At this point in Urban Meyer’s tenure at Ohio State, people simply assume a position group will replace losses well. They also believe that the returning Buckeyes will improve from where they were the year before. Fortunately for those people, Meyer is not one of those doing the assuming and believing. Instead, he and his staff are working to fulfill the expectations of the fans and the coaches by getting the players where they need to be.
Despite returning four starters on the offensive line, however, Meyer still has some concerns about where things stand up front.
“I think our tackle play has improved,” he said. “I think Billy (Price) is going to be very solid at center. Then inside we still haven’t solidified the right guard spot. Left guard is solid, but he’s got to play better, and that’s Mike Jordan. Overall, I think we’ve had a good spring. We’re not where we need to be on the offensive line yet though.”
On the other side of the ball, there aren’t nearly the same concerns up front. The Buckeyes return everyone on the defensive line, including redshirt sophomore tackle Dre’Mont Jones. Jones came to Ohio State as a defensive end, but was moved inside to the three technique, which is a common move for bigger defensive ends. Now standing 6-foot-3 and checking in at 295 pounds, he fits that bill.
Despite the size, however, it was his speed and quickness and experience as a pass rusher that made him such a viable candidate to move inside.
“I think the guy who is the three-technique now is not necessarily the big guy, he is more of an athletic pass rusher because he gets so much one-on-one with the offensive guard,” defensive line coach Larry Johnson explained. “And that is what you want, you want a guy rushing from the inside, so it allows the ends to go free and I think Dre’mont and Jashon (Cornell) have that kind of skill set, and Tracy (Sprinkle) has that here, so we are looking forward to seeing those guys continue to develop.”
Quarterbacks coach Ryan Day has only been at Ohio State for a matter of months now, so this spring was his first real opportunity to see what the various Buckeyes were capable of doing on the football field.
With two new offensive coordinators roaming the sidelines, this spring was also an opportunity for the returning players to make a brand new first impression. One player who took advantage of that opportunity and stood out to everyone — new and old — was fourth-year H-back Parris Campbell. After the 2016 season, Campbell was moved from the outside and took to the slot very well. Enough to impress Day repeatedly.
“What an explosive player,” Day said. “I love Parris and the way he goes to work every day. He is tough and he is reliable. He works on and off the field. You can count on him. When the ball is in his hands, he is very dynamic. He can really do stuff when the ball is in his hands. I think he had five catches in the spring game. If you look at his numbers for the spring, he was very productive. We are expecting big things from him this fall.”