Last season, the powers-that-be in the OSU football department took a much-appreciated step when they opened up a lot of spring camp to the media. The press was able to observe practices, players were available for interviews and the BTN brought all of us another hour of pure spring gridiron porn1. It's more of the same and then some this season as yesterday kicked off the first of 15 spring practices -- with possibly a dozen open to the media -- and we're now getting practice notes.
The motto this season is DBTH: Don't Believe the Hype, but that's going to be easier said than done within the fanbase this season as we're eyeing a team returning some pretty special players and banks of experience. With Thaddeus Gibson, Kurt Coleman, Austin Spitler, Jim Cordle and others now gone, there are still plenty of spots to fill, however, and the coaches had their first chance to plug in some of the young blood.
Mike Adams has had his work ethic and lifestyle choices questioned here and elsewhere over the course of his brief career, but the junior would be your starting left tackle if the Marshall game were to kickoff tonight. The coaches obviously still see the enormous potential he represents and are giving him every opportunity to step up as he worked with the first team line at left tackle.
With upgraded speed in the linebacker corps, Tyler Moeller, though he's being held out of contact this spring, worked out with the safeties. Jermale Hines and Orhian Johnson were repping with the ones which will be fun to watch as there's been a buzz for some time about Johnson's athleticism. And Hines -- if he can stay healthy, might be the best open field hitter on the team. Jamie Wood, C.J. Barnett and Zach Domicone also saw work back there.
With Andrew Sweat not quite back to full speed, Etienne Sabino saw a lot of snaps with the first team linebackers, as did Storm Klein. Brian Rolle saw his time split between the ones and the twos, but that was more a matter of the staff wanting to evaluate the youth -- Heacock said as much when he said the team was looking for a third to go with Homan and Rolle.
Johnny Simon and Nathan Williams look to be the primary beneficiaries of the snaps freed up by the departure of Doug Worthington and Thaddeus Gibson, respectively and lined up next to Cam Heyward and Dex Larimore on the first defensive line group. Simon really came on as the season progressed last year and Williams has been a known commodity for quite some time. That's a front four that is going to be very, very good, despite some big losses.
As expected, it was the Zoom and Boom show splitting the bulk of first team carries, but in a testament to how deep the backfield is this season, this was the first start to a spring session in a few years where walk-ons didn't tote the rock. Carlos Hyde is in camp and between the two veterans, Jordan Hall and Jaamal Berry, the need to throw bodies into the role to save your one or two key contributors just isn't there.
It wasn't all sunshine and lollipops, however, as two players are being held out of spring ball for what is believed to be academic issues. Duron Carter and Jonathan Newsome won't join their teammates in a full-go situation until practice resumes this summer. As such, Taurian Washington is the number three wide receiver and Tressel, always the wise diplomat, said Washington would be the #3 whether Carter was participating or not. Washington is getting another golden opportunity to show what he can do and though he's had solid springs in the past, his in-game performance has yet to really impress.
Another point of interest: the coaches visited Virginia Tech, LSU, Alabama and the New Orleans Saints during the offseason. With all due respect to Butch Davis, that's a marked improvement over last winter when the staff met with North Carolina, Duke, Wake Forest and NC State.
So yeah, things are heating up again and will for the next three weeks before we enter one last stretch of life without meaning -- also known as the time between the Spring Game and early August when the players report again. This time, for real.
- 1 This would have happened anyway.