Mr. Bucknuts' Bucket Of Bullets

You may follow football recruiting every day of the year, know who all the recruiting targets are, and know everything about all the OSU commitments, but do you really know anything about what recruits the Ohio State football program really want? The answer to that question, Mr. Bucknuts says, is probably not. That and more in the latest version of the Bucket of Bullets...

It's the summer doldrums of recruiting season so it is incumbent upon me – Mr. Bucknuts – to once again bring up the obvious: us mere mortals don't know squat about what the coaches are really thinking and what they have planned, when it comes to either recruiting strategy or tactics. Now, having said that, some of us might have an inkling, might know a little more squat than others. That's why some of us can charge premium subscription prices, after all. But do we know who the staff really wants? No. Do we know who they already have slated for the following year? No. Therefore, do we understand how the Class of 2008 might affect the Class of 2007 recruiting? Of course not. Syllogism asked and answered.

A classic example for you to ponder. There has been much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments in recent years over the state of offensive line recruiting. I won't even go into the Real World where we presently find ourselves with the best line in years and even better lines coming. That would simply be a distraction from my theoretical message…But, last year, we focused on the ones that got away, ones like Justin Boren, Aaron Brown and Joe Thomas. And we scoffed at all the justifications that coaches had tactics to get the proper beasts into the proper barns.

And here we go again this year. Why aren't they in more on O'Dowd? Why no offer (you flippin' idiots…) to Nick Schepis or to Mark Wetterer right here in Ohio? The coaches are having more Paterno Moments, obviously. Let's just write them and tell them what's up, eh?

But – and I ask you this now – how many out there have already scouted the 2008 linemen available and have projected the sequencing again for those guys versus the current roster guys. I would posit that there are only a few – the coaches.

And if I were to look down that road, know what I see? I see one of the best classes nationally and in Ohio. I see two of the top guys we have ever seen in Ohio: Zebrie Sanders from Northmont and Nick Adams from Dublin Coffman. Better than that, I see four (including those two) Top 100 national guys that the Buckeyes are already in on: Kyle Long from Virginia and Michael Brewster from Florida. And better than that? I think the Buckeyes lead for…hold your, hats, boys…all of them.

Now, would you want to project a journeyman three-deep guy this year and lose Nick Adams next year? Here's my Mr. Bucknuts strategy (and you can pass it along to Tressel and the guys up there in the Ivory Tower): take Nick Claytor or Anthony Davis and Ben Blankenship this year. And that's all. Then pray for any combination of the guys I mentioned for the following year. That might be the best O-line recruiting class ever. Anywhere.

Now, get off the recruiting people's backs and let's get back to our regularly scheduled programming…

*     *     *     *     *

Some more offensive lines…From yours truly. So where would this anticipated treasure trove of new talent fit in, in the overall scheme of things? This season, the projected starters are Boone, Rehring, Datish, Downing and Barton. Huge, athletic and talented. And only two seniors in that group. The two-deep guys consist of Cordle, Skinner, Person, Schafer and Mitchum. Only Schafer is a senior. The incoming freshmen include the heralded duo of Bryant Browning and Connor Smith (plus don't forget Josh Kerr and respected walk-on Tyler Whaley).

So, to set the scene, let's speculate on the 2007 lineup: starters (could be) Boone, Rehring, Cordle, Skinner/Person and Barton – from left to right. Only Barton will be a senior out of that group. The "second guys" would be Skinner/Person, Mitchum, Browning, Smith and Kerr/Whaley. Plus, there would be 2-3 new freshmen studs that will probably red-shirt. On the second team, no one is a senior!

How about in 2008? Boone, Rehring, Cordle, Smith and Person/Mitchum/Skinner. All right, you see my point – next year is not the key year to fill this particular pipeline. It's the following year. And if we do snag a net full of Sanders and Adams and Long and Brewster and the like – hey – the pipeline would be full to overflowing!

