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5 predictions for the 2019 Ohio State Football season from Eleven Warriors

Chris Lauderback

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In the upcoming September issue of (614) Magazine, Eleven Warriors provided us with Chris Lauderbacks five predictions for the upcoming season. While this article was lightly edited for length, the full version can be found here. This article was originally published on Aug. 15, 2019 on Eleven Warriors website.

Just a few days away from Ohio State’s season opener against Florida Atlantic, it’s prime time for everyone to make your predictions for how things will unfold – mostly so you can be shamed at the end of the year for your wrongness. 

I’ve certainly endured my fair sure of not-so-hot predictions over the last couple years, but I always come back for more because, man, does it feel good when you get that one or two right, especially if you go out on a bit of a limb. 

But let’s get to it. Drop your predictions in the comments after taking a look at my five prognostications for Ohio State’s 2019 football season. 

1.) J.K. DOBBINS WILL RUSH FOR AT LEAST 100 YARDS IN 10 OR MORE GAMES THIS FALL

I feel like this is a pretty risky one right off the bat. 

All the preseason logic says Dobbins is ready to bounce back in a big way after a subpar 2017 season in which he ran for 1,053 yards but did so on just 4.6 yards per carry. 

He should benefit from the return of a dual-threat quarterback and the accompanying read options, the general vibe that running the ball will be of greater focus this season and of course the reality Ryan Day doesn’t yet have a reliable second-string tailback to spell Dobbins. 

Dobbins will also be motivated to put on a show for NFL scouts in what could very likely be his last season in Columbus. 

So why is this prediction a stretch? 

Well, first of all, even in Dobbins’s freshman season in which he ran for 1,403 yards on 7.2 yards per carry, he still only ran for over 100 yards in six of 14 games. Last year, he ran for over 100 yards in only three of 14 outings.   

In fact, if Dobbins can eclipse the century mark in 10 games, that would tie him with Archie Griffin for the fifth-most in a single-season in school history. If you’re curious, Zeke (2015) and Eddie (1995) own the single-season school record with 12 each and Archie owns third-place with 11 in both 1973 and 1974. 

2.) JORDAN FULLER BECOMES SECOND SAFETY SINCE AT LEAST 1970 TO LEAD TEAM IN TACKLES IN BACK-TO-BACK SEASONS

Fuller tied outside linebacker Malik Harrison for the team lead in tackles last season with 81 total stops despite missing one game and getting ejected in another (Nebraska) after just 28 snaps played. 

Typically, it’s not great news to have a safety lead the team in tackles, but even with Ohio State’s defense expected to show some level of improvement from last year’s tire fire, I still think Fuller has a solid chance to again lead the squad in stops. 

One chief reason for this logic is the fact Day has made no secret about his desire to feel comfortable rotating linebackers similar to how Larry Johnson maximizes his depth across the defensive line. Of course, the threat to Fuller here is assuredly Harrison because even with a rotational strategy, it’s hard to envision him coming off the field too often. 

Another reason I like Fuller to repeat is because, like Dobbins, he’s looking for a bounce back season of his own before heading off the the NFL. Dude will be hungry and if Ohio State’s defensive alignment does feature more single-high safety looks than we’ve seen in the past, Fuller will be roaming center field looking to make things happen. 

So who is the safety to have already turned the trick of leading Ohio State in tackles in back-to-back seasons? Mike Doss accomplished the feat registering 94 stops in 2000 before backing that up with another 87 in 2001. 

Other safeties to lead the Buckeyes in tackles for at least one season include C.J. Barnett in 2011 and Damon Moore in both 1998 and 1996.

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3.) WHILE THE GROUP WILL BE MUCH IMPROVED, THE BUCKEYES WILL STILL FAIL TO BE A TOP-25 TOTAL DEFENSE

After setting dubious records for most points and yards per game allowed last season, the general consensus is that an infusion of new defensive coaches, an altered scheme, and the return of just about every defender from last year will help the 2019 edition of the Silver Bullets get back on track. 

