Circumstances like this are always curious. It’s weird to say “goodbye” when the person in question isn’t shuffling off the mortal coil, or leaving to backpack around India and, hell, if I know, “find one’s self”. It’s why, for example, you Spanish speakers out there know the word for “goodbye” (adiós) carries quite a different literal translation than other farewells that indicate either a move to another spot or an ephemeral separation. No one is going to God (hence: a-Diós, adiós). However, almost five years to the day after starting Our Honor Defend, I think the time is right to pull the plug and transition toward other things. Michael and I will be joining the team at Eleven Warriors. Charles will be bringing his excellent coverage of women’s basketball and The Ohio State University Marching Band matters to The Buckeye Battle Cry.
Ohio State suffered its first conference loss in spectacular fashion, crashing and burning in a 74-55 loss at Illinois. The Buckeyes (11-3, 1-1) showed a remarkable lack of intensity for the game’s first 32 minutes, turned the ball over repeatedly, forced shots, and generally missed almost everything they launched. If this year’s team thought that winning the B1G was a birthright, the Illini (14-2, 1-1) forcibly beat that notion out of them. Illinois played good team defense, made its shots and took advantage of 11 first-half OSU turnovers in building a 37-25 halftime lead that soared as high as 16. Nothing much changed in the second half except the Illinois treys started to fall and things got worse.
Aaron Craft’s hustle and Deshaun Thomas’s shooting cut the second-half deficit that had ballooned to 25 down to 14 but a three-pointer by D.J. Richardson settled the Illini down. Illinois scored six of the next eight points and restored control. Brandon Paul didn’t equal last year’s unconscious 43 points, but his 19 led four Illini in doubles. That includes center Nnanna Egwu, who crushed his season averages of six points and four rips, putting up a career high 16 points with eight rebounds.
Just as the Under Armour All-American Game yesterday, Ohio State recruitniks got the news they were expecting at the linebacker position. Trey Johnson was the good news yesterday. Today, Mike Mitchell, a linebacker from Plano, Texas, committed to Ohio State during the fourth quarter of the Army All-American Game.
In one weekend, Ohio State football compensated for some of the turmoil of last spring. As you may remember, Alex Anzalone and Lewis Neal committed to Ohio State shortly after our spring game. However, both quickly decommitted for various reasons, ultimately landing at Notre Dame and Louisiana State respectively. As the season progressed, we saw just how dire the situation is at linebacker. With only uncertainty at the position, Meyer and company needed some fresh talent to give themselves options. Trey Johnson and Mike Mitchell, both top 3 guys nationally at inside and outside linebacker respectively, give Ohio State some wiggle room at linebacker.
Mitchell’s commitment to Ohio State is the culmination of something Ohio State fans had anticipated for some time. For those of you who may recall, Mitchell’s dominating performance at a nationally televised SPARQ combine came with news that Mitchell was strongly considering a commitment to Ohio State. That, however, cooled, as Mitchell wanted to take time to make sure a move that far from home was what he really wanted. He took some unofficial visits to Texas and Oklahoma, as well as an official visit to Ohio State in November, before announcing his decision today.
The 21st commitment in Ohio State’s recruiting class, I have to imagine Ohio State is done recruiting at linebacker. Ohio State will now focus attention on safety, wide receiver, and possibly offensive tackle, before signing day. Worth noting: Mike Mitchell’s brother, Mikey, is a highly regarded basketball player who is being looked at by Thad Matta as a possible addition to his 2015 recruiting class.
Film is below. Also, Mike Mitchell’s nickname is “The Abusement Park”. I hope he thrives at Ohio State, because that nickname would be awesome to go with appearances on the Butkus Award circuit.
People who follow Ohio State recruiting closely were not surprised with the decision today. Still, there is reason to celebrate. Trey Johnson, a linebacker prospect from Lawrenceville, Georgia, announced his verbal commitment to The Ohio State University during halftime of the Under Armour All-American Game.
Johnson, the one time Auburn commitment, came on Ohio State’s radar as it became apparent that changes on The Plains would behoove Johnson to re-open his commitment and look elsewhere. He was soon drawn to Ohio State for a variety of reasons. Ohio State, of late, has a good reputation in the Peach State. It started with Jim Tressel, who identified Georgia as a nice pipeline for talent. It is essentially Florida-level talent without all the Florida-level hassle. Further, recruits are kind of drawn to Urban Meyer and his success, charisma, and, hell, machisimo. All signs pointed to Ohio State, which was reaffirmed this evening.
Johnson’s addition is welcome for many reasons. Importantly, Ohio State’s answer to the current linebacker situation hinges on Ohio State adding numbers. With more questions than answers, Ohio State is at least giving itself options. Second, Johnson’s addition to the fold should go nicely with the anticipated addition of Mike Mitchell to this year’s recruiting class. Ohio State could compensate for the losses of Alex Anzalone and Lewis Neal last spring in one fell swoop this weekend.
Trey Johnson is the 20th commitment in this recruiting class, with maybe three or four spots left to fill. Senior film is below the fold.
The road to a fourth consecutive B1G title gets significantly more difficult on Saturday, with the No. 8 Buckeyes (11-2, 1-0) visiting No. 11 Illinois (13-2, 0-1) at Assembly Hall. The Fighting Illini will be in a mood after dropping their B1G opener at Purdue on Wednesday, 68-61. In fact, Illinois has dropped two of its last three after a 12-0 start under first-year coach John Groce—an old friend who not only knocked TTUN out of last year’s NCAA tournament while at Ohio University, but also spent 2005-08 on Thad Matta’s staff at Ohio State. The game tips off at 2:15 p.m. on the BTN.
The Buckeyes and Illini split last season’s series with each team winning at home. You may recall this was a difficult fixture for the Buckeyes last season. Brandon Paul went off for 43 points fueled by 8/10 three-point shooting, leading the Illini to a 79-74 home win. By himself, Paul scored only one fewer point than Jared Sullinger and Deshaun Thomas combined. The Illini are always tough at home (7-0 this year), possibly because Assembly Hall looks like a spaceship.