Bob Hunter commentary: Rumblings ... Ohio State football, Blue Jackets, Reds and more
It looks as though Ohio State running back Jordan Hall will apply for a medical redshirt because of a posterior cruciate ligament tear in his right knee. Even if he is granted the extra year, there is no guarantee Hall will regain the status he held before the season, when coach Urban Meyer viewed him as an ideal hybrid running back/receiver, the role Percy Harvin ably filled for Meyer at Florida.
One reason is that a couple of players who are part of the 2013 recruiting class — running back Ezekiel Elliott and all-purpose back Jalin Marshall — show the speed and elusiveness Meyer seeks for that spot.
A healthy Hall still would get his shot, especially at running back, but Ohio State appears to have a potential logjam there next year. Carlos Hyde has emerged as the starter and Rod Smith is becoming more of a factor each week.
The coaches also like freshman Bri’onte Dunn, who rushed for 73 yards in mop-up duty against Illinois last week but suffered a knee injury in practice this week. Meyer said he is questionable for next week’s game at Wisconsin. Another freshman, Warren Ball, drew raves from the coaches before suffering a season-ending foot injury.
Brad Larsen, the first-year coach of the Blue Jackets’ American Hockey League team in Springfield, apparently means business.
Before a game against Hershey last Friday, Larsen emphasized to his team the importance of not taking lazy penalties. So when two of his offensive stars — Cam Atkinson and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault — did just that during the game, Larsen benched them.
Regulation and overtime play ended in a 2-2 tie, and the ensuing shootout went seven rounds before the Falcons lost, with neither player making an appearance. Larsen’s point made, they were back in the lineup on Sunday and both had big games in Springfield’s 10-2 victory over Connecticut.
After nine games, the Falcons are 6-1-2. Larsen served on Rob Riley’s Springfield staff for two seasons after his playing career ended in 2010 and then moved up when Riley’s contract was not renewed.
The Cincinnati Reds are back to pondering Aroldis Chapman’s possible future as a starting pitcher, a decision that might hinge on the team’s ability to sign a replacement closer during free agency. Among the possibilities are two relievers who were on the Reds’ roster last year — Ryan Madson and Jonathan Broxton.
Madson saved 32 games for Philadelphia in 2011 but missed all of 2012 after elbow surgery. Broxton came to the Reds in a July 31 trade with Kansas City, where he had been the closer and had a 2.82 ERA and four saves in 25 games.
Neither player would be prohibitively expensive and both are interested in re-signing with Cincinnati. If the Reds get either of them, it would be easier to move Chapman from the bullpen, where he posted a 1.51 ERA with 38 saves and 122 strikeouts in 712/3 innings.
General manager Walt Jocketty said this week that the Reds hadn’t made a decision on what to do with the young left-hander.
The new rankings for the ESPN 300 high-school football recruits were reprinted on the website’s Big Ten blog this week and they showed Ohio State with three of the conference’s top four commitments.
Cornerbacks Eli Woodward and Cam Burroughs rank No. 6 and No. 39, respectively, and defensive tackle Joey Bosa is No. 46. Quarterback Christian Hackenberg, who is committed to Penn State, is No. 16.
Michigan has the most recruits of any Big Ten team in the ESPN 300, with 14, three more than Ohio State. At No. 54, quarterback Shane Morris is the highest-rated Wolverines recruit.
Ratings in the Columbus market for college basketball games televised by ESPN tied for fourth nationally in 2011-12, the network said yesterday.
Louisville, Ky., topped the list with a 4.5 average rating, followed by Greensboro, N.C. (3.5), Kansas City, Mo. (2.8) and Columbus and Raleigh-Durham, N.C. (2.7). Charlotte, N.C. (2.3) was sixth, followed by Cincinnati (2.1) and Dayton (2.0).
Louisville has topped the list for the past 10 years. Columbus was second in 2010-11 and has been in the top five the past four seasons.
Former Xavier guard Dezmine Wells, who left after his freshman season following a sexual-assault allegation, has been cleared to play at Maryland this season by the NCAA. Wells, a 6-foot-5 North Carolina native, averaged 9.8 points and 4.9 rebounds for the Musketeers and made the Atlantic 10’s all-freshman team.
Wells was never charged with a crime while at Xavier. He is expected to make an immediate impact for the Terrapins.
If the NHL lockout doesn’t end before Dec. 3, Blue Jackets first-round pick Ryan Murray is among the players who could play for Canada in the world junior championships, according to the Edmonton Journal. The tournament will take place Dec. 26-Jan. 5 in Ufa, a Russian city of 1.1 million near the Ural Mountains.
“Our worst-case scenario is we name our Dec. 3 training camp roster, then the lockout ends and the kids go to NHL camps rather to our camp, which starts Dec. 10,” Kevin Prendergast, chief scout for Hockey Canada, told the Journal. “What do we do then? Each NHL team has submitted two names to us of kids that’ll go to NHL camps if the lockout ends.”
Murray, a defenseman taken by Columbus with the No. 2 overall pick in June, is expected to be on the Jackets’ roster if the NHL lockout ends before then.
Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins is at the top of Prendergast’s list. He is playing for the AHL’s Oklahoma City Barons, and because of the lockout, the Oilers couldn’t deny him the opportunity to play.
Recent history tells us that the Cincinnati Bengals aren’t likely to make the playoffs this season after starting 3-5.
The Cincinnati Enquirer queried the Elias Sports Bureau on the subject and was handed these grim facts: Of the 121 teams that opened the season 3-5 since 1990, when the current playoff format began, only seven have made the playoffs.
Blue Jackets forward Derick Brassard and former Jackets Marc Methot (Ottawa) and Grant Clitsome (Winnipeg) were among locked-out NHL players who appeared in a charity game this week in Cornwall, Ontario.
A crowd of 4,800 paid $20 each to see Daniel Alfredsson’s Team White defeat Jesse Winchester’s Team Black 13-9. All proceeds went to First Assist, a mentorship program for children ages 11-13, and the Max Keeping Foundation.
Methot told the Ottawa Citizen he remembered playing in the Cornwall Civic Complex for Kanata in the Central Junior Hockey League, enemy of the Cornwall Colts.
“The place was a jungle,” a laughing Methot said. “I remember having things thrown at me, everything from batteries to beer cans. It was awesome.”
Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.