Thinking Out Loud about Michigan, the Buckeyes and Spring Practice
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Wolverines landed another commitment Tuesday for the class of 2013. What does that mean for them, and for Ohio State? Is Michigan simply picking up the scraps in Ohio, or is there something else going on?
Urban Meyer also had some interesting things to say about his offensive line this week, and all of that had me thinking out loud.
1. Trotwood-Madison LB Michael McCray committed to Michigan over Tennessee, Oklahoma and others Tuesday. McCray's dad, Mike, played at OSU under Earle Bruce, but he did not have an Ohio State offer.
2. McCray is the 14th member of Michigan's 2013 class and fifth from Ohio, joining Dymonte Thomas, Taco Charlton, Jake Butt and Jaron Dukes. Of the five, only Thomas has an offer from Ohio State at this point.
3. Some will argue that Brady Hoke is only landing Ohio State’s leftovers, that no school, not even Michigan, is going to come into Ohio and take the top recruits away from the Buckeyes. Especially when OSU has a highly-respected coach, which they have had basically since 1947.
4. Michigan has always thrived when getting key players out of Ohio. Being an Ohio guy from Dayton, Hoke will do that. Maybe not a lot with OSU offers, but he will get the next tier, the guys who were going to Michigan State, Notre Dame and Penn State while Rich Rodriguez was is Ann Arbor.
5. That should be enough to make this one of the most intense periods in the rivalry’s history. Ohio is one of the top recruiting states in the country. It isn’t comparable to California, Florida and Texas from a sheer volume standpoint, but it also doesn’t have any real in-state competition for Ohio State. That means the Buckeyes are going to get the top players in the state (for the most part) every year, but they cannot take everyone, especially if Meyer is going to continue recruiting nationally (which he will).
6. For instance, let’s look at Mike McCray. Ohio State wanted to get a look at him at camp in the summer, which is why they had not offered him yet. Notre Dame, Michigan State and Penn State must have felt the same way. Now none of them will get a chance, because Hoke snatched him up. The teams that are going to suffer are other Big Ten and Midwest schools who would normally target those fringe/camp offers for Ohio State.
7. Maybe McCray wasn’t good enough to play at Ohio State. This coaching staff obviously had its doubts. There were questions about his lateral speed and ability to move in space as an outside linebacker. The Buckeyes are already interested in a number of other linebackers for 2013, including Courtney Love of Youngstown Cardinal-Mooney and Ben Gedeon out of Hudson. Both already hold offers from the Buckeyes, who are also interested in Indiana products Jaylon Smith (brother of current OSU RB Rod Smith) and Tim Kimbrough, along with Alex Anzalone, an outside linebacker from Wyomissing, Pa. who holds an offer from OSU.
About the 2012 Buckeyes…
1. Urban Meyer told the Cleveland Plain Dealer he wants guys who can move on his offensive line. This is no surprise considering what offensive line coach Ed Warinner said about wanting long, angular offensive tackles, but Meyer is also talking about interior linemen.
2. Meyer said he is looking for “big powerful guys” who can run inside. But he doesn’t want “sloppy” big guys, or the “big giants” that Ohio State’s previous staff seemed to be interested in. “We don't want big slow guys. We just don't. There's no room at the inn for those guys.”
3. It will be interesting to see what that means for some of the current offensive linemen on Ohio State’s roster. Meyer and Warinner are obvious focused on bringing in more athletic guys, but they still have a handful of those “big giants” on their roster.
4. That includes junior Marcus Hall, who clearly played above his listed weight of 315 pounds last season. It also includes second-year guys like Chris Carter and Tommy Brown. Those two in particular were guys who seemed like reaches, even for the previous staff, but they certainly do not fit with what Meyer is looking for on his offensive line.
5. Our understanding is that Hall has been working hard this off-season and buying into what Meyer and Mickey Marotti are preaching about competitive excellence. It will be interesting to see what his body looks like in the spring, because he started five games at right guard last year when he was not in very good playing shape.
6. While some people see Hall as a better tackle than guard, I tend to think the opposite, although maybe I will think differently if/when he shows up to spring practice in excellent physical shape. He isn’t a really powerful guy who can blow defensive tackles off the ball, which we saw during the course of the first five games last season.
7. If Meyer wants that kind of guy, he will likely be looking at Corey Linsley, a 6-2, 300-pound junior out of Youngstown Boardman. Linsley has been one of the strongest guys on the team for a few years now. He is a candidate to play center in 2012, but his best position is probably guard.
8. That would put a lot of pressure on Brian Bobek, a second-year lineman out of Illinois, and Jacoby Boren, a freshman from the class of 2012 who enrolled early and will partake in spring practice at OSU.
9. Bobek was the backup to Michael Brewster at center last year, and Brewster had nothing but good things to say about him. He was playing at about 270 pounds last year, but we’ve been told his goal is to be 285 by next season and has really done a good job of getting stronger this off-season in the weight room.
10. It looks as if Darryl Baldwin is officially going to move over to offensive line this spring. The redshirt sophomore out of Solon was in Jim Heacock’s defensive line rotation as maybe the seventh or eighth guy last year. He played in seven games and recorded three tackles, including a sack, but with the guys Ohio State has coming in, it was going to be difficult for him to find a spot on defense in 2012.
11. Baldwin is now listed as No. 76 on Ohio State’s official football roster. He wore No. 90 during his first two seasons in Columbus, but 76 is clearly an offensive lineman number. It was recently vacated by right tackle J.B. Shugarts, and word is that Baldwin will be given a chance to play offensive tackle in the spring.
12. Even with the switch of Reid Fragel, the Buckeyes were going to be a little low in numbers at offensive tackle in the spring. Fragel reportedly now weighs nearly 300 pounds and is listed as No. 77 on the official roster (he wore 88 as a tight end last season).
13. The top contenders for starting tackle spots this fall are Andrew Norwell, Marcus Hall, Fragel and Taylor Decker, a player from the 2012 class who is trying to enroll at Ohio State for the spring. Baldwin would likely slot in behind those guys, with Antonio Underwood being another guy who can play tackle, if needed.
14. Underwood started one game at right tackle last season, but he did not even last a half against Purdue. It was clear the first-year lineman from Shaker Heights was in over his head, but Underwood is a guy who could be a completely different player with a year in the system.