New Wave of Buckeyes Embark on Careers
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — One didn’t make it.
This was the big weekend for the Ohio State class of 2011. Although a number of players from the class had enrolled early—either in January after the Sugar Bowl or just before the start of spring practice in April—the remaining members flooded to Columbus to check in to their dorms, get their student ID’s and get themselves generally acquainted with their new surroundings.
Only one was missing.
While not unexpected, the absence of Ejuan Price put a slight damper on move-in weekend, if only because it offered a sobering reminder that all is not well in Buckeye Nation. Price is not the first casualty of the ongoing turmoil surrounding the Buckeyes. Former head coach Jim Tressel, the man who recruited all of these kids to Columbus, is gone. So is Terrelle Pryor.
Price, who signed a letter of intent with the Buckeyes back in February, decided it wasn’t the right fit for him. It was never really where his heart was anyway. The linebacker out of Woodland Hills nearly made the switch to attend the University of Pittsburgh back in February, and he told reporters at the Big 33 Classic over the weekend that is likely where he will end up.
Obviously he was a kid the staff felt good about, but his loss won’t sting for very long. The Buckeyes still have three other linebackers in the class, including 5-star Curtis Grant, and Price’s departure will open another scholarship for next year, which was going to be a smaller class anyway.
Without him, 15 new members of the 2011 class embarked on their college careers over the weekend for the start of Ohio State’s Summer Quarter, which begins Monday. That, coupled with the seven players who enrolled early, brings the class total to 22 players. Glenville quarterback Cardale Jones is the unofficial 23rd member of the class, but he will be enrolling at Fork Union Military Academy with the intentions of being at Ohio State in January.
The Buckeyes already have a quarterback in the class of 2011. His name is Braxton Miller, maybe you heard of him. The Huber Heights Wayne product is the centerpiece of the class and the future of the quarterback position at Ohio State.
How soon that future begins will be determined over the next three months, but it’s not out of the question that Miller could be under center for the season-opener against Akron in September.
Miller enrolled back in January along with four other players from the 2011 class—tight end Jeff Heuerman (Naples, Fla.), defensive tackle Joe Hale (Greenwood, Ind.), safety Jeremy Cash (Plantation, Fla.) and linebacker Ryan Shazier (Plantation, Fla.).
They were joined in the spring by offensive lineman Tommy Brown (Akron Firestone) and safety Ron Tanner (Columbus Eastmoor). Here is a look at the 15 newcomers who are being welcomed into the Buckeye family this summer.
WR Devin Smith (6-1, 175, Massillon Washington)
An underrated prospect out of Massillon, Smith has exploded on the all-star circuit and could even be in position to compete for playing time as a freshman this fall. Has excellent body control and ability to make the spectacular catch. Needs to focus on catching the more catchable passes.
WR Evan Spencer (6-1, 185, Vernon Hills, Ill.)
The son of former Ohio State running back and assistant coach Tim Spencer is one of two receivers in the class and will be rooming with Smith this summer.
TE Nick Vannett (6-6, 230, Westerville Central)
A pass-catching tight end who is developing as a blocker. Not going to be Jake Stoneburner, because few players are, but could be a very solid tight end down the line for the Buckeyes. Good size and route-running ability.
OL Brian Bobek (6-2, 278, Palatine, Ill.)
The top-rated offensive lineman in the Ohio State’s class of 2011, Bobek has a compact body and will likely play inside. His best position might be center, which would allow Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley to stay at guard at Michael Brewster graduates.
OL Chris Carter (6-4, 325, Cleveland John F. Kennedy)
It will be interesting to see how Carter handles the aftermath of his signing day turmoil. He was arrested on charges of lewd behavior, but eventually cleared to sign with the Buckeyes.
OL Antonio Underwood (6-3, 295, Shaker Heights)
Another big lineman with a lot of learning ahead of him. Has the size and strength, but technique and understanding of the game will take time.
DT Michael Bennett (6-3, 275, Centerville)
One of the highest-rated prospects in the class, Bennett broke his arm playing in the U.S. Army All-American game, but was back throwing shot-put in the spring. Should be 100 percent heading into fall camp.
DE Steve Miller (6-4, 230, Canton McKinley)
Another highly-recruited defensive lineman, Miller is one of the most intriguing players to watch from the class. He has all the tools to be a good one and will likely get a chance to play the Leo position for the Buckeyes.
DE Kenny Hayes (6-5, 240, Toledo Whitmer)
Another big-time defensive end prospect, Hayes could compete for playing time right away at the strongside defensive end spot.
DL Chase Farris (6-6, 265, Elyria)
Farris is a bit of a tweener who could end up playing both strongside defensive end and defensive tackle, two very similar positions in OSU’s defense. He has the size and knack for getting to the football, but is very raw and doesn’t seem to have much of a well-rounded game. Will need time to develop.
LB Curtis Grant (6-3, 222, Richmond, Va.)
Probably the consensus top-rated linebacker in the entire country, Grant committed to Ohio State over Virginia and North Carolina. He is the total package and could contribute right away for the Buckeyes. Can play inside, but best position will likely be Will (wideside) linebacker.
LB Connor Crowell (6-1, 215, Waldorf, Md.)
Was taken off on a stretcher after breaking his left ankle in his final high school game, but Crowell is on the mend. Had surgery back in November and is expected to make a full recovery. At about 85 percent recovery now and likely to take a redshirt during his first year on campus. Crowell is a tenacious player who likely fits at the Sam (strongside) linebacker spot, but could slide inside with the departure of Price, depending on depth.
DB Doran Grant (5-10, 171, St. Vincent-St. Mary)
Cousin of Devin Smith, Grant is legit corner prospect who could be the next big thing at traditionally strong position for Ohio State. Has a knack for the football and makes up for his size with tremendous ball skills and leaping ability.
DB DerJuan Gambrell (6-2, 180, Toledo Rogers)
A bit of an unknown, Gambrell has the size to play safety but the instincts to play corner. He will start his career there.
LS Bryce Haynes (6-4, 185, Cumming, Ga.)
One of the last members of the class, Haynes has a cannon release on his long snaps. It is almost unfathomable how quickly he gets the ball back to the punter or holder, and he could become the team’s long-snapper as a true freshman.
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