Ohio State Buckeyes: Joey O'Connor

With any conference there will always be battles on the recruiting trail within the Big Ten. Coaching changes, different philosophies and geographic location all factor in to who battles who.

Here is a look at the top five Big Ten recruiting rivalries.

Why Meyer takes patient approach 

June, 11, 2013
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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Two linemen might come OSU's way 

January, 24, 2013
Ohio State’s quest for an offensive lineman just might net them two.

Both players are committed elsewhere, but both have been active looking around in the past few weeks.

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Crowell, O'Connor leaving Ohio State

January, 23, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- An injury that just couldn't be shaken off effectively ended one career at Ohio State. Another kept a coveted recruit from seeing the field with the Buckeyes last season, and his playing career won't continue at Ohio State, either.

Joey O'Connor
Davide De Pas for ESPN.comJoey O'Connor, who redshirted last fall at Ohio State, is transferring. He was the No. 8 offensive guard in the country in the 2012 class coming out of Windsor, Colo.
The school confirmed on Wednesday the parting of ways with two reserves as the offseason program continues and national signing day draws closer, with sophomore linebacker Conner Crowell and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Joey O'Connor no longer members of the team.

Crowell went through two surgeries to correct a nagging lower-leg issue that dated to his high school career in Waldorf, Md., and the school's medical staff would not clear him to return to play for the Buckeyes again after appearing in just three games and recording one tackle in his only season of action last fall. He was a three-star prospect in the 2011 recruiting class.

O'Connor never had a chance to contribute for the Buckeyes after undergoing knee surgery in August 2012. There were concerns about his health before training camp even started, which made him a candidate for a redshirt season even before the medical procedure guaranteed he'd need one. O'Connor originally committed to Penn State but was the first player to back away from a pledge to the school in the wake of coach Joe Paterno's firing and the Jerry Sandusky scandal. In the ESPN rankings, he was Ohio State's fourth-best recruit in coach Urban Meyer's first recruiting class.

Meyer keeps pumping out great classes 

November, 21, 2012
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- One of Urban Meyer’s keys to victory isn’t that difficult to figure out. While he is having almost unprecedented success as a first-year coach at Ohio State -- there have only been two other coaches to start with 11 consecutive wins at the school -- it all begins in the recruiting world.

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Gareon Conley next Urban Meyer flip?

November, 15, 2012
In the recruiting world, they call it flipping when one school has a recruit under its wing but by signing day that athlete commits to a different university.

As the days dwindle until national signing day, attention has turned to which players Urban Meyer and Co. might roll their way in an all-important 2013 recruiting class for Ohio State.

Some look at Tony Stevens (Orlando, Fla./Evans) or Trey Johnson (Lawrenceville, Ga./Central Gwinnett). However, if odds were set, the most likely candidate is one most fans already know about.

Gareon Conley (Massillon, Ohio/Washington) has made it no secret that he wants to take visits -- whether official or unofficial -- before giving Michigan his signature.

A longtime Wolverine pledge, the cornerback has said he chose Michigan because no other big-name schools were really after him.

The Wolverines were the only visit Conley took, but now that he has interest from schools including Oregon and Ohio State he wants to see what they’re all about, even if that means he is no longer committed to Michigan.

The Ducks have shown strong interest, while Ohio State has extended an offer.

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Quick hitters from the last two-a-day session for Ohio State during its training camp.

Adam Bellamy gone: Once a projected starter, Adam Bellamy now isn't even with the team.

The defensive lineman has been absent from workouts dating back more than a week, and position coach Mike Vrabel confirmed on Friday that the junior had left the program for personal reasons.

Vrabel didn't provide any additional details on the issue, but he did suggest a return was possible for a player who was listed as a bracketed starter at defensive end on the pre-camp Ohio State depth chart.

"Adam is working through some personal family matters right now," Vrabel said after practice. "When he gets that taken care of, we will welcome him back with open arms.

"We miss him in our room, and when Adam gets those things taken care of, he's going to be able to come back."

No timetable for a return was addressed, but Bellamy's presence would certainly add to the depth and experience of a unit that's expected to be among the best in the country this fall.

A 10-game starter in his career, he contributed 25 tackles with a sack for the Buckeyes up front a season ago.

Camp grind: Walking off the practice field on Friday morning, the Buckeyes still had one more workout to go to cap off the last two-a-day session of training camp.

Before the week started, the coaching staff had identified this week as the most pivotal and difficult the team would face. If it was a make-or-break moment for Ohio State, it appears to still be in one piece.

"I think the kids are surviving, and I think that’s an awesome thing," cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs said. "I’ve coached for a long time, and I’ve never seen a training camp that is this tough, this hard, this physical, this demanding. It’s very exciting to watch how our kids respond. We have great kids.

"I don’t think you can break them, so I would hope that would mean that we’ve been made. I don’t think we’re done yet, we’re by no means a finished product, but our kids are working really hard."

Catching eyes: Zach Smith isn't ready to lock in his rotation yet.

The wide receivers coach wouldn't even commit to how many guys would be included in it when the season opens.

But based on his assessment of the personnel on Friday, there are at least two guys Smith will clearly be counting on as the Buckeyes work to improve a passing game that was anemic last season.

"Right now the guys that have had really solid fall camps are [Corey] 'Philly' Brown, he's done an unbelievable job, different player than he was in the spring," Smith said. " ... And then Devin Smith is a guy that's really come along.

"Really the group as a whole has taken the right steps. Are they there yet? No. But Practice 15, 16, they're about where they should be. We've got to get them right in the next week for the first game, but they're coming. I feel good about the guys we have and where we're going to be."

Bumps and bruises: There were already concerns about Joey O'Connor's knee heading into the training camp.

Surgery on it earlier this week has officially ended his season before it started.

The Buckeyes confirmed after practice that true freshman lineman had a knee operation on Monday that will keep him on the sideline all year and force him to redshirt.

It’s a big name and maybe an even bigger long shot, but Ohio State will take the chance anyway when Daniel McMillian (Jacksonville, Fla./First Coast) makes an official visit this fall.

While the exact date hasn’t been set and McMillian says he’s still committed to Florida, he hasn’t shied away from coming to watch the coach that won two national championships in his home state.

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There isn’t a lot of room left in Ohio State’s recruiting class. That is already known.

But with the NCAA administering penalties Monday against Penn State that include reductions in scholarships and a four-year postseason ban, the Nittany Lions’ 2013 class is in a state of flux.

Penn State lost ESPN 150 DT Greg Webb (Erial, N.J./Timber Creek) to North Carolina on Sunday.

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The Mag interview: OL Joey O'Connor

January, 25, 2012
videoOSU class of 2012 offensive lineman Joey O'Connor discusses the recruiting process and why he decommitted from Penn State with ESPN The Magazine.


Ohio State Quarterback Competition
Marty Smith discusses the competition among Cardale Jones, J.T. Barrett and Braxton Miller to be Ohio State's starting quarterback.