Big Ten: Armani Reeves


COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The entire roster wasn't on display, leaving some uncertainty about what Ohio State will look like at full strength. But heading into the offseason, there were still some lessons to be learned by the Gray's 17-7 victory over the Scarlet on Saturday at Ohio Stadium.

The secondary has improved

  • The offense was short-handed, starting with the absence of a certain two-time defending Big Ten Player of the Year at quarterback and including short or nonexistent workloads for key receivers. But the defensive backs showed the kind of improvement Urban Meyer demanded since last season's unit finished No. 110 in the country against the pass. In holding Cardale Jones to a 14-for-31 performance through the air without a touchdown, even with top returning cornerback Doran Grant on the sideline, the Buckeyes' defensive backs will head into the summer feeling good about their progress. Armani Reeves and Gareon Conley are both solid options at cornerback, with the former making a statement early in the game with a nice breakup on a deep ball down the sideline. And once Grant and injured safety Vonn Bell are back in the mix to play Ohio State's more aggressive man coverage this fall, the statistics should look drastically better.
Braxton Miller is still the key
[+] EnlargeCardale Jones
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteCardale Jones is likely to enter the fall as the backup quarterback for Ohio State.

  • Jones made progress in several areas throughout the spring, and he's earned the right to head into training camp as the second-string quarterback. But Miller remains the most critical component in Ohio State's spread attack, and his absence was a major factor in what was largely a disappointing afternoon for the offense. Miller will be back from his shoulder surgery shortly and is cleared to resume throwing and working out in time for the offseason conditioning program. It is still obvious that the Buckeyes need him on the field if they're going to make a run at a championship this fall. He'll also need some better work from the offensive line than what the Buckeyes put on display in the exhibition, though not having guard Pat Elflein in pads and limiting tackle Taylor Decker's role didn't do the unit any favors Saturday.
Michael Thomas is still a spring star

  • By now it should come as no surprise, but redshirt sophomore Michael Thomas again led the Buckeyes in receptions in the spring game, turned heads with some eye-popping grabs and looked like a future star on the perimeter. That's a familiar story with Thomas, who has dominated the spotlight during spring camp three years running and capped off the latest one with six catches for 64 yards, including a diving reception for a first down and a one-handed snag along the sideline that highlighted his athleticism and ability to haul in even balls thrown off target. The Buckeyes haven't settled on a true pecking order at receiver yet, though Dontre Wilson and Devin Smith are sure bets to take two top spots. One more time, it appears Ohio State should make room for Thomas in the rotation leaving spring, but obviously he'll need to follow it up with more standout work when practice begins again this summer.
video

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Urban Meyer hired Chris Ash away from Arkansas primarily to fix Ohio State's problems in its pass defense.

What Ash found is that the biggest area of need might have been from the shoulder pads up rather than any scheme or philosophy.

"You talk about Ohio State and the history, and there have been some really good defenses and some really good defensive backs," the Buckeyes' first-year co-defensive coordinator and safeties coach told ESPN.com. "You knew what you were going to get when you lined up against Ohio State -- you were going to get hit in the mouth.

[+] EnlargeChris Ash
Kirby Lee/USA TODAY SportsChris Ash says instilling a new attitude in the secondary is as important as any scheme he is bringing to Ohio State.
"From my observations, some of that confidence and swagger has been lost in the last couple of years. And that mental psyche is probably as big as anything for us to regain."

It's understandable why the secondary might have felt shell-shocked by the way last season ended. The last three games of the season saw Ohio State surrender 451 passing yards to Michigan in a one-point win, allow Michigan State's Connor Cook to register his first career 300-yard passing day in a Big Ten championship game loss and serve up five passing touchdowns to Clemson in the Orange Bowl defeat. That led to withering criticism from fans and media about the pass defense.

"It’s been everywhere about how bad our back end was," senior cornerback Doran Grant said.

Ash said he hasn't looked much at the past and doesn't really care about it. But he does want the defensive backfield to play with an attitude and confidence, a task that's not made easier by the loss of three starters from last season.

One way Ash has tried to instill those traits is by showing his players clips from the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks' secondary. Seattle's hard-hitting, long cornerbacks and safeties set a tone for its entire defense.

"We made lot of cutups of them and said, 'Guys, this is how the best in the business play the game of football,’'' Ash said. "Are we going to be that? No, but we can be in our own way, and this is the way we need to play."

Ash wants his players showing energy and excitement on the field. So whenever a defensive back gives a great effort or celebrate a big play in practice this spring, you'll hear Ohio State coaches say, "Locker it." That's jargon for saving the video clip, which Ash will later show to his players in meetings.

Ohio State needed more change than just the mental side of the game, of course. Ash will help give the Buckeyes a more consistent and aggressive approach in its pass coverage, utilizing the Cover 4, or quarters, scheme. That will also feature some man-to-man, press coverage at times. It's kind of a combination of what Ash ran at Wisconsin, mixed in with some principals that Michigan State has had so much success with.

"We're taking the same approach that we take to stopping the run and putting it in the back end," Meyer said. "The feeling around here was as long as we stop the run and give up some passing yards, that’s OK. That’s not the case anymore. There are too many good throwing teams out there."

Grant is by far the most experienced player in the secondary and looks to take over the role of No. 1 cornerback after Bradley Roby's departure to the NFL. Working opposite him are junior Armani Reeves and redshirt freshmen Gareon Conley and Eli Apple. The latter two were both big-time recruits, and Ash said Apple is probably the defense's most improved player over the latter half of spring ball.

Sophomore Vonn Bell, who made his first career start at safety in the Orange Bowl, tore his MCL early in spring practice. In his absence, the 6-foot-3 Tyvis Powell and the 6-foot Cam Burrows are taking first-team reps at safety. Both are former cornerbacks and are what Ash calls "the model of what we want to recruit here" at safety because of their speed and size.

They've got a long way to go to match the Seahawks, but the Buckeyes have very promising, if somewhat raw, athletes to work with. They hope that leads to a much better and more confident secondary this season.

"It’s not about the size or anything like that," Grant said. "It’s about going hard and being coachable. [The Seahawks are] a high standard, but Ohio State, we’re also a high standard."
We're taking snapshots of each position group with every Big Ten team entering the spring. Up next: the defensive backs.

