April 5, 2014
COLUMBUS, Ohio - The third annual Student Appreciation Practice at Ohio State was held Saturday inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center in front of a crowd of approximately 2,500 students, future Buckeyes, parents and media.
"Let's have some fun in front of these students," Ohio State coach Urban Meyer told his team before the start of the two hour practice. "And then afterward, I want you players to go thank the students for their support. This doesn't happen anywhere else and I want you to let them know how much you appreciate them."
All in with Coach Meyer
The Ohio State students have supported this event extremely well the past few years and their appreciation of Meyer and the coaching staff is clearly evident.
"Urban does a great job incorporating the students into his program and making us feel like we matter," junior speech pathology major Juliana Tremont, out of Elyria Catholic High School near Cleveland, said. "He wants the students to feel like part of the team and this is proof."
Many of the students were included in stretching and sprints to open the practice. A d-jay was spinning records and the thump, thump, thump of today's hits - I think - pounded through five giant speakers hanging next to an American flag, an Ohio State flag and the BCS championship game plaque that includes the years for Ohio State's three appearances in the title game. A large contingent of media was on hand to memorialize the day in photos and to watch practice for the third time this spring.
A couple individuals tried their leg at kicking field goals with the first unit, including one former student of Georgia Tech...Nicki Meyer.
Delta Sigma Pi vs. C'Mon Man!
Ohio State boasts an impressive and comprehensive recreation sports program and the four winners of the flag football divisions from the fall played today for a pseudo "spring championship." A team from the business fraternity Delta Sigma Pi met C'Mon Man! for the spring title. Not sure who won, but it doesn't matter because we were able to hear explicit color commentary from strength coach and former Buckeye Anthony Schlegel, such as:
"He's tackled right there"; and
"Touchdown! No. 15. Nice hands!"
The science behind the numbers
This was another tremendous crowd for a practice. Here's how the crowd size was determined with help from one media member: when you have 20 people in an area this big and you know there are 150 areas this big then you can conservatively announce and estimated crowd of 2,500. There was even a neuroscience major on hand who offered this while taking a short break to sit.
"I just want to see someone race," Jane Vinesky, a junior out of Magnificat High School in Cleveland, said. "I'm just imagining what it would be like if one of my friends raced a football player."
Fastest student competition
About 15 of her student peers did just that after practice. The fastest from a series of preliminary races went against each other and some Ohio State players in five heats of 45-yard dashes - and not 40 - for the opportunity to race against the fastest Buckeye in Ohio Stadium next week during halftime of the spring game.
Not quite sure who won and/or advanced yet, but the contestants will be prepped for next week as they've already raced Buckeyes Johnny Dixon, Doran Grant, Raekwon McMillan, Marcus Baugh and Gareon Conley, who were part of the sprints. Coach Kerry Coombs even jumped into one heat and looked fast.
The day ended with a 20-minute session for autographs and photos that stretched into a 45-minute session with some players content to just enjoy the company of the students. At least a half a dozen players took part in a center field dance session with many doing "the Dougie."
Meanwhile...on the field
Regarding practice: tight end Marcus Baugh had two touchdown receptions totaling approximately 100 yards off passes from J.T. Barrett. And Eli Apple played well enough that he had his black stripe removed from his helmet...after he bested an opponent in a one-on-one blocking battle.
The team has three more practices next week - Monday, Wednesday and Friday - before the 2014 Life Sports Spring Game presented by Nationwide on Saturday.