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Buckeye Football Notebook: 'I know I can play here now'
By Tony Gerdeman

COLUMBUS — The Ohio State recruiting machine has had a bit of an awkward spring with the Todd Sibley situation. The Buckeyes offered the 2017 Akron Hoban running back in January of 2015, while still in the glow of winning a national championship.

Sibley committed about four months later, but at some point in the 12 months after that, Ohio State realized that they believed that they had made a mistake not only in offering him, but also in accepting his commitment.

When it comes to determining who is "worthy" of being a Buckeye or not, generally Urban Meyer will leave it up to his position coaches. And given the way the recruiting process has sped up over the last decade, waiting is not always a luxury that a school can afford. Because of this, sometimes mistakes can be made, or progression doesn't happen as anticipated.

"I think in this day and age of recruiting if you really want someone you’ve got to get going," OSU running backs coach Tony Alford said. "And the one thing that Coach Meyer has been fantastic with — and I’ll just use me, for instance, since I run my room — is we talk about it as a staff and he’s intricately involved. But if the running back coach doesn’t like somebody or does like somebody, then I have a big say in that. When we go and when we don’t go, when we offer, when we don’t offer, if we offer, if we don’t offer, I have a lot to say in that deal."

One of the most important tasks for the Buckeyes from the end of last season to the beginning of this coming season is to get redshirt freshman Joe Burrow ready to be the Ohio State backup quarterback.

This spring was heavily slanted toward the pass, which is normal, but with J.T. Barrett looking to get back to his old self, and Burrow looking to get ready to be called upon, this was a key spring for the Buckeye quarterbacks.

For Burrow, who received nearly half of the reps and played well in the spring game, the spring was not only a learning experience, but it was absolutely a confidence builder.

"What I got out of it was I know I can play here now," Burrow said of the spring. "And I know what I need to do to get to be the starting quarterback and what I need to do to be the backup this season."

Burrow signed with Ohio State in the 2015 class after watching Barrett have an amazing redshirt freshman season in 2014, so when he arrived at OSU he knew his role would be to compete to be Barrett's backup.

He has now won that job and everything is currently going as planned.

"Yeah, I’m having a lot of fun," he said this spring. "Great players on the team, great teammates, a lot of good guys, a lot of great coaches."

Not everybody had as productive a spring as Joe Burrow, especially when you look at what receivers coach Zach Smith had to work with in his position room.

Injuries to Corey Smith, Noah Brown, Dontre Wilson and Curtis Samuel — the top four receivers on the team, according to Urban Meyer — made it difficult for Zach Smith to get his entire room to progress as much as they needed to.

And while the players who were healthy benefited greatly to have so many reps, those players who were sitting out couldn't be ignored.

"It was different," Smith admitted. "I've never had that scenario but I went into spring with a plan, kind of put accountability on those kids to keep them engaged, especially because they're veterans. It's not like half of them are young guys, so they all had an integral part played in developing the younger guys, developing the guys we needed to develop in order to have a good spring and they did a great job."

Player profiles relevant to story:
10 - Burrow, Joey | Coach - Alford, Tony  | Coach - Smith, Zach
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