CINCINNATI – On their first day of rookie minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium on Friday, the newest members of the Cincinnati Bengals were still just getting settled in with their new team.
Former Ohio State center Billy Price, defensive end Sam Hubbard and linebacker Chris Worley, though, all said they were already seeing similarities between the way they did things as Buckeyes and the way the Bengals go about their business.
"There’s a lot of crossover from what I did at Ohio State to what we’re doing here," Hubbard said. "And I feel like I have a great base of fundamentals from my time at Ohio State."
Worley said he sees a similar culture inside the Bengals’ facility to that which he was a part of in Columbus.
"The first thing (Bengals head coach Marvin) Lewis said is, ‘We’re not here to baby nobody, we’re here to be grown men.’ And that’s the same thing that Ohio State breeds you through," Worley said. "So that was right at home. And the way we practice without pads is the same thing we do at Ohio State. It’s not a walkthrough; it’s fast, play with your hands, stay off the ground.”
Price, who was thrilled when the Bengals drafted him because he felt they have a similar philosophy to that which Ohio State has, said the biggest thing he learned at Ohio State that he has already applied in Cincinnati is that "you got to be attentive in the classroom."
One thing Worley said is making that process easier, though, is that some of the plays in the Bengals’ playbook are identical to plays that the Buckeyes have in their playbook.
"We got a couple calls that’s the exact same call that we have at Ohio State, the exact same name, and we have other calls that’s the exact same thing, just a different name," Worley said.
“There’s a lot of crossover from what I did at Ohio State to what we’re doing here. And I feel like I have a great base of fundamentals from my time at Ohio State.”– Sam Hubbard
Ohio State is one of college football’s top factories of NFL talent, and while Buckeyes head coach Urban Meyer never coached in the NFL, several of his assistant coaches have – including Worley’s linebackers coach last season, Bill Davis, and defensive coordinator Greg Schiano. All of that helps lead to the similarities that Price, Hubbard and Worley have already seen in Cincinnati.
Despite that, though, the Bengals hadn’t drafted a Buckeye since 2013 (Reid Fragel) before selecting Price in this year’s first round and Hubbard in this year’s third round, while also signing Worley as an undrafted free agent.
Lewis said Friday that while "the goal is to get the best football players," the Bengals were pleased that it worked out that they were able to bring in some Ohio State players this year.
"They have great players," Lewis previously said of Ohio State during the draft. "They recruit well, coach them up and play hard, so they fit well. The players are smart guys. I texted Urban Meyer (during the draft) and told him, ‘We finally have a Buckeye.’ We’ve been close before, but it didn’t work out."
In total, the Bengals have four Buckeyes participating in their rookie minicamp. Former Ohio State walk-on Nick Seme is trying out at the minicamp as a long snapper, though the Bengals have not signed him to their roster at this point.
The three Buckeyes who are now on the Bengals’ roster are glad that they are still teammates with each other, and especially glad that they got to stay in the state of Ohio, where they all grew up before attending Ohio State.
"That’s huge," said Price, a native of Austintown. "You don’t get the opportunity very often, especially when there’s 32 teams around the country, and to be able to play here, it’s awesome."
Despite that familiarity and the aforementioned similarities, however, the three Buckeyes have also already noticed some key differences in their short time as Bengals.
Price said the biggest difference he has noticed so far is that the game is "a lot more mental" at the NFL level.
"That’s probably the hardest part is that language, the terms and just reteaching yourself how to speak Cincinnati offensive line language," Price said. "At Ohio State, things were a little bit simpler, so things were better here and there – for better and for worse – and so now, you got to completely rewire your mind."
Hubbard said the biggest difference he has felt is the responsibility of being a professional football player versus being a college football player.
"It’s more just everything’s on you," Hubbard said. "You’re a professional now, and you’re not going to have someone taking care of you or telling you what to do, you got to do it all on your own. ‘Cause it’s a business now, and this is your job."
Worley said that between the things that feel similar to Ohio State and the things that feel different in Cincinnati, "it’s kind of like half-and-half."
"As of right now, it don’t really feel too much different than Ohio State, just because of the culture here," Worley said. "But there’s still a different feel to it. A whole different city, different coaches; that’s totally different than Ohio State. It still feels the same, but then again, it’s a totally different feeling. So that’s where I’m at right now."
The new crop of NFL rookies are still learning what it’s like to play professional football, a process that will continue for Price, Hubbard, Worley and Seme on Saturday, when the Bengals will hold the second day of their rookie minicamp, which concludes Sunday.
All the Buckeyes in Cincinnati, though, agree that they feel well-prepared to play at the next level because of their experiences at Ohio State.
"I think at Ohio State, they do it better than anybody in the country just from an on-the-field, off-the-field, taking care of your body, how to act in meetings, how to take notes, everything," Hubbard said. "I think I was really prepared at Ohio State."