I subscribe to that logic for a few reasons, most notably because if we’re being real, a group that gave up over 500 yards of offense three times and over 400 yards of offense nine times while surrendering an average of 403 yards per Saturday to rank No. 71 in total defense really can’t do anything but improve.

I don’t mean that sarcastically, just matter-of-factly. 

Looking at the last seven seasons, on average, for Ohio State to rank in the Top-25 for Total Defense it’ll have to give up no more than 340 yards. 

That’s certainly doable and I won’t be shocked if the defense does shave over 60 yards from it’s per game average, but I’ll roll with the over and happily hope the group proves me wrong come season’s end.

4.) OHIO STATE’S OFFENSE WILL FEATURE FIVE RECEIVERS WITH OVER 450 YARDS FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SCHOOL HISTORY

Now this one really feels like a gamble. 

I should probably just go with 400 yards here instead of 450 since that’s never been done by an Ohio State offense either, but go big or go home, right? 

Scanning the history books, only twice has Ohio State featured even four receivers in a single season with over 400 yards, doing so in both 2017 and 2018. And last year, Parris Campbell, K.J. Hill, Johnnie Dixon, and Terry McLaurin became the only for receivers in school annals to all log at least 450 receiving yards in a single season. 

This year, I’m making a case that for the first time ever, Ohio State will feature five receivers with at least 450 yards. 

Since this feels like such a stretch, I’ll even tell you the ranked order I expect for receiving yards, again with all going for at least 450: K.J. Hill, Chris Olave, Austin Mack, Garrett Wilson, and Binjimen Victor. 

(If Justin Fields gets hurt and misses more than one game, never mind.)

5.) OHIO STATE WILL WIN THE BIG TEN AND MAKE THE COLLEGE FOOTBALL PLAYOFF, FINISHING 12-2 ON THE SEASON

If Ohio State did all of this in Ryan Day’s first full season with a first-year starter at quarterback and a defense that gave up 25.5 points per game a season ago, I’d consider that a rousing success. 

Then again, I know everyone has different expectations for their favorite team. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Day was able to do even better than 12-2 with a CFP berth. I would, however, be surprised if the Buckeyes did lose more than two games. 

So where are those two losses? Like the last few years, it feels impossible to predict, but I do think at Northwestern on a Friday night could be problematic. I’m not really on the Nebraska train, but I will say it’s not optimal to play the first roadie of the season in Lincoln in what could potentially be an 11:00 AM local start time. 

Either way, my gut says the Buckeyes drop a regular season conference game against a team not named Michigan and then pick up another in the CFP semifinal.

For more Buckeye coverage, check out Eleven Warriors at elevenwarriors.com.

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Twitter Reacts: Bucks score #1 spot in first official playoff rankings

Mike Thomas

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The first official rankings for the 2019 College Football Playoff were announced yesterday, and the Buckeyes have landed at the top of the pile. The ranking marks the first time the Buckeyes have held the #1 spot since the inception of the playoff system.

Needless to say, social media is abuzz with reactions to this historic moment for Ryan Day's squad. Enjoy this roundup of reactions to the announcement from around Twitterverse, and Go Bucks!

https://twitter.com/11W/status/1191906549750489088
https://twitter.com/BarstoolOSU/status/1191906673960652800
https://twitter.com/lawschoollex/status/1191909159815524353
https://twitter.com/CaliBuckeyeGuy/status/1191906878181105664
https://twitter.com/ESPNCFB/status/1191906381999353856
https://twitter.com/ArrogantBuckeye/status/1191907918691622913
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I Love My Job: CBJ national anthem singer Leo Welsh

Regina Fox

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Every day, people all around Columbus drive/ride/walk to their jobs, eager to contribute their passion and talent to the city. This series aims to highlight those people and give them a platform to spread their love for their careers. Welcome to I Love My Job.

