Buckeyes prepare to face Wisconsin, explosive QB Wilson

Published: Friday, October 28, 2011 @ 7:28 AM
Updated: Friday, October 28, 2011 @ 7:28 AM


            In this Oct. 15, 2011, file photo, Ohio State coach Luke Fickell speaks with his team during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Illinois in Champaign, Ill.

Ohio State recruited quarterback Russell Wilson, but he'll be on the other sideline when the Buckeyes (4-3, 1-2 Big Ten) host Wisconsin (6-1, 2-1) on Saturday night.

The Badgers enter the 8 p.m. game ranked No. 12.

   "He was an explosive guy in high school. I don't you know if you could project the kind of guy that he is now, that's for sure," said Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman, who was
in on the recruitment of Wilson out of Collegiate HS in Richmond, Va. "Obviously he's had a great career. He had a great career at N.C. State and certainly doing a fine job there (at Wisconsin)."

Ohio State recruited Wilson out of high school, he attended the Buckeyes' summer camp and the coaching staff continued reaching out to him even after he finished up his career at North Carolina State and was trolling for a place to play his final season.

Under NCAA rules, a player who has graduated from college but still has eligibility remaining can transfer to any other Division I college and play immediately, without sitting out a year.

   Ohio State tried to reach Wilson a couple times this summer but never made the connection. His final two choices were Wisconsin and Auburn.

   Interim coach Luke Fickell said he and Ohio State have never encountered a similar transfer.

   "It's never really happened to us," he said Thursday. "We've seen situations where I'm sure it can work very well, like in Russell Wilson's case. I'm sure there's some situations it doesn't work quite as well. We've never had one come our way. You ultimately have to look and in the grand scheme of things what's best for the young man."

   Bollman was asked how much of a lift Wilson might have given the Buckeyes.

   "I don't know. That's speculation," he said.

   CBs coach Taver Johnson said it's hard to put a value on a versatile quarterback.

   "He makes it very difficult (to defend him) because not only can he run for 50 yards, he can throw for 50 yards. And throw it on the money," he said. "You may be on your guy but he can put it
right there and he has the confidence to throw it right in the chest of his receivers. Anytime you have a young man who can get out of the pocket and have that dual threat, it's tough on the secondary for sure, but the defense as a whole."

   A LOT OF BRASS: Retiring Ohio State marching band director Jon Woods will be honored, along with four band members who performed the original Script Ohio 75 years ago, at the school's homecoming parade on Friday. This year's theme is "Tradition Marches On."

   BERRY UPDATE: Fickell said TB Jaamal Berry is still on the team after an alleged skirmish a week ago in which Berry was accused of punching a young man.

   Police are still investigating and there has been talk of a possible lawsuit. But no charges have been brought.

   "The legal process is going to take its time. We're going to go with that," Fickell said Thursday. "That's all we can do as a team and as a program right now. Like I've said, we take everything we do seriously, whether it's on the field or off the field.

Nothing goes unnoticed. Ultimately we're looking at what's best for this program and this team, whether it's a coach or a player. Those things are taken very seriously."

 Asked if Berry were still on the roster and could see playing time, Fickell said, "We'll see. There's still things going on but there's no change right now."

Miami University names interim football coach

Published: Monday, October 07, 2013 @ 7:34 AM
Updated: Monday, October 07, 2013 @ 7:34 AM

Miami University has named Mike Bath as interim coach after six seasons as RedHawks assistant.

The announcement follows the firing of coach Don Treadwell on Sunday, a day after the team fell to 0-5 with a 21-9 loss at home to Central Michigan. Offensive coordinator John Klacik also was fired.

Bath is a former RedHawks quarterback. He coached tight ends from 2006 to 2008 and has coached quarterbacks and wide receivers for the past three seasons.

Treadwell went 8-21 at his alma mater. He decided to go to a run-based offense this season, and it didn't work out at all, setting up repeated blowouts. The RedHawks lost to Marshall 52-14, to Kentucky 41-7, to Cincinnati 14-0 and to Illinois 50-14.

