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BUCKEYE BUZZZ: Grant gets support, consolation from outsiders

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — What's brewing with the 2013 Ohio State Buckeyes ...

BUCKEYES BUZZ: There have been reports around the country of people taking to social media after games to criticize or even threaten college athletes.

During his years at Ohio State, two-time basketball All-American Jared Sullinger continually battled those on Twitter who questioned his heart or talent.

LB Curtis Grant has a much different experience.

His father, Curtis Raynard Grant, 54, of Glen Allen, Va., died a little over two weeks ago.

The junior said this week that it has not been easy grieving the loss of his father, but that it's been reassuring how many people have reached out to him to offer their condolences or help.

"It's a lot harder for me on Saturdays because I'm not really doing that much," he said carefully. "Throughout the week I'm pretty good but then once it comes to Saturdays, it's a little different."

He said he was stunned by the reaction of Ohio State fans.

"A lot of fans Instagrammed me and (sent messages on) Twitter, showed me a lot of love and support and I really appreciated that," he said. "I even got cards from mailmen and people I never even heard of before. I was thankful to even be blessed with that."

He said that it's a reminder of who he's playing for.

"To know that you have that family support and fan support and team support, it's a great thing to have," he said.

Grant sustained a neck injury during last week's 63-14 win over Penn State but said he was fine and is expecting to be 100 percent for Saturday's noon start at Purdue.

LOTS OF BETTERS: To a question about QB Braxton Miller's improved passing-completion percentage, coach Urban Meyer said, "Fundamentally, he's a much better player than he was a year ago and (has improved his) knowledge of the offense. Those two things. I see it every day."

Meyer went on to say that changing the playbook doesn't help a QB improve, but rather mastering the plays at hand.

"Now he's in the same offense, with the same coach, with the same system for two years. You should be better," Meyer said. "But he's really better. I anticipated he would be better. He's better than better."

Then he stopped and laughed at what he had just said.

"Nice job. That's my master's degree from Ohio State — better than better," he said with a smile.

ANOTHER WATCH LIST: LB Ryan Shazier has been selected as one of the 16 semifinalists for the Maxwell Football Club's Bednarik Award, given annually to the nation's defensive player of the year.

He already is on the watch list for the Butkus and Lott IMPACT awards.

The winner of the 19th Bednarik Award will be announced on Dec. 12. Three finalists will be announced on Nov. 25.

ON THE OTHER SIDE: Former Buckeyes LB Marcus Freeman will be on the other side of the field on Saturday. He's in his first season as LBs coach for the Boilermakers.

Freeman, a standout alongside James Laurinaitis with the Buckeyes from 2004-08, was a fifth-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. After giving up on his pro career, he took a job as LBs coach at Kent State under former Ohio State assistant Darrell Hazell, then moved to Purdue when Hazell took the job there after last season.

Current Ohio State co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell joked that he tried to help him choose a different profession.

"I tried to talk him out of it," Fickell said with a laugh. "Any kid, player, even my own son, the first thing you try to do is talk them out of it. Crazy business, a lot of things you give up. Obviously there's things you get."

Fickell said that Freeman fit the mold of a former player who also wanted to coach.

"He loved the game, he enjoyed the game, he understood the game," he said. reported that Laurinaitis stopped by Freeman's home in West Lafayette, Ind., this summer.

"We had just finished a wall in our house that you're able to write on in chalk," Freeman said. "And I said make sure anybody that comes to visit our house, you've got to sign the wall."

Odds are Freeman hasn't invited over many of the other members of the staff, however.

"He put, 'James Laurinaitis, Go Bucks,'" Freeman said.


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