Never Meet Your Heroes

By Ramzy Nasrallah on August 6, 2014 at 10:45a
Man, we could have used Jeremy Cash last year

Ryan Shazier, Joel Hale, Jeff Heuerman, Braxton Miller and Jeremy Cash on National Signing Day 2011

49 Comments

Your Buckeye football elders for 2014 are Rod Smith and Darryl Baldwin.

They'll name captains soon, but these guys - we already know who they are. They're the last two scholarship players connecting the past with the present.

Smith was showered with Eddie George comparisons immediately upon committing to Ohio State due to his size, running style and well, everything. The parallel accelerated when he started having trouble holding onto the ball. Just like Eddie, he also found himself in a both crowded and talented backfield, leading him to question his future in Columbus.

Of all the next-Eddie Georges, Rod Smith is the Eddie Georgiest. But Eddie only became Eddie during his final year in school. For Smith that's right now. So if the prophesy is going to be completed, we should be hearing about Rod Smith at at a clip that suggests his season of infinite glory is now upon us.

Of all the next-Eddie Georges, Rod Smith is the Eddie Georgiest.

However, the name that continues to surface in the backfield isn't his. It's Ezekiel Elliot's. Zeke wasn't halfway through ninth grade when the next Eddie was initiated.

Urban Meyer has also gushed over tailback Curtis Samuel recently. Samuel had never played in a high school football game when Smith rushed for 74 yards against Akron in Luke Fickell's debut. He still hasn't dressed for a college game.

If the sequel to Eddie George starring Rod Smith is ever going to happen, it will air at the expense of the younger guys everyone - including the guy in charge - is excited to see. 

Baldwin was an all-everything defensive end and multi-sport stud who chose Ohio State over offers from the rest of the Big Ten and Notre Dame. His prospectus from Allen Trieu told us he had all the tools to be a beautiful, disruptive beast:

Has ideal size. Great height and has a relatively nice build already. He can really move for a kid his size. He has good athleticism and feet. He does a good job of getting off the ball and gets around blockers.

Ohio State's defensive line in Baldwin's final year is the strength of the team as well as the deepest position on the roster, and the Cleveland Plain Dealer Defensive POY of 2010 has a great view of it every day in practice while he's playing along the offensive line - where he's been since 2012, albeit mostly on special teams.

Baldwin graduated with his class and is well on his way to a master's degree. He and the next Eddie are the only current Buckeyes who have experienced a Big Ten title.

They've also traveled to a bowl game and returned as victors. No one else on this year's team has done that either. Considering the success of the Tressel era, that's almost impossible to believe.

Marshon Lattimore
Freshman Marshon Lattimore: Not likely to wait patiently.

Four years ago while Smith and Baldwin were busy burning up their redshirts, Braxton Miller's class signed up to be Buckeyes a full month prior to Tatgate spilling her comically overblown secret. Braxton was expected to learn the college game for a season while Terrelle Pryor ran away with the Heisman and led the Buckeyes to the BCS title game. Welp.

The headliner of that class waited to announce his inclusion until signing day: Curtis Grant was the fourth in what was easily the most celebrated linebacker haul of the century for Ohio State, joining Ryan Shazier, Connor Crowell and Ejuan Price. He was the second-ranked prospect nationally of 2011, behind only Jadeveon Clowney. 

Grant was the last one in and he'll also be the last one out. Shazier is already earning millions with the Steelers, Crowell retired from football after multiple surgeries and Price never made it to campus. All that's left from that linebacker class is Grant, for whom nothing is guaranteed.

He's battling Raekwon McMillan, who won the high school Butkus Award last year. The Chef is expected to see the field quickly and has impressed everyone thus far, including Grant himself, who started for Ohio State in its most recent win while McMillan was on Thanksgiving break from high school.

Devin Smith and Evan Spencer started that game in Ann Arbor as well. Smith only caught six passes over Ohio State's final five games in 2013, including two catches for five total yards against Clemson. He is Ohio State's top returning receiver.

CURTIS GRANT WAS THE NATION'S 2ND-RANKED PROSPECT IN 2011, ONLY BEHIND EVENTUAL #1 NFL DRAFT PICK JADEVEON CLOWNEY.

While Smith was mostly quiet, Spencer managed to make noise - when he proclaimed last November the Buckeyes would wipe the floor with either Florida State or Alabama. He nabbed one pass for seven yards against Illinois and then didn't register a catch the rest of the season. He's hailed for his blocking prowess.

When you ask who the Buckeyes' top receiving threat will be this season, you don't get a consistent answer. Ohio State's quarterback, who has a fair bit of influence over that, believes it will be Michael Thomas. Urban has been very happy with freshman Johnnie Dixon. Dontre Wilson has been moved into a predominately pass-catching role and should spend less time being a backfield decoy.