Miami plays at Massachusetts on Saturday.

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BooBoo ‘electrifying’ for Bowling Green

Published: Saturday, August 10, 2013 @ 2:15 PM
Updated: Saturday, August 10, 2013 @ 2:15 PM

The Jerry Gates File

Born: April 20, 1992

Major: Human development and family studies

Positions: Strong safety, kick returner

Size: 5-foot-11, 219 pounds

Defensive statistics: 98 solo tackles, 57 assists, 4.5 tackles for loss, five interceptions, five pass breakups, three forced fumbles

Return statistics: 71 kickoffs, 1,691 yards, 23.8 average, two touchdowns; three punts, 82 yards, 27.3 average, one touchdown; five interceptions, 168 yards, 33.6 average, two touchdowns

MAC honors: First team as a safety in 2012, second team as a kick returner in 2011

Fun fact: The only player in Bowling Green history to score a touchdown on kickoff, punt and interception returns

Jerry “BooBoo” Gates doesn’t take long to digest the question.

Describe himself as a football player? The Bowling Green State University senior can do that.

“Wild. Fun. Energetic. Explosive at times. Electrifying,” Gates said. “I can go on, but I don’t want to sound big-headed.”

He’s grinning now, looking like the happy 21-year-old that he is. Such is life these days for the Middletown High School graduate, a guy that just might get a chance to play football on Sundays.

The idea thrills him, drives him, but it’s not the here and now. Gates, regarded as one of the most dynamic players in the Mid-American Conference, is gearing up for his final season of college ball, and BGSU should be very good this fall.

Falcons coach Dave Clawson said Gates, a strong safety and kick returner, brings more than raw skill to the field.

“He’s a guy that just loves football,” Clawson said. “He’s a mood lifter on a daily basis at practice. He’s got one of those personalities.”

For Gates, who moved to Middletown from Dallas, Texas, at the age of 4, the road to get here has been toilsome, from the academic struggles that nearly derailed his football career in high school to the death of his father in 2009.

Mike Elko, Bowling Green’s defensive coordinator and safeties coach, said it’s a success story that touches him.

“Obviously he’s a special player, one of those kids that doesn’t come around very often. But just as a person and as a kid, I’ve fallen in love with him over the four years he’s been here,” Elko said. “He’s like an adopted son to some degree. Our kids love him. He’s always around the house.

“With the things he’s endured in his life, to get where he is today, to have a legitimate shot to go to the NFL and get a college degree, it’s pretty amazing.”

Playing defense

Bowling Green ranked sixth in the Football Bowl Subdivision in total defense last season, allowing 296.6 yards per game. Nine of those starters are back this year.

“We’re looking to repeat that,” Gates said. “Little things make the big things work, so we’ve got to get all those little things tightened up. We’re a veteran group, so we’re deep in our playbook and getting everything right.”

Gates is a strong safety. More specifically in this 4-2-5 defense, he’s what’s known as the stud.

“The stud for us is probably the most versatile safety,” Elko said. “He has to spin down and play some linebacker. He’s got to be very physical. He’s got to add to the run fits for us. And he’s also got to be able to play man-to-man on receivers. He’s got to do it all.”

Gates said he’s got to be a communicator on the field. “I’m like the quarterback of the defense,” he said.

And the appeal of playing defense? That’s easy. “You get to run and hit, control the game,” Gates said. “Defense wins championships. I love it.”

Elko said Gates’ biggest issue is consistency and staying true to his duties.

“Since the second he got here, he’s had the highs. What we’ve tried to do is eliminate some of the lows,” Elko said. “It’s about understanding when the right times are to go out of the system and make a play, and when the right times are to just do your job and be where you’re supposed to be.

“Probably over the last year and a half, I think he’s made tremendous strides with that.”

Special standout

Gates may be even more well-known for his ability to return kicks. He set a BGSU record with 981 kickoff return yards as a sophomore.

Clawson said Gates will definitely return kickoffs in 2013. Punt returns will be handled by redshirt sophomore Ryan Burbrink, in part because Gates is so important on defense.

