Thinking About the First Spring Practice

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Last updated: 04/02/2011 4:52 PM
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Thinking About the First Spring Practice
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Buckeyes hit the field Saturday for the third of 15 spring practices, but I found myself still thinking about Thursday’s practice.

It was the first one of the spring, so it is unfair to draw too many conclusions from what we saw inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, but I can’t help thinking about some interesting things I noticed during the opening day of spring practice.

1. I wonder if Braxton Miller has what it takes to go from fourth on the depth chart to opening-day starter in a matter of 44 practices. That’s a lot of time, and Miller certainly has the natural talent, but he isn’t going to have things handed to him, that’s for sure. He isn’t battling a bunch of future All-Americans for the starting job, but these guys have all been waiting a long time for their one shot. It’s here now, and they aren’t going to let some freshman walk through the door and take it away without a fight. I will be very interested to see how Miller progresses throughout the spring, and more importantly, what kind of snaps he is getting by the time it’s over.

2. I found it interesting that Marcus Hall was getting reps at left tackle while Andrew Norwell was inside playing guard. Maybe it was different on day two, in fact, knowing Jim Bollman, I would assume it was, but I always saw Norwell as a tackle. He played exclusively at right tackle last year and it only seemed natural that he would slide over to left tackle—what will probably be his position next year—while Mike Adams is suspended. It appears that Bollman is going to go with experience first. Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley look to be the first choices to replace Justin Boren and Bryant Browning at the two guard spots, and Hall is the third guy from that 2009 recruiting class. He took a redshirt last year, but before that he was actually competing with Adams and Andrew Miller for the left tackle spot.

3. The more I watch Jaamal Berry, the more I think he might be the best of the bunch at running back. Admittedly, I haven’t seen enough of Rod Smith to pass judgment, but there is something special about Berry when the ball is in his hands. It will be interesting to see how the coaching staff handles the running back position while Boom Herron is suspended. Jordan Hall has proven he can be the guy for short stretches. He’s a talented player, probably more so than people expected when he committed to OSU. But he’s not Berry. He didn’t play many meaningful snaps last year, but this is a kid who can bounce a run outside and then hit the jets. Berry is the one guy on the roster that I’ve seen who is capable of hitting a 60-yard homerun on any given run.

4. Duron Carter really messed up a good thing. I know it’s surprising to hear that Thursday’s practice made me think of Duron Carter, but I couldn’t help but imagine what it might be like if he were still at Ohio State. I think T.Y. Williams is going to be good player, but he is young and raw. He has size and talent, but he is their only real option at split end while DeVier Posey is suspended. Sophomore Philly Brown has shown he can stretch the field and Chris Fields looks like a nice player, but it’s not going to easy to replace Dane Sanzenbacher, along with Posey for the first five games. Had Carter not screwed up so bad academically, he would be heading into his junior season at Ohio State and would likely be the team’s No. 1 receiver while Posey was out. He may go on to have a good, albeit brief, career at Alabama, where he committed Saturday, but it’s a shame for both Carter and Ohio State that things didn’t pan out. He will never be the kind of hero in Tuscaloosa he could have been in Columbus.

5. All of a sudden, I’m interested to see how the safety position will play out. It seemed like a foregone conclusion that C.J. Barnett would join Orhian Johnson in the defensive backfield this season, but the addition of Christian Bryant to the mix makes things a whole lot more interesting. Bryant seems to be perfect for the Star position, but if Tyler Moeller is healthy, they have to find another way to get him on the field. That appears to be safety. With Moeller still sidelined, Bryant worked as the first-team Star Thursday, but also played safety with the second group. I think Bryant and Moeller are two of the best 11 players they have on defense, which means both should be on the field this fall. If that’s true, it likely means either Barnett or Johnson won’t be.

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