Rick Brown's 5 takeaways from Big Ten Media Day
CHICAGO – Ohio State's bid to repeat as college football's national champion starts at the quarterback position. Which quarterback? That's the real question.
The fact that two-time Big Ten MVP Braxton Miller might move to wide receiver clears the air a little. But J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones have both proven they can play at the highest level behind center. Miller, too.
"When you talk about the history of Ohio State football, every one of their names has a prominent place in the history book, and that's real," Meyer said Thursday at the Big Ten's media day.
While the competition to be the starting quarterback will garner a lot of preseason attention, Miller's move to wide receiver will be quite the subplot. Meyer said Miller approached him a month and a half ago to discuss changing positions.
"The feedback I've been getting from guys like J.T. and Cardale is that he can catch the ball," Meyer said. "I'll be anxious to see."
Meyer, a former receivers coach, said he will work personally with Miller when practice starts. For most players, Meyer said, this position change would not go smoothly.
"Very uncommon right out of the gate," Meyer said. "He's not common. He's one of the best athletes I've ever coached. He's got an incredible first step. When it's win or lose time, he's not going to lose."
It will be interesting to see how Miller does in the Sept. 7 season opener at Virginia Tech, the lone team to beat the Buckeyes last season. Ohio State announced Thursday that junior defensive end Joey Bosa, sophomore H-back Jalin Marshall, senior receiver Corey Smith and junior H-back Dontre Wilson will be suspended from that game for violating team policy.
IOWA'S DUZEY RETURNING IN SEPTEMBER?
Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said that tight end Jake Duzey, who tore a patellar tendon in spring practice and had surgery, is making progress and could return in September.
"His rehab has gone very well, he's making good strides," Ferentz said. "I think the next four weeks will be really critical for him. We're optimistic he'll be able to return some time in September."
Duzey had 36 catches for 392 yards and three touchdowns last season. Only Kevonte Martin-Manley (52) and Tevaun Smith (43) caught more passes last season.
NEXT MAN IN
Pat Narduzzi received a lot of credit for Michigan State's recent run of success. Narduzzi was the defensive coordinator for Mark Dantonio and helped establish a winning mindset.
Michigan State has won at least 11 games four of the last five seasons. Before that, you've got to go back to 1999 to see a double-figure winning season for the Spartans. That came with Nick Saban as coach.
Well, Narduzzi is gone now. He was hired as the head coach at Pittsburgh on Dec. 26, 2014. Narduzzi's Panthers will play at Iowa on the night of Sept. 19.
Dantonio promoted secondary coach Harlon Barnett and linebackers coach Mike Tressel to the role of co-defensive coordinators to replace Narduzzi. Barnett was also named assistant head coach.
"I have a great deal of respect for both those coaches," Dantonio said. "We're going to be fine, and pick up where we left off."
The Big Ten has three new head coaches in Paul Chryst of Wisconsin, Mike Riley of Nebraska and Jim Harbaugh of Michigan.
Chryst, who was Wisconsin's offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2011, left Pittsburgh to return to Madison as Gary Andersen's replacement.
"I love this program," Chryst said.
Chryst inherits an offense that lost Heisman Trophy runner-up Melvin Gordon, who rushed for a Big Ten-record 2,587 yards last season. That included 200 yards in 31 carries at Iowa. In his absence steps in Corey Clement, who hopes to be the next impact back for the Badgers. Clement rushed for 949 yards as Gordon's backup last season.
"This has been an important position for a long time," Chryst said. "I had a chance to get to know Corey recruiting him out of high school. Corey has had great mentors. He has a clear expectation of what it takes to be a running back at Wisconsin. He doesn't have to be Melvin; he doesn't have to be James White. I'm excited for this next step in his progression as a player."
BEST OF THE BEST
Clement was one of 11 players making the Big Ten's Players to Watch list, selected in a vote of media.
Clement was joined in the West Division by Iowa defensive end Drew Ott, Nebraska defensive tackle and wide receiver De'Mornay Pierson-El, Northwestern running back Justin Jackson and Wisconsin safety Michael Caputo.
"Drew has a lot of character," Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. "And he is a character."
Representing the East were quarterback Connor Cook and defensive end Shilique Calhoun of Michigan State; Ohio State's Bosa and running back Ezekiel Elliott; and Penn State defensive tackle Anthony Zettel.