You may not know his face (depending on your seats), but you definitely know his name: LEO! Longtime Columbus Blue Jackets national anthem singer Leo Welsh has been stealing the hearts of hockey-goers at Nationwide Arena with his impressive pipes and passion for the game since 2003.

Here is why he loves his job so much:

614: What do you love most about your job? 

LW: The thing I love most about my position with the CBJ is being such a fan and being part of the game experience. It is a total thrill every single time. 

614: What parts of your job do you find most challenging?

LW: The most challenging part would have to be maintaining my health during the winter. Hard to sing well when you aren’t feeling your best. 

614: What is the most rewarding part of your job?

LW: The most rewarding aspect is when I am singing and I can see young people singing along to our National Anthem.

614: What’s the best story you have from your time with the Columbus Blue Jackets?

LW: So many great stories and interactions with fans and our military honorees. Most recently the playoffs from last year strand out. The CBJ had a World War II veteran on the ice with me every night. These men were all special and excited the crowd and made it very easy for me to be focused on honoring our country. Several were arm in arm with me and singing along to our National Anthem, very special moments. 

614: Who has been the most influential mentor in your career so far?

LW: I have had many great teachers and mentors. Maestro William Boggs stands out. He is one of the reasons I moved to Columbus following graduation from Ohio University. He offered me a job with Opera Columbus. He was critical when he needed to be, demanded preparation from his singers and was supportive by offering examples and best practices at all times. Truly a great mentor.

Leo will be leading players and fans in the national anthem this Friday as the Blue Jackets open their season against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Nationwide Arena. Puck drops at 7pm.

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Buckeye Business Bureau: 5 former OSU athletes trade athletics for entrepreneurship

Mitch Hooper

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When it comes to being an athlete on the football field, making it to the next level is more of a miracle than a rite of passage. Rosters can only hold 53 players by the time the regular season begins, and there’s a 5.8 percent chance that high school stand out will even make the cut. Even if they find success on the field, the odds of making into the league as an NCAA senior is one in 50, or 2 percent. And for anyone looking to take a different route and skip college, the odds of making it on an NFL roster are about the same as having a 150 IQ. In other words, athletes need a plan B, C, and Z.

But what happens after a successful life on the field? Here in Columbus, we’ve seen Heisman winners phase out of the league in a few short years as well as highly recruited players forced to make a position change just to have a shot. Names like Troy Smith come to mind, or Braxton Miller and Terrelle Pryor. For whatever the reason may be—didn’t have the physical attributes the coach was looking for, or just never got that chance to prove themselves—life goes on, and former Ohio State favorites have found ways to use their namesake and recognition to thrust themselves into a new career.

Photos: Rebecca Tien

Whether they took down the Big Ten foes in football or lead basketball squads to new heights, the super stardom of playing for the university creates household names and that alone can get you far if your professional career in athletics falls through. In a world where it’s who you know more than what you know, getting your foot in the door is a crucial step.

But how far can namesake get you? At the end of the day, it’s a lot like sports. You can be the five-star recruit set to blaze the country, but until you actually perform those skills on the field, you’re just another player on the team. Sure your name catches the coach’s attention, but that doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed anything. Take Zach Justin, and Mike Boren of Boren Brothers Roll Off Dumpsters and Trash Removal Services. You might recognize them from the iconic image of Zach towering over a curled-up Devin Gardner, a former Michigan quarterback.

Justin, a 2011 graduate of OSU, earned First Team All Big Ten and Second Team All-American Honors and seemed primed for a life in the league. He made the leap to the NFL where he was bounced around from the Baltimore Ravens, the Detroit Lions, and the Denver Broncos. Due to lingering injuries, Justin’s NFL career prematurely ended after three seasons. Similarly, his brother Zach joined the Buckeyes in 2009 as Ohio’s Defensive Player of the Year. While playing with the Buckeyes, he found himself on both sides of the ball as fullback for the first three years and linebacker for his senior season where he served as a captain on the 2012 squad that never lost a game. Though he hasn’t fully given up on his dreams of playing on Sundays, his time in the league also lasted three seasons with a new team each year.

