Camp Meyer 2013 Full of Storylines

By Kyle Rowland on August 5, 2013 at 9:30a
The 2013 Buckeyes are in title mode.

It wasn’t even 9 a.m. yet and already Dontre Wilson, Billy Price and a host of other first-year Buckeyes passed the eyeball test. As Ohio State’s ballyhooed freshmen class jogged on to the practice fields at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Sunday, the sun was still rising high above. It was a metaphor for the coming season, bright and with visions of the very top of college football.

The sounds of football were on full display. Not whistles, footballs whizzing through the air or helmets and shoulder pads thudding. The soundtrack of fall at Ohio State is the raised voices of Urban Meyer, Kerry Coombs and Mike Vrabel offering endless motivation. They were heard full blast on Sunday.

The previous day it was another booming voice, that of strength coach Mickey Marotti, who delivered a spirited message. For nearly four months it was Marotti who oversaw the 2013 Buckeyes. Daily workouts resulted in an exhausted but bonded group of teammates. On Saturday, he handed that collection of players who possess so much potential over to Meyer, a head coach who’s turned highly touted teams into national champions.

Ohio State, ranked No. 2 in the nation, still has weeks until its season opener versus Buffalo. But the next four weeks, according to Meyer, will make or break the team. It’s hard to improve upon a perfect season. The Buckeyes have been afforded the opportunity, though. To do so, they’ll need superior play and a little bit of luck, but also answers to several nagging questions.

The biggest on-field concern is the undecided battle at right tackle. One year ago, uncertainty at the same position gave way to a breakout year for converted tight end Reid Fragel. The man he beat out, Taylor Decker, was expected to ascend quite easily to the starting job. Instead, neither he nor Chase Farris separated themselves in the right tackle derby.

“It’s real bothersome to me,” Meyer said. “It’s real bothersome to our coaches, too.”

Cohesion along the offensive line was a big factor in its success in 2012. The four returning starters – Jack Mewhort, Corey Linsley, Andrew Norwell and Marcus Hall – played all but 10 snaps last season. Finding a replacement for Fragel early in camp is a priority to help establish continuity with the other line mates and quarterback Braxton Miller.

The offensive line’s performance during the spring was underwhelming. Still, they’re expected to return to form in the fall and be vital in the big picture success.

“Here’s the thing about football, you never start where you left off,” said offensive line coach Ed Warinner. “Football is a year-round cycle, and whenever you end the season, you have to go back to ground zero and start there.”

Decker, who took a majority of the first-team reps in the spring, is still the odds-on-favorite to start, but his consistency remains a flashing warning sign to coaches. The opposite occurred across the line. One returning starter would have heightened Vrabel’s mood. He gets none, though.

The current freshmen were still 10 years away from being born the last time Ohio State had to replace an entire defensive line. It was 1985. Johnathan Hankins and Garrett Goebel may be on NFL rosters, but that doesn’t mean they’re irreplaceable.

Defensive line has been an area targeted by Ohio State in recruiting. It showed in the spring. Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington quickly made fans forget about losing a handful of starters. Michal Bennett and Joel Hale only improved the outlook along the line.

“Those guys, they don’t stop going,” said senior safety Christian Bryant. “It’s like we have another John Simon just stepping right up.”

What both positions – and others on the team – don’t provide is depth. Nearly all 22 starters, plus the special teamers, give the Buckeyes confidence as a viable national title contender. But when you look at the two- and three-deep, a bleaker picture emerges. 

Injuries along either line or at linebacker could be devastating. Meyer lamented the lack of depth in the spring, simply saying he lacked all confidence in the No. 2s. An even bigger impediment to the Buckeyes’ objectives could be distractions.

The summer was void of any major news until the final week before fall camp. Then the floodgates opened. Suspensions galore reigned down and a promising season already reached the first speed bump. There are examples throughout history of talented teams that vastly underachieved after being overwhelmed with off-the-field disturbances.

Perhaps the biggest is predicted success. Ohio State didn’t have to the burden of rankings last year. The AP was the only service that recognized the Buckeyes during a season they spent in purgatory. Now they must face the expectations head-on and the realization that a loss could, and most likely would, end any hope at a national championship.

