Pro Speak 6-13: It's Back!

With the temperature in the 90s again today in central Ohio, there is no doubt summer is upon us. That must mean it's time for the return of Professionally Speaking, the weekly feature in which BuckeyeSports.com updates you on the comings and goings of your favorite former Buckeyes as they try to ply their trade for pay.

Should one judge the NFL offseason a positive one overall for ex-Buckeyes?

Probably not.

Although Will Smith cashed in with a multimillion-dollar contract from the New Orleans Saints, Troy Smith moved into contention to start at quarterback for the Baltimore Ravens and LeCharles Bentley was granted a clean bill of health, there was more bad news than good.

Troy Smith not only must impress a different coaching staff than the one that drafted him last year, he also must hold off a player with four years more experience (Kyle Boller) and rookie anointed quarterback of the future in first-round draft pick Joe Flacco.

Bentley finally got the clearance to be able to return to the field after two years of battling a knee injury, but he was released shortly thereafter as a result of a dispute with Browns' officials that has not been fully explained publicly to this point.

Although the former Pro Bowler figures to find a new team sooner than later, Bentley was far from the only Buckeye to find himself still in the free agent pool as of this writing.

The Minnesota Vikings let both Darrion Scott and Mike Doss walk, while the Green Bay Packers did the same with Tyson Walter.

Out on the West Coast, the San Diego Chargers bid farewell to Shane Olivea in February, roughly six months after signing the offensive tackle to a six-year contract extension.

On top of all that, Scott is scheduled to stand trial in Hennepin (Min.) County District Court next month for allegedly assaulting his young son. That would seem to make it unlikely he will find a team this season, but he might stand a better chance of seeing action on an NFL field in 2008 than free agent linebacker Robert Reynolds, who reportedly was suspended for at least one year by commissioner Roger Goodell this week.

On the bright side, Drew Carter, Simon Fraser, Ben Hartsock and Alex Stepanovich all found new teams.

Carter signed a one-year deal with the Oakland Raiders in March and according to reports from offseason workouts is in position to be claim the team's No. 2 WR spot behind fellow free-agent-signee Javon Walker.

Fraser, Hartsock and Stepanovich all signed with the Atlanta Falcons in March...



DO I KNOW YOU FROM SOMEWHERE?

The newest Falcons should have no problem making friends during offseason workouts because there were already four Ohio State alumni on the Atlanta roster.

Fraser, Hartsock and Stepanovich join Michael Jenkins, Tim Anderson, David Patterson and Doug Datish.

Jenkins was a first-round pick of the Falcons in 2004 and has caught 135 passes for 1,595 yards and 14 touchdowns in four seasons.

Anderson joined the Falcons Nov. 1 after being released by Buffalo. He played five games at defensive tackle for Atlanta and resigned there in March.

Datish and Patterson both spent last season on the Falcons' injured reserve during what was scheduled to have been the rookie season for both.

Of the septet, only Patterson was not a member the 2002 national championship team.



WHITHER BENTLEY?

Those adept at scouring the Scout Network for news and notes are likely pretty familiar with the Bentley saga, but in case you missed any of the twists and turns, PS is here to add up what we know so far.

The two-time Pro Bowler was cleared to return to football June 10, a development that seemed to finally signal an up tick in a fairy-tale-turned-nightmare homecoming for the Cleveland St. Ignatius High School product. However, any chance for Bentley to finally make good on his desire to help lead his hometown NFL team to prosperity evaporated the following day when the team granted him his release.

While the reasons for this parting of ways have yet to become totally clear, our Scout.com partners at the Orange and Brown Report indicate the salary cap was not a motivation.

League sources told Scout.com senior NFL reporter Adam Caplan that there is a belief Bentley would not have been allowed a chance to compete to unseat incumbent starter Hank Fraley.

"The only thing Bentley was promised was that he would be given a chance to earn a roster spot. That's it," Caplan wrote in his NFL Insider Blog on June 11. "While it's not clear if Bentley was told specifically that he wouldn't be given a chance to start, Bentley got the immediate vibe during this week's mandatory minicamp he was projected to be a backup by the coaches and he wasn't totally set to compete for playing time at center--the position he desperately wanted to play for his home town team. Bentley also might have seen time at guard as well had he not been released."

Caplan speculated the Cincinnati Bengals, Kansas City Chiefs, New Orleans Saints and St. Louis Rams were among potential candidates for Bentley's services...



HUNTER TURNS HEADS

At Professionally Speaking, our favorite sport might be (OK, is) football, but that does not mean we can't make room for some of the other sports former Buckeyes are getting paid to play.

Last year we reported on the NFL, NBA, WNBA, Major League Baseball, minor league baseball and even softball, and you can look for more of the same this year.

Most notable off the gridiron news of the week?

Draftexpress.com named former Buckeye forward Othello Hunter to its first-team All-NBA Pre-Draft Camp performer for his work recently in Orlando, Fla.

Hunter averaged 11.3 points and 7.3 rebounds in 25 minutes per game. He made 60 percent of his field goals and drew praise from site analyst Joseph Treutlein, who saw an improved midrange jump shot and more patience in the post in Hunter.

"Hunter's performance here, along with his physical tools and the learning curve he's shown over the past two years, has made a decent case for him as a late second round pick in the draft, despite his less than ideal size for a power forward," Treutlein wrote of the 6-8 1/2, 225-pound former Buckeye. "The fact that he's only played competitive basketball for six years definitely helps his case, as does the way he came out here and distinguished himself from other players with similar stocks heading in, while also showing strides in some of his weaker areas. He still has to add a significant amount of weight to his frame to compete effectively in the NBA. While not a lock at all, Hunter should get some consideration late in the draft."

Filling out the team were Gary Forbes, a senior swing man from Massachusetts, Mike Taylor, a combo guard from the NBDL's Idaho Stamped, and two names that should be familiar to Buckeye fans: Oregon forward Malik Hairston and Dayton guard Brian Roberts.

By the way, the same site projects former Buckeye center/forward Kosta Koufos to land just outside the grouping of NBA lottery picks for the June 26 draft with Philadelphia nabbing him at No. 16.


Professionally Speaking is a weekly feature of BuckeyeSports.com compiled by staff writer Marcus Hartman. It appears weekly this summer. To give feedback or suggest Buckeyes in the pros you would like to hear about, email Marcus at mhartman@buckeyesports.com.


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