Presser Bullets: Ohio State Strength Coach Mickey Marotti Discusses Early Enrollees, Justin Fields' Development, Offseason Workout Plans

By Colin Hass-Hill on January 22, 2020 at 1:43 pm
Mickey Marotti

Ohio State strength coach Mickey Marotti rarely holds press conferences, but he broke that trend on Wednesday.

Marotti, the assistant athletic director for football sports performance, has spent eight years at Ohio State and is currently leading the team through winter workouts. On Wednesday, he fielded a wide range of questions, including those about the offseason, injuries and individual updates.

Here's a bullet-point rundown of everything Marotti discussed:

  • Marotti on the early enrollees: "You're talking about the largest mid-year group that I've ever been a part of." He says it's "pretty impressive" from a size standpoint. He also mentioned the freshmen have been great "taking care of their business."
  • He says Gee Scott is "Austin Mack-ish" as a physical talent.
  • Marotti says the early enrollees are separated from the rest of the team as the integrate themselves into the program.
  • On the freshman wide receivers: "I think they can be as good as they want to be, but the receivers in the past have put in an inordinate amount of work to get where they got."
  • Marotti on whether they use the Fiesta Bowl loss as motivation: "No doubt." He says there's a sign with the score in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center weight room.
  • Justin Fields is "completely different" after having gone through a year at Ohio State and lost to Clemson. 
  • Fields is working out with zero restrictions right now, per Marotti.
  • In the offseason, the strength coaches gave players a six-question self-evaluation project with a list: (1) what motivates them, (2) give three individual goals of the offseason, and then there are a couple other questions about what your unit can expect. Then, the staff put all the goals on each of the lockers for everybody to see. "We're trying to be very transparent, more than we've ever been."
  • Marotti says Paris Johnson stands out as having been trained as a high level for years.
  • Marotti says players from the states of Ohio and Texas come into college more physically ready for strength programs.
  • Javontae Jean-Baptiste currently weighs 248 pounds, Marotti says. They intentionally put weight on him over the past two years.
  • In January, they are in general training, which is split into three groups: developmental group, advanced group and "new guys." He says February is what "you hold your hat on" at Ohio State when practices are early in the morning and important in long-term development.
  • "I call it perpetual development...You're trying to get better every day you're in here."
  • Marotti says coaches are able to be involved in some drills in the offseason, which has been beneficial.
  • Marotti says you can tell how good a team is based on workouts. How does he evaluate them right now? "Way too early."
  • Leaders emerge as the season progresses, which happened to Jeff Okudah.
  • J.K. Dobbins had a visceral chip on his shoulder at this point a year ago, Marotti said.
  • On whether Marcus Crowley will be ready for spring practice: "I'm not sure."
  • Marotti says Kamryn Babb is "participating in all training."
  • He calls Kerry Coombs the "Energizer Bunny." 
  • Having been in the NFL, Marotti says, Coombs has "put more tools in his toolbox ... That's a big hammer now."
  • Marotti says it's beneficial when there are more early enrollees because there are more chances that positive leaders emerge.
  • Marotti's favorite day of the year? Mat drills.
  • On Julian Fleming: "Obviously he's talented. So far, so good."
  • On the freshmen quarterbacks: "You can see at least the vision of, 'I've got to get there, I've got to get there.'"
  • On Jonathon Cooper's injury: "That's the worst part of this job." He says Cooper is "such an outgoing, positive, energized, juiced-up leader." Now, Marotti says, he has to slow down Cooper because he's so eager.
  • On Tuf Borland: "He's one of the most dependable players I've been around for 30 years." He says Borland wants to be a strength coach, so "obviously he knows what he's doing." Borland's leadership didn't come naturally, Marotti said.
  • On J.K. Dobbins: "J.K., for example, great worker, great dude, great teammate, but he really wasn't that good of a leader." They worked throughout the summer of 2019 to improve his leadership skills.
  • On the defensive backs: "They've got a lot of work to do. There's no doubt." 
  • He says he talked to every player individually in the first week back on campus.
  • In 2016, Marotti says, the defensive backs had to step up. He says he's hoping the younger cornerbacks and safeties step up like they did in 2016.
  • Marotti says in recruiting coaches have to "be nice" to prospects. When they get on campus, though, they get a dose of Marotti: "I don't have to be nice to anybody."
  • On Master Teague: "There's very few out there who are physically fit like he is."
  • When Zach Harrison was getting recruited, he was so quiet that Marotti wondered, "What are we doing?" Then the first day he was on campus, he "I hated it. I didn't want to talk." He says Harrison is like J.K. Dobbins where you can "see" and "feel" him around.
  • Marotti on Dawand Jones: "I love him. He's a great kid, smiles all the time." On keeping Jones' weight down: "We've got to be creative." He says there's no goal weight right now because "his body fat's not real high." 
  • He says Nicholas Petit-Frere is over 300 pounds and "doing good."
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