Buckeyes Brace for Grueling Fall Camp under Meyer
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — In a ceremony held during Thursday’s Champions Club dinner, Ohio State strength coordinator Mickey Marotti handed the Buckeyes back to their head coach.
Photo by Jim Davidson
It would seem like a chance for OSU players to exhale after a long, rugged summer of conditioning under Marotti, who has been known to push his players to the limit of their own exhaustion.
Instead, the returning players from last year’s 6-7 team hit the practice field this morning at 6 a.m. for the first fall practice under first-year head coach Urban Meyer. While the players are excited to get back to football, this promises to be one of the most demanding fall camps they will ever experience.
“It's going to be a really, really hard training camp,” Meyer said last week in Chicago.
“It's just going to be a hard, physical camp. I think they expect it.”
If they don’t, they should by now.
Meyer took the job at Ohio State after the Michigan game last fall, and he recognized immediately that the program needed a complete cleansing of the soul after what had happened with former head coach Jim Tressel.
Photo by Dan Harker
“Last year, we kind of took the offseason a little easy because of everything that came out. Coach Tress just left and stuff like that. It was hard,” senior fullback Zach Boren said.
“The guys kind of leaned upon each other but didn't do anything about it. This year, I really think we've taken it upon ourselves to make this offseason the best we possibly can and make sure last season doesn't happen again.”
What happened last year had not happened at Ohio State in nearly a quarter-century. It was 1988 the last time the Buckeyes had a losing season, but with a new coaching staff there has come new expectations.
The Buckeyes are ineligible for postseason play during Meyer’s first season in Columbus, but that hasn’t stopped the whispers of an undefeated season in Columbus. Meyer has brushed off questions about targeting a 12-0 campaign in 2012, and he wants to make sure his players have their focus in the right direction.
“I can promise you that after day four, they're not going to be talking about being 10-0. They're worrying about getting to day five,” Meyer said.
“My concern's not with me, but if those kids hear that nonsense, then I've got to beat it of them the first week of training camp.”
The better the team, the harder Meyer is going to make it on them during fall camp. That could be an indication of what Meyer thinks of this group he inherited from his defensive coordinator, Luke Fickell.
“Part of that is to get them ready, but also for that nonsense right there,” Meyer said of the undefeated talk surrounding the 2012 Buckeyes.
“Aunts and grandmothers are telling them, ‘I hear you’re going to be (undefeated).’ It’s hard to focus on that when the alarm goes off at 5 in the morning.”
The veterans hit the practice field at the Harmon Family Football Park adjacent to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center (WHAC) at 6 a.m. Friday. There is a freshmen-only practice scheduled for 5:15 p.m. later in the day.
That’s when Meyer will get his first real chance to work with some of the new faces on the team, including running back Warren Ball, offensive tackle Kyle Dodson and defensive linemen Noah Spence and Adolphus Washington.
The Buckeyes with have Saturday and Sunday off before they come together as a complete unit for the first time on Monday evening. That is also the first day of final exams for Summer semester, which is why the Buckeyes will not start two-a-days until Friday, Aug. 10.
That is the day after final exams. Practices during the week will be limited to one per day, but the players will move into their fall camp residence throughout the day on Wednesday, Aug. 8.
Players move back into their dorms or apartments on Sunday, Aug. 19. By then, the Buckeyes hope to have forged the foundations for a successful 2012 campaign.
“Camp is when you build your personality as a team,” Boren said.
“Once we get out of camp, we'll know more about this team's personality and see how we're going to be. I can tell that we're hungry because of the offseason we've had and how hard guys have been working.”
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