Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer met with the media this week to reflect on the 2015 season and the departure of so many players for the NFL.
Mike Foley reports.
Urban Meyer says the future is extremely bright despite the number of players leaving the program for the NFL draft.
"Nine’s a lot. One year at Florida we had 12 send in their paperwork., and you go my goodness. But yeah, it’s what we do. You recruit. I’ve been in scenarios where there's not a lot of conversation about the NFL because you don't have those caliber players. This was over the top. This started on January 13th.”
The expectations were high given the returning players and the schedule, and the Buckeyes received the first-ever unanimous preseason number one ranking in the Associated Press Poll. While the late-field goal loss to Michigan State could have derailed the team, Meyer says the performance against Michigan and then Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl should be its legacy.
“I learned as much football and as much about life as I ever have from the 2014 Ohio State Buckeyes. I might have matched that this year. And it was the senior tackle when this whole thing turned back into gear. That was a tough loss we had. That senior tackle and the emotion, powering the unit and small unit cohesion was magnificent. I just sat there and watched. I wish we could have let you watch that. And that's when the whole thing went like this. They all spoke and you could just see that this was so real for these players what they've been through. That number one and then number two to be able to remain focused...I can only imagine, because I've talked to our players about it...the amount of phone calls from people and representatives of the national...unbelievable, to the point where they’re shutting it off because it's just buzzing through the night. And here, they come in here and run down kickoffs. Vonn Bell is running down our kickoffs for us, and he has people calling him saying hey why would you do that? Why would Zeke Elliott play so damn hard? His blocking by the way in that final game was as good as its ever been. Why would he do that? And I'm going to ask this team coming back, why did he do that? And he did it for love of teammate, for love of unit and the culture that’s here at Ohio State.”
Meyer calls the performance by his special teams unit in the Fiesta Bowl the best he’s seen in his four years at Ohio State. He also expects a hungry, nasty team in 2016 and an energy-filled off-season, referring to it as a winter of development. Only six starters return. But the captains are in place for next season – J.T. Barrett, Pat Elflein and Raekwon McMillan.