Meyer Talks Winter Conditioning Stars
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — By his own admission, Urban Meyer was not a big fan of Kenny Guiton when he got his first look at the Ohio State roster.
Photo by Dan Harker
The slender, 6-2 quarterback from rural Houston has been with the Buckeyes since 2009, when Jim Tressel and his staff made a last-minute offer to Guiton after missing on some earlier targets at the quarterback position.
Meyer has raved about the opportunity to coach Ohio State’s starting quarterback, Braxton Miller, this fall, but he was not nearly as sold on the team’s backup.
“I’m used to quarterbacks that act like quarterbacks,” Meyer said last week while previewing spring practice at Ohio State.
It is hard to know exactly what Meyer was referring to with Guiton, who has always had a more laid back persona around practice and the team facilities. He is soft-spoken and a bit of a jokester, but Meyer is looking for quarterbacks who take charge in the huddle and lead the way for their teammates.
A guy like Braxton Miller.
“It’s been awesome,” Meyer said of getting to see Miller up close this off-season.
“He’s a really good kid. He’s a sponge that wants to do well. Really, really athletic guy. It’s been nothing but positive as far as what he’s been doing.”
But the off-season has also been positive for Guiton, who moved up to the No. 2 quarterback spot on the depth chart last fall after initially slipping to No. 3, behind Miller and Joe Bauserman, during fall camp.
“He was a guy that I was not a big fan of when I first got here and he’s had a nice offseason,” Meyer said.
“I probably shouldn’t have brought that up other than to say I like him better than I did. He’s taking his profession real serious and I like guys who do that.”
Meyer said he really likes what he has seen from Guiton over the last month-and-a-half, which is good news for the Buckeyes because they don’t have many options behind Miller at the most important position on the field.
“Yeah, I think so,” Meyer responded when asked if Guiton would be the backup in spring camp.
“Due to sheer numbers, yeah. We’ve also got (freshman Cardale Jones) though.”
Guiton wasn’t the only player who has caught Meyer’s attention during this off-season workout period. He hasn’t been able to watch the quarterbacks throw much or players doing much real football activity, but Meyer has been impressed by some of the competitiveness he has seen from the Buckeyes.
“Johnathan Hankins and Bri’onte Dunn have done a really good job,” he said.
“But there’s others.”
A 6-1, 215-pound tailback out of Canton GlenOak, Dunn has been a workout warrior at Ohio State since enrolling in January. He won’t open the spring as Ohio State’s starting tailback, but it is clear Dunn will be in the mix for the Buckeyes in the first season under Urban Meyer.
Ohio State’s first-year coach has continually raved about seniors John Simon and Zach Boren, but another guy who stuck out to Meyer this off-season was fifth-year senior Jake Stoneburner.
“Probably the position I’m most-excited about right now is tight ends,” he said.
Photo by Jim Davidson
“Stoneburner has been really good. He runs like a (wide) receiver. We have three good-looking guys that you’d go out and recruit those guys any day of the week.”
That includes Stoneburner, who will be the Buckeyes’ starting tight end in 2012, but also backups Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett. Meyer is hoping to get all of them involved this spring as he continues to search for playmakers on offense.
One of the guys expected to answer the call is junior wideout Corey Brown.
“He has been probably the best in the offseason,” Meyer acknowledged.
“A competitor, showed up every day, high energy, a sponge, always in here trying to get extra work. Shows a lot of ability on the field; I haven’t seen him catch, but just running around, doing things.”
Meyer was also impressed with second-year receiver Devin Smith this off-season, especially watching him put his competitive juices to good use with the OSU track team. Meyer said Smith “finished strong” this off-season, and he expects classmate Evan Spencer to also be in the mix at receiver in the spring.
“Chris Fields has had a good offseason,” Meyer said.
“I mean, they’re all showing up. I’m anxious to see what they can do.”
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