Big Ten: Steve Rehring

A few more free agent updates

April, 29, 2009

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

As expected, several more Big Ten players are signing with NFL teams as free agents or earning tryouts.

  • Penn State cornerback Tony Davis signed with the Cardinals
  • Minnesota punter Justin Kucek has a tryout with the Vikings
  • Minnesota tight end Jack Simmons has a tryout with the Jets
  • Ohio State offensive lineman Steve Rehring has a tryout with the Bengals
  • Ohio State tight end Rory Nicol has a tryout with the Redskins
  • Ohio State defensive tackle Nader Abdallah has a tryout with the Jaguars
  • Ohio State fullback Brandon Smith has a tryout with the Bears
  • Northwestern quarterback C.J. Bacher has a tryout with the Bears
  • Former Illinois running back Walter Mendenhall signed with the Eagles
  • Former Penn State quarterback Anthony Morelli re-signed with the Cardinals

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

 Andy Lyons/Getty Images
 OSU running back Chris 'Beanie' Wells could be playing his final collegiate game at the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl Monday night.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's been 43 days since Ohio State's last game, but running back Chris "Beanie" Wells hasn't spent all this time preparing one of his patented pre-game pep talks.

"It ends up happening at the moment," Wells said. "I don't pre-write anything. I just say how I'm feeling."

Wells' off-the-cuff style resonates with his teammates, who look forward to hearing from their emotional leader, especially before big games like Monday's showdown against No. 3 Texas in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Fox, 8 p.m. ET).

"Very emotional," guard Steve Rehring said of Wells' speeches.

"He might have been more fired up than anybody in our locker room for the [USC] game," fullback Brandon Smith said, "and he didn't even dress."

Wells will be in uniform Monday night as he tries to help No. 10 Ohio State knock off Texas. Much of the focus this week has been on Ohio State's 28 seniors, but Wells also could be playing his final collegiate game before entering the NFL draft, where he's expected to be one of the first two running backs selected.

The setting and the situation will only add fuel for a player who thrives on big games and big moments. Add in the fact that Wells is as healthy as he's been since sustaining a foot/toe injury in the season opener, and Ohio State could have a better chance that many think.

"He is a difference maker," Ohio State senior tight end Rory Nicol said. "He does something to the morale of the team. It's like [cornerback] Malcolm [Jenkins] always says, a little spark kindles a great fire.

"Often times, he's that spark."

(Read full post)

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- At 6-foot-7 and 335 pounds, Steve Rehring is a big boy.

The Ohio State right guard can handle a little criticism.

 Matt Sullivan/Getty Images
 Alex Boone and the Ohio State offensive line will need their A-game against the Longhorns' defensive front.

"We take the blame," Rehring said of himself and his linemates. "If people want to blame us, that's fine. Whatever. We do some dirty things sometimes. People don't understand what we do down there."

Ohio State's front five has borne the brunt for the unit's struggles for most of the season. Despite returning four starting linemen, the Buckeyes finished 78th nationally in total offense (339.7 yards per game) and didn't truly find an identity until the closing stretch of the season.

The topsy-turvy season brought criticism from both outside and inside the locker room. Left tackle Alex Boone gave the line an 'F' for its performance in nonconference play. Rehring was a little more forgiving with his regular-season grade, giving the line a 'B' or 'B-minus.'

The group needs an A-plus performance Monday night against No. 3 Texas in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Fox, 8 p.m. ET). Led by All-American Brian Orakpo, Texas leads the nation in sacks (3.7 sacks per game), while Ohio State is tied for 78th in sacks allowed (2.17 per game).

"We have a lot to prove," Boone said. "We've been up and down all year. We've been talking about that and how we need to get better."

Pass protection has been the biggest knock against the Buckeyes, who ranked no worse than 29th nationally in sacks allowed during the last three seasons.

"I don't think pass blocking all goes on the offensive line," Rehring said. "We take the blame for it, always. If you get beat, you get beat. That's on the offensive line. But sometimes, protection-wise, we're supposed to do this or that.

"As a collective group, we need to protect the quarterback."

Starting quarterback Terrelle Pryor is prone to holding the ball too long at times, and he'll need to have a quicker release against Texas, which boasts seven defenders with multiple sacks, led by Orakpo (10.5) and linebacker Sergio Kindle (9). Both Rehring and Ohio State tight end Rory Nicol likened Orakpo to former Buckeyes star Vernon Gholston, the hulking end who had 14 sacks last season.

