Ever since it became clear that the Buckeyes had a good shot at getting Pryor, we've been wondering about the fate of sophomore-to-be Antonio Henton. After getting off to a great start (in limited duty) last season, some naughty stuff went down. He was later reinstated and supposedly had climbed his way back into a position to be rumored as a change-of-play option in the MNC. He never saw the field that night and the next time we had a chance to see him on the field, he was outplayed by Bauserman.
There were rumors of a possible transfer to Georgia Southern back in late January, but today they kicked upagain. And in earnest:
Ohio State quarterback Antonio Henton has reportedly told his Buckeye teammates heâ€™s headed for GSU, an ESPN writer confirmed to the Statesboro Herald Wednesday. Georgia Southernâ€™s B-term for summer classes begins next week, and second-year GSU coach Chris Hatcher said he couldnâ€™t discuss transfers until then. Henton could not be reached for comment.
Henton, a 6-foot-2, 232 pound Fort Valley native, already has Georgia Southern ties - Eagle offensive coordinator Rance Gillespie was Hentonâ€™s high school head coach at Peach County. Henton was tabbed the 2005 Georgia Offensive Player of the Year as a senior when he helped his team to the Class AAA state title, the first in Peach Countyâ€™s history. He threw for 2,117 yards and 30 touchdowns his senior year and was touted as one of the best multi-threat quarterback prospects in the country coming out of high school.
If Henton is headed South -- and the Facebook never lies, we wish him the best of luck. He made a simple mistake hundreds of miles away from home and a change in scenery and some home-cooking should be just the thing to give him the best chance of furthering his football career beyond college.
And to the droids without any feeling besides Buckeye pain and joy, yes, that means one more scholarship for the '09 class.
Columbus based Victoria's Secret is about to roll out a collegiate line of cooter covers, sweats and tank tops but Les Wexner's own Ohio State Buckeyes will not be a part of the original 33 schools to go Pink.
According to the Dispatch, Wexner's role as head of Limited Brands coupled with his spot on the OSU Board of Trustees has made striking a deal for some Buckeye booty britches a bit of a chore considering OSU is a state university leading to potential conflict of interest issues.
Maybe I'm just a perv, but can't we all set aside our differences in an effort to get more coeds and cougars into some Buckeye based undergarments?
Time Warner was quick to put up a statement after word of the Comcast deal leaked:
We are hopeful that Time Warner Cable and Fox can reach a fair and reasonable agreement prior to football season.
We appreciate your patience as talks continue and want to assure you that we will do everything possible to achieve a positive solution for all our customers.
Translation: We have nothing new to report, but we know you're getting pissed, considering fans of your fiercest rival will now get the network.
The Comcast deal is supposedly worth between $0.70 and $0.80 per subscriber, which is well short of the network's initial asking price of $1.10. That's good news on two fronts: a framework is in place to achieve similar deals with other carriers and the lower price shows that the network is willing to negotiate.
Time Warner Columbus definitely took a hit last year heading into football season. I'm sure every one of you know at least someone that ditched the network in favor of satellite service. You can bet the YSU and OU games will be broadcast on the BTN, just like the YSU and Akron games were last season. With the opener fast approaching, how much longer will holdout fans give the network?
We conclude our look at the 1998 Buckeye football team by examining the team's legacy and trying to figure out what most of that team is up to these days.
There's certainly a strong argument to be made that the 1998 team was the most talented Buckeye squad of the past quarter century. True, the 2002 squad closed the deal, but stop for a minute and think of what Tressel would have accomplished at the helm of the 1998 team. Take nothing away from Cooper -- his recruiting operation took the program to a new level -- but he's no Tressel.
1998 was not only Cooper's best team, but it was his last good team for that matter. The 1999 opener would see his 9th ranked Buckeyes soundly beaten by Butch Davis and the Hurricanes in the Kickoff Classic. The defining play came on the Buckeyes' first possession when Michael Wiley was run down from behind by Miami linebacker Al Blades.
