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The-Ozone Mailbag: Fall Camp Questions and Answers
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — Can you smell Fall Camp in the air? It smells like...well, it's actually a pretty gross-smelling smell. Like a mattress that's been sitting in the river for a month, which is then worn by a hockey goalie for six-straight games.

So yeah, you should be able to smell it pretty well. In fact, your eyes should even be able to smell it.

And being this close to the start of Ohio State's Fall Camp — the first practice is Monday — we thought that there was no better time to break out another edition of The-Ozone Mailbag than right now.

So sit back, take a big whiff, and let's get this olfactory party started.

How are coaches treating the increased academic requirements starting in 2016? Will they accept a year of "academic redshirt" for a superior talent? — bud

There really is no such concept as an "academic redshirt" right now at Ohio State, unless you're talking about a prep school. Either a player can qualify at the outset or they can't. Academics are a huge indicator for the coaches on whether players can handle the rest of their responsibilities, so they watch that stuff closely. Here's what Urban Meyer had to say about what they look for in recruiting at Big Ten Media Days.

"It’s area coach, position coach, coordinator, me," he said. "You have to go check, check, check. When that happens we’ve labeled our kids blue, red, gold. We look at the academic structure because Ohio State, we’re not allowed to get guys in now that we used to get in even when I first got here. I’m not opposed to that but the competition in the classroom at Ohio State now, we lost one this year. We look at attendance, if you’re not going to class, if we don’t think they can make it, we get directives from our people and we have to move on, and that’s not fun. We’re very cautious about who we recruit, very over the top cautious about the academics. Can they survive the academic environment? We monitor everything."

Is there any first year player to watch, true frosh or redshirt frosh? — RandyH

Honestly, this could be its own Mailbag. Every year. If you're going to ask me to name one true freshman and one redshirt freshman to watch, the two players I'm most interested in seeing are defensive tackle Robert Landers and defensive end Sam Hubbard. But it's hard to limit it to just two players, because I also want to see how quarterback Torrance Gibson looks, and if he is lining up anywhere other than quarterback. Also, I'll be watching true freshman long snapper Liam McCullough because long snappers are people too.

Who is the third-string player most likely to play this year and have an impact? Not including Miller @ QB. — BuxJacket

I could totally cheat and go with the No. 3 H-back, but there really is no third string when it comes to that position because players are going to be rotating in like cake batter ingredients, and there is no such thing as a third-string cake ingredient, I don't think.

I'll go with the third-string running back, or perhaps the fourth-string running back. I think I'm one of the few people who still considers Curtis Samuel the No. 2 running back, so my pick for third-string player to contribute is either Bri'onte Dunn or Mike Weber. Dunn contributed on special teams quite well last season, and likely will again. Can Weber do the same, and then possibly surpass Dunn at tailback? There will be some carries for the No. 3 running back this season. I don't see as many opportunities for a No. 3 anywhere else on the roster.

Does Braxton Miller playing WR impact Gibson getting snaps at WR? — nukem

Honestly, if Torrance Gibson wants to play wide receiver, it will be difficult for anybody to impact his snaps more than he himself will. As a freshman there are learning curves and few rookies just step in and become starters, but if he wants to play receiver, they'll try like hell to get him ready. I don't think Braxton Miller's decision impacts Gibson's thought process because they would play different receiver positions.

If the question is actually more about Gibson at quarterback, and would he be less likely to play receiver now that Miller is out of the picture, I think that's a legitimate thought. I've said in the past that if Miller isn't on the field at quarterback, the Buckeyes could look to create some packages that could use Gibson's speed and athleticism at that position. Still, I think J.T. Barrett is more than capable enough — as is Miller himself — to give the Buckeyes the running threat at quarterback that Meyer wants, and no packages for Gibson would even be needed. Unless he wants to play receiver, I think he redshirts.

Who is the third string QB? Also, prediction for team captains? — Buckeye Ho Tep

The third-string quarterback will be Stephen Collier until Braxton Miller is able to beat him out. However, Urban Meyer may disagree with me. He said they would talk more about Miller's future at quarterback 10 days into camp.

"We’ll know a week into it," Meyer said. "It might be a week and we’ll say ‘You’re full time’ or we might say it depends on if someone gets hurt. If you have two broken chin straps he’s throwing the ball for us."

As far as captains, I'll go with Braxton Miller, J.T. Barrett, Adolphus Washington, Taylor Decker and Joshua Perry. I could see Jacoby Boren being in there as well, and maybe Barrett gets left out as a third-year player, but there is no doubt that he is one of the key leaders on this team.

Read more on Page 2

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