Ohio State Notebook: Buckeyes Finally Putting Pads on in Practice This Week, Cade Stover “doing Great” at Tight End, Sevyn Banks Gets No. 7

By Colin Hass-Hill on September 29, 2020 at 10:20 am
Cade Stover

On Wednesday, padded practices commence throughout the Big Ten.

For all 14 teams, including Ohio State, it will represent a seminal moment in their march to the beginning of a long-awaited 2020 football season. The last time they neared fully-padded practices, commissioner Kevin Warren put a stop to them, and shortly thereafter the Council of Presidents and Chancellors voted to postpone the season.

This week, nothing will prevent the pads from coming on. The season’s a go.

Preseason camp opens on Wednesday, giving teams three-and-a-half weeks to prepare in pads for the start of the season.

“I think we'll try to get them, because school's going on, almost like the flow of a game week early,” offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said last week. “It won't be the old-school just practice, practice, practice. But we are going to need some blocking and tackling, and we've got to be a great tackling team. We were really good up front last year. Those guys are back. But an O-line's like a boxer. You've got to get back in training and you've got to pound a little bit to get really, really good.”

Since the Buckeyes didn’t have a full slate of spring practices, they’ve been relegated to practicing without pads for longer than ever before this offseason. That means, Wilson said, the coaching staff will want to be “very, very smart” in how it builds up the in-practice contact. He said the propensity of concussions typically increases in the first week pads get put on. 

Some of the preparation for padded practices began long ago. Ryan Day has preached that the Buckeyes practice like pros, ensuring the players are ready once they suit up.

“First of all, I think coach Day with our coaches and with team meetings and with the whole staff, has done a great job trying to teach our guys,” Wilson said. “We are practicing really great without pads. We're staying on our feet. We're playing low on both sides of the ball up front but we're not falling down.”

Senior cornerback Marcus Williamson added: “Without having those pads on, you're able to practice those fundamentals, have a great football position, playing low, having a right approach on the tackle. I think it'll pay off once we get the pads on.”

Progress for Stover

Given Cade Stover’s background as a basketball player and 6-foot-4, 255-pound frame, his placement in Wilson’s tight end room makes sense. He possesses both the requisite size and athleticism to succeed at the position.

This, though, was never the plan. He entered Ohio State last year as a linebacker who idolized James Laurinaitis and was known for his hard-hitting nature. By the fall of his freshman season, the coaches shifted him to defensive end, which he felt was the “best option” for him. Once spring camp came around, though, he was a tight end.

Stover’s positional musical chairs are expected to end with him sticking in the tight end room.

Seniors Luke Farrell and Jake Hausmann and junior Jeremy Ruckert will likely play the vast majority of meaningful snaps in 2020, but a significant role for Stover in 2021 is a legitimate possibility. He’ll be the second-oldest player at the position next fall.

On his radio show a week and a half ago, Day mentioned that Stover has “really come on.” Hausmann agreed with his head coach.

“He's doing great,” Hausmann said. “He's a super athletic guy. He can go up and get the ball. Obviously, it's hard switching positions. But I think he's been doing a really good job, and obviously it's not going to be perfect, but he's as athletic as any tight end can be. He's just physical and strong as you need him to be. He's really good on the point of attack. He can go up and get the ball. He's a fast guy. So I think he's been doing a great job so far.”

Cooper’s Motivation

In an alternate universe, it’s not too difficult to imagine Jonathon Cooper would be in the middle of his first NFL season. Instead, due to an ankle injury that led to an unexpected redshirt last fall, he’s back for a fifth season at Ohio State.

Yet, of course, the season almost never happened.

“It was tough. It was hard,” Cooper said. “Obviously, just not being able to control what was going on, because I couldn’t control my injury that happened last year, and not being able to play hurt a lot, and I came back another year because I wanted to be able to prove the type of player that I was and show that to everyone and for my team and come back and be a leader for my team and knowing that it was almost taken away from me really sucks and it hurts but we’re over that now, and I’m just happy that we got it back, thanks to our coaches and everybody who fought for our season. So right now, all those feelings that I had before, are gone.”

A second-time captain and one of the team’s vocal leaders, Cooper is seeking a long-sought breakout season at defensive end.

“My motivation isn’t stopping, and I would say it’s higher than ever honestly, just to be the best player I can be and best leader and be everything that my teammates need,” Cooper said.

Feelings During Big Ten Uncertainty

None of Ohio State’s players want to again go on the roller coaster the Big Ten forced them to ride in August and September.

They weren’t hearing much communication from the Big Ten headquarters. Their season got canceled, Warren doubled down on the cancellation, and then eventually the conference reversed course to put teams back on the field this fall. Some of those days, though, won’t soon be forgotten, including when the hope of a fall season initially ended.

“I'm sure everybody said once we came in that day, August 12, it was pretty heartbreaking just all the work we put in this whole time, going home and doing all the workouts at home and staying on track as a team,” Ruckert said. “And then just to be told that you don't get the chance to go out there and play was heartbreaking. But we didn't skip a beat. We got back to work. We kept working. Coach Day just said we're going to play and whenever we play, we'll be ready for it. As soon as we got the green light, we were all excited again and got back to work.”

Farrell said the “ups and downs were really hard at times.”

“That was a process,” Sevyn Banks said. “It was just a waiting game, for real, but we were always just trying to get ready so we could play. It's always good to be ready.”

Sevyn Gets 7

At some point in the middle of the 2019 season, Banks remembers approaching linebacker Teradja Mitchell with a request. Named Sevyn, he wanted to trade in his No. 12 jersey number for Mitchell’s No. 7 that he had worn since enrolling at Ohio State in 2018.

Mitchell didn’t give in right away, he eventually agreed to Banks’ request. 

“We didn't really argue too much about it,” Banks said. “But I had to pick his brain a couple times.”

As a third-year junior cornerback, Banks will take the field this fall wearing No. 7 for the first time as a Buckeye.

“Shoot, you look good, you play good,” Banks said/ “I've got that mindset. That's what has been instilled in me. Seven is a lot of things for me. My name's Sevyn. My mom is a real biblical person. She named me Sevyn (because) it took God seven days to make the Earth. It's a completion number and it's just real common in the Bible. Just seven all the way around, that's just me.”

View 21 Comments