OSU's spring game: Five to watch
CINCINNATI - Ohio State is coming to Paul Brown Stadium Saturday for its annual spring game.
The 12-0 season of 2012 is officially over. The real fun might just be beginning.
Throughout spring football, Urban Meyer has pushed his players the way he always does while warning against expectations being too high. Meyer has said on multiple occasions that his team isn't where it needs to be. Yet.
"It's been a good spring, for a lot of reasons," Meyer said. "It's also been very different."
The Buckeyes are going to be different this fall. They'll be better if they can replace major losses in the defensive front seven and see strides in the passing game, and Meyer is looking at Saturday's spring game as a "serious" evaluation point for players on both sides of the ball and in every position group.
Below are five players you may not seen a lot of have last season but will likely see this Saturday -- and, if things go well, for 12 (or 13) Saturdays this fall.
Jeff Heuerman, TE - Gifted junior has waited his turn, first because Ohio State could barely complete a pass when he was a freshman and because he had to earn every snap he got last year. Now, Jake Stoneburner is gone and there are snaps to be won at both tight end and the tight end/receiver hybrid spot Stoneburner played last year. Heuerman could end up helping Ohio State stretch the field better than Stoneburner did, but he needs to keep improving his strength and his chemistry with Braxton Miller.
Curtis Grant, LB - You've heard this before, right? That Grant is ready to step in - and step up? Meyer said this week that Grant has had a solid spring and is the Buckeyes starting middle linebacker right now. How long he keeps that job and just how much of his raw talent we see this fall depends on Grant. The coaching staff wants to see the light come on and stay on and believes in Grant's talent. He's a veteran now -- and he'll be asked to perform like one.
Chris Fields, WR - Fields has been around for a long, long time, but he didn't have his big moment until last October when he caught the touchdown against Purdue that allowed Ohio State to tie the game, send it to overtime and stay undefeated. Meyer has said the receiving corps has come a long way from when he called it a "clown show" a year ago at this time, but he said neither the depth nor the consistency are where it needs to be. Cue Fields, who should emerge as a leader and will have his chances in his final season.
Warren Ball, RB - Big and fast and everything you want in a running back by the look test, Ball was off to a decent start as a freshman last fall before getting hurt and needing foot surgery. He's still working his way back to full speed and to the coaching staff's expectations, but his talent is obvious and he's going to be turned loose in the spring game with the more-proven runners on the roster carrying a light load and allowing this Columbus kid to show his talents.
Noah Spence, DE - A highly-touted member of Meyer's first recruiting class, Spence played last season but mostly watched and learned from the likes of John Simon and Johnathan Hankins. They're gone now -- and it's time for Spence and classmate Adolphus Washington to step into leading roles. Meyer said he's seen good progress in Spence and sees All-Big Ten potential. It's possible his ceiling is even higher, but of higher priority is Spence continuing to work and improve and prepare to take on a bigger role this fall.