

Hovenaut's picture

No soup for you.

Come back, one year.....

Boxley's picture

Nicely played, Sir. Sarcasm is an art form.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

Txsbuckeye's picture

Thanks. I am new here. Wasn't sure how my humor would be received.

Graduate Assistant at the Vonn Bell Academy For Children Who Can't Read Good And Want To Learn To Do Other Stuff Good Too

Earle's picture

Well done. You're likely to see a lot of dicussion here on "sarcasm font", which is just using italics to signify sarcasm. I am of the opinion that good sarcasm doesn't need to be telegraphed, but to each his own.

Have you tried Not Your Father's Root Beer?  It tastes just like the real thing, but it packs a punch (5.9%ABV).  It's a little sweet for me though.  Two is my limit.

Boxley's picture

That's what I liked so much about his OP. Clearly he was jesting, but in such a cleverly subdued way.
Unfortunately recently we have a lot Debbie Down voters on here that just like to, for no clear reason other than petty spitefulness that like to DV anything.
We just call them "Debbies" .

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

Squirrel Master's picture

"We" don't call them Debbies! We don't call them anything because we don't care to talk about it.
You should just ignore the "Debbies" and not talk about them at all. 

I saw a UFO told me to have a goodyear!

InHartWeTrust's picture

Dontre Wilson is my choice, because he is an animal.  On defense, I'll stick with the majority and say Apple loses his first; but I think Dontre will be the first overall.
He was already awarded the coveted #1 jersey, I don't think the stripe will be too much of a test for him.  Getting the #1 jersey was like matching up against Alabama, losing the stripe in relation is like matching up against Michigan -- much, much easier by comparison.

pjtobin's picture

I agree with you on Wilson for offense. Apple is a beast. He had a great spring game. And just learning about how he obtained his last name was awesome to hear. I am still saying Mike Mitchell will be the first one to have his stripe removed. IMO. 

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

zjhousley's picture

I will go two fold here and pick one from O and one from D to first shed the stripe.  I will stay clear of the obvious choices listed above.  For offense, I believe it will either be Wilson or Clark.  These are two speedster playmakers that the upper classmen are high on and coaches are looking for them to contribute this year.  On defense, I am going with Trey Johnson.  He is playing a position where there is the biggest need on D and from everything I have heard on him, he seems like a workhorse!!

HotSauceCommittee's picture

It should be one of the early enrollees. Apple is a great guess IMO.

Larryp713's picture

I will guess Eli Apple. He seems very mature and made a good impression in the spring. I expect that to carry over to the fall.



johnny11's picture

I'm going with Marshall. Seems to be a humble quiet kid in interviews. Hell of an athlete and even though Braxton raved about Wilson he did say Marshall was the best looking freshman receiver so far. I think him and Wilson at H-back/pivot role this year will change the whole "Percy Harvin position" name thing. Go bucks thank god its August.

Boxley's picture

Kind of a nice problem to have isn't it?
So many very good players both in physicality and character. We the fans are the winners in this one, to have so many quality choices to debate about.
I am going to go with Dontre Wilson, or Vonn Bell. Heck lets make it interesting. Which one will be the first one from offense and the first one on defense?
Same answer as above for me, Bell on D, Wilson on O.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

nfischer's picture

I am going to go with Bell.  After all, God told him to come to Ohio State.  I'll go with God on this one.

HighBallAce's picture

I'm hoping for Ezekiel Elliot! Kid is a really nice kid and a class act! He's also a very humble young man!

Bigbutterbuckeye's picture

Yeah me too. I watch his signing day video every once in a while,well, just because. It's funny to know that any school and fan base in the country would have been happy to have him, and he still is humble enough to make it seem like OSU is doing him a huge favor by allowing him to come it should be, lol . 

ESPN starting the SEC channel to concentrate on the SEC is like Baskin-Robbins starting a new store to concentrate on selling ice cream.

GoBucksToledo's picture

Love that picture with Eli and Tim Apple but have no idea who gets their stripe removed first, there are so many great kids in this class.

tdible2132's picture

Joey Bosa.  He'll bust his balls for the entire opening practice and show so much enthusiasm after he lays the wood to countless Olineman and Running backs that Urban will have to remove his stripe before the first practice is even over.

CentralFloridaBuckeye's picture

I think it will be Billy Price, Joey Bosa or Mike Mitchell.  I just feel like the defense is going to be very explosive and there is going to be some young guys in the front 7 that make huge contributions early on.  Can't go wrong with any of the choices though because there is so much talent.  If I have to pick someone on offense it would be Dontre Wilson.  His moves and explosiveness is unmatched.  We might even see all of the stripes come off in record fashon this year. 
Go Bucks!!

unholy bucknut's picture

I think its going to be someone out of the spotlight to humble a couple who are. Someone like Worley stepping up one of these guys with something to prove.

southernstatesbuckeye's picture

eh wat mate?  Dont forget Mr. Aussie...maybe just a few kicks revolutionizes Urban's punt philosophy?

I like cookies.

pjtobin's picture

This is a great thread. Rooting for our incoming guys. And stating who we think will be the first one to get the black stripe removed. I am loving these comments. I honestly looked over a few of these young men. I don't know how!?! Maybe because there are so many? Maybe because my brain cells are well done? Either way, reading everyone's opinions has been enjoyable. I hope this thread keeps going. And as stated in a previous comment, having room for this much talent is a great problem to have. So many freshman to choose from. So little time. 
I'm still on the Mike Mitchell bandwagon. It's been said already, he is the most gifted athlete on the team. He is raw though. So that may hold the stripe removal a day or two. Just thinking about him and RDS side by side, frightening the fecal matter out of opposing rb's and qb's, has my heart rate up. I'm ready for some football!! Go BUCKS!

Bury me in my away jersey, with my buckeye blanket. A diehard who died young. Rip dad. 

1967Buck's picture

  WOW,Hard to say I think. So many to choose from. I do think this class could go down as one of the best. Peace. Go Bucks.

Patriot4098's picture

First, I'd like to say that I don't believe Urban would remove a stripe for someone just to kick someone else in the pants. He really seems like a coach prioritizes and wants to award these young men for displaying quality character and team building attrubutes. Urban would be playing with fire to remove stripes not based on that individuals' performance alone. With that said, I'm following suit with Eli Apple on this one. Anyone who has that much appreciation and understanding for how a strong father figure influences their life is certainly beginning to mature and learn life's lessons. Combine that with his early enrollment, work ethic, and natural talent. --Signs are pointing in the right direction for a black stripe removal.

"Evil shenanigans!"     - Mac

PDoggett73's picture

Does it have to be one? I could see several of these guys getting their stripe removed the first week. I do think Cam Burrows and Jalin Marshall are flying under the radar a little. Both guys seem like hardworking, super competitive guys, who will grind every day. Also they were our first two commits, which takes some excitement out of their recruiting and drops them in the recruiting rankings, but they have been able to show a lot of leadership.

+1 HS