The Canes would go on to earn a 23-12 victory, but the score wasn't even that close. Miami was back on the map and used that game as a springboard to three years of dominance, while the Buckeyes sputtered to a 6-6 finish. Sixteen months later, after an 8-4 season and an Outback Bowl embarrassment, Cooper was jobless.
Today, some coaches and players from that 1998 team are still involved in football, while others are off the radar. Cooper never coached again but will be formally enshrined in the College Football Hall of fame in four weeks. Offensive coordinator Mike Jacobs served a stint at Oklahoma State and is now the interim head coach at Mesa Community College. Defensive coordinator Fred Pagac parted ways with Ohio State upon Tressel's arrival and spent time with the Oakland Raiders and Kansas City Chiefs before joining the Minnesota Vikings in 2006 where he's still employed as the team's linebacker coach. Upper Arlington native, John Tenuta, the defensive backs coach on the 1998 team is currently the assistant head coach at Notre Dame after a successful run as the defensive coordinator at Georgia Tech.
Quarterback Joe Germaine is lighting up the AFL for Danny White and the Utah Blaze. He had the misfortune of going to the Rams right when the Kurt Warner Experience was coming online, but will probably be an AFL first-ballot Hall-of-Famer if such a thing even exists. Michael Wiley spent three years with the Cowboys and is now something of a nightclub impresario in Columbus.
Wide receiver David Boston left after his junior season and was an Arizona Cardinals' first-round selection in 1999. He would lead the NFL in receiving in 2001 and greatness appeared to be around the corner until a rash of injuries and the steroids bug landed him out of the NFL. He's currently attempting a comeback with the Toronto Argonauts of the CFL, but injuries may be throwing a curve into his plans once again.
Left tackle Tyson Walter was selected by the Dallas Cowboys in the 6th round of the 2002 NFL draft, but is now out of the league. He's most famously remembered for suing former teammate LeCharles Bentley for $2 million dollars for punching him in the face in 2000. He was awarded $6,000. Rob Murphy is another former Buckeye playing in the CFL and was recently named the league's top lineman for the 2nd consecutive season.
Defensive end Rodney Bailey was drafted by Pittsburgh in the 6th round of the 2001 NFL draft. He's currently listed as a backup defensive tackle with the Arizona Cardinals. Ryan Pickett is a Packer and end Brent Johnson is playing with Rob Murphy on the BC Lions of the CFL.
Andy Katzenmoyer, the guy most thought was the can't miss prospect on the '98 defense is currently coaching at his alma mater Westerville South after a neck injury forced his early retirement from the NFL. He recently launched a fitness website and had his first child in April. Meanwhile, fellow backer Na'il Diggs has enjoyed a productive career at the next level and is currently playing for the Carolina Panthers. Jerry Rudzinski is currently working as an analyst for Bucknuts and "still maintains his relationship with the Ohio State program and staff."
All five members of the 1998 team's nickel package went on to play in the NFL, cementing the unit as one of the finest in school history. Nate Clements, or Lockdown 22, earned a couple of Pro Bowl selections in Buffalo before signing a fat contract with the 49ers. Antoine Winfield is still doing his thing for the Vikings -- leading the team in tackles by a defensive back despite missing six games last season and Ahmed Plummer spent five years with the 49ers before injuries forced his retirement. Strong safety Damon Moore spent fours years in the NFL, three of them with the Eagles and may or may not be selling cell phones in Grove City these days.
Ten years removed, the 1998 team still holds up. The talent collection on that team rivals any to have come before or after, and although they were part of one of the saddest days in Buckeye football history, time and a decade of excellence has helped heal old wounds. If anyone has additional updates on the whereabouts of members of that team, we'd love to hear them.
UPDATE: Reader Allen writes in to let us know that we forgot about Joe Montgomery, a 2nd round draft pick of the New York Giants.
