Meyer Never Lost Faith in Stoneburner
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Jake Stoneburner had the world at his finger tips and almost pissed it away.
Ohio State’s fifth-year tight end thought he was just out for a night on the town with his boys following the Memorial Tournament in Stoneburner’s hometown of Dublin, Ohio. A night of fun quickly turned into a night Stoneburner and teammate Jack Mewhort would never forget.
Photo by Jim Davidson
What started as a bathroom break eventually landed the two Buckeyes behind bars after they decided to run from police who confronted them for urinating on the side of a building.
It was a gut-check moment for Stoneburner, who lost his scholarship for the summer semester, not to mention his pride, over an incident that could have been avoided with better judgment.
“Your actions, no matter how big or how little, affect the entire team,” Stoneburner said when asked what he learned from the incident.
“It's a team thing and I made a mistake and everyone had to pay for it.”
That was a lesson Stoneburner probably should have learned last year, when he watched a number of his best friends on the team sit out for half the season – or more – because of poor decisions they made early in their careers.
They were decisions that ultimately led to the resignation of beloved football coach Jim Tressel, but also to the arrival of Urban Meyer. A coach with a glistening reputation for getting the ball into the hands of his best playmakers, Meyer came down hard on his two veteran leaders.
But he never gave up on them.
"I was very upset with him, but to say I lost my trust in him – I wouldn't say that,” Meyer said of Stoneburner.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“Extremely upset, like you would with one of your kids. But to say I don't trust Jake Stoneburner, that's not appropriate. Anger and those type of things, yes, but not lack of trust.”
Meyer called Stoneburner’s mistake “stupid,” but he was convinced neither player was a bad guy or detriment to the team.
“If I thought that, they wouldn’t be here,” Meyer said flatly.
While they were secluded from the team over the summer, at least partially, Meyer didn’t drag their punishment into fall camp once they had met his stipulations for returning to the team at the end of the summer.
“It was business as usual once practice started,” Stoneburner said.
“It was just back to football and worrying about football.”
At that point, it became Meyer’s job to figure out how to get Stoneburner more involved with the offense than he had been during his first two seasons as the starting tight end in Columbus.
“He’s a good player,” Meyer said Monday.
“He's a guy that we are still trying to find out, exactly, does he have the separation to run a deep pass – especially as many plays as he's playing. He's a big man to be out there running 30‑yard routes.
“So I think we are still growing together. I wish I had him for more than one year because we are still trying to figure out exactly his strengths.”
One thing he’s shown he can do is find a way to get in the end zone.
“It's been a while,” Stoneburner said after catching the 10th touchdown pass of his career against UCF.
“A tough summer, to finally get out there and score, it's a great feeling. It really feels great.”
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