"We need to do a good job schematically of trying to keep Texas true and contained to their schemes and not letting them just tee off, off the edges," Nicol said. "Staying out of third-and-long situations where they get in that 30 front, they put Orakpo and the other kid on the edge and they're coming. They're coming to get the quarterback."

Speed has become a sore subject for Big Ten teams in recent seasons, and the new spin on the debate is that the major differential can be found on the line of scrimmage, not with the skill players.

Rehring doesn't buy it.

"We've got great defensive lines in the Big Ten," Rehring said. "I would put our defensive line against anybody and run 40s, across the board. On the offensive line, it doesn't matter. As long as you have good technique and do what you do, you have quick feet, it doesn't matter how fast they are.

"As an offensive line, we're pretty quick guys, play with good technique and we go against a great defensive line every day in practice. So we'll see how it works out."

Big Ten depth chart tidbits

October, 13, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

  • Ohio State shuffled its struggling offensive line on this week's depth chart, moving Ben Person from right guard to left guard, Jim Cordle from left guard to right guard and one-time starter Steve Rehring to backup left guard. The Buckeyes need a better performance up front Saturday at Michigan State (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET).
  • Defensive end Adrian Clayborn and tight end Brandon Myers remained the starters on Iowa's depth chart despite suffering injuries Saturday at Indiana.
  • Northwestern went back to freshman Jeravin Matthews and senior Omar Conteh as its kickoff return men after Sherrick McManis had a key fumble in Saturday's loss to Michigan State.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

It's time to go inside five Big Ten teams preparing for the second round of league games.

Illinois: Head coach Ron Zook will increase his rotation on defense after the Illini dropped to last place in the Big Ten in points allowed (32 ppg). Linebackers Russell Ellington and Sam Carson and safety Donsay Hardeman all are expected to see more plays Saturday at Michigan (ABC, 3:30 p.m. ET). Zook has some versatility with Travon Bellamy, who can play both safety and cornerback. The coach attributed Illinois' run-stopping struggles (182.5 ypg allowed) to the back half as the team tries to overcome the losses of All-American middle linebacker J Leman and talented safeties Kevin Mitchell and Justin Harrison. "I don't foresee starting lineup changes," Zook said, "but I do see guys that are going to be held accountable. ... We're going to play more guys and our job is to make sure we fix it."

Michigan State: Defensive back Kendell Davis-Clark could be back soon after missing the last four games with a shoulder injury. Davis-Clark's return presents some interesting decisions for head coach Mark Dantonio, who originally shifted Davis-Clark from cornerback to safety after Roderick Jenrette was asked to take a leave of absence from the team. Danny Fortener replaced Davis-Clark in the season opener at Cal and has performed well, ranking second on the team in tackles (29) with three pass break-ups and an interception. Davis-Clark, who started 11 games at cornerback last season, is listed behind Fortener on the depth chart for Saturday's game against Iowa (ESPN2, noon ET).

Minnesota: The Gophers continue to list three players as possible starters at running back on this week's depth chart, but head coach Tim Brewster acknowledged that freshman DeLeon Eskridge has taken the lead. Eskridge racked up a team-high 131 all-purpose yards in Minnesota's league-opening loss to Ohio State last week. With five touchdowns, he's already halfway to reaching Minnesota's freshman record of 10 set by Laurence Maroney in 2003. Another freshman, Shady Salamon, and junior Jay Thomas also remain in the mix for playing time. "If you had to say one of three guys stepped out, you'd say DeLeon Eskridge," Brewster said. "The other two guys will definitely continue to play some."

Ohio State: Aside from left tackle Alex Boone, none of the spots on Ohio State's offensive line are set in stone. True freshman Michael Brewster remains the starter at center, but Jim Cordle could move back over from guard if necessary. Cordle and a healthy Steve Rehring are listed as co-starters at left guard. Right tackle Bryant Browning also can play a guard spot, and Rehring is a possibility at tackle. Freshmen tackles J.B. Shugarts and Mike Adams also could be the mix at some point as much-needed competition increases up front.

