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Thursday, May 17, 2012

Transfer Rule Good for Kids? - Few Surprises on Ohio State’s Post-Spring Depth Chart -

Transfer rule positive for kids, but a predicament for coaches By Jeff Goodman | CBSSports.com It's a question fielded with more frequency from college basketball coaches than any other over the past couple months. "Know of any fifth-year transfers?" both assistant and head coaches would ask with regularity. It's becoming the new wave of recruiting. Scour the mid-major ranks for anyone that has graduated on time who still boasts remaining eligibility. A year ago, a limited amount of cases popped up with Valparaiso star Brandon Wood being the most high-profile in the hoop ranks with his decision to transfer to Michigan State. Sam Maniscalso left Bradley for Illinois, Olu Ashaolu went from Louisiana Tech to Oregon and Alex Johnson headed to N.C. State from Cal State Bakersfield. There were others. All received an NCAA waiver to play immediately due to the rule that states that a student-athlete who completes his degree with a year of eligibility left can play elsewhere pending he is pursuing an advanced degree at the new institution. The most noticeable case overall came when N.C. State quarterback Russell Wilson left for Wisconsin and led the Badgers to the Big Ten title and the Rose Bowl last season. "It was. Obviously," Wood told CBSSports.com of his reason to transfer, which was based primarily on athletics. "But it also allowed me to be part of a program that has so many connections -- even outside of basketball." It's a rule that clearly has positive intent for the kids. Graduate and be rewarded. However, it's also a rule that has mid-major coaches contemplating whether to redshirt players and even graduate them on time. Wright State's Billy Donlon just lost his best player, Julius Mays, to the defending national champion Kentucky Wildcats. Mays spent his first two seasons at N.C. State, then transferred to Wright State -- where he sat out two years ago and then averaged 14 points last season. "It's a difficult rule, even as a guy going through it," Donlon said. "I see both sides of it. What's changed, though, is it's becoming more of a business for the student-athletes. There's just not much loyalty to the school, to the coaching staff in today's college game. I don't want that to come across as negative to Julius, but that's what it is." Xavier's Mark Lyons will also take advantage of the rule this year, going to Arizona and being able to play this season. But his case was different in that Musketeers coach Chris Mack felt it was the right move for Lyons to leave the program. In the massive transfer list compiled by CBSSports, which stands at approximately 425, there are at least 25 players who are exploring the fifth-rule transfer rule. The number is actually closer to 50 -- which stands at more than 10 percent of the overall transfer rate. Many of them are doing it for the right reasons. However, Wood's success in East Lansing had a direct bearing on Mays deciding to take advantage of the rule. What if Mays has similar success at the most visible program in the country this coming season? "If that happens, you're going to see coaches making a list of mid-major guys who redshirted," Wood said. "It could get out of control." No, it will get out of control. Creighton coach Greg McDermott understands, like most, the thought process when the rule was put in place. "I've got no problem with the rule," he said. "But I'm not sure how many graduate programs are one-year programs. I think they should be required to sit out the year and they can play the second year." Donlon also feels that players should not be allowed to leave and play right away. Wood majored in sports marketing and business at Valpo and then went into an advertising program at Michigan State. He said he has one semester left and will finish as soon as he gets the opportunity. McDermott redshirted two players this past season. It's a tactic utilized by many coaches throughout the country for various reasons -- to mature physically and also give kids the opportunity to adapt to the academic environment in college. "We'll continue to do it," McDermott said of redshirting certain players. "But there's certainly some risk involved now." Yes, the risk that four years into his college career, some high-major assistant coach calls the AAU or high school coach of the player making clear of the option and interest. Old Dominion's Blaine Taylor redshirts players with as much regularity as just about any coach in the country -- and much of the Monarchs' success can be attributed to having older, mature players. "Like many rules, this one has good intent," Taylor said. "But it's for Olympic sport athletes. It's misplaced in college basketball." Mays and Lyons aren't the only ones leaving for greener, higher pastures this offseason. R.J. Evans averaged 11.5 points at Holy Cross last season and will finish his college career playing for Jim Calhoun at UConn. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's top player, Terence Jones, has left and will spend his fifth year at UAB. There are 25 players we know about on the transfer list for certain right now -- with another 25 or so likely also exploring the opportunity. Next year that number could double -- largely depending on the fate of guys such as Mays and Lyons. And more importantly, it'll put coaches in a precarious position. "It's an ethical dilemma," Donlon admitted, "Obviously, you want your players to graduate. But do you slow down the academic progress because if they graduate on time, it opens the door for them to leave." It has an alarming ring to it, but that's the reality. For now, it's helping kids and giving them an opportunity. But that could easily change in the future.
