Billy Price meets his quarterback Friday, Andy Dalton.
Urban Meyer is on the treadmill Friday running back in time for you.
Meyer, Ohio State’s high-energy head coach, is ticking off the names of the linebackers from the ‘70s from the Bengals teams he loved as a kid. Bill Bergey. Al Beauchamp. No. 51? Right. Kenny Avery wore 51.
“Name the corners,” Meyer is testing you. “Remember the safeties? And there was the piano player. Mike Reid. (Ron) Carpenter. Those guys.”
So it was not lost on Meyer that he had just bequeathed his center and one of the greatest Buckeye offensive linemen ever to his hometown team 50 years after their first center. Bob Johnson. Bob Johnson? It can be forgiven if Meyer doesn’t know that one. Given he was three years old when …
“Bob Johnson? Are you kidding me? First guy Paul Brown drafted. No. 54,” Meyer says, his certificate to Bengaldom now complete.
So there are many reasons why over at his house Thursday night there was surge when the Bengals took Billy Price in the first round at No. 21.
“Great marriage,” Meyer says. “When we saw the name and team come across, we were ecstatic.
“Every great team has a great center. You have to have a great center and I think Billy is going to be that guy.”
Meyer has known Marvin Lewis much longer than Lewis has been the Bengals head coach. His two sisters live in Cincinnati and one of his former coaches, Luke Fickell, is now the head coach of Meyer’s alma mater at the University of Cincinnati. Speaking of certified Bengaldom, Meyer’s grandfather had a certificate in his den calling him a part-owner of the Bengals that appears to have been a promotional bit back in the day. The kids went to some games at Riverfront Stadiuml, but sat with everyone else.
“First of all,” says Meyer when it is suggested he keeps a bit of an eye on the Bengals, “I don’t keep a little eye on them. I keep a big eye on them.”
He agrees with Lewis and his coaches that Price is a huge addition to the locker room.
“Other than the quarterback, the center is the most important guy. Maybe just as important,” Meyer says. “He touches the ball every play. He’s the leader of the most important group. The offensive line has to all be together. He’s extremely high character. He’s the best practice player you’ll have. He’s a great leader.”
Those 55 straight starts say it all without Meyer saying anything.
“That’s a record I think will never be challenged. Especially from an offensive lineman,” Meyer says of that Ohio State mark. “They’re in harm’s way every snap. He made the transition from guard to center very easily. He’s very multi-talented and flexible guy that can play a lot of positions."
Mark it down. Urban Meyer, 53, the 13-year-old that rooted for Bob Johnson’s Bengals, applauds the pick.
“We need more Buckeyes down there,” Meyer says.