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Football: Urban Meyer highlights position battles in opening statement from Big Ten media day

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer gives his opening remarks at 2017 Big Ten Media Day. Credit: Jacob Myers | Managing Editor

CHICAGO — Ohio State coach Urban Meyer took to the podium Monday at Big Ten media day to answer several questions from the press before an extended question and answer session later in the afternoon.

The first topic he brought up was the new hire of Kevin Wilson as the team’s offensive coordinator. Meyer said Wilson was the first established offensive coordinator he has ever hired, adding that in the past he has only promoted guys from his staff or added young and up-and-comers like now-Texas head coach Tom Herman.

“This is a veteran coach who has led some of the top offenses in America,” Meyer said.

From there, he began to discuss several of the team’s position battles, beginning with the battle for the starting right guard position. He said there are seven names in contention for the leading role, with redshirt sophomores Matt Burrell and Branden Bowen, as well as junior Malcolm Pridgeon named as possible early favorites. He added that junior Demetrius Knox and freshmen Wyatt Davis, Thayer Munford and Josh Myers also bring some added competition for the spot.

“It’s wide open as we speak, and obviously right guard is as critical a position as there is so it’s going to be a big battle this training camp,” Meyer said.

Sticking with the offensive side of the ball, Meyer added that the team is still undecided on who will be the starting tight ends for the team. He said senior Marcus Baugh — who had been seen in a walking boot — has inflammation of the toe, but will be ready to compete for the role in 2017. In addition, redshirt freshmen Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann will provide stiff competition with Baugh.

“That was a position of not one of our strengths a year ago,” Meyer said.

Also on the offensive side of the football, he said the wide receivers are going to be competing for playing time, though he gave no indication who was considered front-runners.

“The wide receiver position is open as well,” Meyer said. “We were not where we needed to be a year ago, and we have some talent.”

On the defensive side of the ball, all the defensive back positions are open. The void left by the early departure of safety Malik Hooker remains open, with Meyer suggesting both sophomore Jordan Fuller and senior Erick Smith are the two leading contenders for the position.

The other two defensive back positions — the starting cornerbacks — will be a battle between redshirt sophomore Kendall Sheffield and several other young freshmen corners, though he did not elaborate further on that position.

To wind up his opening question-and-answer session, he addressed the fact Ohio State is considered the front-runner by several polls to win the Big Ten in 2017.

“Obviously, we weren’t at the top a year ago, we were near the top,” Meyer said. “Ohio State is always going to be there. It should be one of the top schools in our conference. Other than that, I think that’s just respect for our players.”

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