Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: Ohio State, Alabama cross recruiting boundaries
Ohio State is recruiting Southeastern Conference territory. Alabama is recruiting Big Ten territory. And each team’s coach seems intent on plotting these collision courses. For example, Ohio State appears to have zeroed in on quarterback DeShaun Watson of Gainesville, Ga. Watson has committed to Clemson but is open to overtures, and Ohio State and Alabama are among those that have been making them.
Then last week Alabama made an offer to quarterback DeShone Kizer of Toledo Central Catholic. Michigan State has been chasing him for a while, and Ohio State has had interest but has yet to offer a scholarship.
But the Buckeyes definitely need a quarterback for their 2014 class. Ohio State has just four scholarship QBs on the roster. One is senior Kenny Guiton and another is junior Braxton Miller, who might leave for the NFL if he has a strong third season as a starter. That would leave Cardale Jones, a redshirt freshman, and J.T. Barrett, a freshman.
The Blue Jackets have often had difficulty at the NHL draft, but their experience with 2010 pick Petr Straka may end up being the worst yet.
They took Straka, a Czech winger, with the 55th overall pick, a choice they received from Phoenix in the trade for Raffi Torres, and the following year, his production for Rimouski in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League dropped. It dropped again during the 2011 regular season before he caught fire in the playoffs and scored 22 points in 21 games.
Don Boyd, who drafted him as director of player personnel, had been fired by then, and the Blue Jackets decided not to sign him, an unusual decision for a second-round pick.
“We expected him to be more of an offensive guard, and he just kind of stumbled in that regard,” development coach Tyler Wright said last spring. “He had a good playoff. That’s what we envisioned in him. But three weeks of good play doesn’t erase a two-year evaluation period.”
Straka is playing for Baie-Comeau Drakkar in the QMJHL, and he has 37 goals and 39 assists in 51 games and a plus-30 rating. The Jackets no longer have his rights, and his agent has offers from five teams. The Jackets aren’t among them, and word is that it wouldn’t matter if they were.
The Philadelphia 76ers attempted to trade former Ohio State star Evan Turner to the Atlanta Hawks for forward Josh Smith before the NBA trade deadline, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, although why is subject to speculation.
Turner hasn’t been the perfect fit with Jrue Holiday, but he is signed through next season at $6.68 million a year. Smith will become an unrestricted free agent this summer and is reportedly looking for a contract in the $80-90 million range.
There is speculation that the Hawks were simply negotiating with the Sixers for Turner as leverage for another trade they were trying to make with the Milwaukee Bucks. Maybe they hoped the threat of acquiring Turner would move Milwaukee to action. It does promise to spawn rumors of other deals for Turner, the second overall pick in the 2010 draft. The Sixers are 14 games under .500.
The Cleveland Browns picked up a win over the Buffalo Bills this week — as the team that actor Kevin Costner will try to restore to its past glories as its general manager in the movie Draft Day. Costner was originally supposed to play the Bills general manager, but a source told the Buffalo News that it was about $3 million cheaper to film in Cleveland than Buffalo, despite some late incentives added by New York. One factor was that there is a 35 percent tax deduction incentive for making the movie in Cleveland for Ohio crew members, 5 percent higher than New York.
“It was a money thing,” Buffalo Niagara Film Commission chief Tim Clark said. “I think (filmmaker Ivan) Reitman really wanted to shoot here, but it just came down to the cost factor. What we were told is that the Cleveland incentives were better. I feel the worse for the Buffalo Bills, because they worked real hard to convince the film company that Buffalo was the place to shoot this, and that Buffalo was America’s team.”
Lionsgate is expected to begin shooting footage next month at the NFL draft.
Last year, the Crew suffered an embarrassing 2-1 loss to the Dayton Dutch Lions in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup. This year, the Crew reserve team will play the Dutch Lions twice in a home-and-home series as part of their regular reserve schedule, which has expanded from 10 games to 14.
It was primarily a Crew reserve team that lost to Dayton last year; the Crew beat the Chicago Fire at home on May 26 and then played the Dutch Lions, who compete in the third tier United Soccer Leagues Pro Division.
The Crew will be in the U.S. Open Cup again this year, although their opponent has yet to be determined.
Because it is the 100th anniversary of the Cup, the winning team will net $250,000 instead of the usual $100,000.
Scott Kazmir seems to be the early leader in the race for the Cleveland Indians’ fifth starting spot, although it’s still a long way until the end of spring training. Kazmir, a three-time All-Star who spent last season in the independent Atlantic League, is not only off to a great start with four shutout innings, four strikeouts and only two hits in his first two games, he is a left-hander. And the Tribe hasn’t had one in the rotation since 2009.
Carlos Carrasco probably came into camp the leader for the fifth spot, but he hasn’t pitched as well and he got hit in the head with a line drive, which could set him back. Daisuke Matsuzaka and Trevor Bauer are the other contenders.
Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.