Few Surprises on Ohio State’s Post-Spring Depth Chart By Brandon Castel COLUMBUS, Ohio — Urban Meyer wasn’t leaving anything up to chance. That’s why he waited until after his individual meetings with the Ohio State football players before releasing the first 2-deep depth chart of his head-coaching tenure in Columbus. Meyer finally did unveil the post-spring depth chart on Wednesday, just before the start of his first press conference since the Scarlet and Gray Spring Game back in April. There were very few surprises on the depth chart, but one that did jump of the page was sophomore Doran Grant being listed as a co-starter at cornerback with senior Travis Howard. Another surprise could be sophomore defensive lineman Michael Bennett, who was listed as the backup to Johnathan Hankins after playing with the first-team defense throughout most of the spring. Junior Adam Bellamy was listed as the fourth starter on the defensive line, but Meyer was quick to call Bennett his most pleasant surprise of the spring on the defensive side of the ball. “Michael Bennett was a surprise on defense," Meyer said Wednesday. "He’s listed as a backup to Johnathan Hankins but that may not necessarily be the case in the fall. It’s hard for me to say that he isn’t one of the four best.” On offense, Meyer picked center Corey Linsley as his most pleasant surprise. He said Linsley had been a “journeyman” before Meyer and his staff arrived, but completely turned himself around this off-season. “Corey Linsley was a surprise on offense, but not really a surprise. I just hadn’t seen him play," Meyer said. "But he is a journeyman-to-starter player. He has the potential to be a very good player. He is a very committed player.” The two-deep lists true freshman Jacoby Boren as the backup to Linsley at center. Boren had shoulder surgery midway through spring practice to repair a torn labrum, but still found himself ahead of Brian Bobek coming out of spring ball. The other four starters were as expected on the offensive line, but Meyer said true freshman Taylor Decker is right on the heals of senior Reid Fragel's heals at right tackle. “He's in a dogfight for that position,” Meyer said of Fragel, who moved from tight end to offensive tackle this off-season. Meyer said it was the addition of Decker, a 4-star prospect out of Vandalia Butler, which turned a nonfunctional offensive line into a functioning one during the spring. One position that is not functional yet, according to Meyer, is the wide receiver spot. “The good news is there is some talent there,” Meyer said, “but this is probably most unprepared group I’ve ever had to deal with.” Despite his breakout performance in the spring game, freshman Michael Thomas was listed as the backup to sophomore Devin Smith on the two-deep. The other starters were listed as Corey “Philly” Brown and Evan Spencer, who injured his shoulder towards the end of camp. Behind Brown was Chris Fields, and behind Spencer was Verlon Reed, a starting wideout from a year ago who did not take part in team drills this spring because of a knee injury. On defense, the Buckeyes are listing Nathan Williams as a co-starter with Bellamy at defensive end. Williams has started running in the pool and will begin dry-land running in June. According to Meyer, defensive coordinator Luke Fickell thinks Williams could be their best defensive lineman in the fall if he’s healthy. Meyer also expects incoming freshman Noah Spence to compete for paying time at the Leo position. Right now, John Simon is listed as the starter, while Steve Miller and J.T. Moore are listed as co-backups. Sophomore Curtis Grant held on to the top spot at middle linebacker, despite an injury late in camp. He is just ahead of senior Storm Klein, while both Luke Roberts and Connor Crowell are listed as backups to Ryan Shazier at the Will linebacker spot. In the secondary, Bradley Roby is listed as the starter across from Howard/Grant, while C.J. Barnett and Christian Bryant occupy the top spots at safety. Senior Orhian Johnson and junior Corey Brown are listed as the