Illinois: The secondary returns mostly intact from 2013, as Illinois returns starters at both cornerback spots (V'Angelo Bentley and Eaton Spence), as well as Zane Petty, who started the final seven games at free safety. Taylor Barton, who opened last season as a starting free safety, also is back. Building safety depth is important this spring as Illinois must replace Earnest Thomas III. Barton will compete with Jevaris Little and others for playing time. The depth is much better at corner as Darius Mosely and Jaylen Dunlap both saw significant action as freshmen last fall.

Indiana: Like Illinois, Indiana returns a lot in the defensive backfield but must improve after struggling to stop opponents in 2013. The Hoosiers also lose only one starter in safety Greg Heban, a mainstay during the past four seasons. There's a lot of experience at cornerback with returning starters Tim Bennett (senior) and Michael Hunter (junior), along with reserve Kenny Mullen (senior). Decorated recruit Rashard Fant, who redshirted in 2013, will compete for significant playing time. Senior safety Mark Murphy will lead the secondary, and sophomore Antonio Allen could fill the other safety spot when he returns from an ACL tear. Building depth here always is a priority at IU.

Iowa: The situation isn't as dramatic as the linebacker spot, but Iowa still must replace two productive players in cornerback B.J. Lowery and safety Tanner Miller, who combined for six interceptions in 2013. Lowery is the more significant loss, as he had 19 passes defended and three forced fumbles. The good news is Desmond King looks like a budding star and he will move into the featured role Lowery occupied. Jordan Lomax, Sean Draper and others will compete to start opposite King. Strong safety John Lowdermilk returns after a solid junior season. Lomax also could play free safety and will compete there with Anthony Gair and Nico Law, who both appeared in all 13 games last fall as reserves.

Maryland: The back four aims for better results on the injury front and on the field in 2013. Maryland returns both starters at safety in Sean Davis, the team's leading tackler with 102 last fall, and Anthony Nixon, but there should be competition behind them with A.J. Hendy and Zach Dancel. The cornerback position is worth watching this spring as Dexter McDougle departs and Jeremiah Johnson remains limited by a toe injury. Will Likely has opened the spring as a starter, and Alvin Hill could rise up after recording 24 tackles last season.

Michigan: The secondary took a step back in 2013 and all jobs are open even though Michigan returns two veteran cornerbacks -- Blake Countess and Raymon Taylor -- and some experience at safety. Jabrill Peppers, the nation's No. 2 overall recruit according to ESPN Recruiting Nation, will play a major role for the Wolverines this fall, whether it's at corner, safety or nickel. Junior Jarrod Wilson started the first seven games of last season at free safety, and Dymonte Thomas is a good candidate to start at one of the safety spots. Michigan should expect more from this group in 2014.

Michigan State: Will opposing offenses invade the No Fly Zone in 2014? Not if Michigan State can fill several spots, none bigger than Darqueze Dennard's at cornerback. Dennard, a unanimous All-American and the Jim Thorpe Award winner, departs to the NFL, and junior Trae Waynes slides into the featured corner role after a promising sophomore season. The competition opposite Waynes heats up this spring as Ezra Robinson, Darian Hicks, Jermaine Edmondson and Arjen Colquhoun compete. Free safety Kurtis Drummond boasts 21 career starts and enters 2014 as one of the league's top safeties. RJ Williamson likely will fill Isaiah Lewis' spot at strong safety, and Demetrious Cox provides depth.

Minnesota: Like the Gophers' defensive line, the secondary loses a huge piece in Brock Vereen, who played both safety and cornerback last season. But there might be enough returning pieces to fill the void. Cornerback Eric Murray had a very solid first season as a starter, and Minnesota also brings back Derrick Wells and Briean Boddy-Calhoun, both of whom have starting experience. Leading tackler Cedric Thompson and Antonio Johnson finished last season as the starting safeties, and both are back. Senior Grayson Levine provides some experience in a reserve safety role.

Nebraska: An important spring awaits new defensive backs coach Charlton Warren, who must identify new starters at cornerback, safety and nickel. The Huskers are replacing Ciante Evans and Stanley Jean-Baptiste, who combined for eight interceptions, 18 passes defended and 15 tackles for loss in 2013. Safety Andrew Green, who made 10 starts in 2013, also leaves. The good news is cornerback Josh Mitchell had an excellent bowl game and will fill a starting spot. Leading tackler Corey Cooper also returns at safety. There's not much experience at corner other than Mitchell, and Daniel Davie, Auburn transfer Jonathan Rose and others will compete. Nebraska brings back more at safety with Harvey Jackson, who made three starts in 2013, and junior Charles Jackson.

Northwestern: That the Wildcats' secondary could be one of the team's biggest strengths seemed laughable three years ago, but it could be true this fall. All four starters return, led by safety Ibraheim Campbell, one of the Big Ten's most productive defenders (262 career tackles). The depth at cornerback looks strong as starters Nick VanHoose and Matt Harris return, along with Dwight White and Daniel Jones, who opened 2013 as a starter and is coming back from an ACL tear. Traveon Henry should start alongside Campbell, and there are some promising young safeties like Godwin Igwebuike.

Ohio State: Pass defense proved to be Ohio State's downfall in 2013, and the Buckeyes' secondary will be under the microscope this spring as new assistant Chris Ash steps in. Ohio State loses All-Big Ten cornerback Bradley Roby and will lean more on Doran Grant, who started opposite Roby in 2013. Ash also expects big things from Tyvis Powell, who will start at one of the safety spots. Safety Vonn Bell finally logged significant playing time in the Orange Bowl and could become a permanent starter as a sophomore. Veteran Ron Tanner and Cam Burrows also are in the mix at safety. There should be good competition to start opposite Grant, as Armani Reeves tries to hold off redshirt freshmen Gareon Conley and Eli Apple.

Penn State: After a season of moving parts and inconsistent plays, Penn State hopes for a more settled secondary. Adrian Amos, who alternated between cornerback and safety last season, will lead the group and brings plenty of experience. Jordan Lucas likely will start opposite Amos at cornerback after making strides toward the end of his sophomore season. PSU loses some leadership at safety with Malcolm Willis and Stephen Obeng-Agyapong departing and will lean on Ryan Keiser and Jesse Della Valle, both of whom have starting experience. Converted wideouts Trevor Williams and Malik Golden provide depth at cornerback and safety, respectively.

Purdue: The rotation from 2013 returns almost completely intact, but Purdue loses a very big piece in cornerback Ricardo Allen, a four-year starter. Cornerback Frankie Williams enters his third year as a starter and will slide into Allen's featured role, while the competition for the other top corner spot will feature Antoine Lewis and Leroy Clark, among others. Purdue has plenty of experience at safety with Taylor Richards, who started every game in 2013, and Anthony Brown, who replaced the injured Landon Feichter and had 69 tackles. Feichter also is back from a broken leg.