Purdue: The Boilers' spread offense is at its best with a large rotation of receivers, and they're starting to see more playmakers emerge. Senior Desmond Tardy is listed as a starter on this week's depth chart ahead of junior Keith Smith after catching 10 passes for 175 yards and a touchdown last week against Notre Dame. Purdue also has seen encouraging moments from junior college transfer Aaron Valentin. Head coach Joe Tiller wants to see more from his other juco wideout, Arsenio Curry, who brings excellent size (6-foot-4, 217 pounds) but has yet to catch a pass. Tight end remains a question mark, as starter Kyle Adams is doubtful for Saturday's game against Penn State. Adams hasn't played since he hurt his knee on the opening kickoff of the season opener.

Some quick injury updates

September, 30, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Better late than never:

  • Iowa starting running back Shonn Greene is expected to be fine for Saturday's game at Michigan State (ESPN2, noon ET). Greene left last week's game against Northwestern with a head injury after taking a big hit from safety Brad Phillips. He was replaced by freshman Jewel Hampton, who coach Kirk Ferentz wants to keep developing. Backup Paki O'Meara will miss the Michigan State game with a knee injury. 
  • Ohio State left guard Steve Rehring should return against Wisconsin and share time with Jim Cordle. Freshman Michael Brewster will remain the starting center. Tight end Rory Nichol and linebacker Austin Spitler will miss the Wisconsin game, but sophomore linebacker Tyler Moeller is expected back. 
  • Penn State coach Joe Paterno isn't sure whether senior wide receiver Jordan Norwood (hamstring) will be ready for Saturday's trip to Purdue (ESPN, noon ET). "Well, I think he's going to be okay," Paterno said. "Don't hold me to that. ... We will work hard today, and I don't know if we can get Jordan involved in some things." Tight end Mickey Shuler (ankle) will play against the Boilers. 
  • Indiana coach Bill Lynch won't know the status of injured safeties Austin Thomas and Nick Polk until later in the week. Both players sat out last Saturday's game against Michigan State. "They're moving around better than they were a week ago," Lynch said.

Some depth chart tidbits

September, 30, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

More to come on these personnel issues after the Big Ten coaches' call later today, but a few interesting items on the depth charts released Monday.

  • Free safety Nick Polk is not listed on Indiana's depth chart for Minnesota, possibly indicating he'll miss another game with a knee injury. Polk has an interception, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery this season. Strong safety Austin Thomas is listed as the starter after missing the last two games with a leg injury. Brandon Mosley started in place of Thomas against Michigan State, but Jerimy Finch played a lot.
  • Ohio State true freshman Mike Brewster has made a good impression so far and remains the co-starter at center even though Steve Rehring could be back from a foot injury. Brewster and junior Jim Cordle are listed as co-starters at center, while Cordle and Rehring are co-starters at left guard. The Cleveland Plain Dealer's Doug Lesmerises thinks Ohio State might move Cordle to right guard to keep him on the field. The Buckeyes also have co-starters at one cornerback spot (Chimdi Chekwa and Donald Washington) and defensive tackle (Doug Worthington and Nader Abdallah).
  • Penn State wide receiver Jordan Norwood is listed as probable for the Purdue game after sitting out against Illinois with a hamstring injury. Quarterback Daryll Clark said Norwood did some light jogging at Monday's practice. "It's a day-to-day thing if he's going to play or not," Clark said. "He tweaked a hamstring really good."
  • Sophomore Ricky Stanzi remains the definitive starter at quarterback on Iowa's depth chart. Brandon Myers and the oft-injured Tony Moeaki are co-starters at tight end for the Michigan State game.
  • Physically gifted junior tight end Carson Butler has dropped to third string on Michigan's depth chart. Butler, who was ejected from a Sept. 13 game at Notre Dame for throwing a punch, dressed for last Saturday's game against Wisconsin but didn't play. Fifth-year senior Mike Massey and true freshman Kevin Koger, who caught a touchdown pass against the Badgers, are ahead of Butler. Head coach Rich Rodriguez called the move a coach's decision.
  • Linebacker Jason Werner, who recently underwent minor back surgery, isn't listed on Purdue's depth chart for Penn State. Frank Duong and Dwight Mclean are listed as co-starters at strong safety.

Big Ten internal affairs

September, 24, 2008

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

It's time to go inside five Big Ten teams as they prepare for the start of league play on Saturday.

