George Ammar: Buckeyes Looking Forward to the New Season
George Ammar is one of the biggest Ohio State fans you’ll ever come across. He rarely misses a home game. In fact, while George Ammar is in Cleveland, Ohio, he makes the two-hour drive down I-71 just to see his beloved Buckeyes on weekends.
Last year was a bit of a downer for George Ammar and thousands of Ohio State fans. The Buckeyes started the season at #2 in the AP rankings, but a huge loss to Oklahoma at home on the second playing date put the Buckeyes in a hole that took them two months to climb out of. Then, just as they were coming off a rivalry win against #2 Penn State, a shock 24-55 loss to Iowa all but put them out of playoff contention. Nevertheless, they ended the season just one rank removed from the College Football Playoffs and winning the Cotton Bowl against USC.
Now, with the 2017 season firmly behind them, the Buckeyes are all set to re-establish their dominant form in the Big Ten and reach the CFP again. They entered spring camp with a clear target and closed it with a well-attended and competitive spring game, and George Ammar has picked up the following talking points from the past two months.
1. This year’s freshman class will be insanely good. Nine freshmen were able to enroll in time for spring camp, and among those nine, two made a strong impression at the spring game – Dallas Gant and Tommy Togiai. The two are poised to compete for starting positions (offensive linebacker and defensive tackle, respectively) when the season starts, and with the rest of Ohio State’s 2018 recruiting class (including two five-star and thirteen four-star recruits) yet to enroll, George Ammar thinks that this year’s incoming freshman class might be one of Urban Meyer’s finest yet, at least on paper.
2. The situation at quarterback must be stabilized, though. The problem with a strong corps of quarterbacks, says George Ammar, is that there is no clear-cut choice for the starting spot. Sophomore Dwayne Haskins had a few flashes of brilliance last year, including games against UNLV and Illinois, but after losing three-time captain J.T. Barrett to graduation, there is still no clear-cut starter on the horizon. Junior Joe Burrow, who saw sparse playing time last year, has emerged as a contender after the spring game, while highly-touted 2017 commit Tate Martell is also starting to stake his claim to more playing time. George Ammar believes that quarterbacks coach Ryan Day and the rest of the offensive coaches have their work cut out for them in the offseason, trying to establish some semblance of order in the depth chart.
3. There is still no clear leader in the locker room. The loss of J.T. Barrett was felt not just on the field, but inside the locker room as well. The three-time captain was a vocal presence who kept the team focused and psyched. Wide receiver Parris Campbell is still with the team, though, and was already named captain last year. Now, George Ammar says it is time for other players – perhaps Dre’Mont Jones or Mike Bosa – to establish their leadership and to keep the rest of the team in line.