When Urban Meyer addressed the media Monday following Ohio State’s first practice of fall camp, he was already receiving questions regarding the Buckeyes’ season-opening game Sept. 7 in Blacksburg, Va. against Virginia Tech.
Meyer was asked two weeks ago at Big Ten Media Days how he planned to replace his four players who were suspended for that game against the Hokies — Joey Bosa, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Corey Smith — and on Monday evening, he was asked again. More specifically, Meyer was asked about replacing Bosa, the preseason All-American defensive end and potential No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Meyer rattled off the usual suspects, guys who everybody expected would step in and replace Bosa: Tyquan Lewis, Sam Hubbard, Jalyn Holmes, Darius Slade. But then Meyer paused and delivered a name nobody had really expected to hear.
“Then you’ve got other potentials,” Meyer said. “You got a big kid named Josh Perry that can do some things for us if we decide to change up our defense a little bit.
“There’s alternatives and we’re studying them all right now.”
Perry, a starting outside linebacker for the Buckeyes, was the team’s leading tackler a year ago by a wide margin with 124 stops. Listed at 6-foot-4 and 254 pounds, though, Perry’s massive size for a linebacker makes him an intriguing option at defensive end should Meyer and Co. choose to go that route.
Should he be called on for that role, Perry insists he will be ready to go.
“A little bit this summer I did a little bit on pass rushing, some of those skills,” Perry said Wednesday following Ohio State’s third practice of fall camp. “I just need to have that in my repertoire, but also just in case they want to do some different things. Whether it’s for this game or whether it’s moving forward, just some different scenarios to be able to do that.”
Perry certainly would be capable of making that transition should he need to do so, according to one of his fellow linebackers.
“Would Josh be able to pash rush? Absolutely,” Darron Lee said. “Look at him, he’s 6-4 or 6-5, 250 with long arms. We call him Squid for a reason so he’ll be fine. If our coaches develop some type of gameplan for that, absolutely.”
Should a move for Perry against Virginia Tech be in the cards, the towering linebacker said sophomore Dante Booker would slide in for him at his outside position.
“Dante Booker is the guy behind me and he does a really great job,” Perry said. “We’ve got some other guys, younger guys battling, so it’d be really cool to see him out there because we know he puts in a lot of work. He’s phenomenal, too, and I say it every time but that kid is a freak of nature.”
Again, right now we’re less than a week into fall camp. The Ohio State coaching staff may just be spitballing ideas trying to figure out what is the best plan of attack when the Buckeyes take on the Hokies in the season opener.
But Perry’s move has potential. And it certainly has created a bit of buzz around Ohio State’s camp.
“I think we’re going to find a way to get our best guys on the field and I think that’s kind of the evaluation through camp is to find a way to get the best 11 and who those best 11 guys are,” co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach Luke Fickell said. “The great thing is that if we do go that route, it’d be something for Joshua in the long run that he might play in the future.”