Monday Morning Kickoff: Making Plays and Taking Names
By Tony Gerdeman
* Ohio State's neverending search for playmakers is about to come to an end for 2013, though it will continue uninterrupted for the 2014 and 2015 classes. Signing Day is this Wednesday, and it's probably not coming a moment too soon.
The way things are trending right now, the Buckeyes could be getting a verbal commitment from Texas athlete Dontre Wilson (5-10 174) some time today. Obviously things can change, but you'd be hard-pressed to find somebody calling Wilson to anywhere but Ohio State at the moment.
Wilson, who rushed for 1,895 yards and 37 touchdowns and caught 37 passes for 750 yards and nine touchdowns this past season, made an official visit to Texas this past weekend. He will be choosing between Oregon, Texas and Ohio State.
While a running back in high school, the Buckeyes like him in the slot as a guy who can also carry the ball. I could describe his game to you, or I can just sum him up as the type of playmaker you'd expect to see at Oregon. Urban Meyer wants players who can go 60 yards at any time, and Wilson certainly fits that description.
This Wilson news comes on the heels of the rumblings that tailback commit Ezekiel Elliott is planning on sticking with the Buckeyes, which would give Ohio State two of the more dynamic play makers in the entire 2013 class.
Then you add in junior college receiver Corey Smith, who was one of the top receivers in the JUCO ranks, and this could be one of the better closing jobs Ohio State has seen in some time.
Those three players alone would provide a boost to the Buckeyes' offense in 2013. but if they end up signing, they will not be alone. Receivers Taivon Jacobs and Jalin Marshall, along with tight end Marcus Baugh will also provide Ohio State's offense with something that they didn't have last year.
Jacobs will provide speed and depth, likely in the slot. Baugh is an athletic tight end who can make plays after the catch, which is arguably something that the current roster doesn't yet contain. Marshall, meanwhile, might be the most explosive and college-ready athlete in Ohio State's entire recruiting class.
This will be a different Buckeye offense that you see in 2013, and much of it will be because of the playmakers that will be signed on Wednesday.
* It won't just be the players who make the Ohio State offense different next year, it will also be the coaches. No, there are no coaching changes, but Urban Meyer seems intent on adding some wrinkles to the offense this spring. Actually, you probably got a sneak peak at a few of them last night.
If you watched the Super Bowl, you saw the 49ers amass nearly 500 yards of total offense against the Baltimore Ravens, and did much of it out of the Pistol.
The Buckeyes are going to have a very good running game next season even without adding any new wrinkles, so just imagine what it will be like when they add some tweaks that the NFL is still trying to figure out.
* If Dontre Wilson does announce on Monday or Tuesday, it will leave the Buckeyes waiting for Signing Day announcements from safety Vonn Bell and receiver James Clark.
Signing Day generally hasn't been a very productive day for Ohio State in terms of landing uncommitted prospects. Since 2004, they have only signed five players who committed to Ohio State on Signing Day.
In 2005, Jim Tressel held his Signing Day press conference while waiting to receive word on whether or not Lawrence Wilson had signed with the Buckeyes or with Charlie Weis and Notre Dame. In 2008, safety Orhian Johnson chose Ohio State over the opportunity to play quarterback at USF and Indiana.
In 2011, linebacker Curtis Grant chose the Buckeyes on Signing Day, and last year linebacker Jamal Marcus and offensive lineman Kyle Dodson did the same thing.
Looking at it now, however, maybe Urban Meyer is changing Ohio State's Signing Day fortunes. After all, Jim Tressel landed just three Signing Day commits in his last 10 classes, and Meyer has already landed two in his first.
Right now it looks like James Clark will be headed to Florida, and Vonn Bell is still anybody's guess between Ohio State and Tennessee (and possibly Alabama). However, if Meyer is able to land even one of the two, then it may be time for Buckeye fans to stop thinking of Signing Day in terms of swinging and missing, and start thinking about it in terms of a home run derby.
* Now that the Super Bowl is over, we are officially done with the 2012 football season. However, as you read this, there are only 29 days until Ohio State opens Spring football practice.
Tuesday March 5th will kick off Spring football, and just 39 days later they will play the Spring Game. It may take some getting used to, but due to the change to semesters, Spring football will take a nearly two-week hiatus due to Spring Break.
There is no word yet on whether or not the Spring Game will be considered Ohio State's second "premium game".
* While the Super Bowl is on my mind, specifically Jim Harbaugh, I've been thinking about how it was that he never ended up as Michigan's head coach.
There are all kinds of stories, but two of the most popular are that a) Harbaugh didn't want the job because he was always headed to the NFL; and b) he wanted the job, but Michigan wanted him to come hat in hand asking forgiveness for derogatory comments that he had made previously about Michigan's educational standards for football players.
Obviously, Jim Harbaugh is not going to ask anybody's forgiveness for anything, especially when he believes he is right. So if you choose to believe this version, then you believe that Michigan passed on Harbaugh because he couldn't humble himself to people he didn't respect. To me, that should have landed him the job instantly, because there is nothing that could have screamed "Michigan Man!" more than a level of arrogance that would not permit a man to seek another's forgiveness.
The bulk of the Michigan fans that I come into contact with fall into the first group. They think that Michigan was never going to be able to keep him from going to the NFL. This allows them to render their athletic department blameless, and also to keep them from staying up all night wondering "what if".
The reason that I bring it up is because I can't imagine Ohio State letting an alum of Harbaugh's caliber take any other job than head coach of The Ohio State Buckeyes. I refuse to believe that in the same situation, Ohio State would strike out like Michigan may have.
How amazing would it have been if Ohio State and Michigan were looking for a coach at the same time and Harbaugh was more interested in the OSU job?
It's all water under the bridge now, and it's too bad because Jim Harbaugh at Michigan and Urban Meyer at Ohio State would have been a modern day Bo versus Woody. It would have needed its own network. Call it 'The War Channel'.
"Hey, what's on the War Channel right now?"
"It's a three-hour documentary on Jim Harbaugh and Urban Meyer's postgame handshake from the 2013 game where Meyer threw deep up by three touchdowns late in the fourth."
"Ooh, I've seen this before. It's a good one. I love the part where you can see actual smoke escaping from Harbaugh's ears."
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