August 2, 2012

Buckeyes preparing for first fall camp of Meyer Era

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In fewer than 24 hours, the first fall camp of the Urban Meyer Era will officially be underway.

The Buckeyes will kickoff the first of their 14 fall camp dates- four of which will consist of two-a-day practices- with a 6 a.m. practice for returning players. The Ohio State freshmen will get their first taste of fall camp later in the day, when they meet at the Harmon Family Football Park for a 5:15 p.m. practice.

Although this will be the Buckeyes first fall camp under Meyer, the first-year Ohio State coach hasn't been shy about letting his new players know what they can expect.

"It's going to be a really, really hard training camp," Meyer said. "It's just going to be a hard, physical camp. I think they expect it."

That might be a good thing, however, for the Buckeyes, as Meyer has noticed a correlation between the difficulty of his camps and the quality of the teams that go through them. For a team that has received a fair share of preseason hype despite a 6-7 record last season, the Ohio State coach said that it's up to him to remind his players what fall camp is all about.

"I can promise you that after day four, they're not going to be talking about being 10-0. They're worrying about getting to day five," Meyer said. "My concern's not with me, but if those kids hear that, then I've got to beat it of them the first week of training camp."

While it remains to be seen how the Buckeyes respond to Meyer's style of camp, the veterans on his team seem to be embracing the idea of a rigorous work schedule for the next three weeks.

"I think we had a great summer. I think it was the best summer we've ever had," senior defensive end John Simon said. "So to come into this camp is exciting because I think we're more prepared than we have been in the past and we just have to make every day count during camp."

Senior fullback Zach Boren said that he's noticed a huge difference in the way that this year's team is handling the offseason, as opposed to last season's Buckeyes.

"Last year, we kind of took the offseason a little easy because of everything that came out. Coach (Jim Tressel) just left and stuff like that. It was hard. The guys kind of leaned upon each other but didn't do anything about it," Boren said. "This year, I really think we've taken it upon ourselves to make this offseason the best we possibly can and make sure last season doesn't happen again."

While it's one thing for players like Simon and Boren- both of whom have already been named as team captain Meyer- it remains to be seen what the current mindset of the younger Ohio State players is heading into camp. And with younger players such as true freshmen Noah Spence, Adolphus Washington, and Taylor Decker expected to contribute immediately, it will take more than just Ohio State's seniors buying in to what Meyer's selling.

But from Simon's standpoint, that won't be an issue. In fact, it wouldn't surprise the Buckeyes' defensive leader to see multiple true freshmen emerge early in fall camp.

"They all have the potential. With the work ethic that they've shown any one of them can, if not all of them," Simon said. "They're extremely motivated and highly enthusiastic about playing football for Ohio State."

Perhaps one of the reasons that the younger Buckeyes already appear to be buying in is because it's not just Meyer, but their peers, preaching the importance of the upcoming weeks.

"Camp is when you build your personality as a team. Once we get out of camp, we'll know more about this team's personality and see how we're going to be," Boren said. "I can tell that we're hungry because of the offseason we've had and how hard guys have been working."

While the Buckeyes won't be getting to work until Friday morning, the official process of Meyer's first fall camp in Columbus will begin tonight, when strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti hands the team off to the OSU coach in a ceremony.

"We started that a long time ago, when it's going to be Thursday, we always kind of have a get together and it's kind of a ceremony," Meyer said. "'I hand you the 2012 Ohio State football team.' The whole team's there."


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