Football Report: Winter Conditioning

Written March 7th, 2011 by Jim

Football is right around the corner! Okay, not really, but spring practice is almost here!

This morning I was fortunate enough to sit in on a 6 AM winter conditioning session held by the Ohio State football team. It was a shirt and shorts affair with plenty of running and various other drills deviously put together by strength and conditioning coordinator Eric Lichter.

Since there were no actual football drills that took place, it is difficult to draw many conclusions regarding the team. At the risk of being borderline creepy, however, I can provide some insight on the highly scientific “look test” as well as who stood out in terms of effort.

There were several notable guests this morning as well.

Cameron Heyward fully participated in the conditioning drills with the defensive lineman without a brace on his elbow. Here’s hoping he can get back to 100% in time to work out for the NFL scouts at the end of the month.

Bobby Carpenter also made an appearance at the end of the practice, but did not participate in any of the drills.

A random Georgia coach (or something, he was wearing a Georgia pullover) was spotted walking around.

Read on for the players that stood out, the players that could use a little extra conditioning, and various other observations that I was fortunate enough to make.

Coach Tressel jokingly requested that tape not be shown of the players who “lost their cookies”, but I hope I can still write about it.

Notable Non-Participants

Terrelle Pryor was on the side the entire practice with a boot on his right foot almost up to his knee. It’s no surprise that he is still rehabbing from the foot surgery he underwent after the Sugar Bowl. He spent time doing various stationary drills as the rest of the team went through the conditioning stations.

Eric Lichter noted that Pryor was a “leader of the injured players” who made sure everyone on the side still worked hard despite not being full participants. I chuckled a little bit at that, I’m sure Pryor would like to get back with the team and lead in some of the other drills as well.

Jonathan Hankins was the other notable player on the sideline. His injury was unclear, but he did not participate with the rest of the team and focused on the stationary drills instead.

I hope that it wasn’t anything conditioning related… which it doesn’t appear to be since I imagine he would be running more, not less, if that were the case. Injury or not, Hankins stamina seemed to be an issue last season, so missing conditioning time is a bit concerning for him.

Apparently Melvin Fellows was on the sidelines as well, but I did not notice him personally.

Returning From Injury

C.J. Barnett had a wrap on his knee but otherwise appeared to be a full participant in all of the drills.

Tyler Moeller was a full participant in all of the drills and didn’t appear to be wearing any medical equipment of any type. Lichter did note that he is still limited in many upper body lifting exercises, particularly anything involving heavy pushing. He did fully participate in the rope drills, however, which involved swinging heavy ropes in front of your body.

Position Notes

Quarterbacks

I was not able to get a good look at the QBs in any of the drills… and unfortunately I didn’t even catch if Braxton Miller was a participant or not (he is enrolled so I highly doubt he wasn’t there, despite me not seeing him).

Given that there weren’t any passing drills, or even footballs involved this morning, I hope that you can forgive me for my lack of quarterback observations. I know, I know, it will be the position battle this spring. I am sure one of them ran through drills better than the rest and I missed it.

My bad.

Running Backs

Basically the entire group stood out (with two notable exceptions which I will get to in a second).

I was very impressed by Jordan Hall in all of the drills I witnessed. He looked to be giving maximum effort on every rep. No one worked harder than him this morning.

Hall and Berry are very clearly the quickest running backs on the team, with Hall being just a hair quicker through the drills in my opinion. It looks like Hall is highly motivated  this off-season and is in the process of putting in the work needed to earn some extra carries.

Hall stood out, but Berry was not far behind… if he was behind at all. As mentioned, Hall and Berry are both lightning quick and went head-to-head in most of the drills. They push each other which will benefit them both.

Berry has clearly packed on some muscle since he first stepped on campus, but it doesn’t seem like he has lost anything quickness-wise.

The competition between Hall and Berry will be something to watch. The best part: in the end everyone wins. They were two of the most impressive players in all of the drills, they are pushing each other, and they will both get better because of it.

Herron also stood out. He is not far behind in terms of quickness and you can just tell that he packs a lot of power in his stride. Herron was the vocal leader of the running backs, and it looks like the off-field trouble has not slowed him down one bit in terms of conditioning and preparation for the season.

Roderick Smith didn’t stand out so much in terms of the drills, but he is top 5 on the team when it comes to the “look test” without question. Based on the reports from bowl practice and the “look test” this winter, it may be hard to keep him off the field.

Smith is noticeably taller than the rest of the running backs, and is also one of the “biggest” without carrying around an ounce of extra weight.

Carlos Hyde looked to be a bit out of shape and a step slow through most of the drills. He may have “lost his cookies” at the end of practice, but it was across the field and I can’t confirm that it was him for sure.

Zach Boren also looks in need of the conditioning drills.

Receivers

It was difficult to take much away from the WRs given that they are extremely quick and agile athletes who all did well in the drills that I saw. I did make the following (not exactly groundbreaking) observation which I can share.

T.Y. Williams is at least a head taller than any of the other receivers and is very impressive physically (groundbreaking news that can be gathered from the official roster, I know). If he has the skills to go with his height he could do some very special things.

Tight Ends

Reid Fragel stood out physically. He has packed on muscle and is probably the tallest player on the team. I felt bad for him during the drill were players had to go through obstacles while staying low under a metal frame. He also had the bad luck of getting the jump rope (which was more like a garden hose) that 5’10″ Philly Brown complained was too short to use.

Jeff Heuerman, one of the freshman early enrollees, was also impressive. He fit right in physically and if you didn’t know you would think he has been in the strength and conditioning program for years. He was another player that impressed me with his consistent effort in all of the drills.

Offensive Line

Mike Brewster was singled out as a leader of the team by Lichter and in my opinion is a sure fire captain. Brewster, plus Adams and Shugarts, will make for a well led offensive line this year.