Since I have already been told I am full, I will put this subject to rest for a column or two…

*     *     *     *

No other Rose might smell so sweetBuckeye-to-be Robert Rose just tore up the North-South All-Star game and is in Columbus ready to do evil intent in practices when they start. This man-child is exceeding everyone's already-lofty expectations. How good is Rose? Well, Vic Whiting of Canal Fulton Northwest coached the North squad. He got to spend a week watching him practice and then put him to work against the South on game night. Afterwards, he summed up the Robert Rose that he watched:

"Robert Rose is the best football player I have ever seen. And whatever you think he is and however good you think he is, he's better than that. He's just starting. You're talking about a kid who has not been in the weight room a whole lot. He will be now. He could be one of the most premier athletes to come out of Ohio.

"Right now, I think he is top-rated (defensive end) in the country."

*     *     *     *     *

The NFL knows Tressel…One of the best "scouts" for NFL teams is always the coach that coaches ‘em up. That is, NFL personnel folks know that they are going to get a better player out of a Tressel program than they are out of a Carr program (as a f'rinstance) if everything else was equal.

We have received feedback recently from Bucknuts fans that also follow pro teams around the country and are aware of their scouting criteria. One pro-connected media guy said this to me: This notion that college programs don't factor in is a popular notion but it's incorrect, especially with OSU and Tressel. NFL teams know they're getting guys who have played in big games and gotten great coaching and are more prepared and capable to play in the NFL than just about anyone. There are a few other programs of that ilk, but not many. There is a real feeling among some NFL teams that an OSU player isn't just a safe pick, it's a solid pick, in any round. There are maybe only three other programs in the country that you can say that about.

When you read the scouting reports on future draft picks, the reports on OSU guys always include references to great coaching. Holmes was known as the best route-runner in the draft. Mangold was known as technically and fundamentally superior and able to make all the right calls at the line. I read the reports on Mario Williams and they say "great talent, great size and speed and athleticism, great upside, but lacking in technique and takes too many plays off." That's not a tribute to a college coaching staff. The scouting reports on most OSU players are a tribute to the coaching staff.

Look, for a further example at how the Carolina Panthers drafted recently. What the Panthers are doing is taking things another step -- they like three-year starters in major programs more than guys who run good 40s in Indy. They are putting great value on leaders. So many of the Panthers picks -- and free-agent signees -- were team captains and team leaders. Nate Salley is a prime example. He's a nice, solid fourth round pick, and he's now a Panther because despite his shortcomings which we know about, they liked the fact that he was a three-year starter who came to Ohio State playing behind Mike Doss.

So we have to – once again speculate about Youboty benefitting from coming back and being a captain. That could have helped him in more ways than the general public realizes.

For you NFL-followers that are also Buckeye-based, watch how any teams that have drafted one or two Bucks (Panthers, Bills, etc.) have started taking more Bucks, in higher rounds than you would have expected. That's because it's their bucks at stake. You gotta think that this not only helps the current Buckeye roster eventually make more money playing professionally, but it also should help OSU recruit high school kids that are made to understand this undeniable linkage.

*     *     *     *     *

Depth in Quarterbacks…For those of you that follow these things, we are going position-by-position here in the Bucket and analyzing where the coaches might go this year in their recruiting efforts. Having looked at tailbacks and fullbacks, we are now prepared to look at quarterbacks.

We can all remember back to the dark days when Steve Bellisari ran around as our quarterback, with Austin Moherman and Scott McMullen quivering behind him. Yes, baby, we have come a  long way…We now have Heisman candidate Troy Smith at the controls, with former scholastic record setter Justin Zwick as the capable back-up. We also have Todd Boeckman entering his sophomore year of eligibility (although it is his fourth year (!) in the program) and Rob Schoenhoft coming "into" his freshman season. The true frosh – who isn't here yet – is the very promising Antonio Henton.

In looking ahead, both Boeckman and Schoenhoft are along the lines of Zwick – although with more mobility and better arms! Henton is a larger version of Troy Smith, but it's not appropriate to raise our level of expectations to "Off the Charts" quite yet.

With a couple years of continuity then fairly assured, where will we be shopping and when? We are told that there will be no QB in this class, although there might be a HS QB taken as an athlete (like a Skylar Jones, for example). Rumors are that OSU offered Joe Haden and Latrevis Washington but the need simply isn't there. They will need one or two for the next class, however, and what a great time to start currying favor early with promising juniors in high school.

