In preparation for the hardest two weeks of the summer, Ohio State moved into its team hotel Thursday morning. Joshua Perry packed light.
“I brought a couple of pairs of underwear and I’m gonna rotate them on my loop. I brought my laptop so I could Skype,” the junior linebacker said. “I got my cellphone and my headphones and that’s it. I brought a couple of books I like to read a little bit.”
Because the next six practices of the team’s annual fall camp are two-a-days engineered to break the Buckeyes down before building them back up. This is where the, um, real fun begins.
"We really haven’t even gotten into the hard stuff, a lot of those younger guys, they don’t know what’s coming. Two-a-days start on Saturday and once you move into the hotel it’s real," senior tight end Jeff Heuerman said.
"You’ve gotta be mentally tough. Your mind tells your body what it can do and I think a lot of guys think it’s the other way around when it’s not. I think mental toughness is the key. You’re on the grind, you’re gonna be tired, you’re not gonna get a whole lot of sleep, and it’s a long two weeks."
That's why he, Perry and a handful of other players brought little with them to the hotel. There’s really no need, and no time, for anything else that could be considered a distraction. In fact, coach Urban Meyer and Co. might ask you bring even less.
“We just drive our cars back to the Woody and park in the lot. When you go inside, you give them your keys and you don’t see them for two weeks,” Heuerman said. “Last year, we gave up our phones for a week during the day. We just had them at night and when we got to the facility in the morning, we gave up our phones for the whole day. I don’t know if that’s the plan for this year or not, but we did that last year."
Because the point of camp and moving into a team hotel is two-fold. The first, of course, is to prepare Ohio State for an upcoming campaign loaded with Big Ten and national championship hopes. The second purpose is to act as impetus for bonding.
"I think that’s one of the most important things. The more time we spend together and the more time we get to know each other, especially with the young guys here now, I think the better for the team," Perry said.
"It’s also something when you go through camp, which is tough, together. So everybody’s going through the same experiences. At the end of the day, you can come back to the same hotel knowing that you’ve got guys next to you going through the same thing."
After all, that 6 a.m. wakeup call will take getting some time to get used to. So will back-to-back practices in the heat of August.
"We're just basically building that trust, getting to know each other. I feel like our theme has been brotherhood and trust," redshirt sophomore safety Tyvis Powell said.
"I feel like just spending time with everybody and getting to know them, you kind of build that relationship and make a stronger bond on the field."
And for a team that's on a mission to finish unfinished business this fall, it could pay dividends.