As Summer Nears, Urban Meyer is Trusting His Ohio State Veterans Now More Than Ever

By Eric Seger on April 29, 2015 at 8:35 am

Urban Meyer, like any successful CEO, company president or football coach, has trust issues.

It's pretty cut and dry when it comes to how he runs his program — you might get one or two second chances for messing up various areas of off-field constituents. Go beyond that, you're usually out.

The same goes for the team's on-field product. In the current day and age where health and concussions are tracked more than ever before, Meyer was sure to be cautious with the upperclassmen on his team who spent more time on the sidelines than off them during 2015 spring drills.

"I know we have a lot of veterans coming back, I’m putting a lot of trust in them," Meyer told Dan Patrick Tuesday morning. "We didn’t beat them up during spring practice, which is, the year before we did, we went through a lot of physical practices."

Last year at this time, Ohio State was knee deep in dealing with back-to-back losses for the first — and only —time in Meyer's tenure. The program was getting a facelift on the defensive side of the ball in terms of scheme. It lost nearly the entirety of its offensive line in addition to it's leading rusher and receiver, so the offense was undergoing a bit of a makeover, too.

Two-time Big Ten Player of the Year and presumptive starting quarterback Braxton Miller then re-injured his already surgically repaired shoulder and the story changed. It changed again as J.T. Barrett thrived in Meyer's spread offense under the tutelage of the since departed Tom Herman, before shifting once again to Cardale Jones with Barrett's ankle injury against Michigan.

A young team grew and blossomed, a coaching staff adapted seamlessly to whatever obstacle was thrown its way and Ohio State won the first ever College Football National Championship.

Now, as Meyer and the Buckeyes prep for summer workouts, only nine starters — if you count kickoff specialist Kyle Clinton and nickel corner Armani Reeves — are gone, with more than capable replacements in line to fill their shoes.

That's the reason Meyer kept a bevy of starters out harm's way this spring — there was no need to wear them out. He trusts guys like Joshua Perry, Taylor Decker, Joey Bosa and Adolphus Washington to be ready to ramp up the intensity come fall camp.

"I also pulled back on some guys I call 2,000-rep guys, people that have played for two years for us and have over 2,000 reps of contact," Meyer said.

Meyer outlined to Patrick what exactly leads to someone being a part of the "2,000-rep club" at Ohio State, but it's pretty simple. If a guy's a multiple year starter or played a key role in the Buckeyes winning it all last year, he's not going to be smashing too many heads until August.

"First of all, it’s the right thing to do," he said, "and it’s our job to get them healthy and make sure they’re ready for the games."

Yes, health at Ohio State is a bit of an issue considering starters Ezekiel Elliott, Jacoby Boren and Michael Thomas essentially missed all 15 spring sessions.

Meyer, though, trusts guys like Strength and Conditioning Coach of the Year Mickey Marotti to keep his players in peak physical condition, even with the emphasis on football safety is at all new heights.

"The great thing about football right now is everyone is so conscious about the student-athlete, the welfare and how many live reps you’re getting," Meyer said.

And while he keeps guys like Marotti's staff as close to him as possible now that summer workouts are on the horizon, Meyer's keying on those returning starters to be physically healthy and mentally ready to kick things up a notch when fall camp opens in a little more than three months.

"This year, our first two weeks of training camp are going to be important," Meyer said.

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