Chat with Austin Ward
Welcome to BuckeyeNation! On Thursday, reporter Austin Ward stops by to chat about the state of Ohio State football.
Ward joined ESPN.com in 2012 after five years as a college football writer at the Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune and the Knoxville (Tenn.) News Sentinel. The award-winning journalist lives with his wife in Columbus, Ohio.
Send your questions now and join Ward Thursday at 2 p.m. ET!
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What College Football Bowl Game are you Looking Forward Seeing this season?
Austin Ward (2:00 PM)
Aside from the national title game, I'm not sure that there are many matchups that have people too fired up. All this bowl season really does for me is build anticipation for the playoff, to be honest.
Chris Fiegler (Latham,NY)
What 2012 Ohio State College Football Players will be selected in the 2013 NFL Draft?
Austin Ward (2:02 PM)
Johnathan Hankins, for starters, is projected to be a top-10 pick. John Simon, Jake Stoneburner, Reid Fragel, Zach Boren and Travis Howard all seem pretty safe bets to be selected. It will be interesting to see what happens with guys like Garrett Goebel, Etienne Sabino, Nathan Williams, hard-working, talented players who could be worth adding for a shot.
OSU used to always be stacked with linebackers. Lately-- not so much. Who do you see emerging as the other two LBs to go along with Shazier in 2013?
Austin Ward (2:04 PM)
That is the single biggest question about the Buckeyes as they go to work looking for another perfect season. There are plenty of options, though, thanks to the recruiting class that purposefully loaded up at the position. One of those guys, a David Perkins or Jamal Marcus, a Camren Williams or Joshua Perry, is going to have to fill a void. I am most curious about what kind of development Curtis Grant can make after spending two seasons on the fringe. There is no doubt about his talent, and if Ohio State can get him to tap into it and plug him in at middle linebacker like it planned back in August, it could be in pretty good shape.
Seems OSU missed out alot on the All American roster, Bradley Roby made it but surprised Hankins was left off. NFL prospects have him going in the first round.....What's up with that?
Austin, just figured it out.....It's all the Ohio State haters out there....going 12 and 0 and no credibiiity...even if the big 10 was down this year we still get no respect? Guess Urbin will need to win a couple of NC before we climb the respect ladder again. Geez Penn State is getting more cudo's than us.....reflecting on the situation....something wrong there.
Austin Ward (2:07 PM)
In regards to Hankins, I think it takes watching him game after game to appreciate what he really does -- and the large majority of voters aren't going to be paying close attention to every team, every week (and as you mentioned, in some respects, they may have been inclined to tune out a team banned from the postseason). Stats typically are the easiest way for people to vote on those teams, and Hankins really didn't have any that jumped off the page. That's not really fair to him in terms of individual accolades, but the folks that count more, the scouts and NFL executives and draft experts, will make up for it in April.
Love my Buckeyes! On a side note, I'm super salty that Tony picked his brother instead of me as best man.
What's your take on the new big ten expansions?
Austin Ward (2:08 PM)
What's up with that, Tony? M-Bradshaw sounds like a perfect best man to me.
Austin Ward (2:10 PM)
Mark -- it doesn't do much for the overall perception of the Big Ten as a football conference, obviously, and I was really surprised when those two schools became new members. I mean, even if television markets are driving this decision, is anybody going to watch Indiana-Rutgers? It does help open up new recruiting areas for the league, and there is some talent to be found in Maryland's neck of the woods, but I have a hard time wrapping my mind around the additions. Maybe it will be even harder to understand depending on who the league gets when it bumps up to 16, which seems inevitable.
Who do the Bucks finish with? I got Trey Johnson, Mitchell, Timmons, Kenny Lacy, Shelton Gibson, Chris Worley
Austin Ward (2:12 PM)
I'm definitely not the best person to provide an answer there that you could bank on, Scott. I have to rely on my man Brad Bournival to carry me there -- but I do get the impression the two big names at linebacker are a high priority and that they will end up with the Buckeyes. Although, that disclaimer about my predictions and recruiting knowledge still stands.
Since Hankins turned pro, who is your opening day Dline?
Austin Ward (2:14 PM)
I don't think many teams would be in position to move on as easily as the Buckeyes might after replacing all four starters on the defensive line, and that speaks pretty highly of the job the program did in recruiting up front a year ago. Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington and Tommy Schutt have already shown they're the real deal, and all three are penciled in the starting lineup I'm projecting right now. The question to me is the fourth guy, which will come down to a healthy Michael Bennett on the inside or if Joel Hale is able to build himself up during the offseason and play the nose role Garrett Goebel is leaving behind.
Austin, I though I asked some pretty good questions before you came on.....did you get them?
Austin Ward (2:15 PM)
Were there more than those two? I don't see any others with your name on them.
Was just looking at incoming recruits....4 star quaterback coming in.....is this guy the real deal for the next Braxton?
Austin Ward (2:19 PM)
There is a lot of buzz around J.T. Barrett and his physical skills, but an injury really derailed him this season. A torn ACL is going to take some time to recover from, but the Buckeyes are standing by him and his dual-threat ability and still seem to be excited by his future. The next Braxton Miller? That's a lot of pressure and hype to put on somebody in high school and in Barrett's situation, but I will say that Meyer has obviously had some success with his quarterbacks and knows what he wants for his offense.
why isnt anyone talking about our DBs thats coming to columbus next yr???? could be the best DB class ever???
Austin Ward (2:30 PM)
The way it's shaping up kind of looks like the job the Buckeyes did up front a year ago, doesn't it? Three of the top nine cornerbacks in the country committed with the No. 12 safety on top of that is a pretty impressive haul, and for all the attention that Meyer's offense always receives, it's obvious that he puts a big emphasis on targeting the best defenders in the country. It's clearly not lip service when he talks about his Plan To Win starting with a great defense.
what's going on with the assistant coaches? are any of them being considered for head coaching jobs?
Austin Ward (2:34 PM)
Essentially all of the co-coordinators have had their names attached to jobs in some form or fashion once the Silly Season starter, and there is some talk that Luke Fickell could be a potential target for Kent State. Everett Withers was in play at Southern Miss before they went another direction as well, and Tom Herman and Ed Warinner are guys that seem to be tied to jobs all over the place. But I expect the staff will stay in one piece heading into next season, for the simple reason that if the Buckeyes do something similar again during their second year, stock for every member of the staff will be higher and better jobs will open up. For Fickell, for instance, it might be tough for a MAC school to give him a better financial package than he already gets with Ohio State.
whats your thought on vonn bell and elder joining us next yr??and whats up with all the de commits this yr?? crazy huh
Austin Ward (2:37 PM)
Always an interesting time of year, no doubt. And it's going to get even wilder the closer signing day gets, I'm sure. As mentioned earlier, I don't really have my finger on the pulse of the recruits the way my counterpart Brad Bournival does, so I'm going to need to get him in the chat room with me over the next few weeks so he can shed more light on the kids still on Ohio State's board. Adding Bell, certainly, would put one heck of a bow on a great class in the secondary.
What position will Jalen Marshall play? He was a stub QB in high school but I feel like Urban won't keep him there.
Austin Ward (2:39 PM)
Seems like he'll likely be making a transition to wide receiver when he gets on campus and could be an option for the Pivot position the Buckeyes weren't really able to incorporate in the offense during Meyer's first season.
Austin Ward (2:43 PM)
All right, folks -- that's it for me this afternoon. Really appreciate everybody that stopped by with questions and comments. Have a great weekend, see you next time!