Rutgers: This group is anxious to turn the page after a season filled with personnel issues and poor performance (Rutgers finished 120th nationally in pass defense). Senior safety Lorenzo Waters leads the group after recording 62 tackles and two forced fumbles in 2013. Johnathan Aiken will try to start opposite Waters at free safety, although he'll be pushed by Delon Stephenson and Tejay Johnson, who started three games last fall. Gareef Glashen started six games last season and seems likely to retain one of the top cornerback spots. There will be competition at the other between Anthony Cioffi and Nadir Barnwell, both of whom started games as true freshmen in 2013. The most intriguing player to watch is cornerback Ian Thomas, who returns to the team after quitting midway through last season, one that he began as a starter.

Wisconsin: The Badgers are relatively young at both secondary positions but boast far more experience at cornerback than safety. Junior Darius Hillary and sophomore Sojourn Shelton started all 13 games at cornerback last season. Peniel Jean adds even more experience at the position. Safety is much less settled as Dezmen Southward graduates, Michael Caputo shifts to linebacker and Tanner McEvoy returns to quarterback. Nate Hammon and Leo Musso both played in all 13 games last fall as reserves. Newcomers like Serge Trezy and Austin Hudson could compete for time when they arrive this summer.
Tags:

Purdue Boilermakers, Minnesota Golden Gophers, Penn State Nittany Lions, Big Ten Conference, Michigan State Spartans, Northwestern Wildcats, Indiana Hoosiers, Illinois Fighting Illini, Ohio State Buckeyes, Michigan Wolverines, Wisconsin Badgers, Iowa Hawkeyes, Nebraska Cornhuskers, Rutgers Scarlet Knights, Maryland Terrapins, Ian Thomas, Corey Cooper, Antoine Lewis, Mark Murphy, Jeremiah Johnson, Dezmen Southward, B.J. Lowery, Kurtis Drummond, Ibraheim Campbell, Peniel Jean, Chris Ash, Doran Grant, Raymon Taylor, Tejay Johnson, Nick VanHoose, Blake Countess, Michael Hunter, Derrick Wells, Jordan Lomax, Kenny Mullen, Adrian Amos, Charles Jackson, Frankie Williams, Nate Hammon, Cedric Thompson, Tanner Miller, Dwight White, Harvey Jackson, Armani Reeves, Malik Golden, John Lowdermilk, Andrew Green, Darius Hillary, Traveon Henry, Daniel Jones, Demetrious Cox, Jermaine Edmonson, Ezra Robinson, Trevor Williams, Daniel Davie, Taylor Richards, Jarrod Wilson, RJ Williamson, Trae Waynes, Landon Feichter, Lorenzo Waters, Cam Burrows, Gareon Conley, Dymonte Thomas, Jesse Della Valle, Darius Mosely, Darian Hicks, Nico Law, Josh Mitchell, Eaton Spence, Antonio Allen, Zane Petty, Rashard Fant, Eli Apple, Vonn Bell, Godwin Igwebuike, Sojourn Shelton, Nadir Barnwell, Matt Harris, Michael Caputo, Jonathan Rose, V'Angelo Bentley, Jevaris Little, Taylor Barton, Tyvis Powell, Arjen Colquhoun, Eric Murray, Sean Draper, Anthony Gair, Tim Bennett, Jabrill Peppers, Ryan Keiser, Briean Boddy-Calhoun, Austin Hudson, Jaylen Dunlap, Charlton Warren, Serge Trezy, B1G spring positions 14, Sean Davis, Anthony Nixon, A.J. Hendy, Zach Dancel, Dexter McDougle, Will Likely, Alvin Hill, Antonio Johnson, Grayson Levine, Ron Tanner, Leroy Clark, Leo Musso, Johnathan Aiken, Delon Stephenson, Gareef Glashen, Anthony Cioffi

James Franklin opened his lengthy and entertaining introductory news conference Saturday at Penn State by thanking Vanderbilt, his previous employer.

Two days later, Vanderbilt fans are thinking Franklin has a funny way of showing his appreciation.

As Franklin hinted Saturday, he's bringing several Vanderbilt assistants with him to Penn State. Reported additions or possible additions include defensive coordinator Bob Shoop, wide receivers coach/offensive recruiting coordinator Josh Gattis, tight ends coach/special teams coordinator Charles Bankins, strength coach Dwight Galt and football chief of staff Jemal Griffin. Penn State has yet to make any official staff announcements. Shoop is a native of Oakmont, Pa., and has extensive coaching experience in the northeast as well as in Virginia (University of Virginia and William & Mary).

These likely additions aren't a surprise as Franklin said Saturday, "I am fiercely loyal as a person in general, and I'm going to be fiercely loyal to the guys that I've worked with in the past."

It's also not surprising that Franklin immediately started contacting Vanderbilt recruits about Penn State. Two of them, tight end Chance Sorrell and defensive end Lloyd Tubman, switched their pledges from Vanderbilt to Penn State on Saturday.

More could be coming, especially if you believe this story in The Tennessean, which outlines what has happened to Vanderbilt's recruiting class since Franklin left. One recruiting analyst tells the newspaper that Vanderbilt is left with only three truly solid verbal commits. Another said, "Normally, you're going to have staffs take some kids. But I don't think I've seen many cases where it seems like the entire class is trying to be taken to the next job."

Penn State fans aren't about to feel sorry for Vanderbilt. They remember what happened to the Lions' 2012 recruiting class during the extremely turbulent weeks following coach Joe Paterno's dismissal. Urban Meyer flipped several Penn State commits to Ohio State, including Noah Spence, Armani Reeves and Tommy Schutt.

PSU has 21 commits for the 2014 class, which is essentially complete. It will be interesting to see how much of a Vanderbilt flavor Franklin's first staff and first class will have at Penn State.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. -- Ohio State has no reason to apologize for its 12-2 season, even if the Buckeyes did fall short of their goals by losing in the Big Ten title game and in Friday’s Discover Orange Bowl to Clemson.

Still, the Buckeyes are a program that expects to win championships.

“This would be an unbelievable season for some people,” center Corey Linsley said after the 40-35 loss to Clemson. “They would be building statues about it at other universities. This is just another year gone by for us.”

