The Ohio State spring game will have a different look this season because it takes place in Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium, but head coach Urban Meyer is looking at the Buckeyes’ final spring practice the same way he always has.
Though the team’s surroundings will certainly be different, Meyer expects one final opportunity for the coaching staff to evaluate the team, but more importantly for players to prove they’re ready for the looming offseason.
“We’re going to evaluate it,” Meyer told reporters after Wednesday evening’s practice. “The one thing, and I used to tell our guys the same thing at Florida, is that we have a built-in advantage that we can see how kids perform in the spotlight. I hope we have a great crowd and we’ll find out who can make some plays in that big environment.”
The experience will be unique for much of Ohio State’s roster, specifically because Cincinnati is foreign territory for many of the players. But because it’s part of the state of Ohio, Meyer is putting forth his best effort to educate his team about the Queen City.
Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is scheduled to speak with the team Saturday before the spring game kicks off at 1 p.m., and OSU will also visit the Cincinnati Reds museum and eat some of the city’s classics – including Montgomery Inn’s ribs, Skyline Chili and Graeter’s Ice Cream.
“We’re doing it right,” Meyer said.
Meyer’s chief goal when taking over Ohio State’s football program was to recruit the entire state thoroughly by taking all the Buckeye-caliber kids in the state and filling in the rest of the roster from high schools located elsewhere.
The program, however, didn’t have as much success recruiting the talent-rich Cincinnati are as it’s had with other areas in the state. Ohio State’s spring game will be a tool to plant the program’s flag in Southwestern Ohio, but Meyer feels comfortable with the way he and his staff have already approached the Cincinnati area in recruiting.
“I wasn’t here in year’s past, but I have heard that we haven’t done well in Cincinnati,” Meyer said. “I think we’re doing great. I think we’re killing it. There are really good players and really good high school coaches. I think we’re doing great. I love Cincinnati.”
That’s easy for Meyer to say, especially after landing five-star defensive lineman Adolphus Washington of Cincinnati Taft in the 2012 class and most recently earning a verbal commitment from 2014 Cincinnati Moeller linebacker Sam Hubbard late last week.
But there are plenty of prospects in Cincinnati for which Meyer is still in the hunt, and exposing the program in the area will do nothing but improve Ohio State’s chances in landing future area talents.
“I think it is a great idea,” Meyer said. “Actually (athletic director) Gene (Smith) is the one who brought it to me, and I said I am from Cincinnati and it is a great opportunity to go down there.”
Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs spent 16 years as Cincinnati Colerain’s head coach, and he is quite familiar with the area given he spent more than 50 years living in Cincinnati before accepting the OSU job.
“I am excited and thrilled to be going back down to my town,” Coombs said. “I am thrilled to be going down there with these kids to share that experience with that and to be in that stadium. That’s my town and I love that place. I am really excited to be going home.”
Additional Meyer Notes:
• Ohio State will draft the teams for the spring game tomorrow. Meyer will look over the rosters to make sure the teams make for an ideal game.
• Quarterback Braxton Miller will spend a lot of time playing in the game, but both he and backup quarterback Kenny Guiton will be wearing black no-contact jerseys. Reserve signal caller Cardale Jones will be given the opportunity to play live.
• Meyer said it is bothersome that he doesn’t know who is winning OSU's right tackle job. The competition is between Chase Farris and Taylor Decker, and Decker is currently the player breaking the huddle with the Buckeyes first team.
• Meyer said he was encouraged by linebacker Curtis Grant and named him the team's starting middle linebacker. Meyer added that Grant has shown signs of being fully bought in, which is something that lacked a year ago.
• Cornerback Bradley Roby won't play in the spring game while he recovers from a shoulder injury. Roby, however, has been participating in all the non-contact drills.
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