COLUMBUS, Ohio – Spring Practice is almost to an end and will be capped off by Saturday's Spring Game at Ohio Stadium. On Wednesday afternoon however, head coach Urban Meyer joined the other 13 head coaches from the Big Ten Conference on the annual spring teleconference.
Reporters have not had a chance to talk to Meyer since the start of last week and this was a chance to update several personnel issues and battles as the final practices are underway this week before the long summer break, at least a break away from structured football activities under the guidance of the position coaches.
One noticeable absence from Saturday's Student Appreciation Practice was Demetrius Knox, with Matt Burrell taking his spot at the right guard position. That all seems to be cleared up now, at least in terms of Knox being back to practice.
"(Knox) practiced today, he just had an academic issue that we had to take care of," Meyer said.
USA Today Sports Images
That does not mean that the right guard position is set. Meyer feels that the line has done well but is not quite there yet. Good news is the first game is not until the end of August.
"I think our tackles improved, I think Billy (Price) is going to be very solid at center and then inside we have still not solidified the right guard spot," Meyer said. "Left guard is solid but he has got to play better, that is Mike Jordan. Overall, I think we have had a good spring but we are not where we need to be on the offensive line though.
Another position of note will be the cornerback position. Ohio State will only return one true starter in the secondary and has plans to roll players in and out at corner and potentially safety.
"Right now, Kendall Sheffield is ahead of the three freshmen corners that are here, which you would expect just because he is an older veteran and a guy that has been out of high school for two years," Meyer said. "He is in the rotation right now. Damon Arnette has had a very good spring. Denzel Ward is our best corner, so Denzel is going to be a starter obviously and then we are very impressed so far with (Shaun) Wade, (Jeffrey) Okudah and (Marcus) Williamson. They are all getting better each day."
Meyer was pressed to talk about other players who have taken a step forward in the spring. The Ohio State head coach is always hesitant about listing off players for fear of missing someone on the list. But he did give the media some insight on who has been looking good.
"I think that Dre'mont Jones has gone from a good player to a very good player and bordering on a great player," Meyer said. "Our four defensive ends are outstanding players and they are where I thought they would be."
With all the talk of the secondary, one player that does not get mentioned enough is Damon Webb. Meyer has taken notice of a strong spring of work out of the Detroit (Mich.) product however.
"I will tell you that Damon Webb went from a decent player to a very good player this spring," Meyer said. "He is one of the most improved, for a starter, one of the most improved players on the team."
Turning over to offense, a lot of eyes will be on the receivers. Meyer is hoping to see a lot out of the position in the spring game and has seen a huge turnaround out of one player, who seems to be finding his stride going into the 2017 season.
"I think everyone knows my feelings about Parris (Campbell), because he has had an exceptional spring," Meyer said of the offense. "I think Mike Weber is a lot like Damon Webb, he has gone from… the third freshman to rush for 1,000 yards and had a good year but he is now really have a good spring."
Staying with the running backs, look for freshman running back JK Dobbins to have more than just a special teams role in 2017.
"JK is going to play in the fall. He has had a very good spring," Meyer said.
Spring games can always be disjointed with the team being split down the middle with certain rules and limitations in place so nobody gets hurt and the coaches have a chance to see everyone who is on the roster on the field (Ohio State will still have close to a dozen enrollees after the academic term join the team).
With that, the Spring Game will not be measured heavily on highlight plays as there are months and months to break down tape. It is more important for other reasons, for players who are getting their first real opportunity.
"This is not for Tyquan (Lewis), Sam Hubbard, Chris Worley and Billy Price," Meyer said. "This is for those corners and some young guys that have not done much around here or the new guys. I love it, I love the fact that these kids to play in front of a crowd like that."