The debate about the new Urban Era may have potentially overlooked one huge aspect: the working with the talent that they already have to build up their program. This is a scenario that programs throughout are faced with on a yearly basis. Not only is this a collegiate level issue, but this writer has seen firsthand with high school teams as well. We lose them to other sports, we lose them to family situations, we lose them to graduation, or in the case of Ohio State, we lost some to their own personal choices.
In many cases you have a star athlete on the field that might steal the show and take the focus, but what happens when they are gone? A lot of it comes down to what the coaches are doing to work on continually working to build the team, challenge them, evaluate them, and work with all athletes on that roster to take their skills and talent and make use of them. As Coach Meyer referred often to it over the last week in interviews, it’s taking the good to great, and it’s something that has been long overdue with Ohio State football.
At the collegiate level these coaches and their staffs are out there wooing and finding the play-makers – the great, the good – and getting them to sign, but it’s what happens after they sign that is also as important. We need to not be sitting so much of this talent that we have until their junior or senior year before utilizing them.
Coach Meyer summarized this situation very well in a quote about Travis Howard on Saturday during post game when he said:
He was not a great player here last year. Did not play great. He’s got great abilities. So a kid with great ability that doesn’t play great, there’s a problem. Something’s out of alignment there. And I can see it happening right now, that kid’s turning into a very good player.
What good is it to get these play-makers and athletes here to Ohio State if a coach or coaches are not constantly evaluating their younger players or their players that might be only contributing in scout teams? Why are we not continuing to work with these players and their ability to have a well-built program that will continue to feed and keep the program strong?
Kenny Guiton is a prime example, granted a better known name than a few others we are going to see this season, but nonetheless is a junior at Ohio State that we have hardly seen. Is he a Braxton Miller, or a Terrelle Pryor? No, but we all would have put him ahead of Joe Bauserman in the 2011 season. The quote from Kenny really got me and drove home the fact that some talent has been overlooked, and maybe even wasted, with not rotating in younger athletes.
“I haven’t gotten to play for three years, and being out there for that extended period of time, it was a lot of fun for me.”
What about senior fullback Zach Boren? He’s caught 22 receptions for 169-yards and a single touchdown in his career at Ohio State. He rushes for only his second and third time for a total of ten yards and a touchdown in the first game under Coach Meyer. He is a powerful blocking back and if given the ball and they continue to work with him is going to contribute well for the Buckeyes.
Faithful Buckeye fans, we saw fourteen true freshmen play against Miami on Saturday, a number of others relatively unheard of at Ohio State under the former leadership. Remove yourself from putting down a MAC school and harping that this was, “only Miami of Ohio.” We need to look at the confidence that the coaching staff has in their athletes that are on the roster.
There was talent, potential, skill, heart, desire and hard work into getting these men to Ohio State and we need to use them. It would appear coming out of Saturday that if you are a play-maker you are going to play and if you are at Ohio State under Meyer they are going to squeeze the “juice” out of everyone on the roster, regardless of which year’s class you came in with.