Ohio State should enter next season in or near the top 10, especially with Braxton Miller expected to return for his senior season at quarterback. But as Urban Meyer’s team found out after winning 24 straight games and then losing its final two, that last step toward winning a championship is often the hardest. And significant challenges await in 2014.

[+] EnlargeUrban Meyer
Chris Trotman/Getty ImagesUrban Meyer's Buckeyes will need to replace some key players on both sides of the ball in 2014.
The offseason focus will center around fixing a defense that was dreadful in its final three games of the season. That job won’t include the services of star linebacker Ryan Shazier, who announced on Saturday that he’ll be leaving for the NFL, or cornerback Bradley Roby, who is also bolting Columbus for the pros.

Meyer has given every indication that he intends to keep Luke Fickell on as defensive coordinator, but the departure of co-defensive coordinator/safeties coach Everett Withers opens the possibility of bringing in a veteran defensive coach who can offer strong input at the very least.

“We’ve just got to go out and recruit out tails off,” Meyer said. “Got to develop players and work real hard with scheme. We’ll get there.”

The Orange Bowl offered an early look at the future, especially with Roby sidelined by a knee injury. The Buckeyes started six freshmen or sophomores on defense versus the Tigers. While the overall numbers weren’t good, there were encouraging signs of potential.

Sophomore Jamal Marcus got his first career start in place of the suspended Noah Spence and was very active, finishing with six tackles. With Spence also sitting out the first two games of 2014, Marcus could play early next season and, at the very least, create some excellent depth along a still-young defensive line.

“I’m really proud of what Jamal did stepping in for Noah,” fellow defensive end Joey Bosa said. “He had a great week of practice, we had a lot of confidence in him, and he went in there and played his heart out.”

The same could be said of Bosa, who turned in a terrific true freshman campaign and showed loads of toughness in the Orange Bowl despite a sprained ankle. Limping noticeably in the second half, he remained in the game and finished with a sack and a forced safety. He has super stardom written all over him.

“It was rough,” he said of the injury. “It was really hard to plant off it. I was just doing what I could do.”

Meyer called sophomore linebacker Joshua Perry one of the most improved players on the team during bowl practice, and if he can continue to develop, it could lessen the loss of Shazier. But Ohio State’s linebacker play needs to get better.

The secondary was depleted by the end of the season but has some promising prospects. True freshman Vonn Bell made his first start at nickel, and though he got burned early on a difficult one-on-one matchup against Clemson’s Sammy Watkins, he also made a one-handed interception near his own end zone that should be the first of many highlight plays for him. Sophomore Tyvis Powell also made his first start at safety, while sophomore Armani Reeves filled in for Roby.

“We’ve got a lot to build on,” cornerback Doran Grant said. “We’ve got some guys who can really play. I’m excited to see them play next season and see what they’ve got in the spring.”

The offense has its own question marks even with Miller back in the fold. Start with the offensive line, which was the engine of the Buckeyes' attack. It loses four senior starters, with only sophomore right tackle Taylor Decker returning. Senior Carlos Hyde, who ran for more than 1,500 yards in just 11 games, also will be gone. Same goes for the team’s leading receiver, Philly Brown.

The schedule finally toughens up, with nonconference games against Navy, Virginia Tech and Cincinnati and the new East Division that will include reigning Big Ten champion Michigan State. The Spartans, who play host to Ohio State on Nov. 8, may begin the fall as favorites to win the division.

Meyer has talked repeatedly about wanting to field an angry and hungry team. The master motivator shouldn’t need many slogans this spring to push a team that suffered two crushing losses on its biggest stages.

“I hope there’s hunger,” offensive coordinator Tom Herman. “I hope that the guys who are coming back feel the knot in their stomach that I do right now and want to fix the things we need to fix to make sure we don’t feel like this again.”

Ohio State will still have plenty of talent in 2014 and a coach who knows how to use it. The Buckeyes weren’t far off from winning a championship this season and expect to be in position again next fall. This isn't a rebuilding job by any sense. But some repairs are needed.

“I think we’re extremely close,” Linsley said. “Everybody will say the O-line is down, that if Shazier is gone, if Roby is gone, those guys are going to slack [on defense]. But I’m telling you, some of these guys haven't gone through an offseason here before. I’m excited to see what these guys will do next year."

MIAMI -- Ohio State offensive line coach Ed Warinner huddled with his position group in a corner of the team's locker room following a 40-35 loss to Clemson in Friday's Discover Orange Bowl.

Warinner's voice started to crack as he told the players what they'd meant to him and what they'd accomplished. Warinner wrapped it up by saying, "You all are champions in my heart."

Unfortunately for the Buckeyes, they'll have to settle for those kinds of fond memories from their supporters. They've won 24 games the past two seasons, but it's the "And-2" that will haunt them. As in, 24-2.

Those two losses came at the worst possible times, first in the Big Ten championship game against Michigan State with a BCS title-game berth at stake, and then on the wrong end of a wild South Florida shootout. A program that went 12-0 the past two regular seasons managed to end up feeling disappointed at the end an otherwise magical run.

[+] EnlargeBraxton Miller
AP Photo/Lynne SladkyBraxton Miller was on his back as much as he was on his feet at times, but his gutty performance almost got Ohio State a win Friday.
"It's bittersweet," linebacker Ryan Shazier said. "We had a great year, and the year before was great. But at the end of day, the last two seasons we haven’t won anything."

It's not hard to pinpoint why Ohio State fell short of earning a championship: a defense that literally limped to the finish line and a still-too-inconsistent passing game.

All of the pregame fears about Clemson's passing attack shredding the Buckeyes proved valid as the Tigers tandem of Tajh Boyd and Sammy Watkins abused a makeshift secondary. With star cornerback Bradley Roby sidelined by a knee injury and two players starting at their defensive backfield positions for the first time, Ohio State surrendered 378 passing yards and five touchdowns through the air, while Watkins set Orange Bowl records with 16 catches for 227 yards.

Even when they applied solid coverage, the Buckeyes' corners and safeties found themselves almost helpless against the best receivers they'd faced in three years. At one point, Armani Reeves was called for pass interference and tipped the ball out of the hands of the 6-foot-5 Martavis Bryant in the end zone. Bryant still caught the ball for a touchdown.

"I can’t get any closer than that," Reeves said. "That’s what happens when you play great players."

Then again, Ohio State's defense made a lot of people look great down the stretch this season, giving up averages of 38.3 points and 539 total yards (Clemson piled up 576) in its final three games. If there's any optimism to be found there, it's that six players who were either freshman or sophomores started on defense Friday, and the future for guys such as Joey Bosa, Jamal Marcus and Vonn Bell looks bright.