backups. Meyer said he expects Jordan Hall and Devin Smith to be his primary return men to start fall camp. Hall was listed as the No. 1 running back, ahead of Carlos Hyde. Rod Smith and Bri’onte Dunn did not appear on the two-deep, and Meyer doesn’t expect many players who weren’t on the list to make an impact in the fall. “I would have put him on there,” Meyer said. Two other freshmen who could get a chance to compete in the fall are linebackers David Perkins and Jamal Marcus. Camren Williams could also be in the mix and Meyer called offensive tackle Kyle Dodson an intriguing prospect. “Especially after the way Decker worked his way into the mix so quickly this spring,” he said. COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer made one thing abundantly clear to his players before the start of spring practice. Urban Meyer Photo by Jim Davidson Meyer’s first spring was not just about skill development and installing his new system on offense. It was about earning a spot in the two-deep, and ultimately the starting lineup. With a few exceptions at some positions of need, spots are set heading into the fall, according to Meyer, who was very deliberate in selecting his first depth chart at Ohio State. He made sure to let the players know exactly where they stand before handing them over to the strength staff for summer conditioning. Here is a rundown of what Meyer had to say Wednesday. Depth Chartin’ * Meyer said his No. 1 surprise on offense this spring was Corey Linsley. Called him a journeyman before this spring. * Meyer said Michael Bennett was biggest surprise on defense. "He's listed as a backup, but it's hard for me to say he's not one of 4 best." * Freshman Taylor Decker is right on the heals of senior Reid Fragel's at RT. "He's in a dogfight for that position." * Asked if there's a guy not on the 2-deep who could make an impact, Meyer responded, "No, I would have put him on there." * Meyer thinks Noah Spence will be in immediate contention for playing time because they need more pass rushers. * Meyer also said David Perkins, Jamal Marcus and Kyle Dodson could be intriguing because of depth issues. Offensive Updates * Meyer said early in the spring, the offense was a clown show. Around the 3rd week it started to resemble an offense. * Meyer said Braxton Miller was kind of the "cool guy" before. Great high school player who didn't always push himself. Not anymore. * Meyer: "I like Kenny Guiton. Can't believe I am saying that." * Zach Boren has lost 12 pounds and they plan to hand him the ball this fall. * Meyer said addition of Taylor Decker made the offensive line "functional." Called it nonfunctional in winter. * Meyer said WR's aren't functional yet. Some talent, but called them "most unprepared group" he's dealt with. Defensive Updates * Senior DE Nathan Williams is running the pool. Meyer said Luke Fickell thinks he could be their best D-lineman. * Meyer said Kenny Hayes was dealing with headaches this spring. Still in class, but been away from football. * Meyer said Chris Carter showed good promise after switching sides. If he can get his weight down, he might be a player. (Not) Talking Anzalone * Meyer not permitted to speak specifically about Alex Anzalone situation, but called it "alarming." Said "first thing you worry about is safety." * Meyer said he learned about "situation with a recruit" when he stepped off a plane. Had no idea what was happening. * Meyer said the most frustrating things in recruiting are things like this, which are beyond a coach’s control. Play On, Playoff * Meyer is still against a playoff/plus-one system because of workload for coaches/players. * He said the players will be celebrating after first win, but head coach will be yelling at his assistants to fix mistakes before title game. * Meyer admitted he would have liked a playoff at Utah, but said he loves the system they have had for last decade. * Meyer said it would be a problem for the southern teams he coaches to come play a game in Columbus in December.

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