Ohio State opened preseason camp Monday morning with its first practice under coach Luke Fickell.
It was a picture-perfect day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center with temperatures in the 70s and a light breeze, making it a perfect work day.
Fickell and his staff – including new linebackers coach Mike Vrabel – put the 103 players in camp through their paces.
Afterwards, Fickell met with the media for 10 minutes. Click here for video of Fickell’s comments to the media. (Use headphones, audio improves after first minute.)
Also, click here for observations from practice from Dave Biddle and Steve Helwagen as well as 30 minutes of video from the first practice.
Following his first practice as the OSU coach, Fickell reiterated his theme that his players be men of action.
“It’s about action,” he said. “That’s the biggest thing we stress to our guys. We’ve had enough talk. You go to media days and the world today with the social media and the guys Tweeting … but it will be about our actions. We see a lot better than we hear.”
In terms of what he liked, Fickell said, “I thought the attitudes were great. Obviously, the tempo, we can get better each and every day. The attitudes are right. Guys are working together as a team.
“Every first day of camp, you’re excited about getting to that first day of football. Obviously, this year it was moreso with some changes and some things. But it’s therapeutic for us as coaches as much as it is for the players.
“I was definitely busy. I hope I didn’t step on too many toes.”
Fickell said he plans to continue working primarily with the defense.
“I’m going to stick with my strengths,” he said. “I have the utmost confidence in Coach Bollman and everybody on the offensive side of the ball. They have been here a long time and they know what they’re doing.”
Fickell said he was awake at 2:30 a.m. this morning in anticipation of his first real day as the OSU coach. That left a lot of time until practice started at 9 a.m.
“That’s not normally a problem for me, but with this excitement and anxiety it definitely was,” Fickell said.
Asked if it seemed different for him to be the head coach, Fickell said, “I didn’t stop to think about it. We had a plan and hopefully it wasn’t as much of a difference for the guys.”
Four scholarship players are battling to replace Terrelle Pryor at quarterback with senior Joe Bauserman, sophomore Kenny Guiton, redshirt freshman Taylor Graham and true freshman Braxton Miller all working there. They worked by order of seniority on Monday. Fickell was asked what he saw from that group.
“I hate to make judgements on anybody on the first day, particularly without watching the film,” he said. “They were hustling around and doing what they were supposed to do and we’ll continue to evaluate them as they go.”
When asked what he wants from his quarterback, Fickell said, “To me, it’s confidence and leadership. You can lead in different ways. You don’t have to be the vocal guy, but you have to have confidence and exude confidence. Guys have to believe in you. That’s what we’re trying to develop.
“They all have the ability. We just have to see who will fit the program the best.”
Fickell was asked about reps for the quarterbacks and when that competition could be whittled down.
“We’re going to let it play out,” he said. “You always have a plan for what we think. We’ll adjust as we go. We’ll let everybody have an opportunity to show what they can do. We will let those guys determine that.”
Fickell was asked to assess the work of his new assistant (and former OSU teammate) Vrabel, who was vocal in his praise and teaching it seemed on the first day.
“He fit in just fine, I’m sure,” Fickell said. “You could see that the guys took to him and the coaches took to him. We’re not trying to focus on any one coach or any one guy. It’s about the team.”
Fickell had no comment on WR James Louis, LB Jonathan Newsome and LB Dorian Bell, none of who are among the 104 players invited to camp. Louis seems to be pursuing a transfer to a school in his home state of Florida. Newsome has said he would likely transfer to Ball State. Bell is out this season due to suspension and his status is unclear for next year.
Refresh this story between now and 3 p.m. for Fickell’s comments as well as photos from practice.
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