According to Scout, former Buckeye Eric Wallace is about to become a Blue Demon.
The 6'5" swingman from North Carolina will be eligible for the '09-10 season and will have three years of eligibility left.
The well documented log jam on the Buckeye wings made this move inevitable and I wish Wallace the best. I know some felt he might see the court more this year with all the defections but his lack of polish made PT a dream unless Matta opts to go with a 4 guard offense next season.
Of course, I probably shouldn't say that so tongue-in-cheek considering the state of the front line and the glut of perimeter players on next season's roster. If Mullens and Lauderdale get in foul trouble it could be Madsen time, which is swahili for we're screwed unless Nikola Kecman is eligible and can, in fact, help on the glass.
I admittedly know very little about Kecman but even if eligible, I struggle to think he'll help much on the boards considering his style of play and skinny frame. What you say?
I gotta imagine Thad is gonna have this team running, gunning and pressing to compensate for the lack of inside depth and to utilize the 2.3 million perimeter players.
Using a technology inspired from video game production, Pryor had "anatomical landmarks" attached to his body and was then filmed executing various movements and motions.
The motions are recorded, but the only images recorded are those of the markers which are strategically placed on joints such as the ankle, hip, pelvis, knee, etc. The motion of the markers as the athlete executes the movements is then analyzed to determine just how an athlete moves.
The goal is to try to determine if an incoming athlete has any sort of biomechanical weakness and then address that weakness with a customized strength and conditioning routine in the hopes of preventing injury.
I'm all for preventing injuries, but this is probably the last photograph of Pryor like this that I need to see.
It's mid June and that can only mean one thing: pre-season ranking time. Magazines are hitting the news stands and diligent bloggers everywhere are analyzing and debating the predictions -- the Great Steele likes Georgia only slightly better than Penn State, you say?
The media will assemble in Chicago next month to vote on the conference favorites and likely award winners, but we have you covered for now. The fine Northwestern blog Lake the Posts has compiled the prognostications of fellow conference bloggers and released the first ever Big Ten Bloggers preseason rankings.
According to guys that write in their mothers' basements, the Big Ten should shake out like this (11W ballot rankings in parens):
No shocker here. LTP notes that Wolverine blog Maize & Blue Nation turned in the only ballot that didn't have the Buckeyes at the top. Cute.
Conference bloggers (and Steele) both like the Nittany Lions a little bit more than we do. They have a lot of talent coming back and the Morelli curse is lifted, but Joe Pa (and staff) get a no-confidence vote out of us.
We're so conflicted. On one hand, Wisky should be tough in '08, but on the other hand we're convinced that Bielema will destroy everything that Barry built.
Buckeye fans probably have good reason to be a little more bullish on the Illini than the conference at large.
As much as we're Dantonio believers, it's hard to escape that "Little Brother" bit.
The rest of the conference bloggers seem to agree with us that year one of the Rodriguez era may be a little bumpy.
Our colleagues think a little higher of Iowa than we do, which is basically that Ferentz has lost the program.
Painter is back for his 9th season, but that's about it in terms of returning talent.
Bachér and Sutton are poised for big seasons. We're not sure they'll go 8-4 as LTP insists, but they'll be dangerous.
With the loss of Hardy, the Hoosiers' season hinges on whether or not Keller returns from suspension.
Mmm.. Tight ends. But seriously, those loaded (by Gopher standards at least) classes will pay off some year. Just not this year.
So, not too much divergence from our peers. How does your top 10 11 look?
Iowa is starting to recover from the devastating flooding of last week, but help is still needed in the area. I'm embarrassed to admit that I had underestimated the scope of the issue until reading about it at BHGP. The Iowa City video that they link to is jaw-dropping: residence halls and power plants underwater.
Since it's fashionable these days to think of Buckeye fans as knuckle-dragging baby-eaters, I can't think of a better way to help dispel that notion than to take up Hawkeye State's request and make a donation to the American Red Cross that serves the region.