They're young guys. At this point in the column you should see the trend.

Then there's Jalin Marshall, who is one of the most exciting guys on the roster. He and James Clark are both returning from injuries and will be difficult to keep on the sideline. Georgia Tech transfer Jeff Greene is a Michael Jenkins-type mismatch and an [throat-clearing noise] ideal target for a less-than-precision-accuracy quarterback.

Jalyn Holmes
Freshman DL Jalyn Holmes: Depth, schmepth.

Along with all of those guys, freshman Parris Campbell is one of the fastest humans in the country, and we haven't even mentioned top juco transfer Corey Smith or Indiana's reigning Mr. Football Terry McLaurin. It's only been a few measly sentences but you've already kind of forgotten about Smith, Spencer and their combined single-digit reception total since October 2013.

We have never looked forward to unproven players in volumes like this - and Ohio State hasn't lost a regular-season game since 2011. This is what failure looks like in Columbus, and it's nothing the next Eddie George or any of his teammates want to experience again.

Those two senior receivers, Braxton, Grant, Doran Grant, Cardale Jones, Bryce Haynes, Ron Tanner, Nick Vannett, Joel Hale, Michael Bennett, Jeff Heuerman, Chase Farris, Chris Carter and Steve Miller are all that remains of the Buckeyes who originally signed up for Tresselball. Rod Smith and Baldwin are the only two who lived it. 

Still - these are not ordinary seniors. These are guys who chose to remain Buckeyes back when their televisions, radios and friends were telling them Ohio State football was radioactive and destined to be cratered. A lot of guys left. They stayed.

SMITH AND BALDWIN ARE THE ONLY CURRENT BUCKEYES WHO HAVE EXPERIENCED A CONFERENCE TITLE.

So of all the OSU football classes this century that have entered the season carrying a grudge, the 2014 seniors might be the grudgiest. They're too young to remember what never beating Michigan felt like but old enough to understand they might leave school without having won what had become a rite when they arrived.

This is it for the old guard, which is why it's okay to be hesitant to accept they'll concede what's theirs to guys who literally just showed up. Ohio State's 2014 seniors could have quit for much scarier reasons not too long ago. They've been through too much for the university to concede anything, let alone playing time to teenagers.

Besides, the 2014 versions of Rod Smith and a Darryl Baldwin are in camp right now, among that electric freshman class. They won't know who they are - and neither will we - for another five years. Someday very soon they'll be fighting for playing time against a kid whose first day of high school is later this month.

Hopefully by then they'll be playing for something bigger than breaking a conference title drought, because Ohio State is the last place that should continually be relying on the new players for a return to glory. There are two guys on the roster who understand this better than any of their teammates.

That's because they're the only ones who have seen how it's supposed to be, and if it's up to them - they'll be a vital part in getting it back.

49 Comments

Comments

BassDropper's picture

So you're saying we can never meet, Ramzy?

DIRECTIONER

+8 HS
acBuckeye's picture

Can't help but ask, Bass........ Have you ever met that boy band?

+3 HS
Oyster's picture

It's on his bucket list.

May you R.I.P. Otsego, but know this. Gaylord Rocks!

+2 HS
BassDropper's picture

I wish. Went to their show when they were here last year. I'd love to meet Harry and Zayn...maybe Liam, but they aren't due back in Ohio anytime soon. I really wanted to go to the show in Detroit later this month, but I have a scheduling conflict.

DIRECTIONER

+2 HS
Son of Sevenless's picture

It will be interesting to see how many starters this year are Tressel recruits and how many are Meyer recruits.

+1 HS
CC's picture

Good point, obviously this is the year that it switches from Tress to Urban in numbers.

FROMTHE18's picture

Just a thought from the picture: Jeremy Cash's exit wasn't glamorous ( I think I remember a tweet about lies or something), but he became a heck of a player for Duke, could have used him. 

Love the amount of young talent we have acquired over the last two classes, especially the 2014 group. Going to be some serious competition during camp as well as throughout the year for playing time, exactly what Urban wants. 

