Ohio State kicked off spring practice on Tuesday and the Buckeyes were without a handful of key players due to injury, including four players who started last season.
Save for freshman quarterback Matthew Baldwin, none of the injuries are expected to impact the 2018 season. Baldwin’s injury came at the end of his high school season.
“He’s not going to play,” Urban Meyer said of Baldwin on Tuesday. “Has an ACL. Had surgery. Doing a good job. Gained a bunch of weight back. He’s here. He was out there today. But they’re very, very cautious with him.”
The starters out at this point are fourth-year junior offensive lineman Branden Bowen, fourth-year junior H-back K.J. Hill, junior left guard Michael Jordan, and fifth-year senior linebacker Dante Booker.
Bowen is still recovering from a broken leg he suffered last season.
“Branden Bowen, a little bit slower than we thought, but tough injury,” Meyer said. “Remember Maryland last year, broken leg.”
For Hill, Jordan, and Booker the injuries may not all be the same, but the area is.
“Shoulders,” Meyer said. “Out all spring.”
The same goes for sophomore cornerback Jeff Okudah, who was expected to solidify his spot in the rotation this spring. He won’t be available due to a shoulder injury as well. In his place, sophomore Marcus Williamson and redshirt freshman Shaun Wade will receive valuable reps.
Junior college transfer Antwuan Jackson is not yet full speed due to a broken foot that he suffered late last season. He thought it was just a sprain, but the OSU medical staff eventually found out there was a fracture. He is hopeful to get back in time for the end of spring camp. Jackson watched some drills on Tuesday while also spending time walking and jogging around the practice field.
Fourth-year junior Matt Burrell was also held out today, though Meyer didn’t say why. He was fully dressed, he just wasn’t participating in drills. Burrell will be competing with fifth-year senior Brady Taylor and sophomore Josh Myers to be the Buckeyes’ starting center this season.
Third-year sophomore defensive tackle Malik Barrow was also not participating in drills.
“These guys are all going to play next fall,” Meyer said of his walking wounded.
When talking about Dante Booker, however, Meyer elaborated a bit due to a report last week that Booker would be transferring from Ohio State after the spring.
“Let me say this quickly about sources,” he began. “If there’s a source you’re going to [use], realize it’s immediate termination from our program. So when you work hard to get sources, we ask you to not talk to our players. And I understand everybody’s got jobs to do. I do too. It’s instant termination if I hear that’s going on.
“I’m watching that closely. When I hear things like that and a mom calls me darn near in tears, saying ‘where is that coming from?’ First of all, ‘what’s what coming from where?’ Then someone gave it to me and I said ‘where was this?’
“So I met with Dante. I asked the mom — no, she called me. And he plans on being a Buckeye. He’s in a very difficult situation. He’s gone through two shoulder surgeries. Just finished the second one. One was a rotator, a very hard surgery. The other one was a labrum surgery, just had it a week ago, maybe a week ago.”
Depending on the severity of the injury, labrum surgeries can require a recovery period of anywhere from 3-8 months, but Meyer does expect him back in time to compete for a job in fall camp.
“He’s in a fight,” Meyer said. “He does graduate. His plan is to — if his plan is anything other than focus on rehab then — and his plan is to be a Ohio State Buckeye. And I’d rather people leave him alone, let him go be an Ohio State Buckeye, work as hard as he can.”
And what does Meyer hope for Booker should he be healthy this fall?
“Hopefully he’s a starting linebacker at Ohio State,” he said.