Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer

Urban Meyer, Buckeyes raise big cash for cancer research, Curtis Samuel can be combine star and more

Jeremy Birmingham

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Today is Friday, March 3, and it’s time to Wake Up Sloopy.


Meyer, Buckeyes raise big money for cancer 

It may look like a lot of fun, and I am sure it was, but make no mistake: The Buckeye Cruise for Cancer was about way more than fun. The annual seafaring expedition took dozens of former Ohio State players and, yes, Urban and Shelley Meyer, to the water with fans and donors — and raised a pretty healthy amount of scratch for cancer research.

That money will stay in Columbus.

The Buckeyes website says that the fund is “dedicated to the recruitment of cancer research experts to The James, so that we continue to have the best and brightest minds at Ohio State.”

Kudos, Ohio State. It’s easy to just be awesome on the field and not care about anyone or anything but yourself. But to give back, and so generously, is a game-changer for people in need.

Running back drafted early in 2017? Thank Zeke.

More than a few times in the last few months, we’ve mentioned the name “Ezekiel Elliott” on this page, mostly because the former Ohio State running back has become one of the biggest stars in the entire sporting world since he took the NFL and the Dallas Cowboys by storm in his rookie season.

Elliott’s impact goes well beyond #clicks though. In fact, a couple of major NFL prospects in the 2017 draft are citing “Zeke” as a major piece of their own futures. Because of this former Buckeyes star, NFL teams may once again find the idea of taking a running back early in the first round to be an acceptable business decision.

The Florida State star wasn’t alone in his thinking.

I am not a believer that past success is always an indicator of future results, especially when playing a game that requires 10 other players to perform their jobs efficiently for success to happen on any given play, but the NFL has long been a copycat league. Elliott’s incredible rookie season is as much a byproduct of Zeke’s collegiate preparation, his all-world offensive line in Dallas and a rookie quarterback that the Cowboys didn’t want to heap too much early pressure on as it is his natural abilities.

The right player, in the right system — that’s what matters.

Samuel set to star at the NFL combine?

Every Buckeyes fan in America knows that Curtis Samuel could have been used more effectively during his time at Ohio State. The idea of a third offensive coordinator in four seasons is probably one of the main reasons why Samuel opted for the NFL draft rather than his senior season in Columbus.

He’s got all the ability in the world but he was unlikely to be “the man” for the Buckeyes with another season of J.T. Barrett running the show. Barrett is the engine of the car that is the Ohio State offense and Samuel has been the nitrous boost that occasionally threw things into hyperdrive.

Whatever he was — and could’ve been — for the Buckeyes is now moot as the charismatic Brooklyn native sets his sights on NFL stardom. The league, it seems, is eagerly waiting to see what he’s capable of at this week’s NFL combine.

From NFL.com’s Daniel Jeremiah, who broke down five players that “should” most stand out in Indianapolis:

Ohio State has produced a ton of NFL talent over the last few years. Last year’s class featured guys like Ezekiel Elliott, Joey Bosa and Michael Thomas. This year’s group features two of my top five players — Malik Hooker and Marshon Lattimore. However, when you study Ohio State tape over the last two seasons, Samuel is the one who appears to be the most explosive. When he gets some space, he can fly. Scouts have been told to expect him to run the 40 in the high 4.3s or low 4.4s, post a vertical close to 40 inches and broad jump at least 10 feet, 6 inches.

There’s no doubt that Samuel will make a name for himself with his athleticism and personality. But what team will be the right fit for him? That is what the combine is all about. And that is the question with this Buckeyes speedster. Is he a tailback or a wide receiver?

Land of 10’s Sean Keeler dove into that question on Thursday:

The projection is more of a specialist, a situational weapon. At 5-foot-11 and 197 pounds, Samuel’s not going to help protect the quarterback on third down. You don’t crash him into the ‘A’ gap and hope like hell for the best. The reviews on the hands are mixed, and scouts say the route-running, at the moment, is all over the place.

Like Percy Harvin and Reggie Bush before him, it’s going to be about fit with Samuel. The right scheme. The right offensive coordinator. A club which either has a need for a vertical mismatch in the slot, or has a coach who knows how to maximize his particular skill set.

Or, ideally, both.

“The thing he’s got is, he’s got explosive, straight-line speed,” longtime NFL scout Dan Shonka noted. “And he’s got that shake to him. He’s got that June-bug change of direction. He gets to top speed really quickly.”

I am pretty sure Samuel will end up catching passes from Tom Brady for the next six years and the Patriots will win a half dozen more Super Bowls.

Buckeyes get help from Gophers

It’s not been a good year for the Buckeyes basketball team and sometimes, when a bunch of stuff isn’t going your way, you just want to catch one, little break.

For example, if Ohio State wants a first-round bye in the Big Ten Tournament next week, they need a little help from one of their peers. Simply put, the Buckeyes needed Minnesota (22-7) to beat Nebraska (12-16) at home on Thursday night. And then Ohio State needs to knock off Indiana on Saturday (noon ET, ESPN).

Well, the Gophers held up their end of the bargain, beating the Cornhuskers 88-73 on the strength of a 40-27 first half.

Your turn, Buckeyes.

B1G Happenings

• Tom Izzo is the best in the business for a reason

• Northwestern’s football team tries to recreate the Wildcats incredible Wednesday night win against Michigan

• Penn State is set to unveil its master plan for new athletic facilities

• What are they saying at the NFL combine about Michigan’s Jabrill Peppers

• Nebraska’s wide receiver coach gets house arrest, will continue to teach kids about stuff

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