Ohio State Football Week 2 Spring Practice Report

Ben AxelrodBig Ten Lead WriterMarch 21, 2016

Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer during their Spring NCAA college football practice Tuesday, March 8, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (AP Photo/Jay LaPrete)
Jay LaPrete/Associated Press

COLUMBUS, Ohio — After a productive first week of spring practice, Ohio State enjoyed a week off last week for spring break. But as is typically the case with the Buckeyes, the news never stops.

Even while taking part in Tim Tebow's charity golf outing, Urban Meyer managed to make headlines with his surprising revelation about his plans for the future of Ohio State's spring practice. Add in the residual effects of the Buckeyes' first week on the practice field, and gridiron-related news hardly took a break this past week.

March Madness may be in full effect, but Columbus is ever the football town. That was evidenced plenty this past week, as college football-related stories stole the show, even with class not even in session in the Capital City.

With that in mind, let's dive into the week that was for Ohio State heading into its second (official) week of spring practice.


Focused on Florida?

It's been more than five years since Meyer last coached at Florida, where he led the Gators to two national championships, but lately, the Sunshine State's been on the Ohio State head coach's mind.

No, not like that. Meyer is fully focused on the Buckeyes, but he's also always admitted to having one eye on Michigan in order to stay in tune with what his chief rival is up to. So when Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh took his team down to Florida for a week of spring practice earlier this month, Meyer naturally took notice and admitted that he's looked into doing the same in the future, should NCAA rules permit.

"I'm looking into it for next year and maybe the future too," Meyer told WUFT-TV during an appearance at the Tim Tebow Celebrity Golf Classic in Ponte Vedra, Florida, last week. "It's creative, and if it's good for the players, we'll probably do it."

Meyer admitted he also had some concerns—particularly that taking spring practice down to Florida would require his players to forfeit their spring break plans—but if the NCAA is still allowing teams to do so, the Buckeyes head coach definitely appears intrigued by the idea. Michigan State head Mark Dantonio admitted the same to the media prior to Spartan Winter Tailgate, creating a potential Big Ten vs. SEC rivalry when it comes to spring practice.

Because while Harbaugh's team trip to the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida, has certainly made a splash, it's also been met with plenty of resistance down south. In addition to individual coaches speaking out, SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd that he was attempting to block Michigan and other schools across the country from holding off-campus spring practices in the future.

To the surprise of no one, Harbaugh has not been entertained with the criticism, which the SEC has framed around a player-interest issue.

"I thought it was fake outrage. I thought it wasn’t really real," Harbaugh told ESPN's Mike & Mike last week. "The moral high ground of the sanctity of spring break, and that’s what people chose to use as their moral stance? I thought it was fake."

Harbaugh now appears to have an unlikely ally in his battle against the SEC in Meyer.

What that will mean for the future of the Buckeyes' spring practice remains to be seen. But it's an intriguing thought nonetheless, assuming Ohio State and Michigan are allowed to continue to entertain the idea in the future.


One and Dunn?

While the Buckeyes' unprecedented pro day overshadowed their first week on the practice field, some news and notes pertaining to the current Ohio State roster trickled out of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center as ex-Buckeyes attempted to better their respective draft stocks a week ago.

Most notably, in addition to singling out early-enrollee freshman wideout Austin Mack, Meyer said running back Bri'onte Dunn stood out through the Buckeyes' first two practices of the spring practice season.

"Bri'onte Dunn, he's changed his body," Meyer said of the fifth-year senior. "He's changed everything."

While Meyer noted that redshirt freshman Mike Weber is also battling it out for reps, he previously said he's hopeful the elder statesmen of the running back room will take control of the race to replace Ezekiel Elliott. Through the first four years of his college career, Dunn has hardly lived up to his 4-star prospect status, but his head coach hasn't ruled out the Canton, Ohio, native making the most of his final year in Columbus.

BRADLEY LEEB/Associated Press

"Bri'onte's a senior, so I'd like to see him take that first swing," Meyer said, before also adding, "I think the guy behind him is pretty good too, Mike Weber."

With four weeks to go until the Buckeyes' spring game, there's still plenty of time left for Ohio State's running back situation to play out. But based on Meyer's comments, Dunn appears to have the edge when it comes to filling the vacancy left by the reigning Big Ten MVP in Elliott.


Buckeyes Breakin'

With four weeks of spring practice ahead—and a grueling 2015 season not too far behind them—it's not a surprise that several Buckeyes players took advantage of their break away from school and the practice field.

One of just six returning starters from last year's team, Ohio State guard Billy Price took to Daytona Beach to soak in some sun and country tunes, although he also found himself in search of phone service throughout his return from the Sunshine State.

Meanwhile, Buckeyes linebacker Raekwon McMillan appeared to stay back in Columbus, where he became an active member of the Iota Psi Chapter of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity.

The same could be said of Ohio State cornerback Damon Webb, who took to Twitter to express his pride of joining the first African American fraternity established at a historically black college.

Even with Buckeyes backup quarterback Stephen Collier working out with former NFL signal-caller Jeff Garcia in California, it was a relatively quiet spring break for Ohio State when it came to the team's actual players.

That's just the way Meyer likes it, as the bulk of the work in spring practice lies ahead for the 2016 Buckeyes.


Ben Axelrod is Bleacher Report's Big Ten lead writer. You can follow him on Twitter @BenAxelrod. Unless noted otherwise, all quotes were obtained firsthand. All statistics courtesy of CFBStats.com. Recruiting rankings courtesy of 247Sports.


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