The entire group was impressive from a physical stand point, with Brewster and Adams standing out the most.

Jack Mewhort also stood out physically and from an effort standpoint. He was right with Jordan Hall as the players I noticed working the hardest. He will push for playing time this season.

Marcus Hall appears to have lost weight (not in a bad way).

Defensive Line

Nathan Williams and Solomon Thomas were the clear leaders of the defensive line, they went first through most of the drills. Thomas was more vocal and Williams led by example.

It goes without saying that John Simon is an absolute beast. Nathan Williams is too.

The biggest surprise to me on the D-Line was David Durham. He was right behind Williams and Thomas through the drills and has probably made the most significant strides physically of anyone on the team. He was another “look test” award winner.

I wouldn’t be surprised to see Durham on the field this season, particularly early during Thomas’ suspension.

Joel Hale was a player that struggled through some of the conditioning drills (although others noted that he dominated in some of the physical drills). He had the most notable trip to a trash can of the morning (longest and loudest). Lichter signaled him out (along with the rest of the freshman) as players that have stood out to him, but Hale can clearly use some more work conditioning wise.

Daryl Baldwin also looked like he needed a little extra work in the conditioning department.

Linebackers

I thought the linebackers were one of the most impressive groups as a whole, but I may be biased on that one.

Tony Jackson and an unknown player (most likely a walk-on upperclassman) led through most of the drills with Bell and Sabino right behind.

Bell was the most impressive LB in my opinion. He was very quick through the drills and has added bulk. It is unfortunate that he is facing a suspension for team rules violations because he was a stand-out today and looks to be a future star.

Jackson is a former walk-on who I pegged as unlikely to crack the starting line-up. In terms of size and quickness, however, he was right behind Bell as one of the most impressive LBs on the team. I was pleasantly surprised.

Sabino and Newsome are both cut from the same mold physically. They are taller and not as bulky as the other LBs, but are still well put together. This may be a reach (obviously coaches don’t go by physicality alone), but due to their similarities I wouldn’t be surprised to see them as a 1-2 punch on the strong side… if that is what the coaches are looking for over there.

Storm Klein was impressive from a physical standpoint and Jordan Whiting gave maximum effort through all of the drills.

Scott McVey was only using his left arm in certain drills (most notably the rope swinging one), meaning his right shoulder is still an issue for him.

I didn’t notice Andrew Sweat during any of the drills, but saw him after practice. I’m not sure what happened there.

Defensive Backs

Orhian Johnson stood out as a vocal leader among the DBs. He is one of the tallest DBs and appears to be in great shape. I will go out on a limb (probably a short one) right now and say he is a lock to be one of the starting safeties.

Jeremy Cash (another freshman early enrollee) also stood out. Physically he is already one of the biggest DBs in terms of muscle mass as well as height. I was very impressed, particularly because he could still be walking the halls of his high school.

Like the WRs, it is difficult to draw much else from the conditioning drills. All of the DBs are good at the drills and appear to be in great shape (or at least in better shape than the big guys).

“Look Test” All Stars

(In no particular order.)

  1. Roderick Smith
  2. David Durham
  3. Jeff Heuerman
  4. John Simon
  5. Nathan Williams
  6. Mike Adams
  7. Mike Brewster
  8. Jack Mewhort
  9. Dorian Bell
  10. Storm Klein

“Effort” All Stars

(Also in no particular order.)

  1. Jordan Hall
  2. Jack Mewhort
  3. Jeff Heuerman
  4. Jaamal Berry
  5. Boom Herron
  6. Mike Adams
  7. Dorian Bell
  8. David Durham
  9. Jordan Whiting
  10. Ryan Shazier
  11. Nathan Williams
  12. John Simon

Those were some of the players that I specifically noted. Of course, many others put forth a tremendous effort without me noticing. I only have two eyes, after all.

Overall, it was a great morning that was perfect for amping me up for spring practice (I hope my coverage does the same for you). Stay tuned to tBBC for more as spring practice approaches.

 

 

 

 

 

5 Comments

  1. JimNo Gravatar
    March 7th, 2011 at 11:02 am

    And just to prove how scientific this sort of thing is, I noted that Marcus Hall lost weight, while Branden Castel at theOzone.net thinks he put on a few pounds.

    I haven’t seen Hall in person since last year, however, so maybe he lost a lot of weight since last year and then put some back on, but not enough to get back to his original weight.

    Who knows. Either way, I can’t wait to see what Marcus Hall can do when he gets back on the field. I still think he is the favorite to win the starting LT spot during the suspensions.

    [Reply]

  2. MaliBuckeyeNo Gravatar
    March 7th, 2011 at 11:31 am

    Ken Gordon said that Hank had off season knee surgery… so there’s that.

    [Reply]

  3. JimNo Gravatar
    March 7th, 2011 at 1:09 pm

    TheOzone.net has their photo gallery from this morning up. I wasn’t able to get any pictures worth sharing myself due to my crappy hardware, but they’ve got it covered pretty well.

    [Reply]

  4. bucksNo Gravatar
    March 7th, 2011 at 1:23 pm

    Hale is battling a stomach flu, could have something to do with him being sluggish in the conditioning drills.

    [Reply]

    JimNo Gravatar
    March 7th, 2011 at 1:41 pm

    If true, that would also explain the extended visit to the trash can.

    There is a long time between now and August, so conditioning shouldn’t be an issue for any of the players by the time the season rolls around.

    Lichter mentioned that they have been focusing on adding bulk up to this point in their training regimen (it is one of the few times of the year that they can focus on strength training) so it isn’t really surprising that some of the players were hurting during an intense conditioning session.

    [Reply]

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