Despite the defensive problems, the Buckeyes still had plenty of chances to win the game. They somehow led at halftime even after yielding 362 yards in the first two quarters. They were up 29-20 and were getting the ball back late in the third quarter when Philly Brown muffed a punt return to give the Tigers new life. That would be the first of four second-half turnovers that would ultimately doom Ohio State, the next three coughed up by quarterback Braxton Miller.

No one could fault Miller's effort. He accounted for four touchdowns while absorbing a severe beating most of the night. He injured his shoulder early in the game. He lay on the turf for a few minutes after taking a late hit on a touchdown pass to Carlos Hyde. Miller said he probably had a cracked rib to go along with his throbbing shoulder.

"That's probably one of the toughest games I’ve played in, as far as being hit-wise and being banged up," Miller said. "Probably the toughest one all year."

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer rightly called Miller "a warrior" for his performance. But Miller also turned the ball over twice in the final 3 minutes, 12 seconds and didn't see linebacker Stephone Anthony slide underneath a post route on the game-sealing interception near midfield. Miller was non-committal after the game about whether he'd go to the NFL or return to Columbus. Friday's game made it clear he still has a lot to work on in college as a quarterback, though he might want to save his body from more punishment with a nearly brand-new offensive line next season.

Miller had come through at the end of big games so many times before in his career that it was shocking to see him not do so against Michigan State and Clemson. Same goes for Meyer. Ohio State had made a habit out of choking out opponents in the fourth quarter in his tenure, and before Friday he was 4-0 in BCS games.

"That's what we train for," center Corey Linsley said. "We train to finish. It's definitely disappointing, because that was our M.O."

Ohio State was not far away from its championship goals this season. Another play or two against Michigan State, and maybe the Buckeyes are in Pasadena, Calif., right now getting ready to play Florida State, an admittedly frightening prospect given the tattered state of their defense. Friday's game went back and forth and could have ended differently if not for the untimely turnovers.

But a team's record tells the story. Ohio State won its first 12 games again this season. Then came the "And-2."

"Those were championship games," cornerback Doran Grant said. "And we didn’t win 'em. Plain and simple."

With any conference there will always be battles on the recruiting trail within the Big Ten. Coaching changes, different philosophies and geographic location all factor in to who battles who.

Here is a look at the top five Big Ten recruiting rivalries.

Big Ten picks rewind: Week 2

September, 10, 2013
9/10/13
10:00
AM ET
Week 2 in the Big Ten went mostly according to plan, although there were a few surprises (hello, Illini). The season standings don't change as Brian and I picked the same winners and both finished 10-2. Expect some shuffling this week as the matchups get much more interesting.

WEEK 2/SEASON RECORD

Brian Bennett: 10-2, 22-2 (.917)
Adam Rittenberg: 10-2, 21-3 (.875)

Let's look back at the predictions made by us and by guest picker Nick Schmit from West Des Moines, Iowa.

Rewind time …


Eastern Michigan at Penn State
  • Bennett's pick: Penn State 35, Eastern Michigan 9
  • Rittenberg's pick: Penn State 31, Eastern Michigan 10
  • Actual score: Penn State 45, Eastern Michigan 7
  • 20-20 hindsight: A pretty strong start as we both came relatively close on the final score. Penn State exceeded my rush yards prediction of 175, ending up with 251. Christian Hackenberg had only one passing touchdown, not three, as Brian had predicted, while Lions wideout Allen Robinson had the lone touchdown grab, not two.
Indiana State at Purdue
  • Bennett's pick: Purdue 45, Indiana State 17
  • Rittenberg's pick: Purdue 38, Indiana State 14
  • Actual score: Purdue 20, Indiana State 14
  • 20-20 hindsight: We both came close on Indiana State's score but expected much more from Purdue's offense against an FCS foe. Akeem Hunt had one return touchdown, one shy of my total touchdowns prediction for him. Boilers defensive tackle Bruce Gaston had a big game with two sacks, but not the forced fumble I had predicted.
Missouri State at Iowa
  • Bennett's pick: Iowa 31, Missouri State 13
  • Rittenberg's pick: Iowa 38, Missouri State 10
  • Actual score: Iowa 28, Missouri State 14
  • 20-20 hindsight: Not bad on the score predictions, especially Brian's. Iowa eclipsed Brian's forecast of 200 rush yards with 296. Quarterback Jake Rudock had two touchdowns, as I predicted, but they came on the ground, not through the air.
Tennessee Tech at Wisconsin
  • Bennett's pick: Wisconsin 56, Tennessee Tech 7
  • Rittenberg's pick: Wisconsin 63, Tennessee Tech 3
  • Actual score: Wisconsin 48, Tennessee Tech 0
  • 20-20 hindsight: Another predictable result, although neither of us is giving Dave Aranda's defense enough credit, as Wisconsin posted its second consecutive shutout. As I predicted, the Badgers sent running backs James White, Melvin Gordon and Corey Clement into the end zone all afternoon. They combined for four rushing touchdowns.
South Florida at Michigan State
  • Bennett's pick: Michigan State 30, South Florida 10
  • Rittenberg's pick: Michigan State 34, South Florida 3
  • Actual score: Michigan State 21, South Florida 6
  • 20-20 hindsight: We clearly overestimated Michigan State's offense, which continues to sputter at an alarming rate. Three quarterbacks played for the Spartans, as Brian predicted, but none threw for touchdowns. Jeremy Langford made me look good with a touchdown run, but Riley Bullough didn't get there. And no, neither of us pegged defensive end Shilique Calhoun for two more scores.
Cincinnati at Illinois
  • Bennett's pick: Cincinnati 42, Illinois 27
  • Rittenberg's pick: Cincinnati 28, Illinois 17
  • Actual score: Illinois 45, Cincinnati 17
  • 20-20 hindsight: A big swing in a miss here as Nathan Scheelhaase and the Illini made us look really dumb (it's not that hard). At least I had Scheelhaase for a first-quarter touchdown pass to Josh Ferguson (48-yarder), and Brian had him eclipsing 300 pass yards (he finished with 312).
San Diego State at Ohio State
  • Bennett's pick: Ohio State 45, San Diego State 20
  • Rittenberg's pick: Ohio State 41, San Diego State 13
  • Actual score: Ohio State 42, San Diego State 7
  • 20-20 hindsight: I'll take a bow for the score prediction, although we both underestimated Ohio State's defense in Week 2 with cornerback Bradley Roby back in the fold. Roby didn't have an interception as Brian thought, as two other cornerbacks (Armani Reeves and Doran Grant) collected picks. Dontre Wilson scored his first touchdown as a Buckeye, making my prediction come true, but Braxton Miller went down early with a knee injury.
Southern Miss at Nebraska
  • Bennett's pick: Nebraska 49, Southern Miss 24
  • Rittenberg's pick: Nebraska 42, Southern Miss 17
  • Actual score: Nebraska 56, Southern Miss 13
  • 20-20 hindsight: A decent set of score predictions, although we both expected Nebraska to have more problems on defense. Taylor Martinez came two touchdowns shy of Brian's prediction (5), while Ameer Abdullah finished 86 yards and one touchdown shy of my forecast for him (200 yards, three touchdowns).
Navy at Indiana
  • Bennett's pick: Indiana 28, Navy 20
  • Rittenberg's pick: Indiana 34, Navy 23
  • Actual score: Navy 41, Indiana 35
  • 20-20 hindsight: Our faith in Indiana's supposedly improved defense cost both of us, as the Hoosiers' offseason prep for Navy's tricky offense didn't translate to the game field. Nate Sudfeld found Kofi Hughes for a touchdown pass, as Brian predicted, but it came in the second quarter, not the fourth. Hoosiers running back Tevin Coleman had only one touchdown run, not two.
Syracuse at Northwestern
  • Bennett's pick: Northwestern 31, Syracuse 23
  • Rittenberg's pick: Northwestern 28, Syracuse 20
  • Actual score: Northwestern 48, Syracuse 27
  • 20-20 hindsight: Our predictions likely would have been different if we knew Kain Colter had been cleared to play. Colter shredded Syracuse early on and Trevor Siemian fired three touchdown passes but only one to Dan Vitale, not two as I predicted. Northwestern had two fourth-quarter takeaways, but the game was already over by then.
Minnesota at New Mexico State
  • Bennett's pick: Minnesota 37, New Mexico State 20
  • Rittenberg's pick: Minnesota 34, New Mexico State 21
  • Actual score: Minnesota 44, New Mexico State 21
  • 20-20 hindsight: Neither of us pegged Aggie Vision to be such a delightful experience (Casa de Autos? Yes, please), as the game's outcome never was really in doubt. Brian correctly predicted Minnesota would score a defensive touchdown, as linebacker Aaron Hill returned a fumble 50 yards in the fourth quarter. I had Gophers quarterback Philip Nelson for two passing touchdowns, but his only score came on the ground.
Notre Dame at Michigan
  • Bennett's pick: Michigan 27, Notre Dame 24
  • Rittenberg's pick: Michigan 24, Notre Dame 21
  • Actual score: Michigan 41, Notre Dame 30
  • 20-20 hindsight: Both of us expected a lower-scoring game, although Brian's prediction of a Blake Countess interception against Tommy Rees in the fourth quarter turned out to be spot on. Michigan quarterback Devin Gardner and wide receiver Jeremy Gallon connected for three touchdowns, not the two that both Brian and I forecast.

