It was a familiar sight for many; Urban Meyer standing on the sidelines in the Ohio State football practice facility, assessing as players worked through drills, a call sheet in his hand, and a look of scrutiny on his face.
But this was different. For starters, he was in a Jacksonville Jaguars polo. And he was there as a coach/scout, not a coach/cheerleader. But his impact on those running through the stations at the Buckeye’s Pro Day had not wavered in the nearly two-and-a-half years since he retired from his job as the Ohio State skipper.
“He seemed like same old Coach Meyer; called me out and we were talking, and it felt good seeing him there and talking to him so it was still the same coach that I grew to know,” expressed offensive lineman Wyatt Davis. The senior was recruited by and played under Meyer in Columbus.
In total there are 10 draft prospects who were recruited by and/or played under Urban Meyer during his time at Ohio State, most of whom participated in Tuesday’s Pro Day. Meyer has spoken on the advantage of familiarity in evaluating prospects with whom coaches have a history, due to the unique nature of a primarily virtual offseason.
That connection can work both ways, helping players ease into a new league within a familiar system. That was the prevailing thought from three Ohio State players after an afternoon of performing in front of Meyer, the Jaguars head coach.
“I mean, that would be a great, just a great kind of opportunity for me to be coached by him again. He was here my freshman year and got to know him during recruiting, then obviously with my first year here. Great coach, great man. I would love to play for him again,” admitted defensive lineman Tommy Togiai.
As we wrote in our evaluation of players with Jaguars coaching connections: “Togiai only has one real year of production and COVID-19 kept him from playing in the National Championship game but he finished 2020 with 23 tackles, 4.5 for loss, with three sacks, two pass breakups. What he has shown proves he could be a fit in this defense. He’s stronger against the run and therefore an early-down lineman. The Jaguars have signed a bevy of linemen in free agency, but Togiai could still fit as a rotational guy.”
The Jaguars shored up their offensive line during free agency, so there’s not as big of a need for someone like Wyatt Davis any longer. But that doesn’t change the fact a reunion would be a dream.
“This would be crazy if the same person that recruited me to Ohio State would be the same person to pick me,” Davis said after his Pro Day workout Tuesday.
“I’m really excited that he got back into football. And cause I know when he would come down here and talk to us, you could just tell he still had that competitive spirit. So I’m really excited to see what what he does at this level and I also wouldn’t mind playing for him as well.”
Defensive end Jonathon Cooper agrees.
“I would love to reunite with Coach Meyer, down in Jacksonville. I feel like that would be amazing and I will do whatever he asked me, I think he knows that, coaching me here at Ohio State.”
Cooper is a dynamic pass rusher with the ability to be a hybrid end/linebacker which will help him slide right in to the expected defensive change under new Jags defensive coordinator Joe Cullen. Cooper still has work to do against the run but has the potential to develop that aspect of his game.
No matter where each guy from Ohio State lands, and no matter who Urban Meyer is coaching come fall, those who played under him in college know what the first time NFL coach is bringing to his new role with the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Says Cooper, “I don’t see Coach Meyer not being successful, anywhere that he goes. So I think he’s gonna kill the NFL, the same way he killed college, and I think he’s going to turn the whole entire program around.”