COLUMBUS – Urban Meyer says he’s having a difficult time filling out a depth chart for Ohio State’s football team.
But with 11 posssible starters not taking part in spring practice because of various injuries and surgeries, that probably isn’t surprising or alarming.
Those 11 players include the top four returning wide receivers from last season and standout defensive end Tyquan Lewis. All of the players rehabbing injuries are expected to return by the start of preseason practice in August.
“There are guys we’re really counting on,” Meyer said on Tuesday after the ninth of OSU’s 15 spring practices.
“You watch practice sometimes and you kind of wince, like ‘Oh my goodness, where are we going to be here?’ But I think we’ll be OK when everybody gets healthy,” he said.
That does not mean Meyer is grading on the curve this spring, though. The players on the field this spring are still being evaluated rigorously and Meyer has not gotten all the answers he wants.
“We have to make some hard decisions coming up,” Meyer said. “By Saturday there are some guys who are going to play and some who aren’t going to play.”
Some other thoughts from Meyer on Tuesday:
—- APOLOGY OFFERED: Last week highly rated offensive line prospect Landon Young, who eventually signed with Kentucky, said he had been “treated like crap” by Meyer and his staff.
Meyer addressed that on Tuesday, saying he “had a lot of respect for him as a player.”
“I was very disappointed in our staff that we didn’t offer him earlier. Then, about the treating him bad, we don’t do that on purpose, but if that’s his feelings … and I went back and talked to our staff about that because we don’t want that to be out there.”
Young is rated as the No. 79-ranked player overall in the 2016 class and is rated the No. 6 offensive tackle recruit. He got an offer from Ohio State in June.
“We have one out of 650 that say someone is treated bad. I know we did not offer him early, but we did want to offer him,” Meyer said. “Afterwards he really grew into a great player and I think we missed on him. I was very upset in our coaching staff and the recruiter in that area and then the position coach.
“That’s the way we do our business here. So yeah, we do address that. I don’t want that out there,” he said.
—-NO SECOND THOUGHTS: Meyer said he doesn’t ever daydream about what the Buckeyes might look like this spring if nine underclassmen hadn’t declared for the NFL draft.
“I did that in January when they told me they were leaving. I kind of went through a little withdrawal. But that ship has sailed,” he said.
Several of the departing underclassmen have stayed around OSU and have offered some advice to players who hope to replace them this fall.
“The good thing is they’re really helping our young guys,” Meyer said. “Mike Thomas comes here to help coach. I see Eli Apple out there talking to Damon Arnette. Taylor Decker is here to lift and train but also to help Isaiah Prince and Jamarco Jones. That’s when you know you’ve got a good program, that you have a good thing.”
—- DEFENSIVE LINE QUESTIONS: OSU’s interior defensive line positions remain a question mark.
Meyer said the players competing to take over the starting jobs held by Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt last year have played “just OK” in spring practice.
“Mike Hill is fighting through a high ankle sprain. Davon Hamilton has really improved, (Robert) Landers has improved. There are a lot of bodies, just not anyone stepping up to the forefront yet,” he said.
Jason Cornell and Dre’mont Jones are also in the mix to play, he said.
—-PICK A THEME: Meyer said there is a theme to each week of spring practice, leading up to the spring game on April 16.
“Last week was about chaos. We had 3,000 students in there (at Student Appreciation Day at the Woody Hayes Center). It was loud and noisy, screaming and yelling the whole time and we were trying to create situations and environments. This week I’ll probably shut down practice for everybody on Thursday and Saturday because we have to get better now.
“There’s a theme to every week that we do around here. The first one was to install and then spring break. The next one we were just getting used to practice and last week was to create as much chaos as we could throughout the week of practice to watch guys respond.
“And then this one, just because of where we’re at, we’re shutting it all down for everybody on Thursday and Saturday because I want it extremely quiet. We have to get better,” he said.