COLUMBUS — The work is halfway done for Ohio State.
The training camp portion of the season for the Buckeyes is now complete after a workout and scrimmage on Saturday morning that will officially now let the program start gearing up for the opener against Oregon State on Sept. 1.
Ohio State welcomed the media into facility for the opening few periods of practice for just the second time of the month. And while there are still no interviews allowed with the coaching staff or players during the ongoing investigation into Urban Meyer, there were still a few details that Lettermen Row was able to pick up from the session coming a few hours on the heels of acting head coach Ryan Day’s letter updating the team’s progress.
Here’s what we learned as the countdown to kickoff continues.
Michael Jordan might really be the center at Ohio State
The actual scrimmage portion of practice was closed to the media, and there is only so much stock that can be put into a handful of early periods of work. But Michael Jordan was again spotted working with the first-team offensive line at center, which would be a potentially significant development for that unit. There is obviously no question about his ability as a blocker since he’s already a two-year starter for the Buckeyes at guard. And the program has enjoyed two years of tremendous success sliding guys over to the middle to that crucial role, watching both Billy Price and Pat Elflein make that transition and become the best in the country at the position. At this point, it now looks like Jordan is a viable option to do the same and potentially leap ahead of Brady Taylor and Josh Myers to win the job.
Look out for Malcolm Pridgeon
Moving Jordan away from left guard opens up a different spot for the Buckeyes to fill up front, and it appears that Malcolm Pridgeon is finally on the verge of a breakthrough into the rotation. Ohio State doesn’t dip into the junior-college waters all that frequently in search of talent, so there was an expectation when it signed Pridgeon two years ago that he would provide some instant help. It didn’t work out that way thanks to an injury during his first season on campus and the rise of other linemen at Ohio State last year, but Pridgeon looks to be ready to tap into that potential and help in a big way now.
Isaiah Pryor leads in Ohio State race for safety job
There still might not be a position under more scrutiny this month for Ohio State than the vacant role at safety opposite Jordan Fuller, but it’s increasingly looking like Isaiah Pryor will wind up with that job. That isn’t exactly a surprise given his freakish athleticism and the way he was coming on during practices even late last season, but the Buckeyes have never publicly identified him as a starter and have even referred to that spot as the team’s biggest concern. If that’s truly the case, Ohio State has no reason to worry about the roster at all, because Pryor is more than capable of blossoming into one of the team’s top defensive weapons this season.
Intensity isn’t lacking for Buckeyes
Based on the one full-contact play that the media got to see before the scrimmage started, getting Ohio State fired up for live football isn’t a problem. The coaching staff established the tenor for the morning workout right away by calling for a do-or-die, fourth-and-1 situation with the third-string units during the middle of what would have ordinarily just been some individual periods of work. Master Teague wound up getting the carry and converting the yardage, which kicked off some celebrations for the offense and gave them at least an early lead in the head-to-head battle with the defense.
Rise of Pete Werner continues at linebacker
Few projections anywhere would have included Pete Werner jumping to the head of the line at outside linebacker given all the talent waiting to break into the lineup for the Silver Bullets this season. But the sophomore has been working with the first-team defense during both open practices so far in training camp, and it’s safe to assume by now that he’s going to play a significant role for the Buckeyes defensively. During a drill designed to emphasize pursuit of the football with high-end effort, Werner was on the field with Malik Harrison at the other outside spot with Tuf Borland in the middle.