5 takeaways from Ohio State spring football this week

Ohio State football continued spring drills this week, and representatives of the defensive backfield and running backs room spoke with reporters.

Here are five takeaways from interviews at the Woody Hayes Athletics Center:

1. Early enrollees continue to impress

Cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs is the latest to say Ohio State’s 10 early enrollees are a very special group.

He praised their talent and attitudes.

“This is a really high-character group of kids,” Coombs said. “They’re phenomenal. And then on top of that, they’re the best players at their position in the country.”

2. Coombs on what they learned from rebuilding secondary last year: “Play guys.”

The veteran coach saw both of his starting cornerbacks and All-American safety Malik Hooker declare early for the NFL draft, meaning he will have to replace three starters for a second year in a row.

Coombs said this time last year he believed he could make it work with three new starters, but he hadn’t seen it work in action.

Now he has, calling it, “Theory versus testimony.”

“What I learned last year: Coach ‘em all really hard and play ‘em. Now I don’t have any fear of a bunch of guys going into the draft because you know what’s gonna happen next year? A bunch of guys are going to go into the draft.”

3. JK Dobbins has impressed with his mental capacity and pass blocking.

Running backs coach Tony Alford had lots of good things to say about the freshman from Texas.

“He’s an explosive kid, which is what we saw in recruiting, and he really picks things up fast,” Alford said.

4. That might mean a different role for Demario McCall

A Northeast Ohio native, McCall was Mike Weber’s backup last season and showed flashes of brilliance, but he could end up in the slot this year because of Dobbins’ early emergence.

Regardless, McCall said he can use experience from last year to draw confidence in whatever he is asked to do.

He has more shiftiness in the open-field than Weber, but he is not as big as Dobbins.

5. Weber thought play calling was a little predictable last season.

“This year it’s more creative,” he said of the system being overhauled by new offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, the former head coach at Indiana.

He also indicated that while roles and therefore plays were somewhat regimented between Weber and Curtis Samuel last year, that is not the case this spring.

Everyone is being asked to do a variety of things, which should help them avoid that whole predictability thing already mentioned.

READ MORE at Marcus Hartman’s “Cus Words Blog.”

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