While it may have ultimately been the case anyway, Ohio State will now definitely have a new backup tight end for the upcoming season.
A team spokesperson confirmed to the Columbus Dispatch that A.J. Alexander will be sidelined for the entire 2017 season due to an unspecified knee injury. The Cleveland Plain Dealer subsequently confirmed the initial report, adding that Alexander has already undergone surgery to repair the damage.
Alexander sustained the injury playing basketball earlier this month.
A three-star 2015 signee, Alexander took a redshirt as a true freshman. As the backup to starter Marcus Baugh last season, Alexander caught four passes for 27 yards.
Redshirt freshmen Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann will now vie for the No. 2 job behind Baugh, who didn’t practice this spring because of shoulder surgery.
In honor of the Kentucky Derby being held today, here’s a little horse-related college football goodness to digest.
Staton Flurry, a stable owner in Arkansas, has a new steed taking on the namesake of LSU running back Derrius Guice. The name is more than appropriate given the LSU running back ended the 2016 season as the conference’s second-leading rusher and enters the 2017 season as one of the top running backs in the nation.
Flurry seems to enjoy naming horses after LSU running backs. Last summer, Flurry showed off another horse he owned named after former Tigers running back Leonard Fournette. While we won’t be seeing Guice at today’s running at the Kentucky Derby, Fournette did win a race at Belmont Park last summer. Also last summer, a video of Fournette in a scuffle was played off as just horseplay. No more horse puns. I promise.
As for the real Guice, he will also not be running at the Kentucky Derby today. That gives him more time to prepare to win a bet between he and Ohio State’s Mike Weber and Penn State’s Saquon Barkley.
Helmet sticker to Gridiron Now.
You have to admire the willingness of Ohio State running back Mike Weber for issuing a challenge to two of the best running backs in the nation coming into 2017. Sure, Weber will be among the best as well, but he is ready to drop the gloves in a friendly dinner bet with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley and LSU’s Derrius Guice.
Weber challenged Barkley and Guice to a little bet based on total rushing yards in the 2017 season. The premise is simple enough, with the player with the fewest rushing yards buying the other two a dinner at a time to be determined.
Weber took to Twitter to issue the challenge to Barkley and Guice…
Barkley replied with some confidence…
Guice also accepted the challenge…
Barkley finished the 2016 season with 1,496 rushing yards in 14 games, including the Big Ten championship game and Rose Bowl. Barkley actually finished the year second in rushing yards behind Northwestern’s Justin Jackson, so perhaps Jackson may want to see if he can get in on this fun. Weber was the Big Ten’s sixth-leading rusher with 1,096 yards in 13 games and 182 rushing attempts (Barkley had 272 attempts). Guice was the SEC’s leading rusher with 1,387 yards on 183 rushing attempts in 12 games. These stats did not go without mention by the running backs.
(As mentioned above, Guice actually had one more rushing attempt than Weber last season.)
The fun continued when the Buckeyes running back responded to Barkley with a reason
The challenge has been set. Let’s see how it all plays out (and if the NCAA comes cracking down on it as this is technically against the NCAA rules regarding gambling).
It would be unwise to guess what a college football player plans to do nine to 10 months from now, so overreacting to a single tweet dropped online over the weekend while watching the NFL Combine in Indianapolis may just be catching a player caught up in the fun. Michigan State running back L.J. Scott seemed to leave a hint online to his Twitter followers that he could already be looking forward to his go at the combine “a year from now.”
As a sophomore in 2016, Scott rushed for 994 yards and six touchdowns in a woeful season for the Spartans. Scott is considered one of the top running backs in the Big Ten heading into 2017, along with Penn State’s Saquon Barkley, Minnesota’s Rodney Smith, and Ohio State’s Mike Weber. Like Scott, Barkley and Smith will be juniors this fall and could also be in a position to consider making the leap to the NFL in 2018.
A total of 19 running backs declared early for the 2017 NFL Draft. The only position with more players declaring early for the draft was at wide receiver, with 27.
Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer takes great pride in coaching the Buckeyes and keeping some of the state’s top high school talent in Columbus. Considering the depth of talent throughout the state, it is no wonder why he would want to do so. As Ohio State puts the finishing touches on its Class of 2017, Meyer will look back at a strong recruiting effort that will net one of the top classes in the country, but he cannot help but regret not getting more players from Ohio to be a part of the recruiting class.
Ohio State’s Class of 2017 includes seven players from the state, including four of the top 10 players from the state. Among those are the state’s top two recruits according to Rivals, offensive lineman Josh Myers and athlete Brendon White. Wide receiver Jaylen Harris and defensive back Amir Riep are the other top 10 Ohio recruits to commit to Ohio State. For the sake of comparison, Ohio State’s Class of 2016 included four of the state’s top 10 recruits as well. Ideally, Meyer admitted, he would like to see roughly half of his recruiting class made up of Ohio players.
The tradeoff, of course, is excelling with recruiting efforts in other states and regions that have helped Ohio State construct a roster that helps separate them from the rest of the Big Ten (and win a national championship). That’s a pretty solid tradeoff. Ohio State’s Class of 2017 is highlighted by a five-star defensive back from Florida (Shaun Wade), a five-star offensive lineman from California (Wyatt Davis), a five-star defensive end from Maryland (Chase Young) and a five-star defensive back from Texas (Jeffrey Okudah), just to name a few. None of the six five-star players to sign with Ohio State hail from Ohio. In fact, no recruit from the state was given a five-star ranking by Rivals, although there were plenty of four-star players to choose from.
More often than not, Ohio State is going to get the cream of the crop from the state of Ohio. Top players in the state will always go elsewhere, like athlete JaVonte Richardson heading to Kentucky, quarterback Sean Clifford going to Penn State and defensive end James Hudson going north to Michigan this year, but the Buckeyes will always have a strong recruiting base right in their backyard. Meyer knows keeping strong connections in the state are essential, but some years he will have to go out of state to put together the best possible class he can.