Ohio State playoff selection defended by unlikely source, Teradja Mitchell decision looms, and more
We hope you’ll start your day with us here at Landof10.com as we work to prepare you for everything that you need to know — Monday through Friday — around the world of Ohio State sports. Whether it’s football, basketball, wrestling, hockey, baseball or just a wild story we hope you’ll find interesting, we’re here to share it all with you.
Today is Friday, May 19, and it’s time to Wake Up Sloopy.
Ohio State makes an unexpected friend
I had to do a double-take when I read the quote.
“I think Ohio State should’ve gone [to the College Football Playoff]. I have no problem with the fact Ohio State went.”
Now, lots of people feel that way. Maybe a few less than before the Fiesta Bowl was played, but Ohio State easily had one of the four best résumés in the country. But I can’t say I expected Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour to be the name attributed to that quote, as reported by Land of 10’s Sean Keeler.
After all, the Nittany Lions were the ones forced to watch from home as the Buckeyes became the first team without a conference championship to make the four-team field. Before Penn State fans grab their pitchforks, though, it should be noted that Barbour wasn’t necessarily saying Ohio State should have gone instead of Penn State, since theoretically both could have been included.
“In fact, you know, we were arguably the best league in the country and we didn’t go. So let’s try to figure out why and what is there. [Whether] it’s we, Penn State, or we, as a conference … how do we address that in the future?
“As the Big Ten Conference champions, what were the elements that led to us not being selected for the CFP and how do we change that, moving forward?”
As Sean noted in his story, Barbour previously had qualms about No. 4 seed Washington’s strength of schedule compared to Penn State’s. By (correctly, in my mind) making the Huskies the comparison point, Barbour avoided the common practice of pitting Ohio State and Penn State against each other — and might have even made some friends in Columbus in the process.
Where does Ohio State stand with Teradja Mitchell?
The Buckeyes have been terrors on the recruiting trail lately, but they might have hit a rare speed bump.
Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting class is insanely good, just like its predecessor. The Buckeyes have 10 commits, all of whom are top-300 recruits in the 247Sports composite rankings. Eight of the 10 rank in the top 100. The class is second overall and is the overwhelming leader when teams are ranked by average rating per player.
The Buckeyes are looking to add another star to the class, and a decision may be coming soon. Virginia Beach (Va.) Bishop Sullivan 4-star linebacker Teradja Mitchell, the No. 2 inside linebacker and No. 37 recruit nationally, tweeted Thursday that an announcement is on the way. Mitchell is down to Ohio State and Florida State, which he recently visited.
Decisions, decisions, decisions 🙇🏿 .. Big news coming soon ‼️
— Teradja Mitchell ™⁷ (@WhosThatNumber7) May 18, 2017
Mitchell visited Ohio State in early April, and the Buckeyes exited feeling great about their chances. From the sound of it, though, Florida State may have wrestled that momentum away from Ohio State.
A month ago, the Buckeyes were the favorite to land the country’s second-ranked inside linebacker, but they knew they’d need to survive one more visit Mitchell had planned, to Florida State. That visit happened last weekend, and Thursday, 247Sports.com’s Steve Wiltfong, one of the most respected recruiting analysts in the business, flipped his crystal ball from the Buckeyes to the Seminoles.
That’s bad news for Ohio State, which is likely to add (at this point anyway) just one more linebacker in its 2018 class to complement recent commit Dallas Gant.
That would be a tough blow for Ohio State. There’s still some hope on the Buckeyes’ end, and things can change quickly in recruiting, but the Seminoles are looking good.
There’s no doubt that optimism is fading from Ohio State (one source told Land of 10 on Thursday morning that the Buckeyes “were still swinging”), but all does not appear to be lost. That is, if we take the 6-foot-2, 243-pound linebacker at his word.
“There’s no leader right now,” he said. “I’m still very high on both teams. It’s very hard [to separate them]. They are very similar and they both have what I want in a college.”
Smart money, right now, is on the Seminoles emerging victorious, though Mitchell is doing his best to keep his ultimate decision close to the vest.
Mitchell told Land of 10 that he plans to announce his decision by June 4.
Michael Bennett getting his mojo back
Ohio State has seen no shortage of NFL success in recent years, but one player I expected to succeed has been hampered by injuries.
Defensive tackle Michael Bennett, whose draft day slide to the sixth round in 2015 was a shocker, played 13 games as a rookie despite being banged up. He missed all of 2016 with a calf injury.
It turns out that the season-ending surgery may have been a gift because it allowed him to recuperate from all the other ailments that plagued him.
“I’ve had a bunch of soft tissue problems, muscle problems and stuff, so the calf was just frustrating itself,” he told WTLV. “With the hip, I was trying to tough that out, but I wasn’t playing the way I knew I could play. I guess the calf was a blessing in disguise. It kind of made me stop and fix both of them.”
He told the TV network that this is the best he’s felt during his pro career.
“Going into this year, I’m very optimistic,” he said. “I feel very good about it, just because I’ve never been this knowledgeable about football, I’ve never been this strong or as fast. My technique has never been this good.
“If I do what I know I can do, then I know I’ll have a place here and I’ll be very productive and have a good year. All I’m trying to focus on is just getting better and taking advantage of the opportunities I have.”
If Bennett stays healthy and puts everything together, he could end up being one of the steals of that draft class.
Follow our Twitter account, gain wisdom, profit
I’m bringing back #FollowFriday.
On May 12 we did a Q&A with Ohio State Land of 10 writer Ben Axelrod as a reward for helping get the @Landof10OSU account to 2,500 followers. Now we’re trying to grow the account to 5,000, which will lead to a Twitter Q&A with our recruiting czar, Birm.
— Ben Axelrod (@BenAxelrod) May 17, 2017
The account posts all of our Ohio State articles, plus we’ll use it to tweet out pictures, videos and thoughts from recruiting camps, commitment ceremonies and Ohio State practices and games.
While you’re in a following mood, feel free to mash that follow button on our accounts, as well:
Ben Axelrod: @BenAxelrod
Jeremy Birmingham: @birm
Ryan Ginn: @rmginn
• Michigan is getting a new football performance center.
• NFL execs seem to love Penn State running back Saquon Barkley.
• 5-star basketball player commits to Texas over Michigan.
• A Michigan State player tweeted that he had a stroke last year.
• Watch a Minnesota defensive tackle commit squat 600 pounds.