Brittany Schock / Asst. photo editor
The newfound emphasis on intensity and competition in the Ohio State football program was, perhaps, never more prevalent than about 10 minutes before kickoff of the team’s Spring Game Saturday when the Scarlet and Gray squads joined at midfield for what players refer to as the “circle drill.”
Meyer, waving his arms in the air to pump up the crowd of 81,112, started to grab members from both units and had them go one-on-one, merely a yard apart at the beginning of the drill, inside a huddle of teammates and coaches.
First up was rising senior defensive lineman and Gray team captain, John Simon, and rising redshirt junior offensive lineman, Jack Mewhort, of the Scarlet team.
As Meyer continued to pull different Buckeyes into the circle, including rising sophomore linebacker Ryan Shazier, rising redshirt junior center Corey Linsley and rising redshirt senior linebacker Etienne Sabino, the crowd’s cheering got louder and louder.
The drill is about being physical and getting after your opponent, but Meyer said he is careful when certain players are the ones participating.
“We put Simon in there and all that, I blew a quick whistle when some of those guys were in there,” he said. “You have to be very careful and very smart. Sometimes I’m accused of neither. I think that was fun for the fans and I know our players came out of their shoes when we did that.”
The level of noise inside Ohio Stadium, including during the game, perhaps hit its peak when two Buckeyes were put in a surprising matchup: Scarlet rising sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller and rising redshirt junior Gray team quarterback, Kenny Guiton.
Guiton took Miller to the ground, and was swarmed by members of the Gray squad in a celebration that came afterward.
“That was a lot of fun,” Guiton said. “I thought that was pretty fun that (Miller and I) both got caught in there today.”
Guiton won the battle pregame, but it was Miller’s Scarlet team that won the game, 20-14. Miller said he was a bit shocked that Meyer had his two quarterbacks, who weren’t allowed to be hit during the game, go through the drill.
“Kenny and I were just laughing at each other,” Miller said. “Like, ‘We’re in the circle drill together? That’s crazy.'”
Meyer said the purpose of the drill was to get his Buckeyes amped up.
“I just want to see good energy in there and our quarterbacks are like anybody else. They got to go put their nose on people,” he said.
While Saturday was the first time some Buckeye fans saw the “circle drill” in action, it is something OSU players have become accustomed to during Meyer’s short tenure at the helm of the program. Each of OSU’s spring practices have started with the drill.
The competitive, intense attitude brought forth by the new OSU coaching staff, which is probably best symbolized by the way the Buckeyes ended their pre-Spring Game warm-up, may be affecting numerous players in positive ways
Linsley, who has firmly entrenched himself in the starting center position after playing very sparingly at OSU before Meyer arrived, may be the best example of this.
“I really think I’ve made a 180 (turn) in my life… on and off the field,” Linsley said. “It’s really a testament to coach (Mickey Marotti), coach Meyer and coach (Ed) Warinner. I’m really progressing and becoming a man.”
Linsley credits his adaptation with the coaching staff’s fierceness.
“It’s a whole new, for me at least, a whole new attitude,” Linsley said. “I really think the attitude they breathe around here has changed me.”