Individual achievement has taken a backseat to what the team’s ultimate goal is, but Miller is still dreaming of the Heisman Trophy. Meyer admitted last week that his dual-threat quarterback mentioned the iconic bronze stiff-arm trophy. When the time is right, Meyer said he’d be receptive of that message.

Until then, it’s all about improving his completion percentage and scrambling ability, among other quarterback-centric traits. In Year 1 with Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman, Miller threatened to rewrite the Ohio State record book. Since then, he’s had a spring practice and will soon have fall camp and more game time under his belt. He’s already becoming more and more acclimated with the system and everything encompassed in college football.

“I feel so much more comfortable now,” Miller said.

Big Ten coaches from Iowa City to State College just shuddered.



bucknasty13's picture

I'm so ready for this season to start!

LouGroza's picture

Speaking of the eye test. Mike Mitchell does not look like a true freshman. He looks like a senior right now. Impressive looking athlete. Great, humble demeanor. He reminds me of Chris Spielman every time I see him.

Edincostarica's picture

I agree! I think he is going to do great things at OHIO STATE.  :) 


BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

I just shuttered too... in a good way!

gwalther's picture

Or *shuddered, guys?
"Everyone's a critic!" 

Class of 2008

BuckeyeInOrlando's picture

for the record, I didn't DV you...
I took Kyle's spelling to be correct... my bad!
and now I can't edit that reply!

gwalther's picture

All good man! I really just pointed it out so Kyle could update if he wanted to. And I upvoted you to make up for whatever person downvoted your comment..I have no idea how your comment was DV worthy. Haters gonna hate.

Class of 2008

ManBearPig's picture

Yes we have a relatively unproven defensive front 7. Yes the right tackle and other spots on the offense need to develop. But my biggest worry is injuries. Even one big injury to a key player couple potentially change the course of the season. I hope everybody gets through camp and the games safely.

Edincostarica's picture

Injuries are always a concern and just part of the game. I really feel this freshman class as a whole is going to see their fair share of playing time. Remember Urban is not shy about playing freshman if they prove themselves. 


ManBearPig's picture

Yes. I like that about Urban. But the question is: are the freshman ready? Are they ready enough to the level that we still have experience to take on the big boys at the bowl game. That's why I say, injuries could change the way the season goes.
I want a NC so bad. Not only would it would be the first since I became a buckeye (special to me) but it would be a punch in the face for many OSU haters. I guess I am a little bit too worried.

SOF_Buckeye's picture

Understood about how a NC would/will feel. 2002 was so special, and we also had a very special Freshman in that class. I believe if the players are put in, then the coaches feel they are ready. I won't second guess on that one. 
I think we have enough depth to overcome, unless a series of injuries in a specific position area occurs. Leadership will make or break this team. The talent is there, but leaders need to step up and show the way.
And no doubt, I'd like to stick that Crystal Ball down quite a few 'haters'...
O - H

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

pjtobin's picture

Ppl must have not seen your O-H. 

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

Northbrook's picture

We have Hale, Bennett & Schutt inside. Washington can help if needed. If we can get quality minutes from Carter and Price; happy, happy, happy.

SGTBuckeye83's picture

Yeah I'm not worried so much about Dline or Oline. I'm worried about LB play and Brax staying healthy. I think Kenny G can manage for sure but it would be such a big stage to step into with all the expectations. But that's why Urbs maintains the competitive culture, so that guys are always ready to go play mentally.

Never approach a bull from the front, a horse from the rear, or a fool from any direction.

InHartWeTrust's picture

Never doubt Kenny G, the dude.  He is clutch, and I think he will take care of business if he is called upon to do so.

RunEddieRun1983's picture

Is in the inconsistency at RT more a problem with the DL being so much better than people thought and giving Decker problems blocking them?  Could be wishful thinking, but still?

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


Both Decker and Farris had their hands full in the spring game, so, yeah, our DL is going to be good. The question is what's going to happen when our tackles run up against another team with their own Spence/Diesel? Coach Warinner is the one who has his work cut out for him.

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

cinserious's picture

The Bucks quite possibly could go through 90% of the season before squaring off against another Spence/diesel combo.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

RedStorm45's picture

"The biggest on-field concern is the undecided battle at right tackle."
Not LB? Or replacing 6 of the front 7?
"Johnathan Hankins and Garrett Goebel may have been draft picks, but that doesn’t mean they’re irreplaceable."
Goebel wasn't drafted, right?

