Meyer Disappointed by Off-Field Issues
By Brandon Castel
CHICAGO — In case you’re wondering, Urban Meyer is still worrying.
Photo by Jim Davidson
He still worries about what his players are doing. He worries about where they are going when they leave the football facility, and who they are spending their time around.
He still worries because he understands that, at the end of the day, he is dealing with 18-22 year old kids who don’t always make smart decisions.
“I remember what it was like to be that age,” Meyer said Thursday at his first Big Ten Media Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago.
“I remember the kinds of mistakes I made at that age, so I always worry. I’m never going to stop worrying. That’s just the way I am because one small thing can suddenly turn into a huge issue.”
Meyer had to deal with a number of those issues during his first off-season at Ohio State. He dismissed three players from the team within a month of taking over after the bowl game, and then had to handle the arrest of two veteran leaders in tight end Jake Stoneburner and offensive tackle Jack Mewhort.
“They're not reinstated yet,” said Meyer, who was naturally disappointed by the arrests.
“They're actively working out. They have to fulfill their penance or obligation that we've asked them to do. We did take their scholarships. They've had to pay for their summer school. Very expensive mistake.”
It cost Stoneburner and Mewhort their summer scholarships, but not their spots on the roster. The start of fall camp is still eight days away, but both players were recently allowed to return to the OSU locker room after completing their required community service.
“They're doing what they are supposed to do,” Meyer added.
“I'm monitoring it closely, and that decision won't be made until we get to training camp. But as of now they'll be reporting to training camp a week from Friday.”
And they will be allowed to resume practice immediately, assuming they continue to meet Meyer’s expectations over the next week. The same cannot be said for linebacker Storm Klein. The senior out of Licking Valley was recently dismissed from the team, and while Meyer acknowledged there was a possibility he could be restored to the team, it doesn’t sound likely at this point.
“He has a good reputation,” Meyer said of Klein.
“He is a good student and a hard-worker. By all accounts, he’s a likeable guy, but he was well aware of our core values at Ohio State, and he violated those.”
Klein was a 10-game starter for the Buckeyes a year ago, but he was likely going to start fall camp behind sophomore Curtis Grant at the middle linebacker position. The Buckeyes are hoping to revamp a defense that underperformed a year ago, but they could benefit from the possible return of senior defensive lineman Nathan Williams.
“I’d say he is right on schedule, if not a touch ahead,” Meyer said Thursday.
“He’ll be on the team, he’ll report, but he won’t be at full speed. He is cutting, he’s accelerating and doing things a little bit ahead of schedule and the training staff and him are doing a great job.”
Williams was one of Ohio State’s premier players on defense two years ago, and he was expected to lead Jim Heacock’s group a year ago. A knee injury sidelined Williams after the season-opener, and he was eventually forced to undergo microfracture surgery during the offseason.
It might be a long-shot to expect Williams to be completely ready for the start of the season against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 1, but the Buckeyes are expecting tailback Jordan Hall to be back in action at some point early in the season.
Meyer said he spoke to Hall yesterday and the senior is a “bit ahead of schedule” in his return from a torn tendon in his toe.
“It was a very unfortunate injury to a guy, I hate to use the term ‘bought in,’ but was completely bought and was getting more than a 3.0 his last two quarters,” Meyer said of Hall.
“He was a guy who had a great spring, and then an injury to this day I am still trying to figure out what happened. He stepped on a piece of glass at three in the afternoon, but he is also moving along very fast.”
That’s good news for Meyer, who said skill position is still his biggest concern heading into the start of fall camp on Aug. 3. Meyer and his staff have not considered a medical redshirt for Hall, and said they would assess the situation further as Hall gets closer to his return.
He was expected to miss up to 10 weeks with the injury.
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