With the fifth year of the Urban Meyer era officially underway, the Ohio State Buckeyes football team unveiled its new motto when it kicked off fall camp last Sunday.
“The whole mantra for our team this summer…the whole thing is going to be ‘The Edge.’ And ‘The Edge’ is where the average stops and elite begins,” Meyer said last week, according to Nicholas McWilliams of the Lantern.
Setting “The Edge” is Ohio State’s main priority during the first two weeks of fall camp, when the staff is hoping to establish a depth chart so they can move onto solidifying their playbook.
Here are the biggest storylines from the first week of fall camp.
The New Starters
Ohio State will role out eight new starters on each side of the ball when it kicks off against Bowling Green on September 3, and while there are still a lot of questions to answer, Meyer is narrowing in on a pecking order for his roster.
The linebacker unit was hit particularly hard with the loss of outside linebackers Darron Lee and Joshua Perry, but Dante Booker summarized the mentality of the new starters this week.
“It’s definitely exciting, but I just keep the same mindset,” Booker said of replacing Perry, according to Tim Shoemaker of Eleven Warriors. “I’ve just got to keep doing my job and keep going as hard as I can, and it’s always good to have some young guys behind you pushing you.”
Defensively, Marshon Lattimore is in the thick of a four-man race at cornerback, while the safety positions are coming down to Erick Smith, Damon Webb, Malik Hooker and Cam Burrows.
On the other side of the ball, Mike Weber is solidifying his spot alongside J.T. Barrett in the backfield at running back, while Curtis Samuel is pulling double duty from his H-back spot to also play the backup role.
The receiver unit is deep and talented, but it’s unproven. Noah Brown and Corey Smith were supposed to be a big part of last year’s offense, but broken legs derailed their 2015 campaigns. They’re back and ready to lead a young unit with a ton of expectations.
Ohio State has been hesitant to play its freshmen in recent years, and in 2015, the Buckeyes redshirted 21 of their 25 first-year players.
That’s an option for a team stocked with upperclassmen, but with so many holes in the depth chart, Meyer has been adamant the Buckeyes will play 18 of their new freshmen.
Before those rookies can play, though, they need to shed their black stripe, a symbolic gesture the Buckeyes use to officially integrate their new players. The first week of fall camp saw a lot of movement on that front.
Wide receiver Austin Mack has made a huge move this fall. The former 4-star prospect graduated and enrolled early to take part in spring practice, and he’s played his way into the rotation.
“He’s game-ready,” Meyer said on Sunday, according to Eleven Warriors. “He will play this year.
Freshman Michael Jordan is on the brink of locking the starting left guard position down, and defensive ends Jonathan Cooper and Nick Bosa will factor into a stout defensive line rotation.
It wasn’t much of a surprise, but Meyer confirmed on Sunday that Barrett, middle linebacker Raekwon McMillan and center Pat Elflein will serve as Ohio State’s 2016 captains.
It was a surprise, though, that there weren’t any more players joining that trio.
Since Meyer took over in 2012, the Buckeyes have identified five captains a year until last season, when six players gained that honor. It’s a process that Meyer takes very seriously, as leadership on and off the field are one of his biggest keys to success.
With such a young team, perhaps Meyer is minimizing the number of voices in his leadership circle to create a sharper and more singular focus. That may have been the plan all along, as he essentially named Ohio State’s starters six days after beating Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl to cap the 2015 campaign.
The balance for not just Ohio State, but every team in the country leading into the season, is the fine line between getting your guys game ready and keeping them healthy. And through one week of practice, the Buckeyes have already lost two players to significant injury.
That unfortunate news was announced by Meyer at Sunday’s press conference:
“Those are two tough ones,” Meyer said, according to Ari Wasserman of the Plain Dealer.
Prigdeon’s injury is a bigger blow as he was battling for significant playing time at tackle along the offensive line. Depth for that unit is one of Meyer’s biggest concerns, and while Prigdeon’s injury isn’t season ending (he’ll be out three months with an unspecified knee injury), it makes building the depth chart that much harder.
With those injuries in mind, the staff will have to be careful with its players—especially as the Buckeyes enter a stretch of nine practices in the next nine days.
All recruiting rankings and information courtesy of 247Sports.
David Regimbal is the lead Ohio State football writer for Bleacher Report. Follow him on Twitter @davidreg412.
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Source: Bleacher Report-CFB News