Countdown To THE GAME 2015

Friday, September 4, 2015

Looking Back At Ohio State’s 2012 Recruiting Class (Part One)

The 2012 Ohio State football recruiting class is technically the first of head coach Urban Meyer’s players that were signed and brought to Columbus. I write the phrase “technically” because there are many extenuating factors that need to be remembered and contemplated when looking back at the 25 players who signed on the dotted line in February 2012 and became Buckeyes.
First and foremost, I have been reviewing Ohio State recruiting classes over the years. I have looked back at the recruiting classes going back to 2005, which included players such as James Laurinaitis, Brian Hartline and Malcolm Jenkins. The 2005 class was relatively small with 18 players signed, and was not highly rated by the recruiting analysts, but the Buckeyes only lost three from that class to transfer or academic issues, resulting in 15 who either started or contributed to Ohio State during their careers. This 83 percent success rate ranks that group highly in the unofficial “Rule of Thirds” concept that is applied to recruiting classes.
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Friday, August 28, 2015

A Rush to Judgment on Urban Meyer's Ohio State Offense

Heading into the fourth year under head coach Urban Meyer's direction, things could not be looking brighter for Ohio State football. Virtually every media outlet has predicted Ohio State to be the favorite to win the 2015 national championship. 

The roster is heavily stocked with talented players at every position; a case in point is that Ohio State has two players at quarterback in J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones who could start for essentially any other college football program in the country. The aforementioned players, along with returning junior running back Ezekiel Elliott, are mentioned as leading candidates for the Heisman Trophy this season.

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Friday, August 21, 2015

Stanley Jackson Offers Insights On Playing QB For Ohio State (Part Two)

