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Meyer: Too Soon To Talk Title Game

Since Alabama’s national championship game win over Notre Dame on Monday night, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer – who was in Miami as an ESPN analyst – has heard the talk that his 2013 team could be the one to end the Alabama and SEC run of national titles.

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Meyer said on Friday that talk is fine, but it is also completely premature. (Check out video of his comments above; use headphones for best results.)

“I just don’t know for me to say, ‘We’ve got to get there next year,’ ” Meyer said. “That’s like talking about, ‘We have to go fly to the moon.’ We are nowhere near having that conversation.

“You know what we really have to do? We have to find out who can play defensive line for us. We lost some pretty good players. With who we have and their current status and where they’re at right now, we won’t. To have that conversation … we just have to go win our first game.

“We’ll have a team meeting … there will be some conversation about where we need to improve. There will be a target. I’m not saying that’s the target yet, either. It’s unfair to say that because some guys can’t do that with their physical stature right now. Now if they improve, we’ll have that conversation at the appropriate time.”

Meyer was asked where the Buckeyes have to get to to compete for the national title.

“I said this on TV,” he said. “Texas A&M beat them, Georgia could have beat them, LSU could have beat them. But they soundly won the national championship game. That will tell you about their conference.

“Where are we? I don’t like to deal with speculation. I think we are a very good team that could compete with anybody in the country. I didn’t feel that way at the beginning of the year or even at the middle of the year. But after the last game, I even said that.

“To think we could roll in there and beat that team, I don’t want to speculate. If I was to give you an honest answer, I’d probably say we have too many holes to fill.”

Meyer said he is fine with talk that Ohio State could be in contention in 2013.

“I’d rather be that than have people say we won’t be very good,” he said. “When people ask would you rather be the favorite or the underdog? We’d rather be the favorite every time because that means you have a good football team. I don’t mind that.

“But it is important for us … our mantra will be the truth. The truth is we are very strong in certain areas and we have made great strides in certain areas. There was some phenomenal improvement in performances this year. But there were quite a few that were below average performances and we have to get those fixed.”

Meyer said the staff has already erected tributes inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for the 12-0 team. That includes a banner in the atrium and displays inside the facility.

“When you walk in the trophy room, there is a banner that says Undefeated Season,” Meyer said. “We’ve tried to do the best we could. They will also get rings.”

Here were some of Meyer’s other key comments from Friday:

* On recruiting advantages for schools in the Southeast (namely the SEC) -- “The Southeast right now, the quality is far greater than the quantity of the upper level Midwest schools. I’ve coached in both conferences. It’s up to the Big Ten to change that. There’s only one way to do it – go recruit and get some depth.

“But to say there aren’t quality football players in the Big Ten, that’s not correct. You will see that on NFL draft day. But the quantity is the biggest difference.”

* On early enrolling QB J.T. Barrett, who is coming off knee surgery – “I am hoping he brings a little something that our quarterback position can use and that’s a guy who’s a grinder. He’s just nonstop. The Alex Smiths of the world wake up and they quarterback all day long and they go to sleep. The next day, they wake up and quarterback again all day long.

“He’s a talented guy. He had ACL surgery, so he will be limited (in the spring) as far as contact. From everything I hear, he’ll be able to throw. He’ll be in the off-season program except for the running part. But I am not worried about that.”

* On CB Bradley Roby coming back for his junior year – “It solidifies an area of our team. Roby, when he is playing his best is as good a corner as there is in college football. I think he has a brilliant career ahead of him. He is a young player who still has to develop in some areas.

“Our secondary is stable, where our D-line is not stable and our linebacker position is not stable.

“That’s big. I love Roby, I love who he is. He has a tremendous family. He’s a guy you like showing his face when you talk Ohio State football.”

* On recruiting at OSU now as opposed to a year ago – “Yeah, it’s what I call the Flavor of the Month. Ohio State certainly wasn’t the Flavor of the Month a year ago. Now we did get some quality guys. Noah Spence was obviously the key name that jumped onboard a year ago.

“I don’t want to say we are selecting instead of recruiting because that’s not correct, either. But it’s a completely different approach. I do like where we’re at.”

* Meyer on the leadership void after losing seniors like John Simon, Zach Boren and others to graduation – “Jordan Hall returning is a tremendous boost. He was elected a captain last year. I am looking for C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant to step up. Guys I have already conversations with who have not been in that position but now they are include Philly Brown, Carlos Hyde. Jack Mewhort is already there. He is already a leader. We’re asking him to take over a position that maybe a Simon took as the overall leader. I love him. He’s a tough guy.

“(Ryan) Shazier is another guy. He’s been a young linebacker. Guess what? He’s no longer a young linebacker. He’s earned it. He’s played very well and played through some injuries. That question occupies a lot of my and Mickey Marotti’s time.

“Make no doubt about it – that was a huge part of this successful season. It was the leadership of a John Simon. But it was also the developed leadership of a Zach Boren and a Garrett Goebel, Etienne Sabino and the others.”

OSU Announces Seven Enrollees

Ohio State football gained five new scholarship freshmen and a couple of walk-ons this week. Here is OSU’s release with bio information on these players:

The Ohio State football team grew this week with the addition of six true freshmen who have completed high school requirements and enrolled at Ohio State for the spring semester. The six, plus a transfer walk-on, took part in the start of the team’s winter conditioning exercises Tuesday afternoon. The first day of spring football is Wednesday, March 5.

