July 1, 2016

Partly cloudy

Meyer sits key players in spring game

Shaun Bennett
The Gazette
COLUMBUS — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer wasn’t looking to fine-tune his weapons during Saturday’s spring game at Ohio Stadium.
Meyer sat nearly every returning starter on both sides of the ball, and allowed the backups and a handful of potential starters to see the majority of time on the field.
“It’s a chance to see some young guys that really haven’t played, and to be honest, I’m not sure how much they will play,” Meyer said. “But it’s a chance for a lot of guys in our program that work really hard to catch a pass in Ohio Stadium or whatever.
“I think it’s the right thing to do.”
With 61,058 showing up to see the 2014 Buckeyes in action for the first time, Meyer said he wanted to put on a show but knows with so many starters sitting out he couldn’t evaluate the squad as a whole.
“(Team spokesman) Jerry (Emig) handed me the stats and I’m not sure what to do with these. I don’t care,” Meyer said. “What I do care about is who is going to physically make the plays. It’s almost like an individual game today. I was just watching guys and I have some opinions after today’s game.”
Meyer stayed tight-lipped on most of those opinions, but did announce a few decisions:
l True freshman Raekwon McMillan will see time at linebacker this season and will compete for the starting middle linebacker spot. McMillan shared the Gray team lead with five tackles.
l Junior Josh Perry won the weakside linebacker competition. Darren Lee and Chris Worley, who helped Toledo Whitmer defeat Wadsworth in the 2011 Division I regional finals, will battle for the strongside linebacker spot, while Curtis Grant will battle McMillan at middle linebacker.
l Tyvis Powell won a safety spot, while Cam Burrows and Ron Bell will battle for the other safety position.
l Armani Reeves is the team’s nickelback, St. Vincent-St. Mary graduate Doran Grant has a cornerback spot sewn up and the other cornerback spot is wide open.
l Glenville product Cardale Jones will be Braxton Miller’s backup at quarterback.
l Devin Smith, Johnnie Dixon, Michael Thomas, Jalin Marshall, Dontre Wilson and Evan Spencer are all competing for two wide-open wide receiver spots.
Injury report
A handful of Buckeyes watched the spring game from the sideline due to late-season injuries or offseason surgeries.
Miller was the biggest name missing from the lineup. He is not expected to take a snap this spring as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery Feb. 21.
Elyria’s Chase Farris — a redshirt junior offensive lineman — is recovering from offseason knee surgery, as is junior linebacker Devan Bogard.
Other ailing Buckeyes that didn’t see action Saturday include Spencer — who injured his lower leg against Clemson in the Orange Bowl — redshirt freshman wide receiver James Clark, sophomore linebacker Mike Mitchell and senior offensive lineman Ben St. John, who declined his final year of eligibility because of a shoulder issue.
l Meyer kept several prominent players off the field Saturday so they wouldn’t join the list of injured players, including defensive linemen Jamal Marcus, Joey Bosa, Noah Spence, Michael Bennett and Adolphus Washington; offensive linemen Pat Elflein and Taylor Decker; halfback Wilson; wide receivers Devin Smith and Spencer; running back Rod Smith; tight ends J.T. Moore and Jeff Heuerman; and cornerback Grant.
Contact Shaun Bennett at (440) 329-7137 or sbennett@chroniclet.com. Like him on Facebook and follow him @ShaunBennettct on Twitter.