Five for Friday: Buckeyes who need a strong finish

Please patronize our advertisers to help
keep theOzone.net free for everyone.






Click here to return to the front page.
Established October 31, 1996
Front Page Columns and Features
Last updated: 04/05/2013 2:26 AM
Twitter
Follow Tony
on Twitter
Email
Email Tony
Share |

Football
Five for Friday: Buckeyes Who Need a Strong Finish to Spring Practice
By Tony Gerdeman

The Ohio State Spring Game is just over a week away, and there are only four practices remaining between now and then. The opportunities for players to make their marks and earn their spots are winding down.

These last five practices (including the Spring Game) could be the difference between solidifying a spot, and having to compete against a freshman for it in August. Basically, this is everybody's final shot for a lasting spring impression.

With that being said, here are five Buckeyes who need to put their best cleats forward for the next eight days.

Chris Fields
Photo by Jim Davidson
Chris Fields

1. Receiver Chris Fields. By all accounts, including mine, Chris Fields has had a very good spring. Every Tuesday when practices are open to the media, we get to see Fields making plays. One of the reasons we've seen so much of him this spring is because he is Jordan Hall's backup at the H-back, and Hall has been injured. Fields has done a nice job of showing his coaches that they shouldn't forget about him when Hall is healthy, and he needs to continue doing so. Come the fall, it won't just be Jordan Hall he will be battling, because freshmen Jalin Marshall and Dontre Wilson are coming to town as well.

Chase Farris
Photo by Jim Davidson
Chase Farris

2. Right tackle Chase Farris. If we're projecting lineups, I think everybody would say that Taylor Decker is going to win the right tackle battle with Chase Farris. Prior to this past Tuesday, most would have expected Farris to be the sixth lineman off the bench. However, Urban Meyer's recent appraisal of Pat Elflein as being in the mix to start has altered some things. For one, it sounds like Elflein may end up both the #2 center and #3 guard, especially now that Antonio Underwood has torn his ACL. Farris needs to continue to improve, and make this a tougher decision for the coaches than it appears to be at the moment.

Rod Smith
Photo by Jim Davidson
Rod Smith

3. Running back Rod Smith. Rod Smith may be the most talented running back on the Ohio State roster. However, until he can hang on to the ball safely and soundly, his position on the depth chart is always going to be in question. He and Bri'onte Dunn have been going back and forth for the number two tailback spot, but if Smith isn't careful, he's also going to be battling Warren Ball. Smith is very talented, but so is everybody else. His coaches know that him carrying the ball can be a risk. He needs to begin building that trust back up, and then show them that any perceived risk is well worth the reward.

Steve Miller
Photo by Jim Davidson
Steve Miller

4. Defensive end Steve Miller. Steve Miller's career to this point has been full of potential and anticipation, but lacking in production. Now as a junior, that potential needs to impact the practice field. We haven't seen much from Miller this spring. With the rate that Urban Meyer is bringing in five-star defensive linemen, this spring may be Miller's last chance to stand his ground. He is already competing with true freshman Tracy Sprinkle, and in August he'll also have freshman Joey Bosa to contend with. Miller can absolutely find a spot in this defensive line rotation, but he has to have a strong finish in order to keep Mike Vrabel from looking elsewhere.

Curtis Grant
Photo by Jim Davidson
Curtis Grant

5. Linebacker Curtis Grant. Much like last spring, Curtis Grant has been the number one middle linebacker throughout all of practice. There has really been no wavering. However, the same thing took place last spring as well. It wasn't until the season started that people outside the program realized that the Buckeyes had an issue on their hands. Everybody is saying the right things about Grant, including Grant himself, but those same things were also said last year. Perhaps the good news for Grant is that Urban Meyer isn't as dire about the position as was last year. Still, Grant can't let up. He needs to continue to show his understanding of this defense because there are plenty of players on campus who want his job, and more coming in August. The more definitively he locks down this spot in the spring, the more emphatically he can erase the doubters.

Bonus: Quarterback Kenny Guiton. Everybody loves Kenny Guiton, so he would do well not to disappoint those who adore him when they travel hours to see him play in the Spring Game. No pressure.

Bonus: Defensive Back Tyvis Powell. Tyvis Powell is the number one star right now for the Buckeye defense, but the competition isn't what it will be come the fall. His prime competition is Devan Bogard, who is out for the spring. Powell needs to close strong so that he doesn't give the coaches reason to long for Bogard, or the incoming Vonn Bell.

Bonus: Center Jacoby Boren. It was a bit of a surprise last year when Urban Meyer declared Jacoby Boren a backup after one day of camp or so. Now, through no fault of his own, it would appear, he is in a battle for the backup center spot with Pat Elflein. Whoever closes out strongest probably wins the job.

Bonus: Linebacker David Perkins. With Ryan Shazier recovering from injury, David Perkins has been getting all of his reps. Being stuck behind one of the best linebackers in the nation won't always feel like a winnable battle. He needed to use this spring to show the coaches that they have to find a way to get him on the field regardless. This next week is going to be big for the sophomore, because as Shazier begins to finally practice, Perkins' reps may begin to diminish, making each of them more valuable than the last.

Donate by Check :

Ozone Communications
1380 King Avenue
Columbus, Ohio
43212

Help us bring you more Buckeye coverage. Donate to the-Ozone.

Click here to email this the-Ozone feature to a friend...or even a foe.

(c) 2010 The O-Zone, O-Zone Communications, Inc. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, rebroadcast,rewritten, or redistributed.

Click here to return to the front page.
Front Page Columns and Features