COLUMBUS, Ohio – The 122nd season of Ohio State football kicked off Monday morning at the Harmon Family Football Park at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center with 103 players taking the field for new coach Luke Fickell.
Fickell, the Columbus native and Ohio State graduate, is the 23rd head coach in school history and only the fifth head coach in the last 60 years. He stepped onto the outdoor practice fields for the first time as Ohio State head coach at 9:17 a.m. After practice, he spoke to a media contingent approaching 50 in number, and he had these things to say:
- “For the first day of camp, it's good to see that the enthusiasm is up. This has been a long time waiting. We've had enough talk, but right now it has to be a lot about action. The attitudes are right and guys are working together as a team.”
- “Today was definitely unique. It was exciting. About 2:30 this morning I was ready to go, so hopefully it was that way for all of our guys. I'm starting to get used to everything but still trying to figure out how things go day to day.”
- “I want confidence and leadership out of our quarterbacks. You don't have to be a vocal leader but you have to exude confidence.”
- “I don't think we've talked once about where anybody picks us [in the polls], either nationally or in our own conference at media days. For me, it's all about what we can control.”
- “We're looking for a mindset. It's still all about effort and hustle. You can still show toughness right now even before the hitting starts.”
News and Notes…
For Starters: Fickell had the offense and defense warm up for a time inside of the Woody Hayes Athletic center before he led the two units onto the outdoor practice fields. Not because it was hot outside – it was overcast and lovely most of the morning – but because that's the way he intends to start his practices.
Welcome Back Mike: Former Ohio State star Mike Vrabel, a two-time All-American and Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year between 1993-96, took to the practice fields for the first time as a coach Monday. He takes over as linebackers' coach, the position his good friend Luke Fickell formerly coached. Vrabel retired from the NFL in July after a 14-year career that included 206 games played, 140 starts and three Super Bowl championships while a member of the New England Patriots.
Men of the Scarlet and Gray: Vrabel's addition to the coaching staff gives Ohio State six former Buckeye football players with the program led, of course, by Fickell, who still owns the school record with 50 consecutive starts between 1993-96. Other former Buckeyes on board: tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator John Peterson (1987-90), offensive quality control assistant Kirk Barton (2004-07), and strength and conditioning coaches Anthony Schlegel (2004-05) and Jeff Uhlenhake (1985-88).
Quick Hitters …
- The platoon of specialists who were first on the outdoor fields today was led by sophomore kicker Drew Basil and included red-shirt freshman kicker Russell Doup [pronounced DOWP] and senior punter Derek Erwin. The trio crossed over pavement to turf at 8:57 a.m.
- The Buckeyes were in shorts and helmets for this first practice. They'll practice in the same gear Tuesday.
- The 103 players on the field included 16 offensive linemen, nine running backs, 12 receivers, five tight ends and five quarterbacks for a total of 47 from the offensive side of the ball. The Silver Bullets featured 18 defensive linemen, 12 linebackers, 11 safeties and nine cornerbacks for a total of 50. The specialists numbered six.
- Also experiencing his first practice as an Ohio State coach today: receivers coach Stan Drayton.
- The rest of this week's practice times are approximately 9 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday and 3:30 p.m. Friday, the first day in full pads.
- The practice Tuesday is open to the media to watch, but no filming or photos, please. Sign in at the entrance starting at 10 a.m. Interviews will be on the field after practice.
- One coaching change for interviews Tuesday: Taver Johnson will be available with Nick Siciliano. Mike Vrabel is rescheduled for Saturday, Aug. 20, after the jersey scrimmage.