“BooBoo is probably our best special-teams player,” said Adam Scheier, the Falcons’ special teams coach. “He’s a starter who truly understands that his role on special teams is every bit as valuable as his role as a defensive player. If I could clone him, I would.

“He’s pretty dangerous with the ball in his hands in space. Being a good kick returner is the ability to run strong, know where the crease is and hit it. Vision comes into play a little bit more as a kick returner, and BooBoo’s got a good feel for that.”

Gates loves the adrenaline rush that comes with returning kicks. It takes a certain mentality to excel in that role.

“Instead of being nervous, you’ve got to feel comfortable with the 10 guys blocking for you,” Gates said. “It always looks like a one-man thing, but the 10 guys in front of you make it happen. You’re just running the ball. You can’t let arm tackles get you. Read your keys, see the holes and get there.”

His kickoff-return explosion in 2011 cut his returns in half last season as teams tried to kick away from him.

“There’s a plus and a minus to that,” Scheier said. “Your kickoff-return numbers may go down a bit, but your field position benefits.”

The 2013 plan

Gates’ summer included lifting, running and schoolwork. He’s working toward a degree in human development and family studies.

On the field, his goals are significant.

“I want to be an All-American and potentially get myself drafted,” Gates said. “I’m trying to fulfill my dream, so that’s my motivation every day I wake up. It’s been that way since I was like 6 years old on the pee-wee field at Smith Park.”

He’s been mostly injury-free during his time at Bowling Green, though he did miss last season’s Kent State game (a 31-24 loss) with a high ankle sprain.

Gates speaks with pride when talking about his playing days at Middletown and his Middie coach, Jason Krause.

“Smart coach. Real gutsy,” Gates said. “He played all his athletes all over the field.”

And then there’s the nickname. He’s told the story countless times. He doesn’t mind telling it again.

BooBoo?

“It was my cousin Tiffany,” Gates said. “She didn’t like the name Jerry. She came out to Texas when I was born and she said BooBoo, and it just stuck with me all my life. I’m about to have a daughter with my girlfriend. She’s probably going to nickname her too.”

For now, his focus is on a MAC championship and another bowl game (the Falcons lost to San Jose State in the Military Bowl last season). From there, a shot at the National Football League is a very real possibility.

“He’s a very versatile safety, and the value he brings on special teams is going to give him an added leg up,” Elko said.

He noted that Gates’ size (5-foot-11, 219 pounds) isn’t great for an NFL safety, but it’s not a deal breaker.

“He doesn’t have the arm length and the wingspan that maybe a prototype safety has, but if you look at some of the better safeties in the league, the Troy Polamalus, there are safeties that fit that body type,” Elko said. “Not that he’s going to walk in and be an all-pro, but I think there are guys like him.”

Gates said he’ll worry about what he can control.

“I’ve just got to work hard every day, don’t dog it,” he said. “If I put my mind to it, I think I can achieve anything.”

Marshall among freshmen looking ready to contribute

Published: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 @ 4:39 PM
Updated: Wednesday, August 07, 2013 @ 4:39 PM

Ohio State freshman receiver Jalin Marshall caught a pass from Braxton Miller while falling out of the back of the end zone, drawing a roar from the scarlet-clad offense during a controlled scrimmage Wednesday morning.

The former Middletown star also made a nifty grab for another TD just a few snaps later, fighting his way across the goal line.

Coach Urban Meyer raved the day before about freshman running back Dontre Wilson, saying the Buckeyes will have to find room on the offense for the speedster from Texas. But Wilson isn’t the only newcomer making a bid for playing time.

During the lone preseason practice open to the media in its entirety, Wilson and Marshall looked like budding stars. Defensive end Joey Bosa notched a sack, and running back Ezekiel Elliott showed some burst while returning kicks.

Freshmen are off limits for interviews for now, but OSU safety Christian Bryant praised Wilson and Marshall, albeit somewhat grudgingly. You’ll probably never hear defenders going overboard about offensive players, especially freshmen, during hyper-intense camp competition.

