Saban-Metrics and Ohio State: Offensive Line
By Michael Chung
It is no secret that Nick Saban has created a dynasty at Alabama, winning three out of the last four national titles and stockpiling top tier recruits year after year. He is the unofficial king of the mountain.
Though neither coach admits it, there is a noiseless “cold war” ensuing between Nick Saban and Urban Meyer. Both are relentless recruiters and both know how to win national titles but until Urban can reestablish himself (a 12-0 season does not hurt), Saban is king.
What is Nick’s secret? Though he does not reveal too much publicly, an article by the Bleacher Report’s Sanjay Kirpalani may reveal the formula. Kirpalani writes, “’He (Saban) would take an athlete with size before a natural 5’8” corner,” said Kevin Jackson, a former Tide All-American safety and defensive coordinator at Dothan (Ala.) High School. ‘If a kid fits their profile, Saban is confident he can teach that bigger athlete to do the things they want him to do in their defense.’”
Though Saban graduated with Bachelor’s in Business from Kent State, he certainly understands the law of physics: the more mass an object has the more force it can produce, F=MA. Just ask the Notre Dame Fighting Irish who were absolutely brutalized in the national title game. Though commentators made a big deal of the Irish missed tackles—when players are bigger, stronger, and faster—tackling them is not that easy.
If football is won in the trenches, then the nation needs to pay attention to what Nick Saban is doing. One thing is evident; Saban wants a size/physical advantage at every position, especially the lines. According to Kirpalani, Saban’s offensive tackle recruits avg. 6’5” and 305 lbs. while the avg. size of the top 50 OL recruits according to 247SPORTS is just over 6’5” but only 287 lbs. Offensive guards and centers for the Crimson Tide average 6’3’ 296 lbs. while the top 50 recruits according to 247 Sports averages 6’3.5’ but only 289.5 lbs.
This years projected starting offensive line group for the Crimson Tide overall averages about 6’ 5” and 308 lbs. The Tide’s projected starting tackles avg. 6’5.5” and 312.5 lbs. while the interior linemen avg. 6’4.3” 305lbs. There are players being recruited by Saban who fall under the avg. size so the Saban-metric is not a ‘size threshold’ but more of a range. Still, it is helpful to have something specific to compare against. How do Urban Meyer’s recruits measure up?
Urban Meyer officially took over on November 28, 2011. He hit the ground running in regards to recruiting. The first OL recruits under Urban Meyer were Taylor Decker and Kyle Dodson (Joey O’Connor transferred). Decker is a giant of a man, standing at 6’8” and weighing 313 lbs. while Dodson stands 6’6” and 315 lbs. and both are projected at tackle. Decker is currently the front-runner for the starting right tackle spot. If the avg. tackle recruited under Saban-metrics is 6’5” and 305 lbs., the Buckeyes are way ahead for the 2012 class.
Turning to 2013, Urban Meyer recruited Evan Lisle (Donovan Munger has been mentioned on the OL but is injured and Timothy Gardner has been dismissed). Lisle is projected at tackle and is listed a bit smaller in weight from Saban-metric OL at only 265 lbs. but standing 6’6” but he will certainly fill out once Mickey Marotti gets a hold of him. Having interviewed Lisle, he seemed like a mountain of a man, so I would not be surprised if he is much bigger than 265 lbs., but if the numbers are correct, then Lisle would be a little under Saban-metrics (Lisle did have an Alabama offer so clearly these “metrics” are not hard-fast or the info. provided by sites was not correct).
For 2014, Ohio State has landed the verbal commitments of Marcelys Jones, Jamarco Jones, Demetrius Knox, and Kyle Trout, Marcelys Jones projects at guard while Trout is listed as a tackle. Jones stands 6’4” and weighs 350 lbs. while Trout stands 6’6” and 280 lbs. Though Trout is a little under the Saban-metric of 305 lbs. for a tackle there is not doubt that he will be in the 305 lbs. area code once he dons the scarlet and gray and after Marotti puts him through rigorous work outs. Jamarco Jones is 6’5” 290 and Demetrius Knox stands 6’4” 290 lbs.; Knox had an Alabama offer and there is no doubt that both will add a significant amount of muscle before all is said and done.
How do current OL targets measure under Saban-metrics? Damian Prince is listed at 6’6” 300 lbs.; Braden Smith is 6’6” 290 lbs.; Rodrick Johnson is 6’7” 330 lbs.; Alex Bookser registers at 6’6” 295; Chad Mavety is 6’ 7” 320; Avery Genesy is 6-5 318, all close to the Saban-metric.
For Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes to dethrone the Nick Saban-Alabama-dynasty, they will need to be strong up front. If the Buckeyes get the targets they want, Urban will have the horses necessary to make a run at the title for years to come. Do not be surprised if the two meet this year for the final installment of the BCS title and the team that controls the line of scrimmage will hoist the final trophy.