Ohio State Buckeyes: Donovan Munger

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Observations and notes from a brief glimpse at the Ohio State freshmen during a split-squad practice that opened training camp on Sunday morning:

Meyer locked in

The Buckeyes coach made clear he was ready to turn the page from all the offseason chatter and get back to focusing on football, and he obviously enjoyed being on the field and working with his players.

Urban Meyer
AP Photo/Jay LaPreteUrban Meyer was energetic in working with the Ohio State newcomers in the first practice of training camp.
From the start, Meyer was energetic and engaged frequently with the young players he was finally getting to coach for the first time. And if for some reason the newcomers weren't aware of the high expectations and the standards for a program that will enter the season ranked second in the nation, Meyer called a pair of huddles in the first 20 minutes of the workout to impress upon them what he's looking for and expects in the buildup to the opener on Aug. 31 against Buffalo.

The message was hard to ignore, and Meyer certainly had been impatiently waiting to deliver it.

Speed it up

The periods open for media viewing didn't provide much of a look at the talented freshmen actually playing football, and because they were limited to just helmets and no pads as well, there's only so much that could be gleaned from their first morning on the practice fields at Ohio State.

But when they had a chance to dial it up and stretch their legs, the emphasis on acquiring more speed on signing day in February does appear to have paid off for the Buckeyes. Dontre Wilson seems to glide around and makes everything look smooth, and touted newcomers such as Vonn Bell, James Clark, Corey Smith and Gareon Conley all looked the part of burners capable of providing that upgrade Meyer and his staff were looking for on the recruiting trail.

They all still need to put pads on and compete against the veterans to show what they can truly do, but lack of speed shouldn't be an issue.

Special deliveries

Running backs coach Stan Drayton repeated himself over and over to drive home the point. Anybody looking to make an impact right away had better be ready to lend a hand in the kicking game.

"Fastest way you get on the field," Drayton said. "Special teams."

The Buckeyes give those units top priority and treat it as a responsibility earned instead of scraps for players not contributing on offense and defense. Drayton stressed that numerous times for anybody within earshot as the youngsters started practice. Ohio State appears to have already tabbed three guys as potential options to help out by getting their hands on the football, with Wilson, Clark and Jalin Marshall all taking turns simulating punt returns.

Missing in action

Donovan Munger wasn't on the field Sunday morning, and he might not be for a few more weeks as he apparently deals with an academic issue before he can report to the team. The Buckeyes still expect the 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive lineman to be part of the squad this season and he was listed on the latest roster, but he'll likely have some ground to make up and will be missing valuable reps that could have potentially helped him push for a spot in the rotation.

New punter Cameron Johnston also didn't practice with the morning bunch, with Ohio State instead opting to have him work with the veterans in the afternoon. The Australian is expected to slide into the starting spot right away after his signing this summer, and working later would give him a opportunity to build a rapport with the returning long-snappers.
The long anticipated Friday Night Lights camp is finally here with some big names slated to attend as we have highlighted over the past eight days.

BuckeyeNation gave you what to expect and what to watch in separate stories this week. Here’s a little bit of what happened last year to get fans in the mood for what is a very fun event.

There’s a stretch in every recruiting cycle where the class takes shape.

Last year it can be argued a three-week stretch that began in mid-December and stretched to the first week of January was the key time period, as ESPN 150 targets Gareon Conley, Mike Mitchell, Trey Johnson and ESPN 300 lineman Donovan Munger committed. However, nabbing ESPN 150 targets Dontre Wilson and Vonn Bell in the final week, while holding onto ESPN 150 running back Ezekiel Elliott and nabbing four-star recruits James Clark and Corey Smith, was big for the Buckeyes.

As the 2014 recruiting class nears the halfway point, there’s still plenty of time to go. But an eight-day stretch, when ESPN 300 defensive end Jalyn Holmes committed and was followed by quarterback Stephen Collier, wide receiver Terry McLaurin and ESPN 300 offensive tackle Jamarco Jones, could define the 2014 class.

Here’s a look at the four commits and what they meant:

Jalyn Holmes (Norfolk, Va./Lake Taylor)

Vitals: 6-foot-5, 235 pounds

When he committed: June 20

Why he chose Ohio State: Holmes fell in love with the family aspect, but it was the education he will receive that really won him over. He already has a great relationship with line coach Mike Vrabel and that factored in as well.

Who else was in the mix: Florida State and Clemson

What it means: Life after Noah Spence will be all right. Holmes is being recruited to play the viper role for the Buckeyes and his athleticism and length should transition well to the college game.

Stephen Collier (Leesburg, Ga./Lee County)

Vitals: 6-3, 205

When he committed: June 21

Why he chose Ohio State: Like Holmes, he felt like Ohio State was home. He also believed the coaching staff could push him to new heights. He mentioned the chance to compete for a national championship as playing a role.

Who else was in the mix: Auburn, Cincinnati, Harvard and Wake Forest

What it means: The belief is a quarterback should be taken every year, and Collier is a good one. He’s coming out of a spread offense, so the transition should be easy. He’s got great size and can run, which helps in the move from high school to college as well. Collier is also very smart and can make quick decisions.

Terry McLaurin (Indianapolis/Cathedral)

Vitals: 6-foot, 180

When he committed: June 23

Why he chose Ohio State: The idea of playing for Urban Meyer and winning a national championship was big. He felt strongly about the Buckeyes as he worked out at the June 9 and June 21 camps and picked up a coveted offer.

