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OSU community goes ‘behind the helmet,’ bonds with football team

Cody Cousino / Photo editor

Inclement weather forced the Ohio State football team to move their scheduled practice at Ohio Stadium indoors to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center Saturday, but it couldn’t keep the fans away. About 3,100 students, fans and staff were in attendance as coach Urban Meyer held a two-hour open practice session for the public to enjoy.

The change of venue occurred less than an hour before the event was scheduled to start. Without knowledge of the change, most fans arrived at the ‘Shoe only to be directed to the WHAC by stadium ushers.

The event was supposed to include an opportunity to tour the locker rooms and press box during the practice session. Attendees were still given access to Ohio Stadium’s venues, but those who stayed for the entirety of the session at the WHAC were disappointed to be denied access when they returned to the stadium on a shuttle after practice.

Despite this setback, many said they still enjoyed the opportunity to see their football team in action. After practice, attendees were able to meet with the players, pose for pictures and ask for autographs.

“The players definitely had this untouchable aura before,” said Robert Delaney, a third-year in economics. “It is nice to see the face behind the helmet.”

The event was initiated by Meyer as a way of bridging the gap between the student body and the student athletes. Meyers hopes that this event will become an annual tradition.

Andrew Blatter, a first-year graduate student in public policy and management, was an undergraduate at the University of Utah when Meyer was coaching there. Blatter said that while at Utah, Meyer thrived on getting the student body involved with the football program and that he was thrilled to see Meyer continue these efforts in Columbus.

“Opening practice is such a gesture of his commitment to the student body,” Blatter said. “The things that he did at Utah will translate to Ohio State. I think that he really wants the students involved.”

For most of practice attendees sat across the 20-yard line while the team used the remaining 80 yards to scrimmage. Though the defense dominated for the majority of the morning, fans got a few glimpses of Meyer’s prolific spread offense.

When rising sophomore quarterback Braxton Miller connected with sophomore wide receiver Devin Smith on a 45-yard touchdown pass, the audience exploded with cheers confirming, that for the fans, the event was about more than meeting the players and coaches.

Maggie Killeen, a first-year in biology, said she appreciated the opportunity to support her Buckeyes.

“After everything that happened with the Tressel scandal, and after the disappointing season last year, it’s nice to let the team know that we are still behind them,” Killeen said.

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