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Buckeyes to begin workouts in pads (art.)



Buckeyes to begin workouts in pads
Sunday, August 15, 2004
Ken Gordon and Tim May
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When Ohio State football players don full pads today for the first time, the green light will go on for full contact and eyeballs will grow wider all over the practice field.

"As soon as we get going in full pads, a lot of things are going to happen real fast," junior center Nick Mangold said.

The last four days of wearing only helmets but no substantial pads were just a buildup. They were practices, Mangold said, but for the linemen at least, they weren’t real football.

"You can’t really get a good feel for what’s going on," he said. For example, "we talk a lot about getting our helmet on a (defensive lineman’s) shoulders, but you can’t do that without shoulder pads on."

Yet the mandatory acclimating was put in for players’ protection, so they could make a gradual move into the full-contact frame of mind.

"I’ve never liked it," Mangold said. "You always had to do it with your high school . . . and the same thing now. I’d rather just have the pads on so you could go full bore and not have to worry, ‘Am I going to roll up on somebody? Am I going to hurt somebody just because I’m trying to get a play done?’ "

Tight ends come and go

The tight end picture is nowhere near the group shot taken at the end of spring practice. Not only was sophomore Louis Irizarry cut from the squad, and from school, after his arrest in May for assaulting and robbing a fellow student, senior Jason Caldwell has been shifted to defensive end and redshirt freshman Marcel Frost has done the opposite flipflop.

Then there was the arrival this week of freshman Rory Nicol, who already is listed No. 3 behind junior starter Ryan Hamby and Frost.

"I just started with a clean sheet, I guess you could say," first-year tight ends coach John Peterson said.

A check of that sheet indicates the Buckeyes probably are counting on Nicol to play this season, and through the first few days of camp he did not disappoint, Peterson said.

"Rory is great to be around; he is a student of the game," Peterson said. "He loves asking questions, and right now he’s like a sponge. Everything we throw at him he is soaking up. He gets better not only every day, but every rep he takes you can see him getting a little bit better."

What’s he missing ?

Joe Bauserman could have been part of the Ohio State football experience, but the quarterback prospect from Tallahassee, Fla., opted to pursue his dream of being a major-league pitcher after getting drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates. So what is he missing?

"Walking down that tunnel right there," freshman quarterback Todd Boeckman said, pointing to the southeast corner of Ohio Stadium, "and just looking up and seeing 105,000, 110,000 people. That’s just an unbelievable feeling, and I don’t think you can feel anything like that until you walk into the stadium for that first game."

And yet Boeckman, a former pitcher in high school at St. Henry, understands the lure Bauserman, blessed with a 95 mph fastball, is chasing.

"If that opportunity was there for me, I think I would take the shot at it, too," Boeckman said. "Being a pitcher, everything is focused on you, and you’re basically going to determine what’s going to happen in a game. That must be unbelievable for him, and I’m excited for him to see what’s going to happen there.

"I’ve heard coach (Jim) Tressel has told him the option is open for him to come back here and play football, so he definitely is in a great situation."

Three not a crowd

Defensive coordinator Mark Snyder said cornerback Ashton Youboty is showcasing an all-around game that should get him playing time even though Dustin Fox and E.J. Underwood are the starters.

"Ashton gives us the ability to play a three-cornerback system," Snyder said. "He’s been showing us of late even though the pads aren’t on that he can also be a run (support) kind of player. So we are very happy with Ashton."

Rooting interest

With the Buckeyes having a spirited quarterback competition, Tressel knows players naturally develop favorites and could form camps supporting one or the other.

"Of course that happens," he said. "But I hope that the way our guys will focus is, ‘I’ll focus on my contribution to the team, and I’ll trust that everyone else will do the same and the coaches are doing theirs."’

Passing the time

With fall-quarter classes yet to start, players are holed up in a hotel. Though their football work keeps them busy, there are a few idle moments to fill.

"We play video games, a lot of cards, hang out,"’ defensive end Mike Kudla said. "Do whatever we can. We’re kind of creative about it, so whatever we can think of."

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It's good to hear that Nicol must be as advertised.
I just had a wonderful thought....In a few years when the Bucks go to a double TE formation, we'll have Frost and Bemoll at one end and Nicol and Boone at the other. A lot of talent there. :biggrin:
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