Jeremy Birmingham/Landof10
Ohio State was back to work on Tuesday

Urban Meyer dishes on departing players as spring football begins, Thad Matta isn’t dying and more

Jeremy Birmingham

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 Wednesday, March 8, and it’s time to Wake Up Sloopy.


News and pertinent info from the first day of spring football 2017

Football returned to Columbus on Tuesday and there was no shortage of stuff happening at Ohio State on the first day of spring practices. The working media that made the trip to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center were afforded a limited window to watch some of the Buckeyes practice. Land of 10’s Ryan Ginn helped shed some light on the activities with some observations from the field.

  • Eric Glover-Williams did work out with the wide receivers. He began his Ohio State career as a defensive back. True freshman Brendon White also worked out with receivers.
  • Interestingly, offensive lineman Kyle Trout has already signaled his intent to transfer but will still be practicing with the Buckeyes. He can’t transfer to Cincinnati until he graduates. He’s on pace to complete his degree this spring. Ohio State won’t face the Bearcats the remainder of Trout’s career, so it’s a less awkward situation than it could be.
  • All four quarterbacks were on the field getting reps during the media viewing period. J.T. Barrett and Joe Burrow wore black non-contact jerseys. Dwayne Haskins and Tate Martell did not. There were no contact scenarios while the media were at practice.
  • Barrett looked the best of all four quarterbacks. Burrow had some shaky throws, including a couple of interceptions. Haskins has a cannon and Martell showed off some nice touch.

After practice, however, Urban Meyer spoke to the media from the team room and shared a lot of good information. None may have been as interesting as the tone Meyer took when discussing the recent departure of freshman offensive tackle Tyler Gerald.

It’s very rare for a coach to speak plainly – and if we’re being honest, negatively – about a departed player. When asked about wide receiver Alex Stump, Meyer was to the point, “He’s transferring.” When asked about offensive lineman Kyle Trout and wideout James Clark? He was courteous and glowing in his reviews of the players. That was not the case with Gerald, and you’re left to wonder if that was a reaction meant for coaches and schools considering reaching out to Gerald.

Beyond that, Meyer was his usual to-the-point self. Some of his key points:

  • Ohio State has a new “leadership” committee among its players. Meyer said “We have a ton of great leaders here.”
  • What is Urban Meyer looking for out of J.T. Barrett? More accuracy.
  • Meyer said the Buckeyes watched a lot of film from successful offensive games over the last few years in an effort to show Ryan Day and Kevin Wilson what he wants the offense to look like.
  • Chris Worley has moved to inside linebacker and will get the first chance to replace Raekwon McMillan there. Jerome Baker and Dante Booker are likely to open the season alongside him as starters.
  • Meyer walked back the idea that Greg Schiano will be the lone defensive coordinator. He made sure to reiterate that Kerry Coombs would have an expanded role in the defense.
  • The Ohio State receivers were “outstanding” on Tuesday, according to Meyer.

This offseason was a crucial one for Meyer and the Buckeyes, and the sixth-year Ohio State head coach said he did as many little things as he could to shake up the program. The fear of stagnation is real and a powerful motivator.

From Ben Axelrod:

Entering his sixth season as the Buckeyes’ head coach, Meyer already sensed a need to “refreshen” his program, despite laying claim to a 61-6 record in the past five years. As a result, those walking around the Woody might not recognize Ohio State’s football facility.

“We changed a lot of little things,” Meyer said. “We changed all the coaches’ offices and where they’re at. I just think Year 6, you’ve got to change the paint on the building a little bit. It’s been all positive so far.”

The Buckeyes will be back to work on Thursday morning. Be sure to follow Ben Axelrod, Ryan Ginn and myself on Twitter for updates from campus.

You can see Meyer’s press conference from Monday, in its entirety, here.

Thad Matta is alive and well, thank you

If you – like me – are a believer in Ohio State basketball coach Thad Matta and feel he should get at least one more season to try to turn around the Buckeyes program after a couple of subpar seasons, Tuesday brought some good news: Matta will return to Columbus for the 2017-2018 season.

That report came from Yahoo.com’s Pat Forde, citing “industry sources” that just two weeks ago were hinting there could be a potential vacancy at Ohio State because of Matta’s lingering health concerns. The Buckeyes head coach talked Tuesday about his future, and about some of the challenges he’s faced on the recruiting trail as sharks have circled around his presumed-dead career. Heck, in some cases, his almost-presumed dead self. Matta said that he’s had his health used against him on the recruiting trail for almost eight years now.

Matta not only shut down the idea of his health potentially leading to his retirement, he offered an interesting story about a recruit to show how reports of his health can get out of hand.

“The kid was going to have a press conference, and the father said he wanted to delay it,” Matta said. “I said, ‘I understand, why?’ … He said, ‘Well, it’s your health. They told us you’re going to die.’ ”

Check out the video of Matta’s press conference from BuckeyeGrove.com:

I am not shy about saying this: I think Thad Matta is awesome and I want him to coach at Ohio State for the next 100 years. This is a guy who flat out gets “it” and does things in a way that should make Buckeyes fans and Big Ten fans proud.

If you’re on the opposite end of the Matta argument, you may also be glad to know he’s not dying, even if you think he’s killing the Ohio State basketball program.

Chris Worley to take first crack at replacing Raekwon

If the Buckeyes are going to be a good football team in 2017 one of the areas that will need to be addressed is the middle of the defense. To begin trying to replace departed captain Raekwon McMillan, Ohio State will turn to its fifth-year senior, Chris Worley.

For as effectively as the Buckeyes have recruited at linebacker in the last few years, there’s a noticeable lack of experienced depth at the position. To install Worley in the middle means they feel comfortable with the health of Dante Booker, who may be as physically talented as any player on the roster.

B1G Happenings

• Michigan’s third-best defensive player earns an award for being “OK” at a bunch of different positions

• New Nebraska defensive coordinator sees positive things happening in Lincoln

• Big Ten Tournament tickets are going for next to nothing

• Northwestern is amped about its new facilities and wants you to be, too

• Former Ohio State wide receiver is working with the team in a coaching capacity