There is plenty of talk about the large number of receivers who return for the Buckeyes this season, and even a little bit of talk about sophomore Jaylen Harris who only had a couple of catches last season. There has been virtually no talk about redshirt freshman Ellijah Gardiner, however.
But don’t worry.
“Man, a whole bunch of improvement,” sophomore cornerback Marcus Williamson said of Gardiner and Harris. “I know both of those guys, they didn’t come in early, but just seeing the improvement from last season up until now, man they are just phenomenal. Getting open and making plays. Especially Ellijah. You can tell he is getting a lot stronger and faster and they both look real impressive.”
Gardiner was perhaps the most under-the-radar Ohio State football signee in 2017. When Urban Meyer talked about him at the time, he basically said Gardiner was raw, but that you can afford to take a chance on a big, fast athlete like the 6-foot-3 200-pound Gardiner.
“He is a quiet guy. He just comes to work every day,” Williamson said. “You know, scout team, he gave us a lot of fits last year. He’s just a guy that works hard and I think you guys will be excited to see him this coming year.”
Just as they are doing at receiver, the Buckeyes are also returning a good number of cornerbacks from last season. The only departures are Denzel Ward and position coach Kerry Coombs, but those are a pair of pretty significant guys to lose.
Taver Johnson replaced Coombs in the winter as the team’s cornerbacks coach. They have their similarities, but they also have their differences.
How would sophomore Jeff Okudah compare the two?
“They both bring juice, but Coach Coombs, he’s animated,” he said. “Coach Johnson, he’s not as animated, but he still has his moments. So really I don’t think there’s any drop off in energy. Coaching style, obviously every coach has different ways they do things. We’re still getting a chance to learn how he likes to coach.”
One of the things they won’t have to learn is how to interpret what Johnson is thinking. Johnson is sure nothing will be lost in translation.
“No, I’m going to be who I am,” he said. “That’s the first thing I told them when I got here. You’re gonna know what I’m thinking as soon as you look at me. You’ll never have to guess.”
Wyatt Works, Why It Doesn’t
Redshirt freshman offensive guard Wyatt Davis was one of Ohio State’s top-rated signees last season. He didn’t play in 2017, and the depth chart on the interior this spring is very congested, but that doesn’t mean Davis is out of the loop for playing time.
“He’s coming along,” said fifth-year senior right guard Demetrius Knox. “He’s playing a lot more aggressive lately. His pass (protection) is getting better, his run blocking, he’s coming off the ball hard. We’re proud of that.”
When Davis has issues or questions, he asks the veterans what they do to make things work for them. And he’s not alone.
“That’s the beauty of our room,” Knox said. “Whether you’re an older guy or a younger guy, everybody’s just going up to whoever and just ‘How’d this work for you? How’d this look for me? How can I do this with this?’ So everybody’s just trying to get better.”
Anybody Got the Time?
The 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes would have never won a national title without the 2013 recruiting class. Up and down the offense and defense, names like J.T. Barrett, Ezekiel Elliott, Jalin Marshall, Billy Price, Joey Bosa, Darron Lee, Eli Apple, and Vonn Bell played integral parts in securing a championship.
Urban Meyer has been speaking highly of the 2017 recruiting class since the day they all signed. Last season we saw some of them make an impact on the team, including J.K. Dobbins, Chase Young, Jeff Okudah, and Thayer Munford. According to Young, however, last year was just the start. The class of 2017 is going to be felt much more heavily in 2018.
“We bust our butt every day just like Zeke and them did. Eli, all of them,” he said. “Isaiah Pryor — it’s his time, it’s my time. Our whole class, it’s our time, so we’re ready to go.”