Just because Jake Stoneburner was in Urban Meyer’s doghouse this summer didn’t mean the coach had written him off as untrustworthy.
Stoneburner and Ohio State offensive tackle Jack Mewhort were arrested in the early hours of June 2 after they ran from Shawnee Hills police. The players were seen apparently urinating against the side of a building. Stoneburner and Mewhort later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. The matter demanded punishment, not banishment, Meyer said.
“I was extremely upset, like you would be with one of your kids,” Meyer said this week when asked about Stoneburner. “But to say I don’t trust Jake Stoneburner, that’s not appropriate. Anger and those types of things, yes, but not lack of trust.”
Meyer took Stoneburner and Mewhort off scholarship for summer term, making them pay their way. And he forbade them from working out with teammates for a while in the offseason program as they paid their penance.
There was a big lesson, Stoneburner said.
“How your actions, no matter how big or how little, affect the entire team,” Stoneburner said. “I made a mistake, and everyone had to pay for it.”
By the start of preseason camp, he and Mewhort were getting back in the good graces and regaining their scholarships.
In implementing a spread offense, Meyer and coordinator Tom Herman had big plans for Stoneburner, a senior who was the returning starter at tight end.
They moved him to receiver, although position names in the new offense seem broadly defined. At 6 feet 5 and 245 pounds, Stoneburner could be a matchup quandary for a defense at any position.
“They have me listed as a starting wide receiver, but I play a little tight end, I play a little fullback,” Stoneburner said. “I play the majority of the time at receiver. I guess they want to use me in different ways. I’m fine with that.
“You’ve just got to make sure you know a lot, because I’ve got to know three or four different positions. Sometimes when I’m tired I get some mental lapses, but besides that I love it.”
He has had two catches in each of the first two games, including his first touchdown of the season last week in a win over Central Florida. He has made his presence felt in downfield blocking, with key blocks on two of quarterback Braxton Miller’s breakaway TD runs.
“I feel like I can block great out there, because I’m a lot bigger than most of those guys,” Stoneburner said. “I feel like that’s where I can really make an impact.”
Opponents such as California coach Jeff Tedford, whose Golden Bears play in Ohio Stadium on Saturday, are taking note.
“Anytime you have someone that size that they can put in different places, it creates a matchup problem,” Tedford said yesterday.
Meyer said he and his staff are trying to determine how best to use Stoneburner.
“I wish I had him for more than one year,” Meyer said, “because we are still trying to figure out exactly his strengths.”