“Dontre is a special player. I feel like he has a lot of attributes to bring to the team,” Bryant said. “One of those is being elusive. But we’ll see later what he’s like in camp.

“Jalin is one of those strong, fast guys also. He can produce at any position — even special teams. But like I said, we’ll see later on in camp.”

Co-defensive coordinator Everett Withers showed less restraint when asked about Wilson, who is creating perhaps the most buzz of any player in camp.

“I think he’s a skilled athlete, and he’s a football player,” Withers said. “You get some guys who are real fast, and they don’t like being in that fray a lot. I think he’s one of those guys who doesn’t mind the tackling, doesn’t mind taking the hit. I think he’s a fearless runner. If you’re that and can run that fast, you can do a lot of damage.”

Sophomore defensive end Adolphus Washington was force on defense, looking unblockable at times while going against the second unit.

The Buckeyes lost their entire starting defensive line, including stalwarts John Simon and Johnathan Hankins. But the front four looks stacked again with Washington and Noah Spence at the ends and Michael Bennett (a Centerville product) and either Tommy Schutt or Joel Hale in the middle.

“Adolphus Washington is an animal — him and Noah and Mike,” said senior safety C.J. Barnett, a Northmont grad. “I know we lose Johnny and Big Hank and all of them, but it’s Ohio State. It’s next up. We’re not really worried about who’s gone. It’s who’s next?”

OSU suffered its first major camp casualty when freshman safety Jayme Thompson was carted off with a fractured ankle.

Carter’s speech touches hometown crowd

Published: Tuesday, May 07, 2013 @ 10:38 PM
Updated: Tuesday, May 07, 2013 @ 10:38 PM

Nearly 800 people filled the Manor House in Mason on Tuesday to hear Cris Carter deliver the keynote speech at the 24th annual Pigskin Roundball Spectacular, but no one was more rapt with attention than Dustin Carter.

A former resident of Middletown and Hillsboro High School grad who lost his arms and legs to a skin-eating disease, Dustin made history in 2008 when he not only qualified for the state wrestling tournament, but won a match.

Calling it the “greatest day of my life to this day,” Dustin often relives the moment when the referee raised his hand and the crowd of more than 13,000 roared with a standing ovation every time he is asked to speak to a group of youngsters about overcoming adversity.

“I’m still kind of new to the speaking circuit, so I’m really excited to hear (Cris) talk,” Dustin said. “When you get up to speak, you kind of just go with how your heart is feeling. So it will be cool to see where’s he’s floating at and how he handles it.”

The theme of Cris’ speech was “I want you to know,” as he mostly stayed away from the superlatives of his playing days at Middletown High School, Ohio State and in the NFL with the Minnesota Vikings and Philadlephia Eagles. He instead talked about the people who helped carry him to Pro Football Hall of Fame, where he will be enshrined in August.

And if Tuesday night was any indication of what is to come in Canton, the emotion is going to bring more than just Cris to tears.

Speaking through watery eyes and quivering lips through much of his 33-minute speech, Cris opend with praise for his mother Joyce and his wife Melanie.

“I had 11,001 catches in the NFL, but the you were the greatest catch of all,” he said to Melanie.

He also paid special tribute to his lifelong friends Sean Bell, Dwight Smith, Jimmy Calhoun and Al Milton and talked about how the darkest day of his life – when the Philadelphia Eagles cut him after just three seasons – changed him and helped him rediscover the magic he found in Middletown later in Minnesota.

Preceding Carter to the stage was fellow Middletown and Ohio State grad and Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame member Jerry Lucas and Middletown native and Olympic gold medalist Kayla Harrison.

Harrison delivered an equally emotional speech, talking about her triumph over sexual abuse.

“I’ve done a lot since winning the gold medal and given a lot of speeches, but I’m nervous about this one because you are my peers and my family,” Harrison told the crowd. “Excuse me if I get emotional.”

Proceeds from the event help fund scholarships for Middletown High athletes. The winners this year were Veda Edwards, Jalin Marshall and Matt Current.