July 28, 2009

Who is stepping up?

CHICAGO - College football is less than two weeks away… well not exactly with the games still more than a month away but players will start reporting for fall camp on August 9th and excitement is starting to build.

Big Ten media days mainly focus around upperclassmen that are handpicked by their coaches to speak to the media about the upcoming season. But there is just as much excitement about the first year players entering the program and getting their first taste of organized camp activities.

24 players will enter their first fall with 17 summer enrollees ready to be looked over for a first time by the coaching staff since starting their collegiate careers. But which players have already made an impact to their fellow players in the weight room and during summer drills.

"Somebody that works hard and is always is going to give you his best is C.J. Barnett" Ohio State safety Kurt Coleman said.

Barnett was one of seven players to go through spring practice but several other players who didn't arrive until summer have started to cause people to turn their heat.

"Dorian Bell and Dominic Clarke work extremely hard," Coleman said.

But it is a Buckeye legacy that has created the most buzz early on.

"As far as standing out in drills and whatnot I think Duron Carter," Coleman said. "You can tell his dad has been coaching him.

And one of the last members of the recruiting class has been getting love by the older players.

"Those guys work hard as well as Kenny Guiton. He works very hard and is in the weight room trying to get better," Coleman said.

Yet all 24 players have taken strides to get better and that is the most impressive thing overall to players who have been to the rodeo before.

"It is good to see the young guys," Coleman said. "They are looking up to you and are like, 'What can I do to get better?'. It is good and you don't have to ask them to watch you and do this because they are doing that on their own."

Diversity at Tight End

For offensive football fans the tight end position at Ohio State is almost an afterthought. Last season the top two Buckeye tight ends combined for 11 receptions and two touchdowns. But the 2009 season could see some changes with players like Jake Stoneburner, Nic DiLillo and Reid Fragel all entering the mix.

"It used to be me, Rory Nicol and Brandon Smith," tight end Jake Ballard said. "Rory and myself were the bigger guys and usually used for the run blocking. Now you have Jake Stoneburner who came over from the receivers and he is really helping us out as the passing game goes and maybe helping us out with things that we might not have known before."

Each of the four tight ends may be perceived as different styles of players with Ballard being the savvy veteran, Stoney being the receiving threat, DiLillo being the blue collar guy and Fragel looking like the size of a house.

"It is a diverse group of guys but overall I think a lot of the guys are pretty much similar," Ballard said. "We are all big guys, about 250 (pounds) or above. Reid is taller than me and he might be 270 (pounds) and he takes the cake for the biggest tight end in the room. It used to be me for a while."

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