Winter Conditioning Notes

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Last updated: 03/07/2011 4:42 PM
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Winter Conditioning Notes
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — The sun had yet to rise and most of Columbus was still tucked safely in bed, but the football Buckeyes were already in full workout mode. That’s because Monday marked the first day of 6 a.m. winter workouts at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, and Eric Lichter was going to make sure his guys got in a good sweat.

“We’re looking for toughness, we’re looking for finishing. It’s tough, you’re going through physical exertion beyond what’s normal,” said Lichter, Ohio State’s director of football performance.

“We just want to see guys compete in every single drill and not quit and give their best effort and really challenge the hour.”

It challenged some guys to the point of puking, but that’s the cost of being Big Ten champions year after year.

Here is an inside look at Ohio State’s first 6 a.m. workout.

Moeller on the Mend

The first item of note is that Lichter said that Tyler Moeller is doing well in his recovery from (pectoral) surgery. He is still limited when it comes to heavy lifting with the upper body, but he’s full-go with the lower body. He was doing most of the workouts today, including the ropes and looked good. Lichter said they will continue to take a cautious approach with Moeller as he gets back to form.

Pryor Still Wearing a Boot

While Moeller not held out of drills, quarterback Terrelle Pryor certainly was. Pryor had surgery on his right foot after suffering an injury late in the Sugar Bowl and is still wearing a boot. Initial reports said that Pryor might miss most of spring practice as he continues to recover.

Pryor was on the side working with the injured players, doing all the stuff they do. That included riding the bike with just his left foot while the right one rested. Lichter said Pryor is still working hard in the weight room, and he has also taken on a leadership role with the injured guys.

Smith Passes Look Test with Flying Colors

When it comes to the look test, no one on the entire roster was more impressive than running back Rod Smith. At first glance, the guy looked like a super hero in his workout shirt. Think of Superman, and that was Rod Smith, a redshirt freshman out of Fort Wayne, Ind. He is ripped, but not bulky. He looks to be in incredible shape and moved extremely well. He was wearing some kind of soft cast on his left hand, but it didn’t seem to bother him. With Boom Herron suspended to start the season, expect to hear Smith’s name in the mix at tailback along with Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry. Both Hall and Berry looked great during the agility drills. Contrast that to Carlos Hyde, who did not seem to be in the best shape of his life and spent the last five minutes of practice hovering over a trash can.

Man of the Hour

Smith might have looked the most impressive, but the best performance of the day belonged to true freshman Joe Hale. The kid should be a senior in high school right now and absolutely dominated both John Simon and Nate Williams in the "band war" drill, which Lichter called his favorite drill.

For those not familiar with the drill, two guys enter a circle and they are banded together with a teather. One guy has to drag the other guy out of the circle using brute strength. Hale worked Simon twice, went and puked in the trash can then rallied to beat Nate Williams. It was impressive.

Hale talked about possibly staying at defensive end, but there is no way he isn't going to be a tackle. He looks like a tackle right now and hasn't been in OSU's strength program for more than a couple months. It doesn’t matter all that much in Ohio State’s ever-evolving defense, but that’s what it will look like on paper.

Speaking of Simon

I know I mentioned how Simon got bested by Joe Hale in the band war drill, but Simon is getting more and more ripped by the day. He has to be the only guy his size with an 8-pack.

I would say at this point he looks a lot more like a defensive end than a tackle. He is lean and strong, and I have to imagine he will play more outside this year at strongside end now that Cam Heyward is gone.

Again, it probably doesn’t matter a whole lot in the grand scheme of Ohio State’s defense, but Garrett Goebel and Adam Bellamy both look a lot more like inside guys than Simon does at this point.

Get Well Soon

I'm sad to report that Melvin Fellows was still working out with the injured players on the side this morning. He had sleeves on both of his knees, and although he did some of the drills, it's clear he has not fully recovered.

I don't know if and when this knee problem is going to be behind him, but I really hope it is soon, for his sake. It has to be rough on a player to battle something like this for so long.

Other players working on the side with Fellows and Pryor were defensive back Corey “Pittsburgh” Brown, defensive tackle Johnathan Hankins and safety Zach Domicone. Andrew Sweat was working his butt off during drills, but ended up over on the side with the injured players after tweaking his ankle. It did not look like anything serious.

Chad Hagan and Scott McVey seem to be recovering from their injuries, as both participated in drills. McVey did not use his right arm during the rope drills, but Hagan seemed to be full-go. Both players worked with the linebackers. C.J. Barnett also looked to be full-go during drills after tearing his MCL and PCL against Miami. 

Looking Good

It was only a first glance, but a number of players seem to have worked hard on their bodies this off-season. Along with Rod Smith, the other one that stood out to me was Storm Klein. His upper body looks huge and it showed up in all the strength drills. He took down both Jordan Whiting and Etienne Sabino in the “band war” drill.

Some other guys who looked good Monday morning were Nathan Williams, Jake Stoneburner, Mike Adams, J.B. Shugarts, Andrew Norwell, Dorian Bell, Jonathan Newsome, Jeff Heuerman and Braxton Miller. I must admit, I was surprised with how good of shape the new freshmen are in already. It’s amazing how advanced some of these high school programs must be, because Miller in particular looks like he’s been working out with the team for a couple years. Lichter said he’s been very impressed with all five of the newcomers.

Other Items of Note

*Cam Heyward spent the morning working out with his old teammates and his presence was definitely felt. He is getting ready to work out for scouts on March 30th and his elbow seems to be healing up nicely.

*Former OSU linebacker Bobby Carpenter came out from the weightroom to watch the end of the workouts.

*This may or may not mean anything, but the five offensive linemen working together for most of the morning (during drills) were Brewster, Adams, Shugarts, Jack Mewhort and Corey Linsley.

*Cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson was wearing a protective boot on his left foot/ankle.

*No James Jackson today, in case anyone was still wondering whether the wide receiver had left the team.

*Marcus Hall looks like he has put on some weight.

*Redshirt freshman wideout T.Y. Williams looks a little thicker all the way around. It still doesn’t give him much to work with, but every little bit helps.

*Freshman safety Jeremy Cash seemed to have injured one or two of his fingers towards the end of workouts. Had to get them taped or splinted.

*After being told some seniors would be available for interviews following the workouts, none were made available. Only Lichter spoke with the media today.

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