Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 8/12/12
COLUMBUS, Ohio - Considering he won two national championships in a three-year span, the first in just his second year on the job, following the blueprint he followed at Florida wouldn't be a bad plan for Urban Meyer in his new job at Ohio State. Not that anybody needs to tell Meyer that. He's officially just 10 months and fewer than 10 training camp practices into the only job he swears he was coming back for, but Meyer said he sees similarities between not just what he inherited at Florida in 2005 and what he's inherited now, but in the way he and his staff plan to move forward. "They're two very similar, I think, teams in terms of talent," Meyer said. "I took over for a guy named Ron Zook at Florida who was a very good recruiter and a very good football coach. I was able to keep a couple guys on staff. Here, I took over from very good football coaches." One of those coaches, last year's head coach-by-default Luke Fickell, is one of three holdovers from last year on Meyer's first Ohio State staff. Just a week into camp, Meyer said the Buckeyes are "right on schedule." That schedule includes continuing to develop an offense that started well behind Meyer's curve, especially in the passing game. It includes an athletic defense that returns nine players who started games a year ago and should be bolstered by an influx of young talent, especially up front. It's an SEC-type defensive line he craves, and it's one he figures to have very soon in Columbus. "If you look at our '06 team (at Florida), our '08 team, that's as good a group of defensive linemen that you'll ever see," Meyer said. "If that's the measuring stick, then if we get Nathan Williams back, we can be in that category." Both of those teams won national championship. Ohio State fans remember Florida defensive ends Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss spending that first BCS National Championship Game in the Buckeyes' backfield. Those players were already at Florida when Meyer arrived. This time around, he inherits do-it-all defensive end John Simon, ultra-talented interior tackle Johnathan Hankins and Williams, who's recovering from a knee injury that cost him essentially all of last season. "(Simon) is as good a player as there is in college football," Meyer said. "Hankins is (great). Williams makes a strong stronger. If he comes back, you're talking about a real strong defensive line. "The defensive line is where it all starts. If you want to have a bad football team, have a bad defensive line. You can be average in some other spots, but it's over if you have a bad defensive line. You have no chance." Meyer's first Florida recruiting class, in 2005, ranked 11th nationally by Scout.com. His first class at Ohio State ranked third nationally. The 2006 class at Florida brought in Percy Harvin, Brandon Spikes, Riley Cooper, Marcus Gilbery and some guy named Tebow. That group left with two national championship rings. Harvin played what Meyer calls the "pivot" position, a hybrid slotrunning back position that allowed Harvin to get into space and create big plays. Meyer has pegged Ohio State senior Jordan Hall for that position, but Hall is out with a foot injury suffered this summer. Meyer said the ongoing search for someone to play that position in Hall's absence -- and quite possibly in the future -- remains a work in progress. "It's hard to find that guy," Meyer said. "I'm finding out it's really hard to find that guy." He's busy finding other pleasant surprises -- and other similarities. He said Sunday that senior tight end Jake Stoneburner has been going to meetings with the wide receivers and lining up almost exclusively as a wide receiver. The goal, Meyer said, is to make Stoneburner "that (Aaron) Hernandez-type guy, a guy that can do some things." There -- again -- is the blueprint. His first Ohio State class appears to be loaded with talent and includes four highly-touted defensive linemen: Noah Spence, Se'von Pittman, Tommy Schutt and Adolphus Washington. Meyer said last week was a "big chunk" of freshmen are going to play immediately, and he's also singled out linebackers Jamal Marcus and David Perkins for their athleticism. "The freshmen, you always wish it would happen a little faster," Meyer said. "Noah Spence is probably ahead of them. They're all kind of bunched in there, but they're all showing really good signs." Meyer and these young Buckeyes are just getting started. The future, by all indications, is very bright. The ceiling, based on limited impressions, seems very high. The standards are high, too. Meyer has been down this road before.
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