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Last updated: 04/21/2014 3:58 PM
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Football
The-Ozone Mailbag: The 'Please Don't Hate Me' Edition
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS, Ohio — We have begun the stretch of nothingness when it comes to Ohio State football and basketball. Spring football is over, and spring basketball really never was. That, however, doesn't mean there isn't still plenty to talk about.

If you have anything you'd like to add to the next Mailbag, you can email me or tweet me at the links above, or simply include them in the comments below.

Name one football player who isn't necessarily receiving a lot of hype, but will surprise us all and why. – BuxJacket

I'll give you two answers because it will double my chances of getting this one right. The first is tight end Jeff Heuerman. He was out for most of the spring and Nick Vannett stepped up and played well in his absence. Once he returns, however, there's every chance that Heuerman is going to be a guy that catches three or four passes per game, and he's already shown an ability to get down the seam when linebackers are sucked in on the play-action. The other player I'm going with is cornerback Doran Grant. Grant will move to the boundary, which will put him closer to the football. He will be much more involved in the running game, and the press coverage should suit him well because of his speed and long arms.


Would you have traded two years of Trey Burke for four years of Aaron Craft? – @ILookGoodToday
I love this question, but the easy answer is that the one year where the Buckeyes could have used Trey Burke most would have been this past season, but he would have already been gone to the NBA. The Buckeyes lacked a scorer this season, but had Deshaun Thomas the year before, and Jared Sullinger and William Buford the year before that. I don't believe there would have been much improvement, if any, replacing Craft with Burke two seasons ago. A year ago, however, becomes a better question. The Buckeyes were one game away from the Final Four, and that was with Thomas scoring 19.8 points per game and Craft scoring 10.0 points per game. What happens if the Buckeyes have Burke instead of Craft a year ago? Are Thomas and Burke both looking at 18-20 points per game? And would that be enough to play for a national championship? Craft's defense would certainly be missed, but winning a six-game tournament is more about being able to shoot than defend in my opinion. So should the Buckeyes have traded four years of Craft for two years of Burke? Yes. They would have missed Craft as a freshman, but Buford and Jon Diebler and Jordan Sibert would have managed.This past season it would have been Shannon Scott's team, so the Buckeyes would have been fine at point guard the two years that Burke would be missing. I realize it borders on sacrilege to say it, and Thad Matta would disagree with me one million percent, as will many of you, but the Buckeyes would have been better off with two years of Burke instead of four years of Craft. Saying that, I need to clarify that I'm not trying to take away what Craft did at Ohio State, because he was great. I'm merely answering a hypothetical, so please don't key my car.


Who, if anyone, is assuming a leadership role? Most title contenders have player leaders: Doss, V. Young, Tebow, Winston, Etc. MSU had them too last year. Do we? – Global Buckeye

Urban Meyer has already stated that Jeff Heuerman and Braxton Miller are going to be captains. I would expect defensive tackle Michael Bennett to be another. A year ago Meyer had to sign his players up for classes on how to be leaders. I don't know that that will be necessary this year, though that doesn't mean it won't happen again. Bennett has the respect of everybody on the team, not unlike John Simon in 2012. Offensively, meanwhile, everybody in the Scarlet and Gray knows what Miller can do with the football. The question is whether or not he can do it when it absolutely needs to be done, like last season at the end of the Buckeyes' two losses. Defensively, I like their makeup at each level. Offensively, Meyer has already tabbed two captains. It should be reassuring for Buckeye fans that their coach already knows where the strongest leadership will be coming from.


What is your overall thought of the receiving corps? – buckeyejim

I think the potential is there, and I truly believe that Dontre Wilson is in for a very productive season. My question is more on the outside, however. Was Devin Smith's fade late in the season his doing, or was it Braxton Miller and the offense? The same goes for Evan Spencer. Though I guess if we're wondering why all of the receivers stopped being productive down the stretch, then the finger has to point at the quarterback. If Miller is good to go in November, then I think he has the receivers to get the job done. I don't know if there is a dynamic guy on the outside, but how dynamic do you need to be when you have a running game, an inside slot game, and talented tight ends? Right now, I think the outside receivers are more complementary than anything else.


