The Wake-Up Call: Mike Weber ready for expectations and pizza, Big 12 Bearcats and more
It’s time for your Tuesday, August 16 version of The Wake-Up Call.
The Olympics are halfway over, the first weekend of the NFL preseason is behind us, the Buckeyes have had media day and their first scrimmage, and around the country a number of cities and states have already started the new school year. You need something to take you away from real life, right? That’s what we’re here for.
Let’s see what’s happening in the world of Ohio State sports, OK?
Weber searching for standard … and pizza
I’m sure you’re familiar with Buckeyes redshirt freshman tailback Mike Weber. A Detroit Cass Tech product, Weber is the player that is going to be tasked — the majority of the time anyway — with replacing Ezekiel Elliott in the Buckeyes backfield this fall.
Big shoes? Sure. Is Weber worried? If he is, it’s not outwardly evident.
“I think about it often. I used to think about it a lot when I first realized I was going to become a starter here,” Weber said. “Now I’m just learning to tune it out and just play ball and do what I’ve been doing my entire life.”
Thought he’s not Ezekiel Elliott or Carlos Hyde, Weber – 5-foot-10 and 212 pounds – brings a running style similar to those two NFL first-round draft picks. That’s what Buckeyes fans should expect.
— Marcus Hartman (@marcushartman) August 15, 2016
If the expectations of being the Buckeyes’ starting tailback — a position Urban Meyer described as the “cadillac position” at Ohio State — are weighing on Weber, he’s not letting him change him. He’s a fun-loving guy who has not only been thrust into the starting lineup for the Buckeyes but also into a leadership position in a running back room as a redshirt freshman.
Still, he’s having fun. Over the weekend, Weber and his backfield mate, freshman Antonio Williams, both changed their Twitter avatar to a picture of a squirrel with a piece of pizza.
Why? It’s fun, that’s why.
“It’s just something that me and Antonio find hilarious,” Weber said on media day. “Squirrels usually search for nuts, and I’m just a squirrel trying to get a nut … but it’s ‘I’m a squirrel trying to get a pizza.’ It’s weird.”
It is weird, but who cares? As long as Weber is ready for a heavy workload as the Buckeyes’ running back, no one is going to be that concerned about a pizza-eating squirrel. It’s weird, and it’s fun and Mike Weber expects more fun to come his way.
“This year I know what’s going on, know the plays well, know my approach, know how to handle things differently,” he told the Daily News. “It should be a fun year.”
Would Cincinnati to Big 12 affect Ohio State?
For years, the Buckeyes have had a little bit of an advantage when it comes to recruiting Ohio because there are no other Power 5 conference schools inside the state’s borders. That could be changing in the near future as rumors have begun to swirl that the University of Cincinnati could be considering a move to the Big 12.
Urban Meyer is totally on board with the move, if it were to happen. As a Bearcats alum, Meyer thinks the school is a good fit for a big-time conference.
“I am a graduate, a fan. I think they should be in the Big 12,” Meyer told the media Sunday prior to Ohio State’s media day. “I’m saying that without making all the research necessary to really make that comment. I know that school very well and I couldn’t be happier for that city and for that school if they do get in the Big 12.”
On the recruiting trail though, Meyer believes that if Cincinnati were to make that move, it could change the dynamics of recruiting at home.
“Oh, sure. I bet it would,” he said of impacting recruiting. “That Big 12 is big business.”
In 2012, West Virginia joined the Big 12 as the Big East crumbled, but they’ve not really received much of a recruiting bump since then.
From 2008 to 2012, the Mountaineers’ last five years in the Big East, here are West Virginia’s national recruiting rankings.
- 2008: 48
- 2009: 22
- 2010: 29
- 2011: 49
- 2012: 36
Since joining the Big 12?
- 2013: 31
- 2014: 38
- 2015: 35
- 2016: 39
- 2017: 49 (not complete)
If the Bearcats make the move, will they become a threat to Ohio State for big-time in-state recruits that the Buckeyes want? It’s unlikely. What they could do, however, is put a sizable dent into the work that Kentucky has done in recent years in Southern Ohio. The Wildcats have done an incredible job bringing in the second-level recruits in Ohio — the guys that used to end up at mid-tier Big Ten schools — to Lexington.
Fickell mic’d up at practice
The Ohio State video team – and their social media team – have continued to work overtime to try to bring fans as close to the Buckeyes as possible during this fall camp. Last week, they gave an inside look at how Kerry Coombs, their high-energy cornerbacks and special teams coach, motivates the team.
On Monday, it was linebackers coach Luke Fickell in the spotlight.
— Ohio State Football (@OhioStateFB) August 15, 2016
Luke is a little different than Kerry Coombs, certainly, but there’s no shortage of energy or motivation at linebacker, either.
Tyvis Powell winning in his Seattle debut
Ohio State will be replacing 16 starters on this year’s football team, including three-year starting safety Tyvis Powell, who made his NFL debut for the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday night.
Powell, an undrafted free agent, didn’t disappoint. He was a special teams star, including an absolutely devastating block on a punt return.
Oh… ohhhhhh pic.twitter.com/F1hpgNVoIg
— José Rivera (@whoisjoserivera) August 13, 2016
Later, in the fourth quarter, Powell recorded his first NFL interception.
Seattle's defense comes up big!
— NFL (@NFL) August 13, 2016
He impressed Seahawks coach Pete Carroll as well, according to Stephen Cohen of SeattlePi.com
“It’s a great day,” Carroll said. “I was really fired up for him. He’s looked really good at practice, and he made a big statement. I don’t remember a first-year guy having a first game that was that obvious like that, so it’s very impressive.”
He’s moved around from cornerback to safety — both safety spots — since he arrived at camp with the ‘Hawks and he’ll continue to do that as long as he’s going to keep making plays. The always affable Powell doesn’t care where he plays, he just wants to play.
“They say, ‘Tyvis, go take a rep at corner.’ I go to corner. ‘Tyvis, go to safety.’ I go to safety. Whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it,” Powell said. “Whatever it’s going to take me to make this 53-man roster. I don’t care if they tell me, ‘Tyvis, we need you to get the water for everybody.’ I’m going to be the best water boy in America.”
In case you’ve missed it, Ohio State’s Michael Jordan has been working very hard to become only the second freshman offensive lineman ever to start for an Urban Meyer-coached football team. The work ethic he brings, he told Landof10.com, comes from his years of high school wrestling.
“My freshman year I was on varsity, and I went 4-28. I learned that I really hated losing. The next year I said ‘I’m not going to lose’ and pushed myself and I went 42-13. I learned this work ethic from wrestling.”
What Jordan didn’t tell, according to his father, may have told us even more about how he’s grown from a high school freshman to a college freshman. In most cases all we see is the results of the work, the sudden spotlight that shines from Columbus, but there’s much more to the story.
While posting a link to the story above, his father shared a few more details on the winding road to Ohio State that his son has had to navigate. He gave us permission to share his post here.
There’s always more to the story, but there’s a good chance that you’ve only heard the beginning of this Michael Jordan’s.
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