By Steve Williams
A contributing factor in Ohio State’s return to college football glory was Urban Meyer adding more speed to the Buckeyes’ roster when he came aboard as new head coach in 2012. That was one of his objectives and it made sense.
For years, Ohio State couldn’t beat faster and quicker Southeastern Conference teams. The Buckeyes were winless (0-9) versus the SEC in major bowl games until knocking off Alabama 42-35 in a semifinal game of the first College Playoff last season.
Meyer had won two national titles in his previous coaching job at Florida. He knew what the Buckeyes needed and where to get it. He probably had some recruiting connections in the Sunshine State, too.
The season before Meyer took over at Ohio State, the Buckeyes were 6-7 overall and 3-5 in the Big Ten.
With Ohio State coming off a national championship season in just Meyer’s third year in Columbus, I googled the 2015 Buckeyes’ roster and depth chart last week just to check out OSU players’ hometowns.
I was surprised with what I found.
Going into this past Saturday’s game against Hawaii, Ohio State’s probable starters included 15 players – nine on offense and six on defense – from the state of Ohio.
The Buckeyes’ offensive line is all Ohio, from Austintown to Vandalia.
Cardale Jones, the co-starter at quarterback, grew up in Cleveland and Braxton Miller, the quarterback turned H-back, is from Huber Heights, Ohio. There’s a wide receiver from Akron and the tight end also is from Ohio.
Somehow, a pretty good running back, named Ezekiel Elliott, made the first-team offense, even though he’s from St. Louis.
Ohio State’s No. 1 defense includes a homegrown end and tackle, two linebackers and two defensive backs. Add its punt returner to the list, too.
As for the rest of the Buckeye starters, two each are from Florida and Georgia, and one each is from Texas, California, Illinois, North Carolina and New Jersey.
Meyer, himself an Ohioan, played at University of Cincinnati and his first college job was coaching tight ends at Ohio State in 1986. With a record of 38-3 in his first three years in Columbus, he plans to continue to recruit hard in his football passionate home state and add speed and talent from anywhere he can get it.
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: Tennessee’s defense needs work. Bowling Green receivers repeatedly ran past the Vols’ secondary. The Falcons’ quarterback looked sharp in commanding an experienced attack and was
Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara both rushed for over 100 yards, taking a lot of the load off quarterback Joshua Dobbs, who did eventually show his 1-2 punch as a runner and passer as the Vols pulled away for the 59-30 victory.
Cameron Sutton had some long punt returns, but Aaron Medley misfired on two field goal attempts.
After some uneasy moments and the weather delay, the game ended about like the oddsmakers figured it would.
The Vols also came out of the opener injury free, but lost veteran defensive tackle Danny O’Brien later last week when he was suspended indefinitely for violating team rules and policies. The loss of O’Brien left a big hole to fill for the pivotal Oklahoma game.
SCOTS TOP BUCS: Maryville College pulled out a 28-21 win over East Tennessee State University last Thursday night in Johnson City as Trenton Shuler, a Maryville High product, scored on a 35-yard swing pass from Evan Pittenger late in the fourth quarter.
The Buccaneers, resuming their football program this season after not playing for 12 years, are 0-2, while the Fighting Scots improved to 2-0.
Two former Knoxville Central High players stood out in the game. Maryville College junior Ben Buell caught a 7-yard pass for his first career TD in the second quarter, while redshirt freshman tailback Jajuan Stinson was a workhorse for ETSU, rushing for 114 yards on 25 carries.
LUCK ON MY SIDE: I got the No. 1 draft pick in my 12-team fantasy football league this year and took Andrew Luck. Our league awards six points for touchdowns, instead of four points like some leagues do.
My Week 1 starters also included RBs Justin Forsett and Darren McFadden, WRs T.Y. Hilton and Brandin Cooks, tight end Dwayne Allen, flex player Danny Amendola, kicker Steven Hauschka and the Texans
As far as team name and colors, I prefer classic. So my Knoxville Storm is silver and black, with a lightning bolt gracing the helmet. I haven’t changed my team slogan – There’s a Storm brewin’ – since I joined the league in 2005. And I’m aka Coach Stormy Weathers.
I usually do better in fantasy football than I do in fantasy baseball. Coach Redd Hott’s Knoxville Fire currently is battling for eighth place as our 12-team league comes down the stretch.