Based on what you are hearing from the coaches post Spring Game, who are the likely O-line starters vs Navy? – Buckaroo

Urban Meyer says he only has two known starters on the offensive line in left tackle Taylor Decker and right guard Pat Elflein. Left guard Antonio Underwood and right tackle Darryl Baldwin took most of the snaps with the first-team offensive line, so they are the expected winners of those two jobs. Jacoby Boren began the spring as the #1 center, and ended it that way as well. However, the race is completely open between him and Billy Price, and Price earned more snaps with the ones as the spring went on. Based on his current trajectory, he looks like a decent bet to win the job. He's only a redshirt freshman, however, which can sometimes be a bit much to ask for a guy playing center. He's plenty strong though, so as long as he can pick up the mental side, he could be in there from day one. Underwood will be pushed in fall camp by Chase Farris, who is returning from injury, as well as true freshman Demetrius Knox. It's too early to say how far along Farris will be from an ACL tear, but Knox is a darkhorse to watch for sure.


Who is the first guy off the bus? Urban? Chris Carter? Curtis Grant? – Buckeye Ho Tep

Depends on how bad the weather is. If it's really bad, Urban Meyer would send in the buses with the backups, and if they park safely, then he'd send in the buses with the starters.


Was Thad Matta's biggest problem the last two years running the offense through Aaron Craft? How many more PPG this year? – @bcassada

I don't think the problem was that the Buckeyes were running the offense through Aaron Craft, the problem was that there was nobody for Craft to run the offense to this season. Last year was fine comparatively. This year's lack of offense exposed Craft's weaknesses and negated his strengths. With better scorers around him, Craft is a tremendous complement. Without those scorers, all eyes are on him, and he doesn't have the ability to pick up the slack. In terms of how many more PPG this season, there will be more scoring options, and Shannon Scott will likely look to push the ball more. Having a shooting guard who can legitimately shoot will be a tremendous help. The Buckeyes scored 77 ppg in 2011, 75 in 2012, 70 in 2013 and 70 again in 2014. I could see them bumping back up to 75 points per game next season, but don't expect much more than that unless Thad Matta drastically changes OSU's playing style.


How many Ohio kids do you see in the 2015 class for OSU? At this point it takes some decent assumptions to even get to 6. – Brutus

Currently the Buckeyes have one in-state commit in Eric Glover-Williams, and there are some who wouldn't be surprised if he didn't even end up in this class. To this point, per Scout, the Buckeyes have offered 10 in-state kids, and two of them are already committed to other schools. If we're going to count Glover-Williams as being in the class, we could also project Jerome Baker, L.J. Scott and Dre'Mont Jones as being in, without sounding outrageous. Justin Hilliard is a Cincinnati kid, so that's always going to be a question mark. The same goes with Elijah Taylor. You also have James Daniels, who is a OSU legacy recruit, but he has already stated that Auburn is his leader four weeks ago. Long-snapper Liam McCullough seems like a good bet, but the Buckeyes have landed a solid long-snapper in Sam York as a preferred walk-on for 2014. More names will emerge, especially following the camps this summer. Of course, that would require in-state kids to not be offended by not yet being offered and actually attending the camps. According to Scout, there are 18 four-star prospects in Ohio in the 2015 class. "Unfortunately", two of the higher-rated prospects are tight end C.J. Conrad and linebacker Nick Conner, who happen to play positions where the Buckeyes are in on some other very highly-rated national prospects. They have not yet been offered, and that may not change. The Buckeyes signed nine in-state kids in 2014 and 10 in 2013. It looks like 2015 will be considerably less than that, but I think it says more about the 2015 class rather than the Buckeyes. To answer the question, I'll go with seven, but I don't know which seven, and that answer comes with a couple of names that we aren't even talking about yet. It might be a tad optimistic, however.


When are we gonna get some 4/5 star recruits to commit!? Last year at this time we had 6 commits. One 5* four 4* one 3* (Scout's final rankings). – Tatum

Based on Urban Meyer's history at Ohio State, we should be seeing a few between now and the end of June. In the 2014 class, the Buckeyes landed eight commitments in these three months, and in the 2013 class they landed nine. Those numbers might be tough to match this year, but June has been productive by itself, with five commits in June 2013 alone.


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