Last night an estimated 30,000 fans showed up at Ohio Stadium for a meet and greet and practice. In a goodwill effort hosted by the Athletic Department, the Buckeyes brought out the lights and opened up practice to the public, free of charge. Gene Smith, Ohio State Athletic Director, said that the department will likely lose money on the event, although concessions were available.
Buckeye’s players were gracious, signing item after item after being deposited at unmarked tables. Ted Ginn and Antonio Pittman shared a line that was nearly as long as the line shared by Troy Smith, Jim Tressel, and Anthony Gonzalez. These lines were so long that even after an hour plus of signing, literally thousands of fans were turned away empty handed. For those familiar with the “Shoe”, the Smith, Tressel, and Gonzalez line reached from the rotunda all the way to the southeast corner of the stadium, about four abreast, when the fifteen-minute remaining mark was announced.
Let’s not kid ourselves, this event was not completely about charity. This event was about getting a young defense out in front of a large crowd at night in preparation for the Texas game on September 9th.
The Buckeyes, leery of potential spies, did not reveal much about their offensive or defensive sets, primarily ran drills. It was difficult to discern who looked impressive and who did not because the whole practice had an air of controlled design to it. That said, Troy Smith and Ted Ginn Jr. looked sharp and Smith looked substantially larger than he did last year. Smith, who was listed at 6’1” 210 lbs. last year looked more like a linebacker, about 15-20lbs heavier, yet this did not appear to affect his mobility at all.
Antonio Pittman, who has steadily gained weight to meet the rigors of Big Ten ball-toting, also appeared larger, probably around 205-210lb range. This extra weight did not appear to affect him either, as his cuts still looked crisp and his acceleration out of them was impressive.
Robert Rose was particularly impressive on the defensive side of the ball. This kid is a beast for a true freshman. His speed was evident as he appeared to be at least half a step faster than fifth year senior Jay Richardson. Richardson, recruited from the Columbus suburbs, has had a bit of a disappointing career at Ohio State; he has never really met the lofty expectations set for him and for one reason or another. I suspect that should this defensive line fail to protect the relatively inexperienced secondary with pressure then Rose could see a lot of snaps as a true freshman.