Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: Safety could have bright future at Ohio State

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Ohio State signed another elite football class this week, at least according to the recruiting services, but the proof won’t come for three or four years. Some four-star players end up playing like three-stars, and vice versa.

With that in mind, longtime talent assessor John McCallister was asked who among Ohio State’s in-state recruits had the most potential. He picked Erick Smith, a safety from Cleveland Glenville who stepped out from the shadow of teammate and fellow Ohio State signee Marshon Lattimore.

“Smith was the best prospect in the state,” said McCallister, who likened Smith’s playing style to Donte Whitner, a former Ohio State safety now with the San Francisco 49ers.

Crew investor/operator Anthony Precourt told FoxSports.com that part of his decision to upgrade portions of Crew Stadium shortly after he bought the team from the Hunt family in July came from his desire to show that things have changed.

“We are a major-league franchise,” Precourt said. “I think there were certain things that needed to be done to get up to the level I think we should be at as a professional soccer club.

“We also want to let it be known that there’s a new era in town. We’re not the Hunts. … I have great respect for the Hunt family and all they have done for Major League Soccer. But we’re going to do things differently, and we wanted everyone to know that. We’re going to be aggressive and hungry. We have high expectations.”

Another more visible change apparently is coming in 2015, a change to the crest the team has used since its inaugural season of 1996.

“We love the name Columbus Crew. We love the colors. We love black and gold. That never changes,” Precourt said. “We’re looking at ways we can evolve and change our logo. We want it to represent the Columbus we’ve come to know.

“I don’t think a construction crew is really representative. (Columbus is) not a blue-collar, manufacturing, industrial town. It’s a smart, young, progressive university town with world-class businesses. We don’t see Columbus in the crest. There are things we can do to represent the capital city better.”

The list of NBA teams reportedly interested in former Ohio State star Evan Turner continues to grow, but whether the Philadelphia 76ers ultimately trade him is anyone’s guess. Last season, Atlanta’s Josh Smith got this kind of attention before the trade deadline, and the Hawks never traded him.

Even so, Oklahoma City, Phoenix, the Los Angeles Clippers, Atlanta, Dallas and Charlotte are among the teams who have shown interest in Turner, who professes to be unaware of the reports.

“I don’t read the papers,” he said recently. “If I did, I’d have my bags packed for different weather.”

For the second straight week, Cincinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto called in and took questions on Lance McAllister’s radio show on WLW-AM. This is a departure for Votto, but he asked media-relations manager Rob Butcher to set it up.

“I just wanted to get on here and connect with the fans and let people get to know me better,” Votto said on the show.

Last season, Votto came under criticism for his low RBI total from fans who wanted to see him swing the bat more and take fewer walks; his 135 walks led the National League.

After the Cleveland Browns hired Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator, ESPN speculated that Washington Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins might follow him. The two reportedly had a good relationship with the Redskins, who supposedly have Cousins on the block.

Although the Browns might be able to use Cousins, drafted in the fourth round out of Michigan State in 2012, it’s uncertain whether they would be willing to trade draft picks for a player who might not be the answer at quarterback.

Purdue football coach Darrell Hazell deserves credit for putting a different spin on a recruiting class that might not measure up to the big boys in terms of prospect ratings. The former Ohio State assistant spoke about the “leadership” in a 19-player class teeming with high-school captains.

“We have 18 captains in this class, which is pretty unique,” Hazell said. “It’s always good to get natural leadership.”

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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