Adjusting to College Ball
Ohio State signed six offensive linemen in the 2020 recruiting class. Three of them — Paris Johnson, Luke Wypler, and Trey Leroux — enrolled early to get a kickstart on their respective college careers.
For the early enrollees, there is a lot to deal with. Living in a new city with new people, early-morning workouts, classes, late afternoon study sessions, film work, and then maybe some playbook study before bed.
That’s a ton to ask of anybody, let alone the guys who should still be in high school.
For Leroux, however, things aren’t going too bad.
“I thought it was going to be harder than it has been,” he said. “But we have good help with that. They take care of everything.”
Leroux isn’t wrong. From the strength staff and coaches, to nutritionists, or the tutors and academic counselors, or to the staff members on call to address mental health, if a player has issues, he also has help.
There is also plenty of assistance to be had in the form of the brotherhood as well.
“All the offensive linemen are such a tight knit group,” Leroux said. “Wyatt Davis, Josh Myers, all of them work with me every day, work with me after practice if I need it. They’ll help me study if I need it. Having that support system is amazing. You can go into the strength staff and everybody is over the top excited when you’re here working out. It’s hard to fail.”
Welcome Back, Welcome Back, Welcome Back
When co-defensive coordinator and secondary coach Jeff Hafley left to take over Boston College, there were a number of Ohio State commits who had to get used to the idea of a new position coach.
Kerry Coombs was tabbed to replace Hafley and even though he was a familiar face for many, he wasn’t a familiar face to Texas cornerback Ryan Watts.
“I had no relationship with him before,” Watts said. “I’ve known of him, and I knew he had left before. Really, my first relationship with someone here would be Coach Hafley. After he left, we knew about Coach Coombs coming in about two weeks before everybody else, so I was able to get into contact with him and start building a relationship.”
While the initial contact was going on, Watts was also learning about his new coach from his teammates and Buckeye fans.
“They say that he’s fiery, energetic and a lot of excitement about him,” Watts said. “Everybody on social media would say they’d run through a brick wall for him. That’s really how you feel in practice because he brings in that intensity. He’s really the one that’s talking in meetings, so it really pumps you up a lot.”
From Watts’ perspective, it didn’t take Coombs long to fit right back into his old stomping grounds.
“Oh, yeah. Since the first day, he was like that,” Watts said. “Everybody was like, ‘Welcome back, Coach Coombs.’ Everybody was so happy. He’s a really good person.”
Talent Without Work is a Waste
Ohio State finished with the No. 5 recruiting class this year. Of the four 5-star prospects signed by Big Ten schools in the 2020 recruiting cycle, three ended up at Ohio State and the fourth one tried.
Pennsylvania receiver Julian Fleming is the top-ranked signee for the Buckeyes at No. 3 overall, but he is followed closely by Cincinnati offensive tackle Paris Johnson.
Johnson is the No. 9 player in the class and the No. 1 offensive tackle. He has earned comparisons to former Buckeye all-time great Orlando Pace, and hasn’t really shied away from them.
One of the reasons he embraces such a comparison is because that’s what he is working to become. He doesn’t want to rest on his talent, and he wants his coaches and teammates to know that he’s going to be one of the hardest workers on the team.
“I was on the phone with my mom and I was telling her, coming out of high school, a lot of people said I was the toughest tackle in the country. But I want to come in here and I want to be seen as one as one of the hardest workers, because a lot of times people with a lot of talent aren’t,” Johnson said.
“They don’t have to work hard, you know, so I try to prove to coach Mick [Marotti] and I want to prove to the older guys and prove to guys in my class that I can be one of the hardest workers.”