Kyle Rowland's picture

Meant rosters. Sorry. Thanks for the catch.

RedStorm45's picture

No big deal, just thought maybe I missed something late at the NFL draft a few months ago.

Maestro's picture

Might have meant Simon.

vacuuming sucks

UrbanCulture's picture

I finally get to go to the Abusement Park! I heard it's a big hit!

InHartWeTrust's picture

Never have I ever:  Been this excited about a freshman class and the impact they can have on a season.

Maestro's picture

Really?  I mean I am excited too, but Brew Crew and TP/Posey have to be at the top of that list from recent history don't they?

vacuuming sucks

InHartWeTrust's picture

I was still in college at the time and didn't follow recruiting quite as much back then.  Funny the two names you mentioned:  I was hyped about TP had me hyped and I became pretty good friends with Posey is classes.
Still though, Jalin, Dontre, Clark, EzE, Mitchell, Apple, Bell, Burrows, Bosa, etc.  I would guess would have me more excited.  I seriously can't wait to watch what Dontre can do.

Maestro's picture

IHWT, in my original post I almost asked if you were under 25.  No offense, I wish I was under 25 many days, but some of us old-timers (I am still under 40) remember people like Justin Zwick and Mo Clarett signing on to play for the Bucks.  HUGE deal!!!!
Like I said, I too am excited, but when someone gets as excited as your post indicated you were my "young buck" radar alerts me.

vacuuming sucks

InHartWeTrust's picture

Zwick went to high school right by me (after he transferred), what a HUGE bust that kid was at tOSU.  Made me happy in a weird way though, because he was a mega douche when he was in high school.  No one in our area liked him, same with Brian Hartline who came years later. 
No offense taken to your post though, and I am actually 27 currently.
I am sure we had great classes before, I just wasn't as in tune back then.  Have always loved the Buckeyes (born and bred), I just follow the behind the scenes much more now.  I look forward to looking back on this one in the future.

Maestro's picture

Ahhh, 27, the good ole days.

vacuuming sucks

Hovenaut's picture

Plenty of work to do.

But the potential, the fortunate is this program. And its fans.

So ready for football. I haven't felt this kind of excitement since I played as a kid it seems. Really stoked about it all.....I think the 11W experience just ramps it up.

Going to be a great year folks, can't wait to share it with Buckeye Nation on TBDFSITL.

We have filled the Braxton Miller position.

BuckeyeMike2002's picture

How have the first few days of camp gone for Vonn Bell?

Q: What is the difference between the Michigan Football Team and a bag of crap. A: The Bag.

Kyle Rowland's picture

Yesterday was the first day. We were only able to watch first 30 minutes. Couldn't really decipher anything in that amount of time, but he is definitely quick. Has great acceleration. We talk to Urban, Warinner and some O-linemen Tuesday, Withers and DBs Wednesday. 

hit_the_couch's picture

I don't recall ever being this excited for a Buckeye season to start. I may need some xanax to cool down.

And then I told her...i'm no weatherman, but tonight's forecast is calling for several inches!

SOF_Buckeye's picture

Any observations on Trey Johnson and James Clark? I haven't heard much on any site with regards to these two (reference to check in and the 30 minutes of observation).
There really is so much potential in this class it really is easy to overlook some of these players.

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

sfgoody's picture

Meyer is a master motivator. Last year he was talking about our wr clown show and how scary our lack of talent on the ol was. Result? 12-0. Now he's worried about the 2deep. We are young, no doubt, and injuries happen and change things in a hurry but this team is loaded. I know there's always a risk in 'star gazing' but, the likely def 2deep will contain only TWO guys not rated as 4/5 stars coming out of hs. Roby and Hale. That's it. I know we aren't sure how it will translate, but, I don't think we've ever had this much depth of talent on a roster and talent can overcome a lot.


pjtobin's picture

Oh how great is the thought of full length practice videos. It is a shame that we only get a 30 min window to watch our Buckeyes. I do appreciate your hard work and dedication Kyle. I will anxiously wait to watch these story lines unfold. 

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