CANTON: Browns fans might be jealous. But when it comes to cultivating NFL relationships, Ohio State coach Urban Meyer is pledging his allegiance to both Ohio teams.
Raised in Ashtabula, Meyer said he grew up “a Browns and Bengals fan.”
That might seem strange for someone whose roots are on the shores of Lake Erie. But Meyer said Monday he has asked Bengals coach Marvin Lewis to speak to the Buckeyes when they play their annual spring game April 13 in Paul Brown Stadium.
The game was moved to Cincinnati due to renovations at Ohio Stadium.
Appearing at the Pro Football Hall of Fame Luncheon Club at Tozzi’s on 12th, Meyer said he’s also made contact with the Browns. He referred to new coach Rob Chudzinski as “coach Chud.”
“I’ve already talked to the Browns, the owner Jimmy Haslam; I love them,” Meyer said. “I hope they take our guys because we’re big Browns and Bengals fans.”
The Browns already landed one of Meyer’s players. Meyer recruited recently signed Browns free-agent outside linebacker Paul Kruger to Utah.
“Great player, great kid, great family, a guy that’s all in,” Meyer said. “I love him.”
Meyer also believes OSU senior defensive lineman John Simon, a two-time co-captain, could have a long career in the NFL. At 6 feet, 1½ inches and 256 pounds, Simon is considered a tweener and missed the Senior Bowl due to shoulder surgery. Pro Football Weekly’s Draft Guide projected Simon as a fourth- or fifth-round pick and suggested he could become a 3-4 power-leverage rusher or converted into an inside linebacker in the mold of ex-New England Patriot Tedy Bruschi.
Simon said at the NFL Combine that he had talked to the Browns “quite a bit.”
“I think he can play 3-4 and defensive end, 3-4 means standup guy,” Meyer said. “I think he’ll be a 10-year veteran if he stays healthy.”
The Browns could also be looking for another tight end, and Meyer touted the potential of OSU’s Jake Stoneburner.
“I think Jake’s got a good future ahead of him,” Meyer said. “Real talented, he can do a lot, a little bit like the Aaron Hernandez kid we had at Florida.”
Hernandez has caught 175 passes for 1,956 yards and 18 touchdowns in three seasons with the Patriots.
Meyer acknowledged he was riveted to the television during the final seconds of Ohio State’s NCAA victory over Iowa State on Sunday, won on a 3-pointer by Aaron Craft with half a second remaining.
“I’m screaming at the TV, ‘What are you doing? Go! Go!’ ” Meyer said. “You see his confidence. You know he struggled for about three minutes prior — missed two front ends of one-and-ones, had that turnover on the sideline. That’s a grown man.”
Asked if he’d take Craft, who played quarterback at Liberty-Benton High School, as a defensive back, Meyer said, “I love that kid. [It would be] ‘What position do you play? Yes.’ ”
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