Bucknotes - 2/3

Dave Biddle checks in today with Bucknotes, and he talks about freshmen, incoming freshmen, Chris Gamble's acting debut, basketball, and more.

It's no lie that true freshmen had a major impact on Ohio State's 2002 national championship. Ten of the 24 newcomers received playing time, proving that a great recruiting class can provide immediate dividends for a program.


Obviously, some played larger roles than others. Tailback Maurice Clarett probably recorded the finest season ever by an OSU freshman.


Offensive linemen Nick Mangold and Rob Sims provided solid depth (and then some) in an area where there wasn't supposed to be any.


Three freshmen - Bobby Carpenter, Mike D'Andrea and A.J. Hawk - were the backup linebackers. Hawk showed early signs of being a future star.


E.J. Underwood started briefly at cornerback, but couldn't stand in the way two-way star Chris Gamble. Even with the mid-season benching, Underwood showed that he's going to be a fine cover-man down the road.


Also seeing the field were: safety Tyler Everett, defensive end Mike Kudla and safety Nate Salley.


Based solely on the freshmen who played, it's safe to say that OSU's 2002 recruiting class - billed as the nation's second-best by most sources - is living up to all the hype. Throw in the redshirts and it is easy to see why this class was considered to be great.


Here's the list of '02 redshirts: OL R.J. Coleman, OL Doug Datish, OL T.J. Downing, WR Roy Hall, WR Santonio Holmes, S/LB Brandon Mitchell, DL Joel Penton, DT Quinn Pitcock, DE Jay Richardson, CB Mike Roberts, DL/OL Tim Schafer, QB Troy Smith, TE/LB Stan White Jr,. QB Justin Zwick.


That's banking some serious talent. In most years, at least a few of those guys would have been forced to play. The fact that all 14 of them were able to save a year of eligibility bodes very well for the future.


I am particularity excited about Datish, Holmes, Penton, Pitcock, Richardson and Smith. They all have star potential.



In Ohio State's highlight video, produced by WBNS Ch. 10, there is a segment that is a must-see for Chris Gamble fans.


The piece, which originally aired on the Ch. 10 news prior to the Minnesota game, shows Gamble working every role imaginable in Ohio Stadium on game day. Gamble sells tickets and refreshments, announces (press box and sideline), officiates, coaches, plays football (of course), pilots the blimp, dresses up as Brutus, plays in the band, works as a cameraman and even sweeps up the Horseshoe after the game.

It's a very well done segment. Gamble proves he really can do it all, even act.



The men's basketball team should play one regular season game in St. John Arena each year. Against cupcakes like Radford and Tennessee Tech, they only draw around 13,000 anyway (the capacity of St. John). It would give Buckeye fans a chance to go back in time once a year.



As for the Schottenstein Center, it's still a little baffling that the students aren't seated on the floor like every other college arena in the country. And I don't mean a pocket of them behind one basket. All of the students who buy season tickets should be on the floor. And I don't want to hear anything about how the big-money boosters paid for the arena. Every other college that builds a new arena, like N.C. State for example, is able to put the students on the floor and still have plenty of great seats for the boosters. In fact, the better seats are the ones about 15-25 rows up. The view is much better as opposed to right on the floor, or a couple of rows up.


Andy Geiger has done almost everything exactly right during his time at OSU.  Almost everything. This is the only major blunder I can think of. It probably costs the Bucks about two wins per season, which might make or break the NCAA Tournament bubble this year.


Next season, Geiger should revise the seating arrangements and put the rowdy students where they belong. It would send a message to the team that winning is the most important thing and that basketball really matters at OSU.



I was surprised that Mike Doss decided to play in the East-West Shrine All-Star Game and not the Senior Bowl. The latter is considered the premier event and Doss had invitations to both.


Kenny Peterson and Matt Wilhelm played in the Senior Bowl, while Doss, Donnie Nickey and Andy Groom played in the Shrine game.



Speaking of Wilhelm, that stuff about him being a sixth-round draft pick is nonsense. Kind of reminds me of the preseason when people seriously believed that Wilhlem was going to be a backup to Freddie Pagac. Someday this guy is going to prove to everybody what a stud he is.


Big, athletic linebackers who can run sideline to sideline aren't drafted in the sixth round. Wilhelm will likely be a first-day selection (rounds 1-3).



Apparently, height/weight exaggerations aren't limited to media guides. Some of the listings for recruits make you wonder what these guys really look like. I saw one for Sian Cotton that listed him at 6-foot-5, 295-pounds. I'm 6-3 and I've spoke face-to-face with Cotton, who isn't a hair over 6-2. And Remember Rick McFadden?  He was more like 6-5.



Ahh, the great Dustin Fox debate. Will he move to safety, or stay at corner?

I'm guessing he stays, but here are the three factors that will help decide for sure.


1. How will Thomas Matthews do at strong safety? The rising junior from Florida will get the first crack at Doss' old job and can pretty much sew things up with a strong spring. Will Allen will start at free safety if Matthews can handle things at strong. If Matthews can't, the likely move is Allen to strong and Fox to free.

Everett and Salley will also factor in, but it's Matthews' job to lose.


2. How will the young corners do? (Namely Underwood, Donte Whitner and Ashton Youboty) If any of them steps up this spring and shows that they are the real deal, then Fox is sure to move. If not, then he will stay at corner at least until preseason camp.


3. The Buckeyes open with a passing team/veteran quarterback and play another passing team/veteran quarterback in game No. 3. With Washington's Cody Pickett and N.C. State's Philip Rivers coming to town, I am going to feel much better having a proven corner like Fox back there, as opposed to a rookie. The guess here is that the coaches will feel the same way.


So, even if one of the young corners sets the world on fire, they probably won't crack the starting lineup until game four or so. But one of them will have to be the nickel back right away.



The Bucks are reaching the point of no return with sophomore center Terence Dials who has been out since early December with a back injury. I say redshirt the big guy. Unless they win like five straight to get back in the hunt for an NCAA bid, give him that extra year to develop. Who knows how effective he will be if he comes back now anyway.



Former OSU point guard Scoonie Penn recently signed a contract with the NBDL's Asheville Altitude. Penn was a second-round draft pick by the Atlanta Hawks in 2000, but was cut twice by the club in camp ('01, '02). Penn has also played professionally in Italy.



Scott McMullen would be a good Arena League quarterback with that quick release of his. That is about as random of a thought as you can get right there.



Have turned into a joke. Shawn Crable second-team? Brandon Maupin special mention? The voters need to take into account the fact that every team that played Lakota West ran away from Maupin. You can't just look at stats, or you will be left with invalid choices.


Crable makes first-team All-American, but is second-team all-state? That doesn't really add up.



Bill Parcells, new coach of the Dallas Buckeyes, er, Cowboys, is going to love fullback Jamar Martin. Martin is recovering from a torn ACL, but is expected to be 100 percent by training camp. He is the definition of a Parcells player.



Beginning in 1982, the list of former OSU running backs that have made it to the NFL is impressive.


The list includes: Tim Spencer, Keith Byars, Vince Workman, Robert Smith, Raymont Harris, Eddie George, Pepe Pearson (played briefly with Tampa Bay), Michael Wiley and Jonathan Wells. The only former starters who didn't make it to the league over that time period were Carlos Snow and Derek Combs (who was drafted by the Raiders in the seventh round, but cut).

E-mail Dave at sports@madison-press.com

Buckeye Sports Top Stories