Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: Buckeyes looking for quarterback of future already

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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As Braxton Miller watches spring practice while recovering from shoulder surgery to see who might be his backup this fall, Ohio State is already targeting a Florida quarterback who could join the mix in 2015.

Torrance Gibson of Plantation has offers from many major programs, including Ohio State, Alabama and Texas A&M. He is considered the second-best dual-threat prospect behind Jarrett Stidham of Stephenville, Texas. But recruiting analyst Bill Kurelic of Bucknuts said Gibson has indicated he might not announce a choice until a week before signing day in February.

That could leave all those schools hanging. The Buckeyes are couching their bet by offering several others — as many as seven — but with it well known that Gibson is their top choice.

The latest quarterback to gain an offer from Ohio State was Drew Lock, of Lee’s Summit, Mo. He is a four-star prospect on Rivals.com.

The Crew is expected to announce today the four players it will send to the Dayton Dutch Lions under a new affiliation agreement.

The players are expected to spend the entire season with the Dutch Lions, who are part of the United Soccer Leagues Pro division, a third-tier league. Adam Bedell, Fifi Baiden, Ross Friedman and Matt Walker are the four most likely to be assigned; in the past, they would have played on the Crew reserve team, which no longer exists.

After the move is made, 27 players will remain with the Crew when the season opens on Saturday — one over Major League Soccer’s limit — but Matt Wiet is on the disabled list because of a knee injury and is expected to remain there until midseason.

Jim Thome hasn’t played since 2012, but he isn’t retired. The 43-year-old former Cleveland Indian told CBSSports.com what he would do if a major-league team approached him.

“I think you’d have to take that call,” he said.

Thome, who has 612 career home runs, hit .252 with eight homers for the Phillies and Orioles in 2012. Last season, he was a special assistant in the White Sox’s front office.

Odd as it seems, losing consecutive games to Penn State and Indiana hasn’t changed the betting lines on Ohio State winning the NCAA tournament. Bovada.lv had the odds on Ohio State at 40-1 on Feb. 17, and they remain there today.

Florida remains the favorite, with odds of 5-1, followed by Arizona at 8-1.

Coach Brady Hoke’s uncertainty over Michigan’s starting quarterback may just be about pushing senior Devin Gardner.

Gardner started 12 games last season and became the second quarterback in Wolverines history to top 3,000 total yards. But new offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier believes Gardner “has a lot of unscratched potential,” and the coaches intended to bring it out of him through competition.

“We’re going to have competition at every position,” Nussmeier told the Big Ten Network. “When you can create competition and you have good players competing and you develop depth on your roster, if makes your football team better.”

Gardner didn’t have much competition in 2013, and coaches think it hurt him.

“(Gardner’s) done a great job, he’s up here every day studying, he’s grinding,” Nussmeier said. “ I really think he’ll make great progress.”

The early word on Cincinnati Reds starter Mat Latos is encouraging.

The right-hander had arthroscopic surgery in October to remove bone chips in his right elbow and had knee surgery on Feb. 14 to repair a torn meniscus. He threw a bullpen session off the mound for the first time this week, which he said “went really good,” and he hopes to be back by opening day.

“The elbow felt fine, the knee felt fine,” he told the Cincinnati Enquirer. “I didn’t expect to throw any change-ups. They allowed me to throw change-ups. I expected to feel a little sore once or twice while I was throwing as I was getting the feel back into the stride on the slope and landing downhill, so there’s a little more momentum, a little more body weight to it. But I didn’t feel anything — not a tweak, not a pinch, a grab.”& amp; amp; amp; lt; /p>

Latos is scheduled to have another bullpen session on Saturday.

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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