The battle between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones for the starting quarterback position will be the most scrutinized area by both the fans and the media as the Buckeyes prepare for the 2015 college football season. Everyone has an opinion on how it will turn out, but I thought I would go straight to a source who is as well-versed on the subject as anyone.
Stanley Jackson (@Jacksonville8) is a former Ohio State quarterback who knows a thing or two about what it is like to go through a quarterback battle, having experienced it himself with former teammate Joe Germaine during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. Mr. Jackson is an analyst for the Big Ten Network and WTVN 610 radio in Columbus, Ohio. Married with four children, living in Marion, Ohio, Mr. Jackson was kind enough to participate in a telephone interview after a work day at Buckeye State Bank, where he is owner and vice-president. The first part of the interview dealt more upon Mr. Jackson’s career, where part two focuses more upon the impending quarterback battle between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.
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CM: What if J.T. Barrett winds up as the starter? Just from my perspective, could you see maybe Cardale Jones getting the second half?
SJ: Coach Meyer has a history of platooning guys, with Chris Leak and Tim Tebow. Here’s the problem with that. Both of these guys have the talent to possibly win the Heisman Trophy or be an All-American. They are both special. I don’t like platooning. I think you have to make a choice. I think back to when Joe and I were platooning, and neither one of us were picked as All-Big Ten; the year Joe was the starter, Joe was All-Big Ten. I would love for them to say that this is an open competition; whoever comes out on top is going to be the guy. As good a run that Cardale Jones had, Cardale became the starter because J.T. Barrett was injured – I don’t think a player should ever lose a job due to injury. I like both kids. I think they are both very worthy, they both deserve it, I think it is going to be a hard fought battle. I would hate to see a platoon system. I hope Coach Meyer picks a guy, and goes with him, no matter who it is. You can sometimes run two different offenses, and that can become confusing for the group as well.
CM: How surprised were you with the news that Braxton Miller was changing positions? Was that something you anticipated?
SJ: I am not very surprised. It was a tough decision for Braxton. My gut tells me that the arm has not healed enough for Braxton to be able to make all the throws. Very rarely do you see a kid make a decision like that when they can still play quarterback and switch; they have a love for the position and they want to prove everyone wrong. You look at Denard Robinson, who has emerged as a good running back in the NFL; everyone knew just from his pure stature that he was not going to play quarterback in the NFL. It took him losing his shoulder at Michigan before he made the position switch. I grieve with Braxton that he had to make the choice, and Coach Meyer is telling everyone to pump the brakes, but I think it is more about Braxton’s health than about a possible NFL career. If Braxton goes out and runs a 4.3, benches well, runs a tremendous shuttle time, the NFL will look at him for sure, because they want athletes. I think Braxton would like to go out with a bang, but I think it is difficult to win the Heisman as a wide receiver or an H-Back. The last wide receiver to win the Heisman also returned kicks (Notre Dame’s Tim Brown in 1987). Also, all of the talent at Ohio State is working against him – are you stealing touches from Mike Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Curtis Samuel, Dontre Wilson, Ezekiel Elliott? All of those players are special football players. It is a tough thing.
CM: You mentioned earlier about your career and how you had a period of growing up, needing to mature, and things you may have done differently. Ohio State recruited two quarterbacks in Joe Burrow and Torrance Gibson. What kind of advice would you give to those players as a former Ohio State quarterback as the season gets closer, as someone who has been down the path they are currently following?
SJ: That’s easy, whether you are redshirting or not. That’s another very interesting battle, because Braxton has moved to the H-Back, so you have to find the third quarterback. Two five-star quarterbacks coming in, both had outstanding high school careers. One of those guys is going to compete to be the third guy. Not that it means whoever wins the battle this year is going to keep that pole position, but that could put you in the catbird seat for when J.T. Barrett graduates. That’s an important race there. Either way, redshirting or not, what I would tell both of those guys is don’t waste a year. It is very easy to waste this year and lay back, not watch film like you’re a starter, not throw balls like you’re a starter, not be attentive at practice like you’re a starter. Then if they take you and have you run the scout team it can make it even easier for you to check out. Don’t check out on these minutes; this is your foundation year. You are building a foundation for the rest of your career at Ohio State. The reality for me is I was in a situation where I was the third string guy behind Bob Hoying and Bret Powers. Tom Hoying, Mark Zban, and I all competed for the third string spot all fall camp, and it was exciting then, but once the battle was over, it was not exciting anymore. Tom and Mark were running scout team, and they were getting more reps than I was because I was the third string guy, and I was watching most of the time, and it lost its luster for me. There were a lot of days when I wasted time, I checked out, and I wasn’t learning or getting better. I wasn’t throwing balls, and I didn’t stay extra after practice; a lot of times, I was probably the first guy off the practice field, so I wasted the year. Don’t waste the year. Every moment is vital. Get better every play.
CM: Last question, and this is more of a personal request. You work for The Big Ten Network as an analyst – I love when they show these Ohio State classic games, but they never show Ohio State defeating Alabama in The Sugar Bowl, or Ohio State defeating Oregon for the national championship. Anyone you can talk to at BTN about playing those games?
SJ: Don’t worry; they are chomping at the bit to play those games. Those are probably the two most watched games in the history of Ohio State football, maybe even The B1G with the beginning of the playoff run. I am not 100% sure, but as we were working those games, we could not show all of the clips. Those games were shown on ESPN and Fox Sports. I am not sure what the deal is with ESPN and how long they get that stuff, but eventually the license will run the course and BTN will be able to show those games. BTN will love to show those games. Those games are still being shown on ESPN. I will certainly go on BTN and ask that question for you.
CM: Do you know if you will be an analyst for BTN at any Ohio State games, like maybe the Hawaii game on September 12th?
SJ: I think they are trying to keep me away from doing any Ohio State games; I have about five games this season. This is my second year providing color commentary. Glen Mason is also a Buckeye, and he is the main guy. He will get to do most of the Ohio State games on BTN.
CM: Your BTN duties begin soon?
SJ: BTN Live, then Big Ten Football And Beyond on Wednesdays, and I will be scattered across the network on Fridays, Saturdays, and Mondays.
CM: You will also be working with Coach Bruce, right?
SJ: That is fair to say. We have a podcast, and we are presently in negotations with WTVN 610.
CM: It is so great to hear you speak about all of the positive things that have come about after your career at Ohio State.
SJ: Thank you. Please be sure to send me a copy of the article when it comes out.
CM: Will do. Thank you, sir.
I cannot thank Mr. Jackson enough for his time and patience with participating in this interview. Please be sure to follow him on Twitter @Jacksonville8, as well as Mr. Jackson’s media opportunities via The Big Ten Network and WTVN 610 AM in Columbus, Ohio.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Stanley Jackson Offers Insights On Playing QB For Ohio State (Part One)