Finally, let's see how our guest picker performed …

Penn State 28, Eastern Michigan 13
Purdue 28, Indiana State 21
Iowa 34, Missouri State 10
Wisconsin 70, Tennessee Tech 3
Michigan State 35, South Florida 10
Cincinnati 31, Illinois 21
Ohio State 42, San Diego State 6
Nebraska 51, Southern Miss 17
Indiana 41, Navy 31
Northwestern 42, Syracuse 20
Minnesota 33, New Mexico State 21
Notre Dame 27, Michigan 24

Not bad overall, as Nick missed on the same two games we did, in addition to the Notre Dame-Michigan contest. He had strong score predictions like Ohio State-San Diego State, Nebraska-Southern Miss and Minnesota-New Mexico State. Nick underestimated Penn State's offense and, like most of us, overestimated Michigan State's ability to score points.

Who's next?

Returning Roby gives OSU new look

September, 5, 2013
9/05/13
3:00
PM ET
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The man-to-man plan wasn’t scrapped just because the top cover guy was missing.

Reflecting on the assignments and the play-calling, the players that were available to cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs were in one-on-one matchups over half the time in Ohio State’s first game of the season.

[+] EnlargeBradley Roby
AP Photo/Gene J. PuskarOhio State cornerback Bradley Roby, who was suspended for the Buckeyes' season opener, led the nation in passes defended in 2012.
The ability to dial up pressure and attack the quarterback wasn’t entirely compromised, either, with Coombs quick to defend the Buckeyes as more aggressive than perhaps they appeared last weekend.

But while Ohio State has consistently stressed its next-guy-up approach and insisted its schemes don’t center around one player and his respective talents, taking arguably the best cornerback in the country out of the equation due to Bradley Roby’s suspension definitely seemed to force a little tweaking in the secondary.

“I think we were probably a little more aggressive than people think,” Coombs said. “At the same time, we weren’t all up in their face and pressing all day and trying to make sure we had enough energy to play four quarters of a football game in that heat without a whole lot of depth.”

The Buckeyes were also short a body at safety with senior C.J. Barnett a late scratch due to an ankle injury, and the absence of two starters with so much experience could understandably limit the playbook.

But it’s Roby’s ability to lockdown half of the field that truly frees up the Buckeyes to pin back their ears up front and dial up blitzes without the fear of getting beat in man coverage down the field. And while he was serving his punishment from coach Urban Meyer for an off-the-field incident at a bar in July, the shorthanded Buckeyes weren’t pushing the limit quite as often in the win over Buffalo as they figure to on Saturday against San Diego State.

“I think so, I think we all want to be a little more aggressive,” Meyer said. “We didn’t play as much bump-and-run coverage, however, we did pressure quite a bit.

“Roby coming back now frees up Armani [Reeves], who was a tremendous special teams player for us a year ago, and we had to be very cautious. He played a lot of football for us in that heat. That helps with our depth.”

The Buckeyes have seemingly gone out of their way to focus on the importance of simply having another cornerback in the fold again, regardless of Roby’s credentials or the fact that there surely isn’t a backup in the country who could block him from the starting lineup. Meyer drove his point home early in the week by bracketing Roby with Reeves in the latest depth chart and indicating he wouldn’t rush a decision about who would ultimately get the nod against the Aztecs, a team that threw the ball 64 times in their opener.

Having a healthy Barnett return to the field is critical as well for a unit that has planned all along to rely heavily on its veteran defensive backs to set the tone for the Buckeyes.

