Bob Hunter commentary | Rumblings: Aaron Craft at defensive back? Don’t believe the rumors

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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The following is an example of how rumors start, smolder and finally burst into flame, if not reality.

Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer has said on occasion and in passing mentions that he loves the physical style with which Aaron Craft plays basketball. The Buckeyes’ secondary comes apart at the seams in 2013. Craft, who was a safety as well as an all-Ohio quarterback in high school, has had a rough senior year shooting the ball, presumably hurting his chances of playing in the NBA.

An out-of-town newspaper columnist writes in February that he hears Meyer might push to recruit Craft to play safety next season. (After he graduates in May, Craft would have one year of eligibility remaining in any sport other than basketball). Meyer reiterates on a recent OSU-themed cruise how much he loves the way Craft plays basketball.

Some radio talk-show hosts hear what Meyer has said, begin discussing it, and soon enough, a whole bunch of people start asking whether it’s true Craft will play football next season. Craft provided the answer this week: “I am not playing football,” he said in a despairing tone suggesting it wasn’t the first time he’d been asked. “I haven’t even thought about it.”

Besides, he added as he walked away, “I’m not good enough.”

Jaamal Berry’s homecoming last week didn’t go as he had planned, but the former Ohio State running back who left town two years ago under a dark cloud was happy to be back at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

“Columbus has always been a home to me, so I felt comfortable just warming up and getting ready to participate in the pro day,” Berry said.

Berry warmed up but ultimately was not allowed to work out in front of the coaches and scouts from 29 NFL teams on hand to see former OSU players such as Ryan Shazier, Bradley Roby and Carlos Hyde. According to NFL rules, such workouts must be at the NFL combine, which is by invitation only, at the player’s current school or somewhere near his hometown.

Though Berry was at Ohio State for almost three years, he was dismissed early in 2012 because of off-field and legal problems, then transferred to Murray State, where he played the past two seasons. Miami is his hometown. Ohio State officials let Berry and former OSU linebacker Dorian Bell, who transferred to Duquesne, show up, but their participation was denied by the NFL.

Berry is ranked 67th among running-back prospects by NFLDraftScout.com. He said he would find a way to gain a workout at Murray State or perhaps at a regional event in Florida.

Mike Vogt, the Blue Jackets’ head athletic trainer, was on the NHL’s committee of trainers seven years ago when the league sought to establish more stringent medical protocols after Detroit’s Jiri Fischer collapsed on the ice following a heart attack.

Vogt was among those who pushed for the current standards — a minimum of two doctors within close range of the benches, a defibrillator within 100 feet and frequent “test runs” among medical staff who work for the team — that may have saved Rich Peverley’s life when the Dallas forward collapsed on Monday in a game against the Blue Jackets.

The Crew signed third-round draft pick Adam Bedell on March 5 and, three days later, he became the first Columbus rookie to play, coming on as a late substitute in a 3-0 win against D.C. United.

The move surprised some observers who assumed Bedell was destined to be sent to minor-league Dayton. Instead, the Crew sent Ryan Finley, last year’s first-round pick, to the Dutch Lions.

Crew coach Gregg Berhalter likes how Bedell gives them a dimension they lack — height. At 6 feet 7, Bedell is the tallest player on the roster, 3 inches taller (and 14 pounds heavier) than forward Aaron Schoenfeld.

Grady Sizemore played consecutive spring-training games for the Boston Red Sox for the first time this week, and it is beginning to look like the former Indians outfielder might start the season in center field for them.

Sizemore hasn’t played a regular-season game in more than two years, but he appears to have no lingering effects from microfracture surgery on both knees and back and elbow issues that also bothered him. He had played in five spring games before yesterday, batting .308. He has appeared mobile in the outfield and impressed the Red Sox with his swing.

“I feel good, but not great,” Sizemore told MLB.com. “My timing feels … a little rusty. I feel like it’s just another spring training where it’s early and you’re just trying to get that rhythm down. I still feel like I have a long way to go.”

The Red Sox gave Sizemore a one-year, $750,000 contract, with incentives that could bring the deal up to $6 million. He is competing with Jackie Bradley Jr., a top prospect, to start in center field.

Former Crew coach Robert Warzycha has a new job in his native Poland. Warzycha, fired in September after 18 seasons as a coach, assistant coach and player for the Crew, was named coach of Gornik Zabrze of the Polish top division this week.

Warzycha played several seasons for Gornik early in his career before moving on to Everton of the English Premier League and, eventually, the Crew. Gornik is 11-8-6 this season but fired coach Ryszard Wieczorek after an 0-3-2 stretch in which it scored only one goal.

Bob Hunter is a sports columnist for The Dispatch.

bhunter@dispatch.com

@dailyhunter

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