With 10 days remaining until Ohio State’s spring game, Urban Meyer and his staff gave a State of the Program speech to a group of deep-pocketed boosters at the annual Spring Football Kick-off event. For those thinking a window closed in 2013, fear not – Meyer and Co. painted a picture filled with sunshine.
Hauling in top-tier recruiting classes has negated significant losses on both sides of the ball. The offense has reloaded with Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott, Johnnie Dixon and other playmakers, while names like Darron Lee, Gareon Conley and Tommy Schutt are replenishing depth lost on defense.
Meyer deemed his first two seasons as great with a two-game speed bump at the end of 2013. The goals remain the same. Ohio State doesn’t enter a season without lofty expectations. When the first playoff begins on New Year’s Day 2015, the Buckeyes expect to be part of the festivities.
- The biggest development wasn’t related to personnel matters. Instead, the spotlight was shined on Ed Warinner, who cracked a couple Michigan jokes.
- “If you’re worried about Wolverine fans, just move to Pasadena. You'll never have to deal with them,” Warinner quipped. But then he raised the bar by bringing Brady Hoke into the story. He used Steve Spurrier’s classic coloring book joke, adding: “I heard Brady was upset because he hadn’t finished coloring them.”
- Meyer began the show by cracking open the book of Earle Bruce jokes. At the 2006 SEC Championship Game, Meyer said he was very uptight at the team hotel, so Bruce started punching him and using the phrase “Let the mother f---er go.” Ever since that day, Meyer’s scribbled those words atop his game notes.
- The departing offensive line was the “best group I’ve ever been around,” according to Meyer. He stated the obvious – that replacements have to be found. Meyer said you can see and feel that those four guys are gone. “We’re going through growing pains” on the offensive line, he said. But Taylor Decker and Pat Elflein are sure-fire starters and the competition is producing quality at the other positions.
- Braxton Miller’s name hasn’t been uttered much this spring due to his shoulder surgery. When talking about the regular season, though, Meyer said Miller’s senior season could act as a re-writing of the career record books.
- Carlos Hyde’s graduation has opened up an important role in the offense, and there’s no shortage of candidates. Meyer rattled off the names of every running back, stopping to call Ezekiel Elliott “everything you want in a tailback” and saying Rod Smith’s had a “good spring.” Meyer also talked about a 90-yard run Bri’onte Dunn had in practice and the emergence of true freshman Curtis Samuel.
- Wondering who the captains will be this fall? Well, one of them is already known: Jeff Heuerman. “He’ll be a captain of our team and a guy who leads our team,” Meyer said.
- Still resting an injured leg is Evan Spencer, but that didn’t stop Meyer from calling him one of the best blocking receivers he’s ever seen.
- “He’s shown flashes of tremendous talent.” – Meyer on Johnnie Dixon
- “I’ll be disappointed if we don’t have one of the best defensive lines in the country.” –Meyer
- A position that’s been criticized seemingly every day since Meyer came to Ohio State is linebacker. But Wednesday may have been a turning point. For the first time, Meyer said it’s becoming a position of strength. He said Curtis Grant is having “by far” his best spring and deemed him “one of the most improved players on defense.” There was also high praise for Joshua Perry and Darron Lee.
- A name to remember? Meyer says Gareon Conely.
- The event raised more than $11,000 to help fight Alzheimer’s disease and $3,000 for Maria’s Message.