But Barnett wasn’t the guy who led the nation in passes defended last year, wasn’t the one selected as an ESPN.com first-team All-American and wasn’t the defensive back who was flirting with leaving early for the NFL draft last spring. That, of course, was Roby -- and having him back in pads can quickly change the entire complexion of the Ohio State defense.

“Last week, all week, he was in the office watching San Diego State film to prepare himself for this week,” Coombs said. “I think that football players at all levels, but certainly the great ones, they live to play the game. It’s been a long time since he’s been on the field.

“He’s excited about Saturday, I’m excited about Saturday, it’s time to go.”
Spring practice is underway throughout much of the Big Ten, and we're taking a look at one potential breakout player for each team. We're spotlighting players who could take a major step during spring ball, so those who have started multiple seasons or earned All-Big Ten recognition in 2012 aren't eligible.

Up next in our series is the Ohio State Buckeyes, who return to the practice field this week after enjoying (hopefully not too much) spring break ...

Tyvis Powell, DB, redshirt freshman, 6-foot-3, 201 pounds

There are a whole lot of opportunities to emerge on the Buckeyes' defense this spring, with six starters gone from the front seven and cornerback Travis Howard also exhausting his eligibility. Powell emerged quickly as a potential breakout guy, working with the first string as a defensive back in nickel coverage when Ohio State opened its spring drills earlier this month.

With more and more spread offenses around the Big Ten and the country, the nickel look should be in heavy use this season. And Powell presents an intriguing option there as one of the taller defensive backs you'll see. Head coach Urban Meyer said Powell "earned that right in the offseason" to line up as a starter early on and said he had "done everything right." That doesn't guarantee any fall playing time, of course, especially since Ohio State has a lot of options at corner with guys like Doran Grant, Armani Reeves, Adam Griffin and talented early enrollees like Cam Burrows and Eli Apple.

But Powell has an early head start on being a spring breakout player. The Buckeyes hope to find plenty of them on defense these next few weeks.

Big Ten Monday personnel roundup

November, 12, 2012
11/12/12
3:30
PM ET
Some personnel news and nuggets from around the league Monday afternoon:

Ohio State

Coach Urban Meyer says he doesn't know what percentage linebacker Etienne Sabino is at right now, but the senior will start at Wisconsin. Sabino broke his leg last month against Nebraska, and his return will be a big boost to the defense for the final two games.

Meyer also said freshman running back Bri'onte Dunn has an MCL sprain that won't require surgery but will keep him out of this week's game. Dunn is questionable to play in the finale against Michigan, too. Dunn had his best game two weeks ago against Illinois, when he ran for 73 yards and a touchdown.

Special teams ace Armani Reeves (ankle) and safety Orhian Johnson (shoulder) will be back this week for the Buckeyes.

Nebraska

Star running back Rex Burkhead plans to test his injured knee in practice today in hopes that he can return for Saturday's senior day game against Minnesota. Burkhead said he's "pretty close" to getting back on the field but that he wants to be smart about the injury so he can play in a potential Big Ten title game and possibly the Rose Bowl. Bo Pelini said the team does not want to play Burkhead until he is 100 percent healthy.

Michigan

Brady Hoke is once again not providing much information on his quarterback situation. Hoke described Denard Robinson (nerve issue in elbow) as "day-to-day" without any further details. Robinson has missed the past two games. Hoke also said there was no update on backup quarterback Russell Bellomy, who has been out with an undisclosed injury. Robinson will not speak to the media this week even though Saturday is senior day and he's had an historic career. Hoke said Robinson's availability to play this week would have "nothing to do" with it being senior day.

Northwestern

Losing cornerback Nick VanHoose (shoulder) has hurt the Wildcats' secondary, maybe never more so than at the end of last week's Michigan game. Will VanHoose play this week? Head coach Pat Fitzgerald said the team "will have to see how he progresses this week" before making that determination. Fitzgerald also said star running back Venric Mark has an undisclosed injury but should play this week against Michigan State.

Illinois

Star linebacker Jonathan Brown (shoulder) has still not been cleared to play after missing the past two games. Head coach Tim Beckman said Brown is no longer using a sling and looks to be improving, however.
The Super Bowl is Sunday, but the super bowl of recruiting arrives on Wednesday. So on the eve of national signing day, we thought we'd check in with some of ESPN.com's top recruiting experts to get a feel for what's going on in the Big Ten.

Our esteemed panel included senior national recruiting analyst Tom Luginbill, Midwest recruiting writer Jared Shanker and Scouts Inc. recruiting coordinator Craig Haubert. This is Part I of our discussion; look for Part II later on today.

Topic 1: What impact has the arrival of Urban Meyer had on the league and in general when it comes to recruiting?

Tom Luginbill: "It's been fairly significant. If there's one thing Urban Meyer understands and has been able to do, it's that you build a championship team from the inside out. Whether it was at Florida or now at Ohio State, if you notice who essentially all his first commitments were, they were all on the defensive line and offensive line. So he understands that, if they're going to compete for a national championship, the gap has to be closed in the defensive front seven. That's the difference between what's happened in the SEC and everywhere else. So I think that's where he's made his biggest impact."

Craig Haubert: “What Urban Meyer has been able to come and do down the stretch has been huge. I knew when he took over, they would get better as a class, but I didn’t really think when this happened, they’d have a chance to crack the Top 25. They’re still in a position to possibly land some guys. Davonte Neal, the No. 1 athlete, could be headed there. Stefon Diggs and Jordan Diamond are also in the mix there.” [Diggs and Neal are both post-signing day announcements].

“If you look at this class, it’s all in the trenches, really. And our philosophy is there’s always an increased value to upper-tier linemen because they’re harder to find. Noah Spence obviously is huge, he’s a five-star, but so is Adolphus Washington. The other thing that stands out to me about Ohio State is he’s been plucking guys from other Big Ten schools. [Se’Von] Pittman was a Michigan State kid. Joey O’Connor had decommitted before he got him, but he was a Penn State kid. Same thing with Tommy Schutt. Armani Reeves. So his upper part of his class, a lot of them have come from other Big Ten schools.”