It blows my mind that it is June 12th and Tressel has 17 verbal commitments for the 2009 season. I know his recruiting machine is well oiled right now and kids are jumping at the chance to play for him, but should they have to wait until February to sign their LOI's?
The early signing day argument is picking up steam and I have always thought there should be one. High school recruiting is at everyone's fingertips and kids are sending their Pop Warner highlight films to colleges (remember the White Reggie Bush) and those players can research their college choices from the comfort of their homes.
It seems as if being a highly recruited player is becoming a pain in the ass; college coaches, reporters, entourage members and of course the bitches want to know your every move. Can you imagine getting over a hundred text messages and phone calls per day, similar to what Terrelle Pryor went through?
Andy Staples of SI.com thinks there shouldn't be a signing day or early signing period at all, simply let kids sign their LOI's when they want.
Eliminate Signing Day entirely. Let coaches sign players whenever they want. The idea may sound irresponsible, but in practice, it would force coaches to exercise more caution lest they gamble away an entire recruiting class.
He has some valid points. Nowadays, coaches like Ron Zook and Nick Saban put their scholarships offers next to the rolls and butter on the buffet line when a recruit comes to visit and they may have 50-60 offers when it is all said and done. This type of rule would force them to have better judgment.
This would also benefit the athlete. If a student doesn't want to be bothered with the recruiting process, knows what school he wants to attend and is ready to sign, let him. Once an offer is extended, have a mandatory "think about it" couple of weeks and let the kid sign.
This would eliminate coaches from pulling scholarship from kids last minute and also eliminates letting the players string coaches along, only to change their mind on signing day.
Staples goes on to lay out some ground rules, including a required official visit and meeting with the compliance office before signing with that school.
Keep the current contact limitations in place, with a few exceptions. Allow prospects to use their five official visits whenever they choose instead of only during their senior year, and don't just allow but require that schools pay for one parent or guardian to visit with the prospect. Also, prospects would be required to take an official visit to their chosen school before signing a Letter of Intent. During that visit, the school's compliance office would be required to spend at least two hours explaining the Letter of Intent. That way, they prospect can't plead ignorance if he changes his mind.
I personally think this is a great idea, but it probably has as good of a chance of happening as a playoff does. What are your thoughts? Should athletes have to wait? Would no signing day benefit the kids or open up new ways of sleaziness amongst college coaches?
We had an incredibly difficult time evaluating the 1998 Buckeye defense. On one hand, you have all of the talent: Winfield, Katzenmoyer, Diggs, Moore, Plummer. The secondary was so good that when the nickle formation came out, 4 future NFL starters were on the field together.
The run defense wasn't so shabby either, finishing with the nation's stingiest numbers, allowing a meager 67.4 yards-per-game. The longest run they surrendered was but 35 yards. And it came from Northwestern in a game the Buckeyes won by 26.
While you'd be correct to point out that Joe Germaine and the offense forced opposing teams into a one-dimensional approach to catch-up, you also have to take into account the fact that the offense also scored on a lot of quick drives, ensuring that the defense saw plenty of time on the field.
Despite all of the praise and accolades, there still sits the ultimate lapse. How could such a stacked team surrender a 17-point second half lead to Michigan State, while recording 4 fumble recoveries on the day? How does Bill Burke throw for 323 yards, 125 of them to Plaxico Burress against that secondary?
(Random bonus points do go to this unit for the fact that the starting free safety was the uncle of one of the starting linebackers.)
The 1998 defensive line may have been the greenest on record in Columbus consisting of three sophomores and a true freshman. Rodney Bailey and Brent Johnson were the bookends -- Johnson going on to lead the line in tackles with 40 and the team in sacks with seven. For his efforts, he earned the Jack Stephenson Award as the team's most outstanding defensive lineman.
