Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: Newcomers may plug holes on Ohio State’s defensive line

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Those who have seen a little of Ohio State’s football practices have gushed about freshman running back Dontre Wilson, though he is not the only newcomer who seems to be holding his own.

Defensive linemen Billy Price from Austintown-Fitch and Michael Hill from Pendleton, S.C., appear to be in good condition for first-year big men, and both are listed at more than 300 pounds. They could help plug the gap left by the early departure of Johnathan Hankins, a draft pick of the New York Giants.

Practice observers noted how Hill and Price paid strict attention to defensive line coach Mike Vrabel throughout the sessions, then showed quickness and strength in executing the drills. The defensive line is going to be a relatively young unit, having lost all four starters. Vrabel and coach Urban Meyer might be less apprehensive about playing first-year players because of that.

No one is certain how the Hunt Sports Group’s sale of the Crew to Precourt Sports Ventures will affect team president Mark McCullers’ job status, but his situation is unusual. McCullers had been involved in the sale process as a representative of the Hunt family and now works for the people who bought the team.

“I wouldn’t say that I was involved in negotiations, but I’ve been involved in the sales process from the beginning,” McCullers said. “It was something (the Hunts) wanted me to be engaged in, to help with marketing, to help with the numbers and to make sure that everything was accurate and on point.”

D’Angelo Russell, the 6-foot-4 shooting guard from Montverde Academy in Florida who has committed to Ohio State, is the No. 44 overall recruit in the 2014 class by 247Sports.com. He received a higher rating from Rick Bozich, a former columnist for the Louisville, Ky., Courier-Journal who now works for WDRB-TV in that city.

Bozich wrote that he “called several assistant coaches who lived on the road in July,” granted them anonymity and asked for their opinions on players in the 2014 class. Based on those conversations, he rated Russell No. 4.

He quoted an assistant at another Big Ten school as saying that Russell will “have the same kind of career at Ohio State that Evan Turner had. He didn’t have a good summer, he had a great summer.”& amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>

Sources told the Sports Business Journal that if Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam were forced to step down because of the federal investigation of his family-run Pilot Flying J truck-stop chain, his father, 83-year-old Jim Haslam II, would take over the team. The elder Haslam founded Pilot in 1958, but his day-to-day dealings with the company are limited and he has not been linked to the scandal.

There is no indication that Jimmy Haslam will have to give up the Browns, but that has been speculated since the April 15 FBI raid on company headquarters. The company already reached a $35 million class-action settlement because of an alleged scheme to defraud customers by shortchanging them on gasoline and diesel rebates.

Jim Haslam ceded control of the company to his son in 1997; Jimmy Haslam bought the Browns last year for more than $1 billion.

Brian Giesenschlag, a reporter during Cincinnati Reds’ telecasts on Fox Sports Ohio, is moving into Dave Maetzold’s old position as a host of the Blue Jackets’ pregame and postgame shows. Giesenschlag formerly served as sports director for WXIX-TV in Cincinnati.

Maetzold will take over for Natalie Taylor as in-game reporter during Blue Jackets broadcasts.

In an emotional speech at his induction ceremony at the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Cris Carter apologized “to all the Buckeye fans, from the bottom of my heart … for me signing with a sports agent and losing my eligibility my senior year.” He added that “the only regret I have in my athletic career is that I couldn’t play for the Buckeyes as a senior.”

The former Ohio State All-American first thanked his “mama, Joyce” for “telling me since I was little” that he was in the Hall of Fame, and he had Ohio Dominican coach Bill Conley second on his “ thank you” list. Conley coached him at Middletown High School.

“This guy right here came into my life when I was 17 years old,” Carter said. “I was one of the best basketball players in the state of Ohio. I had a brother in the NBA (Butch Carter) and I was only playing football to stay in shape. (Conley) told me, looked me straight in the eye and said, ‘ Son, you have a better chance to be Lynn Swann than you do Isiah Thomas.’ ”

Carter also told Conley how much he learned about football and preparation and added, “I wake up every day coaching kids. I idolize you, coach. I try to coach my high-school kids just like my high-school coach.”

Terrelle Pryor reportedly has had an impressive start to training camp with the Oakland Raiders. The former Ohio State quarterback isn’t expected to start ahead of Matt Flynn, but Raiders offensive coordinator Greg Olson has designed packages to take advantage of Pryor’s athleticism.

“The packages we’re talking about have a lot to do with our offense,” Pryor told CSN Bay Area. “ We’re still going down the field with the ball. We’re still throwing timing routes. It’s just a package to get me on the field, and run the same plays that Matt Flynn, Tyler Wilson and Matt McGloin are running. It’s the same stuff. It’s just me, that and some pistol stuff.”

Pryor’s passing has noticeably improved after offseason workouts with Tom House, a former major league pitcher and throwing coach whose clients include New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady. Pryor worked on his footwork and lower-body positioning to the point where he says his arm never gets sore despite a nonstop offseason of throwing passes.

“I never really knew how to throw a football before,” Pryor told InsideBayArea.com.

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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