The battle between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones for the starting quarterback position will be the most scrutinized area by both the fans and the media as the Buckeyes prepare for the 2015 college football season. Everyone has an opinion on how it will turn out, but I thought I would go straight to a source who is as well-versed on the subject as anyone.
Stanley Jackson (@Jacksonville8) is a former Ohio State quarterback who knows a thing or two about what it is like to go through a quarterback battle, having experienced it himself with former teammate Joe Germaine during the 1996 and 1997 seasons. Mr. Jackson is an analyst for the Big Ten Network and WTVN 610 radio in Columbus, Ohio. Married with four children, living in Marion, Ohio, Mr. Jackson was kind enough to participate in a telephone interview after a work day at Buckeye State Bank, where he is owner and vice-president. The first part of the interview focuses more upon Mr. Jackson’s career, where part two will focus more upon the impending quarterback battle between J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones.
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CM: How does one become the owner of a bank?
SJ: You’ve got to have a lot of money, Chip. (Chuckling) I didn’t play in the NFL, I played in Canada. I made a good living, but nothing that you retire on. To make a long story short, when I moved back to Ohio, I went into banking. I met a few entrepreneurial bankers, they hired me as a business development officer, and I began to learn banking. I went into broadcasting, and we became good friends, and we went out and raised the money to buy a bank. We received the approval from the regulatory committees, and we were able to buy a bank. We were able to purchase the bank on January 2013. We’re not majority shareholders and founders, but the three of us work at the bank also. It’s funny – when you think of banking, you think of a Wells Fargo or Huntington, but the majority of the banks are community banks. All communities that you live in have banks like this, and we just have a small part of that small bank community.
CM: I enjoy all of the media that you do, on The Big Ten Network and WTVN in Columbus, especially with former Ohio State head coach Earle Bruce.
SJ: Thank you, I love it. If I could do it full-time, I would. I get to talk about football, with guys like Earle Bruce. Playing quarterback at Ohio State has created some unique opportunities for me, and the reality is the banking opportunity came about because I was able to go out and raise the capital for it because people want to do business with former Buckeyes. I served on the Ohio state board of education for six months, as Governor Kasich appointed me. Those things are rare to come by, and if you do a good enough job at Ohio State, you can put yourself in some unique opportunities afforded to you in this state.
CM: You mentioned how you just came back from New Jersey with your brother from the quarterback camp you both run. What led you to Ohio State, after your successful high school career at Paterson Catholic? Were there other schools?
SJ: There were. I was looking at other schools, based on their history and the type of offenses they ran. I looked at Syracuse, North Carolina, Kansas all because of Glen Mason. I was pretty heavily recruited by a lot of schools. Luckily for me, my high school coach had played at Ohio State, so he knew some things about it and was able to impart some information to me, and coming to Columbus and seeing the Horseshoe was kind of a game changer. The Carrier Dome was nice, but there’s nothing like the Horseshoe.
CM: You redshirted your freshman year, and you came in with Tom Hoying and Mark Zban in 1993. You all redshirted. Hoying eventually moved to tight end, Zban eventually transferred. You had to sit behind Bob Hoying in 1994 and 1995. What kind of patience was required to get through that, after being so heavily recruited?
SJ: It was very difficult, because I was still a kid. I was eighteen years old. When you are recruited by schools like Ohio State, you are not only the best player for your team, but also from your state. When you arrive at Ohio State, you find out everyone is just like you, if not better. Bigger, faster, stronger – I am no longer king of the roost anymore. You always believe you can play, and it is easy to become disgruntled. Bob Hoying made it easy, helping to mentor me and help me grow my game. Quite frankly, I was a good athlete with a good arm. I had to learn how to become a quarterback, how to watch film, how to break defenses, what to look for, how to have command of the playbook and the huddle. I never had to do that in high school. There was a learning curve that helped. I wanted to play a lot, but I am sure there were guys like Bob or Joe Germaine who felt that way, and I am sure Joe Burrow feels that way right now as he watches Cardale Jones and J.T. Barrett work its way out at Ohio State.
CM: How much do you wish you could be playing for Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer with the offense that is in place now?
SJ: It would be great, especially from a numbers standpoint. We went from a heavy run, lots of play action, working the ball into the boundary, to more of a West Coast pro-style offense, lots of slants and shallow crosses. It changed the Ohio State offense forever. Bob Hoying set passing records that now have been dwarfed, based upon the system. A guy like me would have fit well, with the zone read and being able to move the pocket. I sometimes joke with Coach Cooper that we should have been more innovative and running the spread back then. I am more of a traditionalist – if Ohio State is going to run the spread, I like the way Coach Meyer runs it, as a run spread. What Ohio State did in the last three games of the 2014 season, with the way Ezekiel Elliott ran, it allowed the quarterback to have a lot of one on one coverage and that would have been a lot of fun to have played in that type of system.
CM: You mentioned the transition to the West Coast offense, and I saw the BTN special on your 1996 team. What was your relationship like with Walt Harris, who was so instrumental in changing the offense at that time?
SJ: It was a little rocky. Obviously, he didn’t recruit me; Mike Stock had recruited me and had left for the NFL. I don’t think Coach Harris was thrilled with us. Bob Hoying graduated in 1996, and Coach Harris called a meeting of the quarterbacks; I was there with Tom Hoying and Joe Germaine. I had expectations that it was my job, as I backed up Bob Hoying for the last two years. I can remember the meeting just like it was yesterday. He looked at us, square in the eye, and told us that none of you are good enough to play quarterback at a prime time program like Ohio State, we’re not satisfied with where you are, and we’re bringing in a JUCO transfer with Mark Garcia. Coach Harris stressed that it was going to be an open competition, and if one of you rises to the occasion, it will be your job, but that was a wake up call for me. So our relationship was rocky, but he was always honest. He knew quarterback play like nobody else, and if you go back and look at Bob Hoying’s numbers from 1994 to 1995, Bob transformed as a quarterback under Coach Harris. I would like to believe as I continued to buy into what Coach Harris was trying to teach that I had some good years. Not great years, because I split time, but I had good years.
CM: I am glad you brought up Mark Garcia. I was in Ohio Stadium for the 1996 Ohio State spring game, anticipating to watch a battle between you and Mark Garcia. By the end of that spring game, what was a two man race had become a three man race, with Joe Germaine emerging. What were your thoughts heading into the summer of 1996?
SJ: It began to materialize in the spring, because Joe had a pretty good spring. It was almost impossible to get three guys equal reps. Even though Joe had an outside shot, it was still kind of difficult to get Joe reps until Mark Garcia tore his meniscus in fall camp. That created an opportunity for Joe to show them a lot more. Joe was probably the most accurate quarterback to ever play at Ohio State. It was just two entirely different guys playing the position for them, and the reality is if you go back and just went with one of us, you probably would have had a guy who could have set records. When Joe played quarterback by himself as a senior, Joe set a lot of records at Ohio State. I felt the same way about myself. It was tough for them at times. I am not a big fan of platooning quarterbacks; I believe it catches up with you eventually. I think it caught up with us against Michigan. I think you wind up with a quarterback who is not prepared to play a full game. A lot of fun times, great memories, but if I could go back and do a few things differently earlier in my career, maybe I never would have split time. There was a lot of maturing I needed to do, a lot of growing pains that I experienced that impacted how much I played at Ohio State.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