+3 HS
Jpfbuck's picture

I dont recall any tweet but he left almost immediately after Urban was hired. from what i heard Urban never gave him a look while at Plantation HS in Florida while Urban was still the coach there, and perhaps he didnt want to play for a guy who just a little over a year earlier had zero interest in him.

he also seemed to be really set on wanting to play for Tressel, as soon as Tress was let go, rumors flew about cash maybe transferring but he stuck out 2011 with Fickell. but when Urban got hired he left town fairly quickly. His family back then issued an oddly worded letter at the time saying to the effect that they dont hold anything against urban or fickell and really thanked Tressel. so i think it was simply a matter of liking Tress and not liking Urban

seems to have worked out well for him and good for him

BassDropper's picture

I think it had to due with Fickell burning his redshirt on ST's at the end of the season

DIRECTIONER

apack614's picture

"If we worked half as hard as our band, we'd be champions." - Woody Hayes

+2 HS
BuckeyeGrownFloridaLiving's picture

Great write up. For these Senior guys, I'm really hoping for a B1G Ten Championship+, you know, just because they're good guys. No internal motivation here...

+4 HS
MN Buckeye's picture

A bit overwhelming to think what Baldwin and Smith have riding on this season. It will determine the course of their lives.

+3 HS
Barnsey69's picture

If Rod Smith has an Eddie Georgiest type season, then the Buckeyes will be National Champions. Braxton-Smith going 1-2 for the Heisman would be o-Kiz-A too.

Now back from fantasy land, I think this season will be owned offensively by the full-speed, fully complimented UFM spread, which would give the edge in RB playing time to the smaller, pass-catching backs. I think EZ is getting the pub, but when they line-up on the 30th, Dunn gets the first carry.

Ideally, you like to see guys who stick it out get their reward, but in reality, that rarely happens. 

Thank the Maker that I was born in Ohio, cradle of coaches, US Presidents, confederate-stomping Generals, and home of The Ohio State University Football Buckeyes!

Run_Fido_Run's picture

Urban's version of the power spread has usually had at least one battering ram ball carrier.

At Utah in 2004, that was the two RBs, Marty Johnson and Quintin Ganther.

At Florida from 2006 - 20068, that was QB Tim Tebow.

Obviously, Hyde was Urbz's battering ram the last two seasons at Ohio State.

I see one or more of R Smith, Dunn, Ball playing an important role in the offense this season. 

+1 HS
11UrbzAndSpices's picture

Of all the next-Eddie Georges, Rod Smith is the Eddie Georgiest.

Quotes like that are why Ramzy gets paid the big bucks

Not stopping until I have more Helmet Stickers than M Man

+10 HS
SaltyD0gg's picture

Curtis Grant was second in his class behind Clowney. Let that sink in for a moment.

Pain of Discipline
Pain of Regret
Take Your Pick

+6 HS
saluki2007's picture

This is not where I thought this article was going to go, but I'm glad it did.  Great write up!

+3 HS
thatlillefty's picture

I don't understand the title.

+2 HS
Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

I don't understand the title.

Sometimes I get abstract and force readers to make their own interpretations. It's on my list of weaknesses.

RenegadeBuckeye's picture

It's on my list of weaknesses.

I would slot unjustified hubris somewhere in the top five.

-4 HS
Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

Aw, thanks. Just keep reading free content you already know you won't like, you big fuckin' hero.

osugreg04's picture

Crazy to realize so few have actually won a B1G championship... perfect fuel for the Urbz to use everyday in practice to motivate these guys.

+1 HS
QBYBuckeye's picture

Rod Smith has been listening to the hype too much.  It's time for him to go to work and make the NFL scouts drool.  I love Zeke, but Smith has the physical tools to be really special.  He just has not yet learned how to use them.

Baldwin will be just fine, as will our O-Line.  Warriner will have them dancing together by August 30th.

New York Buckeye

Buckeyeneer's picture

Exactly my thought.

"Because the rules won't let you go for three." - Woody Hayes

THE Ohio State University

Tater_Schroeder's picture

One of my favorite articles this offseason. Thanks for the efforts on this one Ramzy!

How Firm Thy Friendship

+1 HS
TUNBUCK89's picture

Isn't that what many of us say after every single one of Ramzy's articles !   Great stuff as usual !

+2 HS
VintonCountyBuck's picture

So..if Rod Smith is supposed to be the next Eddie George.. Then who is going to be the next Rod Jones?
Ahhhhhhh!!!!! I'm about to go mute my tv just thinking about the confusion that will be upon us in just a few more Saturdays.

“Right now, Michigan is not at the pinnacle of college football, and that’s all Urban Meyer cares about...He’s been there and knows what it takes to get there.” 

+2 HS
Poison nuts's picture

I don't know how many times I can say, "another great Ramzy story"...but I aim to keep reading so that I can find out.

"Death created time to grow the things that it would kill" - Detective Rustin Cohle.

+1 HS
Gametime's picture

Spencer managed to make noise - when he proclaimed last November the Buckeyes would wipe the floor with either Florida State or Alabama. He nabbed one pass for seven yards against Illinois and then didn't register a catch the rest of the season. He's hailed for his blocking prowess.

