Andrew Holleran / Photo editor
Ohio State rising redshirt senior running back Jordan Hall was absent again Tuesday when the Buckeyes adorned full pads for their sixth spring football practice of the season. While Hall is still recovering from a hamstring injury suffered earlier this spring, coach Urban Meyer indicated Tuesday that Hall is also dealing with academic issues off the field.
“I think Jordan loves the game of football, but he’s got to take care of his business, too, and I trust he will,” Meyer said.
The Buckeyes who were healthy and available Tuesday participated in a two-hour, full-contact practice inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. It was the third practice of the season open to the media.
Standing out on defense
One of the highlights of Tuesday’s practice came during goal-line drills, when rising redshirt senior safety Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown stuffed rising sophomore running back Bri’onte Dunn just outside of the end zone on a simulated fourth-down situation.
Meyer said he hopes Brown develops into “a Reid Fragel,” an example Meyer has used on multiple occasions this year to describe players who he hopes will emerge to have breakout seasons.
“I’m hoping he’s going to step it up,” Meyer said of Brown. “He hasn’t done a whole lot around here. He’s a nice kid with some talent.”
Orhian Johnson’s departure following his senior season leaves an opening for playing time in the secondary behind the Buckeyes’ two starting safeties, rising redshirt senior C.J. Barnett and rising senior Christian Bryant. Brown, however, said he is trying not to get too caught up in worrying about his playing time next season.
“I’m trying to do everything I can possible,” Brown said. “I just want to work hard … I just want to do whatever I can for the team.”
While Brown impressed Meyer on Tuesday, safeties coach and co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers said Brown still has a long way to go in his development.
“I think he’s got to step out of his comfort zone, and that’s what we’re trying to push him to do,” Withers said. “I don’t think he had a very good scrimmage last Saturday.”
Rising sophomore cornerback Armani Reeves, rising sophomore defensive end Adolphus Washington, rising sophomore defensive end Noah Spence and rising junior defensive Michael Bennett were additional players Meyer praised Tuesday for stepping up for the Buckeyes’ defense this spring.
In addition to Hall being away from practice, a few players left practice early Tuesday. Rising junior wide receiver Evan Spencer suffered a stinger, rising sophomore defensive tackle Tommy Schutt sprained his ankle and rising sophomore linebacker Josh Perry suffered an asthma attack.
Meyer said all three of these issues are “nothing major.”
No joke: Chris Rock joins OSU football
Chris Rock, a former Michigan defensive lineman who happens to share his name with a famous comedian, has joined the Buckeyes as a walk-on.
A product of St. Francis DeSales High School in Columbus, Rock redshirted for the Wolverines in 2011 but left the team in May 2012. He enrolled at OSU in August and will be a redshirt sophomore in terms of eligibility next fall.
Rock wears No. 91 for the Buckeyes.
Asked whether there is a noticeable difference in the development of rising junior quarterback Braxton Miller this spring, Meyer’s reply was “not enough.”
“He’s doing good,” Meyer said. “Not great, but he’s doing very good. His quarterback development is behind a little bit. As a player, it’s not. He’s a good player.”
With Miller firmly entrenched as the team’s starter, the Buckeyes tested their depth Tuesday. Rising redshirt senior back-up quarterback Kenny Guiton received some work with the first-team offense, while rising redshirt freshman Cardale Jones worked with the second-team offense. Meyer expressed concern about Jones’ performance Tuesday.
“He wasn’t very good,” Meyer said. “We got to knock the rust off him and get him ready to play a little bit.”
Running back depth
The Buckeyes also tested their depth at running back behind rising senior starter Carlos Hyde on Tuesday, with Dunn and rising redshirt junior Rod Smith splitting most of the day’s repetitions.
“I couldn’t tell you who our backup is right now,” Meyer said. “They’re both battling pretty good.”
On the NCAA Tournament
While Meyer’s focus might be on winning the next national championship in college football, he has been paying attention to March Madness as well.
Meyer was asked about who he will be rooting for on Friday night when Florida, where he coached football from 2005-2010 and won two national championships, plays Florida Gulf Coast, where his daughter is a student and plays volleyball, in the Sweet 16 game.
Meyer replied that he is “always a Gator,” adding that his daughter might attend the game.
“It’s incredible for that school,” Meyer said of Florida Gulf Coast. “They’re good. I watched them the other day. That’s not like smoke and mirrors. They got really good players. That’s going to be a good game.”