The newest Buckeyes are:

* CB Eli Apple – Vorhees, N.J. and Eastern High School – Eli Apple is a cornerback who is rated as high as the No. 6 prospect nationally on the ESPN 150 … played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl … helped Eastern, coached by Dan Spittal, to a 7-4 record in 2012 and to a regional semifinals berth … has always wanted to play for Ohio State … the son of Annie and Tim Apple, Eli just recently changed his last name from Woodard to Apple to honor Tim, his father since age 2.

* QB J.T. Barrett – Wichita Falls, Texas and Rider High School – John Thomas (J.T.) Barrett is considered one of the nation’s premier dual threat quarterbacks, although his senior season came to an early end with a knee injury in the fifth game of the season … had rushed for 569 yards with seven touchdowns and passed for 784 yards and five scores prior to the injury … J.T. rushed for over 1,500 yards with nine touchdowns and passed for over 1,600 yards and 14 touchdowns for coach Jim Garfield’s Raiders as a junior … he is the son of Stacy and John Barrett.

* CB Cameron Burrows – Trotwood, Ohio and Trotwood-Madison High School – Cameron Burrows was Ohio State’s first commitment to the 2013 class when he announced in January 2012 that he would be a Buckeye … he helped lead Trotwood-Madison, coached by Maurice Douglass, to three state championship games, including going 14-0 and winning the Division II state title in 2011 … played in the 2013 Under Armour All-American game … Burrows was named first-team all-Ohio by the Associated Press … he is the son of Dionne and Andre Burrows.

* FB Devin Hill – Columbus, Ohio and Northland High School – Devin Hill attended Purdue University the past two seasons – red-shirting in 2011 – and walked-on to the Ohio State football program this week after enrolling in school … played running back and linebacker at Northland and was a classmate of Jared Sullinger … Devin is the son of Venisa and Darryl Hill.

* FB William Houston – Dublin, Ohio and Dublin Scioto High School – Despite holding a scholarship offer from another school, William Houston preferred being a Buckeye and accepted Ohio State’s offer to join the team as a preferred walk-on … Houston helped Scioto, coached by Karl Johnson, to an 8-3 record and a regional quarterfinal berth in 2012 by rushing for 1,158 yards and scoring 12 touchdowns … he also had 75 career receptions for 804 yards and six touchdowns … Houston is the son of Cynthia Rawls and William Houston, who was a three-year Ohio State letterman in the 1990s.

* DE Tyquan Lewis – Tarboro, N.C. and Tarboro High School – Tyquan Lewis is a stand-up defensive end from Tarboro, N.C., and Tarboro High School … comes from a tremendous program at Tarboro … the Vikings, coached by Jeff Craddock, won three consecutive North Carolina Class 2A state championships and had won 21 consecutive games before dropping the 2012 state championship to East Lincoln … Lewis, who was injured in the title game but still played, recorded 13 sacks as a senior and was named to the Associated Press all-state team … Lewis is the son of Tyronda Whitaker.

* DE Tracy Sprinkle – Elyria, Ohio and Elyria High School – The 2012 Associated Press first-team all-Ohio selection and co-defensive player of the year, Tracy Sprinkle recorded 19 sacks and 30 total tackles-for-loss among his 103 tackles as a senior … Elyria, coached by Kevin Fell, was 7-3 in both 2012 and 2011 … Sprinkle was a third-team all-state pick as a junior after making 94 tackles and eight sacks … Elyria’s Chase Farris is a third-year sophomore offensive lineman at Ohio State … Sprinkle is the son of Tracie Sprinkle and Percy Hicks.

More Notables on Dates, Data

Here were more dates and data released by OSU this week:

Misc. notes and items:

* Winter conditioning with Coach Mickey Marotti started Tuesday.

* National Letter of Intent signing day is Wednesday, Feb. 6.

* The first spring football practice will be Tuesday, March 5. A second practice will be held March 7 and then the team won’t practice again until March 19 as the week of March 11-15 is spring break.

* The LIFESports Spring Game will be April 13 at Paul Brown Stadium.

* The spring semester has begun (this past Monday). The last day of classes is April 22 and finals will run April 24-30. Graduation is Sunday, May 5.

* The five-week summer term begins May 6 and the eight-week summer session begins June 10.

* The Autumn semester begins August 21.

* Jordan Hall has received his medical redshirt for the 2012 season.

* The annual Big Ten media days will be July 24-25 at the Hilton Chicago on Michigan Avenue.

OSU’s 2013 Schedule

An OSU spokesman said the conference is again on a scheduling moratorium for 2014 and beyond after the announcements that Maryland and Rutgers will join the Big Ten in either 2014 or 2015. Here is the 2013 schedule:

Aug. 31, Buffalo
Sept. 7, San Diego State
Sept. 14, at California
Sept. 21, Florida A&M
Sept. 28, Wisconsin
Oct. 5, at Northwestern
Oct. 19, Iowa
Oct. 26, Penn State
Nov. 2, at Purdue
Nov. 16, at Illinois
Nov. 23, Indiana
Nov. 30, at Michigan
Dec. 7, Big Ten championship game at Indianapolis

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