Rodney Bailey, SO
Ryan Pickett, FR
Joe Brown, SO
Brent Johnson, SO
Bailey had taken over as a starting end during the 10th game of his freshman campaign of 1997 and wound up finishing 2nd on the team with six sacks. Neither end was Vern good and they certainly didn't approach the numbers put up by Vrabel and Finkes during the 1996 season, but they were more than adequate considering the depth and skill playing behind them.
Likewise, Brown locked down his starting tackle job as a red-shirt freshman in 1997 after breaking in against Indiana in the 7th game. Steady and consistent, he put up respectable numbers in 1998 despite playing the entire year in pain after suffering through a broken thumb and the metal plate that came along with it.
Pickett, a highly-touted freshman became the only true frosh to start on the 1998 squad after he took over for Clinton Wayne for the Penn State game and never looked back, starting the final 9 games of the season. While still a pup in 1998, he would go on to play two more years before leaving early to play in the NFL, where he's currently doing his best to provide scary profile photos.
Depth was provided by Clinton Wayne and Mike Collins at tackle and James Cotton and Matt LaVrar at end. Wayne was part of Cooper's late-90s infatuation with Canadian defensive lineman (Johnson being the other) and Collins would go on to have a great career, but Cotton and LaVrar never really panned out. Waiting in the wings was freshman Kenny Peterson.
The defensive line appears to be in better shape today than it was ten years ago. Brown and Pickett were solid enough, but the tandem of Wilson and Heyward edges out Bailey and Johnson by a comfortable margin. Thad Gibson may provide even more distance between the groups, but there's also this fear that he could end up being the next Cotton -- a guy that never seemed to live up to the hype generated from his practice sessions.
In Katzenmoyer and Diggs, you had one of the great linebacker pairings in Buckeye history. Diggs was an up-and-coming sophomore that had led the team in sacks as a freshman in 1997 with six. The converted defensive end saw starts against Michigan and Florida State that season when the Buckeyes showed the 3-4 set. In 1998, he earned all-Big Ten honors after leading the team with 16 tackles-for-losses and finishing second on the team with 80 tackles. Large and fast, he was every bit as good as Katzenmoyer was during the season.
Na'il Diggs, SO
Andy Katzenmoyer, JR
Jerry Rudzinski, SR5
Katzenmoyer was Katzenmoyer, despite his junior season being perhaps his worst in Columbus. He finished fourth on the team with 74 tackles including a pretty impressive 60 solos. Still, his numbers across the board paled in comparison to his freshman and sophomore seasons of 1996 and 1997. Part of that was was good game-planning out of opposing coaches and part of that was Diggs stealing plays from him. He did save one of his best performances of the season for the Michigan game where he notched 10 tackles including one TFL and one sack.
Oh yeah. And this:
Rudzinksi was another in a line of Cooper linebackers that all fit the same mold: white, slow, smart and choir-boy. You know, like Greg Bellisari and Ryan Miller. A three-year Buckeye starter (well, 2.2 or so to be exact), Jerry's forced fumble and subsequent recovery for six against Penn State quarterback Kevin Thompson changed the complexion of what had been a nail-biter up until that point. Granted, it was hard to stand out when playing next to Katzenmoyer and Diggs, but Rudzinski was consistent and could be counted on to be in the right place at the right time.
The backup crew consisted of Courtland Bullard, Jason Ott and Chris Kirk. Or three guys that were supposed to be good down the road, but never were. However, they didn't see many minutes during the 1998 season, so it's really not fair to evaluate them in this context.
If you put a gun to our heads and forced us to pick between the 1998 linebacker corps and the 2008 linebackers, we'd have to give the nod to 2008. Laurinaitis, while not quite as imposing as Katzenmoyer, has put up better numbers and is expected to do the same this season. Freeman and Diggs may be a push, but maybe a slight edge to Freeman. Rudzinski, while not being flashy, brought more to 1998 with his experience alone than whoever wins the open job this fall will bring to the field.