One obvious decision is to determine the type of offense that the prospective QB will engineer. That will certainly reduce the diameter of the search…

*     *     *     *     *

Beating the rented mule…I have a reputation to protect; that is, beating to death certain topics that makes everyone else wince. Some of those shopworn topics that spring to mind? Anything Notre Dame (particularly the Weis Guy). The NCAA. Indian mascots. The NCAA and Indian mascots. Our cyber competition and their specious boasts. Buster Davis. And Jason Gwaltney.

For those of you sane enough to have put the whole Gwaltney recruiting caper out of your mind, let me remind you of the moaning and whining that accompanied Jason's supposed defection from the good guys (us) to the dark side (them). It was made even more painful ‘cause the dark side was West Virginia, a school seen by many of the under-informed as "not in our class".

Some of you also remember that if Jason had pledged his troth to the Buckeyes, the recruiting of one Chris Wells could have been problematical. Uh, that's an issue, no?

And many of you know that the Jason Gwaltney story never even got him to the level of a Maurice Clarett story. That is, Mo C actually had his moment in the sun. Jason barely got to catch any rays.

For those of you that didn't know, Gwaltney first was drummed out of West Virginia and then, subsequently, enrolled and dropped out of Nassau Community College. Newsday reported that is was for a "failing to attend classes or rehabilitation sessions."

One of the stated reasons that Jason chose the Mountaineers over the Buckeyes was to be with his half-brother, Scooter Berry. Berry is also now academically ineligible. As to Gwaltney, one of the WVa coaches was quoted as saying, "Jason actually seemed surprised that he really did have to attend classes".

I feel badly for the kid as he was a blithe spirit and undeniably talented. But as we mull over the destinies of running backs at OSU, there is a morality tale in there somewhere…

*     *     *     *     *

Linebacker U…Now that the Bucks have had three linebackers from the 2005 squad taken early by the NFL, how far are they falling in talent with their successors? Any of you watching the spring scrimmage game knows that the answer is "Not very damn far". Pick any three from this group: Mike D'Andrea (if healthy), Marcus Freeman, John Kerr, James Laurinaitis, Larry Grant, Ross Homan and Chad Hoobler. That's not counting Austin Spitler or Curtis Terry. And – from that group – only D'Andrea (not healthy) and Kerr (a walk-on) are seniors.

So…in 2007, will we see Laurinaitis, Hoobler/Kerr and Freeman across the middle? Probably not because you have to get Ross Homan in there! But you can't leave out budding superstar Larry Grant in his final two seasons and, well…you get the picture. Or is that the total picture? I know this sounds crazy, but the best linebackers in 2007 or 2008 might not even be the guys we mentioned. Don't forget three great (and I mean it, folks…) incoming freshmen who might be forced to red shirt this year. That would be Super Stud Thaddeus Gibson, Tyler Moeller and Mark Johnson. Gibson was rated the best-in-class last year; yes, ahead of Homan. Moeller was the Defensive Player of the Year and his mom says he's up to 215 pounds now. And Johnson was the best middle linebacker prospect on the West Coast. That's all.

The argument between Penn State and Ohio State for the mythical "Linebacker U" title is over. Retire the award. And Paul Posluszny winning that other award?  Paul Pulease, is more like it…

*     *     *     *

A-Ginn, it's all academic…Coach Ted Ginn is picking up speed toward realizing his dream of opening the Ginn Academy in Cleveland, a private school in which the stricter admissions criteria and other rules/regs won't hold back some of the programs he wants to see accomplished. Funding for this ad-venture.? Hey – his past results might make for some pretty promising future paybacks. Check it out. Donte Whitner was just drafted eighth overall in the NFL draft. Troy Smith and Ted Junior are solid bets to be first-rounders next year. And with other Tarblooders filling the pipelines, it's also a solid bet that there will be some pretty decent liquidity available when old Coach Ted comes to call. Now, will these guys be thinking "pay back"? The betting here is positive on that, as well…


And when you think of odds – and you think of Mr. Bucknuts – feel free to contact him at MrBucknuts@yahoo.com


Buckeye Sports Top Stories