In less than two weeks—12 days, to be exact—the Ohio State Buckeyes and first-year head coach Urban Meyer and his hand-selected Dream Team coaching staff will take the field to kickoff the highly-anticipated 2012 football season.
It seems Meyer came in already excited and impressed by some players, such as Braxton Miller, Devin Smith and John Simon, but a few others whose long-term futures as Buckeyes weren't always so clear have since also caught his attention in a positive way during camp.
If you've been watching ESPN's All-Access: Ohio State Football, you may have noticed a few of these previously under-the-radar, or in-the-doghouse players who have done a 180 and made a positive impression on Meyer and his staff.
For me, there are two guys who are the epitome of this. The first is sophomore receiver Tyrone (formerly T.Y.) Williams.
At 6-6, 230, Williams is literally a huge target. Physically, he has undoubtedly been blessed with the "tools" of the trade. The problem for Williams has been the mental part of the game. It's hard going from the superstar WR in HS to a backup (at least up until now) in college.
In limited action last year, Williams seemed to buckle under the pressure rather than rise to the occasion. If you play receiver and you drop more balls than you catch, the odds are stacked against you when it comes to seeing the field.
Frustrated by his lack of playing time, Williams posted a tweet questioning the teams' lack of appreciation and/or commitment to him. I remember it saying something to the effect of, "If they don't want a 6-6 receiver here, maybe I need to go somewhere they do want me..."
That's me paraphrasing from my memory and not an exact quote by any means, but you get the gist. Williams was unhappy and when Urban Meyer was hired last November, I thought for sure he was a goner.
He seems to be a new man these days under Meyer. Perhaps he is going to return to being the star player he was at Shaw HS just a few short years ago. That would be a win-win for both Williams and Ohio State.
I am not exaggerating when I say he was a fantastic HS player, and him landing a scholarship with Ohio State was no accident.
See for yourself.
Sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller could very-well-be the 2012 Big Ten Offensive POY or at the very least, a strong contender as he comes into his own this season.
Knowing that, and with coach Meyer looking for playmakers at wide receiver to WOW him, Williams' time to step up and make a positive impact on this team and to forever change the course of his (previously?) fledgling Buckeye career is right now.
Just in case you haven't been watching, here's a clip from the Ohio State Training Days series. You've been missing out!
The other player who has really stood out over the last two weeks is junior tailback Carlos Hyde. As far as being under-the-radar or in-the-doghouse, Hyde was a little of both. Regardless, I've personally been a fan of Hyde's since his commitment and BlockONation.com interview back in 2009.
Last season, then-sophomore Hyde showed that he has the potential to be a very dependable and capable running back, despite being Jordan Hall's backup.
He wasn't always utilized as often as many Buckeye fans (myself included) wanted him to be and it may have had something to do with his work ethic and attitude. His playing time diminished even further when senior Dan Herron came off of suspension.
At one point during the 2011 season, he too posted a tweet that reflected a broken man who was considering giving up.
Maybe it was a bad attitude, or laziness, or something else all-together that cost Hyde carries and had him pondering—however so briefly—the end to his his time as a Buckeye, but those days seem to be well behind Hyde on the eve of the 2012 campaign.
With Hall still at least 4-6 weeks away from a full recovery after undergoing off-season foot surgery, Hyde is the No. 1 back right now, and regardless of when Hall returns, Hyde can solidify his standing as such if the effort he has displayed in camp continues through the first month or so of the season.