I have to get this out of the way: Antoine Winfield is my favorite Buckeye of all time. There was just something about the way that he spent four years in Columbus without missing a single tackle all the while smiling and shaking his head as if to let the world know that teams were foolish to even consider running or throwing to his side of the field. He was the team's defensive MVP during the 1997 and 1998 seasons (Katzenmoyer's last two years in Columbus, mind you) and was first Buckeye defensive back to win the team MVP (1997) and Thorpe Award (1998). He is the only non-linebacker in school history with 200 or more solo tackles and is still playing in the NFL. The list goes on.
Antoine Winfield, SR
Gary Berry, JR
Damon Moore, SR5
Ahmed Plummer, JR
Nate Clements, FR
Plummer manned the other starting cornerback spot and the junior led the team in interceptions (4) and passes defended (17). Like the best players, he turned in his best performances in the biggest games, registering a huge interception against Michigan, a pick and three passes broken up against Penn State and 10 solo tackles against Texas A&M in the Sugar Bowl. He most certainly saw more balls because of Winfield playing opposite of him, but he responded to the challenge and played well enough in 1998 to put himself into strong Thorpe consideration heading into 1999.
Senior Damon Moore was beginning the last leg of a career that would see him earn 36 consecutive starts at strong safety. During the 1998 season, he led the team with 81 tackles (an honor he also earned as a sophomore in 1996 when he became the first non-linebacker to lead the team in tackles since 1970). His 73-yard pick-six against the Spartans put the Buckeyes ahead 24-7 in the third quarter, and as some have already pointed out, his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty earned while celebrating said touchdown may have played a part in the momentum shift of that game. Still, he's right up there with Mike Doss in terms of being one of the better Buckeye strong safeties of the past 20 years.
Berry, a former Parade All-American was a local (DeSales) product that burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 1997 when he recorded 5 interceptions for an OSU record 166 return yards. Included in that sophomore year were a pair of touchdowns scored 2:07 apart against Michigan State to turn a 3-3 game into a 17-3 lead. One came on a 45-yard interception return, while the second came on a blocked punt recovery for six. Despite the ball-hawking of 1997, Berry failed to record an interception during the 1998 season, which is weird only when you consider that opponents threw the ball quite a bit against this unit.
Top backups in this secondary included freshmen Nate Clements, who would go on to earn the nickle job, and Derek Ross. When Derek Ross is your dime guy, you know your secondary can play.
As of right now, the 1998 secondary compares extremely favorably to the 2008 group. As good as Jenkins is, he'll have to have a monster year (which is not outside the realm of possibility) for us to move him ahead of Winfield. Washington may turn out to be better than Plummer, but that's not a given. Chekwa can ball and will be the next great Buckeye corner, but Moore and Berry come out on top over Russell and Coleman. It may be due to the benefit of hindsight, but 1998 appears to be deeper as well. Let's not forget that the 1998 secondary snapped up errant passes while the current unit seems to have a fondness for letting those same balls pass through their waiting arms (but that's subject to change).
1998 and 2008 are very similar on the defensive side of the ball. Both return 9 starters, excellent linebacker tandems and loaded secondaries. Both teams have lines that are perhaps under-appreciated and 2008, like the 1998 unit, enters the season with huge expectations.
While the 1998 Buckeye offense was probably better than any unit Jim Tressel has managed to field, the same can't be said about the defense. Sure, the squad was loaded with future NFL starters and turned in a season's worth of highlight reel footage, but Tressel's defenses have been consistently better than Cooper's boys. Maybe it's a function of the the Vest's offensive philosophy putting his defenses in better positions to win games. Maybe it's talent. At any rate, both the 2002 and 2008 defenses should go down as better teams than the 1998 edition.
We'll wrap things up next week by looking at the 1998 squad's legacy including an attempt to figure out what the majority of them are up to these days (tips appreciated).
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