The Eleven Warriors Web Report Discusses Taver Johnson, National Signing Day and Ohio State Basketball's Surge To The Top Of The Big Ten

By 11W Staff on February 13, 2018 at 3:16 pm

The Eleven Warriors Web Report comes to you weekly from the Spectrum Sports studios in downtown Columbus, featuring our own Beau Bishop, Dan Hope and James Grega.

After incorrectly predicting on last week's show that Ohio State basketball would lose to Purdue and that the football Buckeyes would lose Greg Schiano to the New England Patriots, the panel endeavored for more accuracy on this week's show as they discussed the football team's National Signing Day success and latest coaching hire and the basketball team's continued success after a big win in West Lafayette.

Bishop and Hope started by discussing Tuesday's announcement that Taver Johnson has been hired as Ohio State's new cornerbacks coach, filling the final vacancy on the Buckeyes' coaching staff as they begin preparation for spring football and the 2018 season. While Kerry Coombs' departure remains a big loss for the Buckeyes, Hope expects the combination of Johnson, fellow new assistant coach Alex Grinch and returning defensive coordinator and safeties coach Greg Schiano to fill the void adequately.

"Really, you're going to have three coaches working with the defensive backs now where you had two last year," Hope said. "(Johnson)'s a guy who's got experience, Alex Grinch is a guy who I think's going to bring a lot to the table and then having Schiano back as well, the defensive coaching staff – even with a big loss like Kerry Coombs – they should still be in good shape for 2018."

Bringing in Johnson and keeping Schiano away from the NFL haven't been the only big moves for the Buckeyes already this month, as Ohio State closed strong on National Signing Day by landing commitments from five-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere (whose name Hope attempted to pronounce correctly this week) and four-star defensive end Javontae Jean-Baptiste to secure the Buckeyes' highest-rated recruiting class (and No. 2 overall class in the nation behind Georgia) in program history.

"You just look at last Wednesday alone. You had Greg Schiano committing to stay at Ohio State, you had Urban Meyer announcing that he's going to sign a two-year contract extension and oh yeah, Ohio State finishes with the No. 2 recruiting class in the country," Hope said. "Just continuing to set up this program to continue to be a national championship contender, which is of course, what this program is expected to be."

After the football conversation, Bishop and Grega attempted to wrap their head around the fact that the Ohio State basketball team is in contention to win the Big Ten title in its first season under new coach Chris Holtmann, after the Buckeyes took a one-game lead in the conference standings with their wins over Purdue and Iowa last week.

"They are the clear frontrunner in the Big Ten, and that is an astonishing thing," Bishop said.

Grega said, though, that the upcoming two games against Penn State on Thursday (8 p.m., BTN) and against Michigan on Sunday (1 p.m., CBS) could be the games that make or break whether the Buckeyes take the regular-season conference crown.

"Both on the road, against a Penn State team that beat them earlier in the year and then a Michigan team that you know is going to be out for revenge, these are two critical games," Grega said. "You have to win them both, but I think Ohio State's more than capable of doing that."

While Holtmann has already achieved a stunning level of success in his first season at Ohio State, the panel agreed that the Buckeyes aren't competing for moral victories anymore, as they have now emerged as a team that could be a serious run in the NCAA Tournament.

"This isn't just a feel-good story anymore," Bishop said. "This team has beaten Michigan State, they've won at Purdue, those two teams can win a national title ... why not Ohio State? And I'm not saying that's the expectation, that's not at all what I'm saying, but I guess what I am saying is nothing should surprise us with this team going forward."

For additional conversation on what's next for Ohio State basketball and what's next for the football Buckeyes after putting the finishing touches on their 2018 recruiting class and coaching staff, watch this week's Eleven Warriors Report, which premieres at 7 p.m. Tuesday on Spectrum Sports Mid-Ohio.

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