The best part of media days is having the time to talk to players and hear their stories. So instead of bullet pointing news items from the day, such as the fact that Jake Stoneburner is now a wide receiver, I’ve decided to collect and share some of my favorite anecdotes and quotes from today’s availability at Ohio State:
- Devan Bogard was the first freshman to have the black stripe removed from his helmet, thus symbolizing that he’s officially a Buckeye football player. When that happens, you’re expected to make a speech to the team. So what did Bogard say? “It’s a privilege to get [the stripe] off. I’m happy I got it off, because I’m part of the Buckeyes now, and we’re just winning games for the seniors.” It’s the coaching staff making the decisions about when to remove the stripes. Although each rookie has an “older brother” mentoring them, those mentors have no input on when the stripe goes.
- Kicker Drew Basil told me that coach Urban Meyer has done a lot to make sure the specialists stay involved with their teammates. “They’re keeping us busier than we’ve ever been,” Basil said, and as an example told me that he’s frequently been one of the team’s zombies. Um…ok, Drew. Zombies? They’re apparently the players who put token pressure on the quarterback in seven-on-seven drills. So does Braxton Miller fear zombie attacks? “Occassionally,” Basil laughed. “Occassionally, unless he runs out of the pocket. We force him out of the pocket quite a bit.” Basil also refused to give zombie pointers, so I’m on my own when it comes to figuring out how to join the Scarlet and Gray’s living dead.
- What role will Zach Boren play now that he’s 25 pounds lighter? “I’m kind of the joker, the jack-of-all trades kind of guy,” he explains. For what it’s worth, when they break down into position groups, Zach is meeting with the tight ends and fullbacks. Zach also told me that his brother, Justin, has been working out with the Baltimore Ravens first-team offensive line.
- Orhian Johnson said he lost a lot of weight when he was ill, and he battled the bug for awhile. He’s feeling much better now, though. That means he’s able to enjoy Meyer’s camp, which has a familiar feel for the Florida native. “We don’t really go too many games without talking a little trash,” Johnson said. “It’s just the competitive atmosphere down there, and I’m really glad that Coach Meyer has brought that up here. Practices have been a lot of more fun, so when we go out there on Saturday, we can bring you guys a nice product. “
- Nathan Williams says he’s 90 percent of the way back from knee surgery and expects to play in the Buckeye season opener against the Miami Redhawks. “I just want everyone to know, throughout this whole process, it’s been rough,” he said, “but I promise them, they’re going to get the very best of Nathan Williams.” In fact, they may get a better Nathan Williams. He was at 14% body fat before his operation. He’s at 7% now, which adds up to 250 pounds of passion for football.
- John Simon goes up against the Ohio State offense every day, and he likes what he sees. “It’s going to be a high-scoring offense and fast tempo. It’s going to be exciting. The things they do and the formations they run are things that I’ve never seen on the defensive side of the ball, and it takes getting used to, so how other teams are going to game plan for it, I don’t even know. So I’m excited to see what they can do in a game-like atmosphere.”