Practice No. 9: On The Edges

With Urban Meyer not feeling well Zach Smith and Kerry Coombs subbed in to address the media following the Buckeyes ninth practice of the spring

With Ohio State head coach not feeling well, hardly having a voice according to a team spokesman, wide receiver coach Zach Smith and cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs addressed the media Tuesday in his absence.

Both position coaches are working on replacing key starters from the national championship team in receivers Devin Smith and Evan Spencer and cornerback Doran Grant.

Here are some of the highlights from Smith after the Buckeyes ninth practice of the spring:

  • Meyer has consistently brought up sophomore Noah Brown as a player who has impressed this spring and Smith quickly echoed the head coaches sentiments.

    "Noah Brown has probably had as good a spring as I could have wanted," Smith said. "He's looking like a guy that is going to contribute heavily in the fall."

    Brown has worked at a number of different receiver positions this spring, Smith said, but is primarily working at the "X" right now as Mike Thomas recovers from a sports hernia. "Even this spring when Mike was practicing, I was moving him around a bunch. I told him going into spring the mentality is to get you ready to start at all three spots," Smith said.

  • Brown isn't the only guy Smith is moving around. After starring in the slot as an H-back last year, Jalin Marshall is getting reps on the outside this spring. Smith doesn't expect Marshall to play outside much this fall, but putting him out there allows him to get some reps in against some press man coverage and gives the staff more flexibility in getting the best guys on the field.

  • An addition to Smith's meeting rooms this spring is Curtis Samuel, who is seeing time at the H-back position after backing up Ezekiel Elliott at running back last season. Smith said Samuel is talented enough to play basically any position, but now that he has already developed some running back skills the staff is using the spring to develop him as a receiver.

  • Dontre Wilson is not able to run routes right now as he recovers from surgery on his foot. The foot was originally broken against Michigan State and required a second surgery after the season. Wilson could have played more in the postseason (he briefly saw the field against Oregon) but was just one play from re-injuring the foot, Smith said. Now Wilson is working on his ball skills and running on the underwater treadmill.

  • It wouldn't be an Ohio State press conference without a question about the quarterback situation, but Smith said that the lack of clarity at that position is not adversely effecting the development of the receivers.

Following Smith's time at the podium, his defensive counterpart took the stage. Here are the highlights from Coombs comments:

  • When asked about the way the Buckeyes work on tackling, Coombs said they do tackling drills all the way to the ground every spring practice and multiple times a week during the season. "I can't imagine anyone tackles more than we do," he said.

  • Coombs was quick to answer a question about who has had the best spring of his unit as Eli Apple is the clear choice. After starting opposite Grant last year, Apple is taking ownership of the No. 1 corner spot.

  • Opposite Apple, Gareon Conley has had a really good spring, Coombs said. He has added a lot of weight since coming to campus and should be able to play more physical.

  • Not far behind is Damon Webb who is working at both the nickel and corner spots during his first spring on campus. Marshon Lattimore, another player expected to provide key depth and push for a spot on the field, should be able to do some live work next week as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

  • Like Smith, Coombs couldn't escape without being asked about the quarterback situation. Cardale Jones is "significantly" better now than he was at the end of the season, Coombs said, "He has the biggest arm in college football."

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