Meyer Brings Solace, Excitement to OSU Locker Room
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Walking down the hallway of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, Jake Stoneburner paused to hear about Urban Meyer’s offense.
A smile began to spread across his face as he was informed that former Rice tight end James Casey had 111 catches for over 1,300 yards under new offensive coordinator Tom Herman.
“I’ll take that,” Stoneburner said with a grin.
There has been plenty of excitement around Ohio State since Meyer was introduced as head coach, even if it has been somewhat tapered by the impending exit of a number of current assistant coaches.
A number of players admitted there was anxiety in the locker room over the future of the program, not to mention the future of interim head coach Luke Fickell, but all of that subsided when Meyer took over at the end of November.
“When he finally walked through that door it was like, 'Wow, this is really happening.' It was really cool,” redshirt sophomore Jack Mewhort said.
“He came in and set the tone. The first thing he said was 'Everybody sit up', so you know he's all business, which is good to see. I'm really excited to get things started with him.”
Meyer has not been around the current players much since that initial meeting after he was named the head coach, which has allowed the Buckeyes to stay focused on their upcoming matchup with the University of Florida in the Gator Bowl.
The Buckeyes got a pretty good idea, however, of what things are going to be like under Meyer when he officially takes over in January.
“He’s an intense guy,” fullback Zach Boren said.
“That’s the first thing that I thought of when he came in and talked to us. He said he expects the best out of us each and every day and he’s going to push us to the fullest.”
Meyer’s intensity, professionalism and résumé have quickly earned him the respect of Ohio State’s players. So has his passion for the University he has called home.
“He’s very enthusiastic about what he does and very excited to be here,” junior John Simon said.
“He feels it’s an honor to coach for the Ohio State University and we’re excited to play for him.”
That passion for Ohio State was one of the things the players loved most about both Fickell and Jim Tressel, but they are excited for the rare opportunity to play for three different head coaches, including two who have won national championships in the last decade.
“I get to play for Jim Tressel, I get to play for Luke Fickell and I get to play for Coach Urban Meyer,” said Mewhort, one of Ohio State’s starting guards.
“I think that’s awesome.”
Mewhort and many of his teammates would have preferred to finish out their career playing for the man who brought them to Columbus. It was tough to lose Tressel back in May, and it will be tough for Mewhort to lose his position coach, Jim Bollman, and a number of other assistants after the bowl game.
Even with a heavy heart, he knows Ohio State will continue to thrive under the new leadership.
“One thing that always gets said around here is that Ohio State is bigger than one person, one coach or one player,” he said.
“No matter what I’m here and it’ll still be Ohio State. I’m proud to have that block-O on my chest. We’re looking forward to getting back to the top.”
That will be much easier with Meyer running the show in Columbus. The 47-year old has a 104-23 record as a head coach and four 12-win seasons in his 10-year career. There is definitely a level of excitement for the guys who will play under Meyer next season, but even the outgoing seniors are happy to see the program is in good hands.
“It was definitely different at first, but from everything I heard, he’s always kind of been a Buckeye at heart,” center Michael Brewster said.
“So I’m glad they kept it in the family. I’m really excited for him.”
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