Buckeye linemen willing to play in fall, even without on-campus classes

Sports

GLENDALE, ARIZONA – DECEMBER 28: The Ohio State Buckeyes huddle prior to the College Football Playoff Semifinal against the Clemson Tigers at the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium on December 28, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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COLUMBUS (WCMH) — It’s unusual to hear football players openly discuss their fears, especially players with the intimidating size of a college offensive lineman.

But even for them, these are unusual times.

“There’s a long list of worries.” said All-American guard Wyatt Davis. “This has showed us to appreciate what we have, and what we had, in the facility. Football, and everything that comes with it, can be taken in a snap, just like this. People are going to be more appreciative of what we’ve got going on.”

Davis grew up in southern California where he’s currently training like the rest of his teammates. Back in Ohio, Davis’s teammate and neighbor on the offensive line, center Josh Myers, shared those concerns.

“It’s a nightmare to be honest with you,” Myers said. “I was so excited for this season and I’m still hoping and praying it will (happen).”

Both players spoke to reporters Thursday via teleconference, and their shared concerns about the football season ahead beginning with the health risks associated with COVID-19 and its potential spread among teammates.

“The majority of my fears of actually getting the coronavirus are geared toward my family,” Myers said. “If I get it, that’s obviously not good. But I would be significantly more worried that I could give it to my parents or my family and that’s the thing that scares me the most about the virus.”

Both players say they would be willing to sign a waiver, stay in quarantine or whatever it would take to play a football season.

“I would do really anything to play this season. I don’t know what I would do without football to be honest with you,” Myers said. “But that would come with sacrifices, and I personally am willing to make those sacrifices and do whatever I need to do. We’d need to do it in a very orderly way to make sure that other people aren’t getting sick because of what we’re doing.”

There’s a large, heavy blocking sled on Ohio State’s practice field which the OSU offensive linemen use frequently at practice. It’s a piece of equipment used to enforce proper technique, and it’s a piece of equipment to which none of the OSU linemen will have access to for awhile.

“When it comes to drills, we just don’t have those resources.” Myers said.

Myers’ brother played college football at Kentucky and they’ve been able to do drills together at home in Miamisburg.

Davis said he’s been kicked off a couple of fields he’s tried to use for training purposes, but he has access to a weight room and said he’s working regularly on position drills.

“It’s so important you keep harping on those things with muscle memory,” Davis said. “You can get sloppy if you don’t work on those things for a long time. My concern is just being game ready. Not having spring ball was a very big deal because spring ball is that time when you can truly focus on your craft and start fixing those things you weren’t doing correctly in the season … at the end of the day you can only worry so much.”

OSU’s director of sports performance, Mickey Marotti, says Davis has emerged as a vocal team leader in preseason workouts, delivering a passionate speech to his teammates during winter conditioning drills.

“Coming off of that loss this past season, I don’t ever want to experience that again. The look in the seniors’ eyes, they were crying. It was something I’ll never forget the rest of my life,” Davis said.

He’s hoping his message is staying with his teammates during the quarantine.

“You’re on your own. No one’s going to know what you’re doing beside you. Hopefully, what I said still resonates and guys will be accountable,” Davis said. “We have a lot of guys on our team who are accountable and going above and beyond. People want to be great.”

Myers said OSU coaches have told the players when they return, they’ll be required to wear masks in the Woody Hayes Center, and they’ll have groups no larger than 10 people at a time for workouts. That means preseason sessions could run all day with different position groups. But Myers said he’s willing to put in whatever work is necessary despite the unusual circumstances and continue to serve as a mentor.

“We want to leave Ohio State better than we found it,” he said. “That’s something that’s important to me, to lead those guys with compassion and love.”

Davis says if, or when, his teammates can gather for a season, they’ll be prepared mentally.

“You can’t take things for granted … that’s going to be the feel of our team when we come back,” Davis said. “It will make our bond stronger.”

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