Meyer’s First Quarter Scores High Marks
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer noticed some disturbing trends when he took over the Ohio State football program in January.
He had decided to keep his hands off the Buckeyes as they prepared for one final game under interim head coach Luke Fickell, but he could immediately sense the state of decline that had set in since the forced resignation of Jim Tressel.
Meyer openly acknowledged he was disappointed with some of the body types he saw from his new group, but it was more than that. It was a deeper issue.
The 2011 season was a horrendous one on the field, but Meyer was particularly concerned with what he saw happening the classroom in the wake of Tressel’s untimely, and largely unwelcomed exit from Columbus.
“Lazy in the classroom a lot of time correlates to lazy on the football field,” Meyer said.
Meyer wanted to transform their bodies, but also their minds during the first off-season of his Ohio State career. It had to start with the incoming freshmen, all six of whom were named OSU Scholar-Athletes for carrying a grade point average over 3.00 for Winter Quarter.
Photo by Jim Davidson
It was the first collegiate classroom experience in the lives of those six young men—Jacoby Boren, Bri’onte Dunn, Cardale Jones, Josh Perry, Tyvis Powell and Mike Thomas—who enrolled in January.
They joined outgoing seniors Nate Ebner and Andrew Sweat—who made the list for the 4th time in his career—as a part of the 44 Ohio State football players who were invited to the Scholar-Athletes banquet, which will be held Wednesday at the Ohio Union.
That total is second-most by the football team in the last five academic quarters, and part of a school-record 548 student-athletes who will be named OSU Scholar-Athletes this year.
Meyer came to Ohio State from a conference that has not always carried a reputation for placing a high emphasis on academics, but his own personal résumé might suggest something different.
Since leaving Bowling Green in 2002, Meyer has coached eight teams that have been rated with an Academic Progress Rate (APR) score—two at Utah and six at Florida. For six consecutive years, Meyer’s Florida teams were in the Top 3 in the Southeastern Conference in both Academic Progress Rate scores and graduation success rates.
His teams have averaged an APR score of 966, which is considerably higher than the average Division I football score of 936 between 2003 and 2010.
It also places Meyer second among all coaches who have led a team to a BCS championship game. The only coach (active or retired) ahead of him?
Photo by Dan Harker
“We can and should expect our football student-athletes to continue to achieve success in the classroom,” said Ohio State Professor John P. Bruno, the University’s Faculty Athletics Representative.
“Coach Meyer brings high academic standards and values to Ohio State. By any metric used for monitoring the academic progress of student athletes, it is clear that Coach Meyer’s teams, at each of his institutions, have been among the most successful in the country.”
Meyer’s last four Florida teams averaged a score of 975 on the APR, and 150 of his Florida football players were named to the Southeastern Conference Academic Honor Roll, including an SEC record-tying 37 in 2008.
From 2006-10, only nine programs in the country qualified for a bowl game and had a higher APR than Meyer’s average of 976 at Florida. That included Boise State, Stanford, and Ohio State, under former head coach Jim Tressel.
By April 2011, 104 of Meyer’s Florida Gator players had received his degree; an average of over 17 players graduating per year.
According to the Central Florida study, Florida also had a Top 10 score among 2011-12 bowl teams in African-American football student-athlete graduation success rates (75 pct.) and an 88 percent figure for white student-athletes.
Photo by Dan Harker
Along with the six freshmen who made the Scholar-Athletes banquet on Wednesday, Meyer also had a number of scholarship veteran players make the list. That includes Darryl Baldwin, Michael Bennett, Brian Bobek, Ben Buchanan, Zach Domicone, Doran Grant, Adam Homan and Ron Tanner.
It does not, however, include some of the bigger names on the roster—guys like Braxton Miller, Corey Brown, Jake Stoneburner, John Simon, Johnathan Hankins, Ryan Shazier and Bradley Roby.
If Meyer wants to add another scholar athlete to his roster, he will have to win a bet with Thad Matta to get Aaron Craft back on the football field. Craft made the list for the second time, and was joined by fellow point guard Shannon Scott.
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