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WHEN OPPORTUNITY KNOCKS. Ohio State dismissed running back Bri'onte Dunn on Monday night after an early Sunday morning altercation with his girlfriend that resulted in a civil protection order.
I, like most Ohio State fans, assumed the Buckeyes basically anointed Mike Weber when that happened. But don't hand the starting job to Weber yet.
At the time, it appeared the plan was for Samuel to do so in an adopted hybrid role—not fully a running back, but not necessarily a wide receiver either. With Dunn and Weber carrying the load and a young wide receiver corps emerging around J.T. Barrett, the 5'11", 200-pounder could pick his spots as either a scat back or slot receiver, motioning in and out of the backfield based on how the defense lined up.
Such versatility may no longer be afforded.
At least not with the increase in uncertainty in an Ohio State running back corps that was already in the process of replacing one of the nation's top players in Ezekiel Elliott. Weber may have always had the higher upside, but Dunn possessed the experience, which is something Samuel also brings to the table, regardless of what position it's come at.
"I've got a heart of a running back," Samuel said during spring practice, which he sat out due to foot surgery. "But I'm [currently] at receiver."
When Urban Meyer came to Columbus, his offense wasn't renowned for burly running backs. Despite Weber changing his body over the last year, Curtis Samuel is the one who fits the traditional Meyer prototype.
Some people say he's too small to carry a workload, and that might be true at the collegiate level. Samuel's hallmark spin move isn't as effective between the tackles, and he's dealt with injuries in his career without a workhorse load.
I, too, peg Samuel as Weber's backup. I'd wager Samuel's hands are better than Weber's, and maybe he's the better blocker despite his size. If so, Tony Alford's decision will be much tougher than we thought.
BUCKS YOUNG BUT NOT THAT YOUNG. We all know the storyline: Ohio State will be young this year. Though it got younger with Dunn's dismissal, it won't even be Urban Meyer's youngest team in the last three years.
Yes, this fall’s squad will be young, but four times Ohio State has had a younger starting lineup than the one we project for 2016: 2004, 2007, 2011 and 2014.
That’s an interesting quartet because it includes two seasons that ended with Ohio State playing for the national title while the other two are the worst seasons in the group we looked at.
The 2016 group could still end up being the youngest depending on what happens at several positions, including receiver, defensive tackle and safety. We have juniors and seniors penciled into starting roles at those positions, but some hotshot youngsters figure to push them in preseason and into the fall.
This makes me feel much better about the season because the 2016 team is a lot closer to a championship than they are to whatever the hell they're calling the TaxSlayer.com Bowl these days.
A couple commenters mentioned it yesterday, but the only way this season is less fun is if the IRS indicts Urban Meyer for tax fraud during the third quarter of the Tulsa game. Cheering for young unprovens is much more exhilarating than cheering for a team of established stars.
BOSA CONTRACT APPROACHING CRUNCH TIME. Joey Bosa made a paid Microsoft marketing appearance over the weekend in which he played video games with San Diego Chargers fans. Bosa, however, remains unsigned by the franchise that drafted him No. 3 overall.
Bosa and the Chargers are bickering over offset language (if Chargers cut Bosa, they want money he makes on his next contract to count against his rookie deal, as an offset) and the disbursement of signing bonuses, which clubs try to delay up to a year.
Though Bosa is one of three rookies yet unsigned (New York Jets linebacker Darron Lee being one of them as well), it's not an ugly situation... yet.
A rookie missing training camp over his contract is a scenario that should be obsolete. The 2011 collective bargaining agreement simplified rookie negotiations to an almost cookie-cutter level, putting the player's team and agent in the same ballpark before discussions even begin. Bosa's appearance Saturday came exactly two weeks before the Chargers will hold their first practice of training camp on July 30. To miss that day would be a detriment to both parties.
Until then, the situation isn't ugly yet.
The No. 3 overall pick and starting left defensive end has missed just three days of actual on-field work. One was the Chargers' 10th and final organized team activity (OTA) on June 9. That practice was voluntary. The other two came during a mandatory minicamp on June 14 and 15. None of the three practices were in pads.
It's always mystified me how the NFL gets away with non-guaranteed contracts, so I'm 100% behind Bosa in this dispute. If they cut a No. 3 overall pick in the next three years, the whole front office should be canned. Pay the man his slotted contract money.
ZEKE A JERSEY KINGPIN. In happier pro-Buckeye news, Ezekiel Elliott maintains his vice grip on jersey sales, a spot he's held since at least May:
Still kinda weird seeing him in blue, though.
Sitting in a breakfast spot in AZ and @RyanShazier sits down at the table right next to me! Small world...buckeyes everywhere.— Taylor Decker (@TDeck68) July 19, 2016
Lions fans hoping Decker shows more awareness when Detroit kicks off its 2016 preseason Aug. 12 against the Steelers.
THOSE WMDs. The tech entrepreneur trying to shake up U.S. soccer... Ken Griffey Jr. and the iconic backward hat... The American who accidentally became a Chinese movie star... J.R. Smith is the perfect Cleveland athlete... Just how did Ohio become the cradle of cartoonists?