Ramzy...bro why the NAPALM to Spencer like that???

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

+1 HS
Ramzy Nasrallah's picture

All of that is true, right? I didn't take any liberties.

Gametime's picture

Irrefutably so. It was just so...honest...it made me feel uncomfortable, because while I like Evan Spencer, I know this same fact. I personally think he could be a really special special teams leader if he was assigned to lead block and be a gunner. 

...I too dream in color and in rhyme
So I guess I'm one of a kind in a full house
Cause whenever I open my heart, my soul or my mouth
A touch of God rains out...

+1 HS
RenegadeBuckeye's picture

I just don't think that intentional friendly fire on the last group of Tress recruits is necessary.

-2 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

I think it's Ramzy's way of saying, "if you're going to talk the talk...."

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

+3 HS
johnny11's picture

Never Meet Your Heroes

Of all the next-Eddie Georges, Rod Smith is the Eddie Georgiest.

Well done sir well done. Now hopefully Rod Smith can have one of our opponents saying this year, "he just Eddie Georged us." Good day sir and take as many liberties as you like. Savvy?

+1 HS
BierStube's picture

NEVER MEET YOUR HEROES

I did see Andy Vance in his underwear once ... that was as close as I have come!

"No matter where you go, there you are." B. Banzai

+3 HS
IGotAWoody's picture

If I ever make it into the Premium Lounge, and Andy Vance is NOT there in his underwear, I'm going to feel ripped off!

 - License to kill gophers (wolverines, badgers, etc) by the government of the United Nations

causeicouldntgo43's picture

Was he at the Midnight March with the band, and just got caught up in the moment?

Buckeye52's picture

I somewhat remember Jeremy Cash's recruitment ( had just gotten into the whole recruiting world). I believe he and shazier are cousins or related somehow. Point being that had he not committed to play for Tressel, we may have never seen the shazier destroying offenses for 3 years in columbus. Also, on a personal note, my sister had a class with Jeremy Cash and sat by him through it. She said he was a very smart, very nice person to be around. She also said that he was absolutely broken hearted when tress left, and the thing that hurt the most was he didn't even get to play a down under him. 

* I stand corrected. After a little research, it appears they were just high school teammates

+2 HS
kc_buck's picture

Just this past weekend I watched the Chick-fil-A Bowl on YouTube where Duke played Texas A&M. Jeremy Cash had an awesome game and I remember wishing he'd been on last year's Buckeye team.

+1 HS
Crumb's picture

So basically Rod Smith and Curtis Grant are playing for redemption, another article talked about Braxton playing for his legacy. I like reading this stuff cause if we know it then those players have already known it and are going to work their tails off to make it happen. It just makes me more confident that despite losing most the offensive line, El Guapo, RDS, and Roby that this team is going to be ready to play and play at the elite level they are capable of playing at.

"The only good thing about it is winning the d*** thing" - Urban Meyer on The Game The War

GOOMBAY's picture

Can we make the "Eddie Georgiest" moment a weekly/game ball kind of award?

+1 HS
kc_buck's picture

In my opinion, a National Championship depends on both Curtis Grant and Rod Smith making truly epic contributions... even if they are doing so as non-starters.  Their leadership is key!

Libby's picture

Ramzy, prophesy is verb; prophecy is a noun.

jmoore3309's picture

My anticipation for this year and I think is the key for the success of the team is if Braxton can continue the growth (aka Troy Smith) and have the kind of senior year we need from him.  The Troy Smith of his senior year (sans Bowl Game) was a polished pass first quarterback that was a significant improvement over the back yard wheeler dealer we saw his first two seasons at the helm.  If Braxton can make that same leap, this offense (I believe) can put up some impressive numbers.  A breakout season from Rod Smith would be the bonus.

Go Bucks!

OfficerRabbit's picture

At some point in the first couple games, as the stable of backs is rotated trying to find one who separates himself, I want Rod Smith to come in and put the ball on the ground. He'll walk back to the bench, head low, realizing he'll probably never get a chance to carry the ball again in his career. Then I want Meyer to walk over, give him a pep-talk and a pat on the helmet, and send him right back out there for the next series. That's when I want it all to click for Rod Smith. I want him to rush for a 1000+ this season, and I want him score 15+ TD's. 

I'm a sucker for inspirational sports moments, whether in real life or the movies. He's battled the hype we placed on him, the coaching changes he had no part of, his own mistakes on the field, and the eventual "bust" title that's been hung on him. I really really want it to come together for him this year, few on the team deserve it more.

 

 

+1 HS