Who else was in the mix: Missouri and Purdue

What it means: Fans saw what it meant at The Opening when McLaurin finished second to only Speedy Noil in the SPARQ Championship. Though underrated, McLaurin is as fast as they come, can leap to a high point like no other and has the shiftiness to get open. This was a steal for Ohio State.

Jamarco Jones (Chicago/De La Salle)

Vitals: 6-4, 300

When he committed: June 27

Why he chose Ohio State: Championships and Meyer go a long way with recruits and they did with Jones as well. He also has a great relationship with line coach Ed Warinner that played into his decision.

Who else was in the mix: Michigan and Michigan State

What it means: A ton. With four starters gone after this season and Jones coming in, he could make the depth chart as early as next year. He’s not coming in and starting, but Jones’ impact could be felt sooner rather than later.

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Ohio State 2014 spotlight: DT Ford 

June, 14, 2013
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Throughout the next few months, BuckeyeNation will look further into those juniors offered by Ohio State.

We’ll give as much detail as we can and go behind the scenes to see why these Class of 2014 standouts are so attractive to the Buckeyes.


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Derek Barnett (Brentwood, Tenn./Brentwood Academy) might already know what it’s like to play for Ohio State.

The 6-foot-3, 269-pound defensive end can’t help himself because he received an earful from his grandfather Gerald Kasunic growing up. See, Kasunic played for the Buckeyes in the early 1960s so the scarlet and gray has always been a topic of discussion in the Barnett household.

A fan of the Buckeyes, Barnett has heard the stories. Just how many, he’s not sure.

So when Ohio State called with an offer on Wednesday, it took him back a bit.


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Why Meyer takes patient approach 

June, 11, 2013
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Some coaches come out in flurry. Some like to wait and close the door behind everyone else.

While Michigan and Ohio State go at the recruiting process differently -- or more to the point, Brady Hoke and Urban Meyer -- both strategies work.

Hoke has the No. 1 2014 recruiting class right now. Michigan held the same distinction at this point last year before falling to No. 6. And no one closes quite like Meyer.


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This month is very important for Ohio State, as the staff is set to host its senior advanced camp on Sunday. Hundreds of prospects will be in attendance, including several top targets. Here are five storylines to watch this week:


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videoCOLUMBUS, Ohio -- Ohio State’s defensive line should need no introduction over the next few seasons.

From Noah Spence to Adolphus Washington to Michael Bennett to Joel Hale to Steve Miller to J.T. Moore, the names stick out and are full of potential.

Throw in Chris Carter and Tommy Schutt with newcomers Joey Bosa, Tyquan Lewis, Michael Hill, Donovan Munger, Billy Price and Tracy Sprinkle and the future looks bright.

So why would defensive end Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) throw his name in the mix and join the 2014 pledges as future Buckeyes?


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It’s a job interview, but for whom?

While official visits are important in landing pledges, summer camps on university campuses are almost as vital in the recruiting scene.

The summer months are a quiet period for coaches, and that means face-to-face contact can only be made on a campus.

Ohio State will have a number of camps, but the big ones on June 9, June 21 and July 26 will likely produce commitments. That is if those three dates pan out like in years past.


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Throughout the next few months, BuckeyeNation will look further into those juniors offered by Ohio State. We’ll give as much detail as we can and go behind the scenes to see why these Class of 2014 standouts are so attractive to the Buckeyes. Next on the list is defensive tackle Dylan Thompson, who hails from the same high school as former Buckeyes nose tackle Garrett Goebel.

Vitals: Dylan Thompson (Lombard, Ill./Montini Catholic) is 6-foot-5 and 274 pounds.

Status: He committed to Ohio State on March 23 during an unofficial visit.


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History shows OSU finishes strong 

April, 22, 2013
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Step back from the ledge, please.

When the ESPN 150 rankings came out Thursday, Ohio State Buckeyes fans were either freaking out or in an uproar.

How could Michigan land every one of its commitments in the top 150, while Ohio State can boast only Damon Webb (Detroit/Cass Tech) in the elite group?

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Calm down.

That’s what Marcelys Jones (Cleveland/Glenville) is doing and that’s what he wants Ohio State fans to do as well.

Jones, who visited the Buckeyes on April 6, made a few comments on Twitter a few months ago that didn’t exactly jibe with Ohio State followers.

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Last weekend, the stars came out to see Ohio State.

One ESPN Watch List junior after another watched the Buckeyes practice and the scarlet and gray picked up linebacker commitments from Sam Hubbard (Cincinnati/Moeller) and Kyle Berger (Cleveland/St. Ignatius).

While the list isn’t as strong for the spring game in Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium on Saturday, there are still some big names on their way.

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Don’t expect a jump into the commitment pool from Joe Henderson (Shaker Heights, Ohio/Shaker Heights) any time soon.

The ESPN Watch List defensive end has been a student of the recruiting game and watched how former teammate Donovan Munger went through the paces before committing to Ohio State in December.

With more than 10 offers now and more soon to come, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Henderson will wait things out before finding that perfect fit.


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Ohio State is nothing new to ESPN Watch List defensive end Verondtae Wilkinson (Trotwood, Ohio/Trotwood-Madison), but the Buckeyes certainly opened his eyes on Thursday.

In town for an unofficial visit, Wilkinson thought he knew the ins and outs of Ohio State. His former teammate Cam Burrows is now a cornerback for the Buckeyes, so it should have been the same old same old right?

Wrong.


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