Ohio State practice observations: Veterans hit the field, depth chart takes shape
COLUMBUS — With the Ohio State freshmen practicing in the morning, the afternoon session contained far more familiar faces as the veterans hit the field for fall camp. The Buckeyes may be short on experience, but there’s no dearth of four- and five-star recruits looking to fill the 16 starting jobs left vacant after last season.
What follows are updates and observations from the four periods of practice that writers were allowed to view:
- Senior punter Cameron Johnston was at the morning practice instead of the afternoon one, but the Aussie isn’t in Ohio State coach Urban Meyer’s doghouse. He graduated Sunday afternoon and the commencement ceremony coincided with the upperclassmen practice.
— Cameron Johnston (@Cam_Johnston) August 7, 2016
- Freshman punter Drue Chrisman can boom it. Filling in for the absent Johnston, he cranked out some good punts that must have given the coaches confidence that he can step in next year. Noah Brown, Marshon Lattimore, K.J. Hill and Dontre Wilson were back fielding punts.
- This is perhaps the most excited I’ve ever seen an Ohio State team heading into fall practice. Warmups and stretching were full of enthusiastic shouting from both players and coaches.
- Meyer began practice by giving a shoutout to players returning from injury. With his team surrounding him, Meyer brought up Corey Smith, Erick Smith, Cam Burrows, Dontre Wilson and Noah Brown for a congratulatory handshake.
- Hydration was a concern during the afternoon practice with temperatures soaring into the 90s. One period into practice, sirens blared and players were instructed to take a knee and get a drink of water for a minute. Offensive line coach Greg Studrawa also spent the rest of the first four periods yelling at his players to take regular water breaks to fight off cramps.
- Speaking of the offensive line, Pat Elflein received a reprieve from contact later in the period. The senior center spent time standing on the sideline and speaking with assistant strength and conditioning coach Jeff Uhlenhake, who played center for the Buckeyes from 1985-89.
- Offensive coordinator Ed Warinner seems to enjoy coaching tight ends. He was very hands-on when instructing Marcus Baugh, A.J. Alexander and walk-on Guy Ferrelli, just as he had been in the morning session while coaching three true freshmen. Similarly, Greg Studrawa will never be accused of lacking passion. He yelled at players who made mistakes, but he also let players know when he approved of their technique and performance.
- Running back Mike Weber received help in the backfield. In addition to true freshman Antonio Williams, H-backs Curtis Samuel and Dontre Wilson also practiced at running back in the early periods.
- The defensive starters played in familiar positions. Sam Hubbard and Tyquan Lewis were set at defensive end, Mike Hill and Tracy Sprinkle played in the middle. At linebacker, Raekwon McMillan was joined by Dante Booker and Chris Worley on the outside. Returning starter Gareon Conley had one of the cornerback spots, while Denzel Ward and Marshon Lattimore alternated opposite him. Malik Hooker and Damon Webb got the nod at safety.