Jared Shanker: “He’s exceeded my expectations. He’s obviously a great recruiter. At the same time, I wouldn’t call it walking into a perfect situation, but with what was going on at Penn State, I think he’s taken five recruits from Penn State, so there were opportunities for him to come in and flip some guys. Noah Spence was a Penn State lean. He had O’Connor and Tommy Schutt, two other ESPNU 150 guys who were committed to Penn State. Camren Williams and Armani Reeves, two other guys at Penn State. Obviously, he’s one of the best recruiters in the game. He also had some good fortune in being able to come in at a time when things were shaky at a rival school and pick up some of their commitments. Se’Von Pittman, the other ESPNU 150 guy, he was really looking for a reason to get to Ohio State.”

Topic 2: How good is Michigan's class, and has the Wolverines' momentum slowed down in the last several weeks?


CH: “They came out fast. We’ve always had them in that 5-to-7 type range. People might get frustrated that it’s getting near signing day, when there’s a lot of buzz and things going on, and they’re not doing much, but to be fair to them, what they did has allowed them to maintain in the same area where they’ve been for most of the recruiting process. The thing that sticks out to me about this class is a lot of people kind of scoffed when Brady Hoke got hired and he said, ‘I’m a Michigan man.’ But he’s been true to that. They’ve done very well in state. A lot of their key players are Michigan guys, led by Terry Richardson. So he’s brought a little bit of that Michigan man feel, and there seems to be an excitement among recruits.”

TL: "
Michigan was rolling before Meyer got the job, and they were teetering on maybe swinging Bri'onte Dunn, the running back, and Ohio State was able to keep him in the fold. Is Michigan in competition with Ohio State for some players? Yes. But Michigan right now is more focused on revamping the roster to the mold that Brady Hoke wants. They need more size up front, some size at the linebacking positions and some size at the skill spots. And I think they've done that in all three areas. [The lack of recent commitments] is a reflection of numbers and how much room they have. With the Big Ten's hard cap, they don't have a ton of wiggle room. If anything, the winning on the field and the sustained excellence helped solidify that the class would stay intact."

JS: “I don’t know if I’d say they’ve lost momentum. They really were hoping to get Josh Garnett, who ended up going to Stanford. Their class filled up so quickly, and they only had about four or five spots left midway through the season. They’re hoping to get some of the guys who are closer to signing day. They’re in good position to get Jordan Diamond. I think he’s No. 94 overall. So it seems like they’ve maybe fallen off, but they were at 21 or 22 commitments by the time the season started. They really had their run of success in the spring and summer. I’m sure they would have liked to maintain that a little bit and gotten some of those final targets like Garnett, but they’re also able to get the two receivers, [Amara] Darboh and [Jehu] Chesson, right after the season ended. So they’ve still been able to pick up some guys along the way.”

Topic 3: How has Penn State fared given all the turmoil surrounding the program and the flurry of decommitments?

JS: “My thinking for them was, if they could have just held on to their 14 commitments, that would be the main thing. They were obviously going to get some more commitments, but they weren’t going to be the top-caliber guys. If they could hold onto the 14 and add those sleeper guys who have a chance to be something at the next level, that was my expectation for them. I like that they got Akeel Lynch, the running back. I think he could be a good player. They’re probably a little disappointed that it looks like they’re going to miss out on [Skyler] Mornhinweg and the two Massachusetts guys in Reeves and Williams.”

TL: "I think to this point, Bill O'Brien has done a good job. But a lot of credit needs to go to that previous staff. Outside of the guys they lost to Ohio State, through all of this, they're still siting here with 18 verbal commitments. If you think about it, that's astounding. And I would say that the top third of them, athletically, can compete for a conference championship. Of course, you don't know all the intangibles and all that, but based on pure player level, this is a pretty strong class. It certainly isn't anywhere near where people would have expected it to be. ... But just to have bodies in this class, in my opinion, is a positive. [O'Brien] won't be judged on this class. He will be given a long leash, and in my opinion, it was made very clear with the timetable the administration set with this hire that the 2012 class is not the priority. If it had been, they would have hired a guy in December."
When it comes to 2012 recruiting in the Big Ten, it's Ohio State and Michigan -- and everyone else.

The Buckeyes and Wolverines both are poised to sign top-10 recruiting classes Wednesday. Michigan's class has been ranked in the top 10 since last spring, when new coach Brady Hoke and his staff made a strong surge on the recruiting trail. Ohio State, meanwhile, made its push in December after naming Urban Meyer as its head coach. Meyer's impact has been substantial, as the Buckeyes have flipped several recruits committed to other programs and added five ESPNU 150 prospects.

ESPN Recruiting has come out with another set of rankings, Insider and Monday's rundown has Ohio State ahead of Michigan.

Ohio State comes in at No. 6, moving up five spots from its previous ranking. Michigan's class rates No. 8, a one-spot drop from the previous rundown.

Ohio State recently beat out Michigan for a commitment from cornerback Armani Reeves, a four-star recruit.

Both schools are hoping to bolster their classes by the end of national signing day with players like tackle Jordan Diamond, a Michigan target, and athlete Davonte Neal, an Ohio State target.

As has been the case for some time, no other Big Ten teams appear in ESPN Recruiting's Top 25 class rankings.

Big Ten lunchtime links

January, 30, 2012
1/30/12
12:00
PM ET
It's officially Super Bowl week. Consider this the Super Bowl of lunch links:
Ohio State couldn't beat Michigan or Penn State on the field this past season but scored a victory over both in recruiting on Sunday.

Cornerback Armani Reeves, rated a four-star prospect by ESPN.com, chose the Buckeyes over Michigan after visiting with coaches from both schools in the past week.

The 5-foot-11, 185-pounder from Massachusetts is yet another blue-chipper added to the fold under Urban Meyer, whose recruiting impact since his November hire has been immense. Ohio State was rated just behind Michigan in our latest ESPN class rankings for 2012, but the Buckeyes may end up ahead of the Wolverines with a late push.

"It just felt like the right fit for me,” Reeves told the Columbus Dispatch. “I’ve known defensive backs Coach [Everett] Withers for a while, for almost four years, so I had a good relationship with him. And I know a lot of guys in the class already -- Tommy Schutt, David Perkins and Cam, obviously.”

"Cam" is Reeves' high school teammate, linebacker Camren Williams. Like Reeves, Williams also decommitted from Penn State and headed to Columbus, as Ohio State continues to reap the benefits from the Jerry Sandusky scandal fallout. The Buckeyes also picked off ESPNU 150 recruits Noah Spence, Tommy Schutt and Joey O'Connor after they reneged on their verbal pledges to the Nittany Lions.

That's five really good prospects who could be playing for Bill O'Brien. Instead, Meyer continues to pile up the highly ranked recruits.

SPONSORED HEADLINES