These setbacks might be enough to diminish confidence, but the Boren brothers chose to embrace the Buckeye work ethic.

“It’s kind of a running joke now, but the coaches talked about when we played,” Zach said. “If you go to Ohio State, especially as an athlete, and you do what’s expected of you, give back to the community, and take full advantage of that position you’re in at that time, Columbus will always treat you right.”

This name recognition has helped the brothers open doors and meet with people that might have never given them the time of day, Justin explained. But, to reiterate, that’s only half the battle.

“The connections get your foot in the door,” Justin said. “Once your foot is in the door and you have the opportunity, you have to perform. You have to run a legit business, do the right things, and focus on service, but it at least opens a lot of doors.”

This lesson parallels with performance on the field, and it’s those takeaways the two learned while at OSU that they apply to their business. The mantra is simple, but powerful: they treat every day like it’s a football game.

“You have to show up, you have to do your job, you have to perform,” Zach explained. “And if you don’t, you’re losing that day; you’re either winning or you’re losing.”

In the same vein as football, Justin said a lot of success boils down to the team around you. While the Boren brothers along with Mike, the father and a former stellar Wolverine (now fully converted to scarlet and gray) and Jacoby, the youngest former Buckeye of the three, are the face of the company, their staff is out doing the work on a day-to-day basis.

This also holds true for The Pit BBQ on Cleveland Avenue, a smoked meats adventure started by former Buckeyes Chimid Chekwa and Bryant Browning as well as D’Andre Martin and Mike Johnson. After Chekwa and Browning tested the waters in the NFL, they found themselves much like the Boren brothers looking to move past a life in athletics. The question that rings in many former athletes’ head was looming: what’s next?

While Chekwa is originally from Clermont, Florida, Browning, Martin, and Johnson all grew up in Cleveland dining at barbeque joints which eventually came to influence how they do business in Columbus. They took their time to carefully scout how other places went about barbecue and eventually decided it was their turn to share the love. First, the idea was to create a franchise through The Pit BBQ, but the restrictions that came along with it steered the four away from it.

“Throughout Cleveland there’s a lot of Ma and Pa pop-up stops that Columbus was lacking at that time in the area so we wanted to take that style and that taste and bring it to the Columbus area,” Browning explained.

While the recognition was helpful for starting the business, Bryant explained that it also puts you under a microscope. At one point, you could’ve been known as an All- American cornerback, but if you serve bad barbecue, you’ll be remembered a guy with bad barbecue.

“The other side of that is having the opportunity to go back where you have some recognition and memories to provide not only good food, but also do good for the community,” Chekwa added.

Whether it’s crafting large quantities of meats and fixings for someone’s tailgate through the catering service, or simply helping the business rush sink their teeth into high quality cuts of brisket, it’s a complete and total team effort. On any given day, it’s no surprise to see the once All-American cornerback Chekwa in the back preparing the food for the day, or the former OSU captain Bryant manning the cash register. Just like football, it’s a complete team effort.

“If I’m working the cashier stand, people will come in and say, ‘Wow! You’re a big guy!’ ” said the 6-foot-4-inch, 325-pound offensive lineman Bryant. “With helmets on, and being many years ago, they might not recognize your face right away or who you are. But yeah, an All-American cornerback is back here working the grill.”

However the big lights may shine, the former Buckeyes never forget the lessons they learned on the field.

“To be successful we understand it’s work,” Browning said. “It wouldn’t be a surprise to see me driving around in a food truck to an area to sell food. We understand it’s going to take the same grind it took in football to be successful. That’s just in our DNA.”

To get in contact with the Boren Brothers for commercial waste removal, visit borenbrothers.com. For more information on hours and catering options, check out thepitcolumbus.com.

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