Ohio State’s defensive line is so talented that players at other positions want to learn from them.
Take linebacker Jerome Baker. When the Buckeyes practice kickoffs — Baker isn’t on those units — the junior heads over to where Larry Johnson coaches his linemen.
“Our D-line is one of the best in the country,” Baker said. “You see guys like that, and you want to see what they can do and learn as much as you can.”
Last week, he said, Johnson and linebackers coach Billy Davis preached the importance of Baker pushing his hips properly. On Saturday against UNLV, Baker got his first sack of the season and was a consistently disruptive force on the rush.
“We have the best pass-rush teacher in the world, I think, in Larry Johnson,” Buckeyes defensive coordinator Greg Schiano said. “So if you go down and work with Larry Johnson on pass-rush techniques and then utilize them as a linebacker, that’s great.”
Schiano wasn’t surprised that Baker had success rushing the passer.
“He’s a special player,” he said. “I think the sky is the limit for him.”
You’d have to have lived in a cave to have missed the controversy surrounding NFL player protests this weekend, and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer wants his players to be engaged in current events.
Meyer was asked in the Big Ten coaches conference call what he would say to a player who wanted to protest in some form during the national anthem.
“To be honest, I don’t know,” Meyer said, adding that he probably would keep his advice private.
Defensive end Jalyn Holmes and quarterback J.T. Barrett said they think the rationale for players taking a knee has been misconstrued by many people as disrespect for the flag or country.
“It’s more drawing attention to social injustice — innocent people being killed or targeted in a way,” said Barrett, whose parents have served in the military.
Added Holmes, “When people choose to focus on what they’re doing and not why they’re doing it, they don’t want to admit what’s really going on. There’s a lot of social injustice and discrimination going on in this country.”
Holmes said he was a victim of both growing up in Norfolk, Virginia.
Ohio State players have discussed the issue but have no plan to take action involving the anthem, Holmes said.
“One thing we do talk about is controlling what we can,” he said. “The way I can control it is to give back to the community the best way I can. There’s no point in taking a knee if you’re not really participating in the community.”