A Spartan Invasion In November Looms Large For Ohio State

“The art of war is simple enough. Find out where your enemy is. Get at him as soon as you can. Strike him as hard as you can, and keep moving on.” ~ Ulysses S. Grant
Leave it to a native Ohioan to spell it out what needs to be done in order to win. West Point graduate, Civil War general, and former United State President, I am willing to bet Ulysses S. Grant would have given football coaching a shot if it had been around in his day.
While counting down the days until the 2015 college football season begins, I thought I would pass the time by ranking and reviewing the upcoming 2015 Ohio State opponents, from least difficult to most difficult. This ranking system of mine will be highly subjective, prone to possibilities of injuries, transfers, or other unforeseen events that could dramatically impact its accuracy. As always, I encourage comments and critique about what I have projected.
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We are getting into the stretch of games that I believe will be challenging for Ohio State. Not impossible, not insurmountable, but the type of games and opponents that Ohio State fans would be wise to not overlook or be overconfident about as the games approach. I am willing to bet that Ohio State Head Coach Urban Meyer and his coaching staff will be on guard against any overconfidence with the players.
The countdown to the most difficult Ohio State opponent is over. By process of elimination…
Michigan State Spartans (Game 11)
2015 OSU Opponent Ranking: 1 out of 12
Players Recruited By Ohio State: DL Malik McDowell, DE Lawrence Thomas, DB Montae Nicholson, DB Demetrius Cox, OL Dennis Finley, RB L.J. Scott, OL Noah Listermann. There are many players from the state of Ohio on Michigan State’s roster (more on that later), but did not receive offers from Ohio State. A shout-out to Avon Lake freshman FB Collin Lucas, from my hometown. I am more than willing to bet I may have inadvertently missed on some players; please let me know and I am happy to correct my error(s).
Game Date: November 21, 2015.
Kickoff Time: TBD
Location: Ohio Stadium
Rationale For The Ranking: In 2012, Ohio State held on for a one point victory at Michigan State, 17-16. In 2013, Michigan State crushed Ohio State’s hopes for a BCS Championship berth, 34-24. Last season, Ohio State traveled to East Lansing to face the Spartans, and prevailed 49-37. With a roster full of Ohioans who have felt overlooked and snubbed, and a coaching staff of assistants that has extensive ties to the previous Jim Tressel regime, these games have been epic since Urban Meyer has become Ohio State’s head coach. Anyone truly thinking this game won’t live up to the other recent battles?
Prediction: Think of this game as the B1G Eastern Division elimination game. The winner will be in the driver’s seat for the division championship, and could possibly be angling for seeding in The College Football Playoff. If Michigan State is undefeated heading into this contest, as many/I believe Ohio State will be, and Ohio State defeats Michigan State in a close one? Don’t be surprised if Michigan State gets another shot at the Buckeyes in The College Football Playoff. Remember where you read it, folks.
Previous Posts In The Series:

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