Illinois -- The defensive line might finally be taking shape for the Illini after some illness/injury issues. Sophomore Josh Brent is back in the fold at defensive tackle, which has allowed standout Will Davis to move back to his natural position of defensive end. Freshman Cory Liuget also has emerged at defensive tackle, a spot vacated when projected starter Sirod Williams tore his ACL during training camp. "It's important that we can [rotate] guys in there and keep us fresh," head coach Ron Zook said. Zook called the defensive line the team's strength before the season, but the group will need to elevate its play Saturday night against Penn State's powerful rushing attack, which ranks eighth nationally (274.3 ypg).

Indiana -- When the NCAA cleared Florida transfer Jerimy Finch to play this season, Indiana's secondary looked like one of the deepest groups on the team. That depth will be tested Saturday against Michigan State (ESPN, noon ET). The Hoosiers will be without at least one starting safety (Nick Polk, knee) and could miss their other starter, as strong safety Austin Thomas is questionable for the game with a lower leg injury. Coach Bill Lynch announced that starting cornerback Chris Phillips will miss the remainder of the season with a torn ACL. So the Hoosiers could be replacing three starters against the Spartans. Finch figures to see plenty of time.

Michigan -- A bye week allowed Michigan's offensive line time to heal, though a knee injury to tackle Perry Dorrestein last week in practice clouded things a bit. Mark Ortmann is expected back from a dislocated elbow and should rotate at left tackle with Dorrestein if Dorrestein can play. Left tackle is one of three offensive line spots that have an "OR" listed between potential starters on the depth chart. Converted defensive lineman John Ferrara could start at right guard in place of David Moosman, who is listed at both guard and center on the depth chart. Redshirt freshman Mark Huyge also should be back from an ankle injury, so the coaches have some decisions to make up front.

Minnesota -- True freshman running back DeLeon Eskridge has stepped up in the two games after Duane Bennett's knee injury, but coach Tim Brewster isn't quite ready to call Eskridge his featured back. Brewster said Eskridge, freshman Shady Salamon and junior Jay Thomas all will play Saturday at No. 14 Ohio State, and Minnesota will stick with whoever has the hot hand. The coach admitted that identifying a clear-cut starter has become less of a concern than it was after Bennett went down. Eskridge has 192 rushing yards and five touchdowns the last two games.

Ohio State -- Quarterback isn't the only offensive position where youth will be served Saturday against Minnesota. Freshman Michael Brewster remains the starter at center on this week's depth chart after playing a prominent role last week against Troy. The Buckeyes moved Jim Cordle from center to left guard after Steve Rehring injured his foot against USC. Rehring will miss "another week or so," coach Jim Tressel said, so that means more time for Brewster, one of several heralded freshmen in Ohio State's recruiting class.

Posted by's Adam Rittenberg

Raise your hand if before the season, you thought Ohio State would enter Week 4 without Chris "Beanie" Wells or a starting quarterback.

That's the grim reality facing the Buckeyes after coach Jim Tressel announced Thursday that Wells will miss his third consecutive game with a right big toe injury that seems increasingly more serious as the weeks go by. Tressel also didn't name a starting quarterback for Saturday's game against Troy, reiterating that Todd Boeckman and Terrelle Pryor will split snaps evenly.

Wells practiced for the second straight day but continues to have lingering soreness in the toe/foot. Tressel isn't even sure Wells will be back for next week's Big Ten opener against Minnesota.

At this point, there's no point in rushing Wells. The toe injury clearly is more severe than originally anticipated (turf toe?). Ohio State doesn't need him to beat Troy and Minnesota. I'm no doctor, but it'd be wise to shut Wells down for at least a week and then do whatever possible to get the big back ready for an Oct. 4 trip to No. 8 Wisconsin. Ohio State needs a viable rushing threat to beat the Badgers. Tressel said Tuesday the injury doesn't require surgery, but it's alarming enough to require a little more rest.

As for the quarterbacks, all signs points toward Pryor taking over. The freshman took 60 percent of the snaps this week in practice. Ohio State likely will use a rotation a few more weeks, but if Pryor continues to show good poise and an ability to limit mistakes, expect him to take over for Boeckman. We all knew Pryor was the future of the team, but he's looking like the present, too.

Another nugget of bad news for the Buckeyes: Starting left guard Steve Rehring could miss several weeks with an injury. That means heralded freshmen J.B. Shugarts or Michael Brewster could get a start.