Buckeyes Entertain Students At Open Practice

Ohio State opened practice to the students for the second year in a row Saturday, and the result was a bit of spirit on the outdoor fields at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Fun was had by nearly all -- except, perhaps, by the Ohio State mascot.

The quarterback felt the rush, left the pocket and thought he had daylight ahead, but he didn't see David Perkins coming from his right.

Of course, it's kind of hard to use your peripheral vision when you're wearing a nut for a head.

Such was the predicament Ohio State mascot Brutus found himself in Saturday as he took a snap from center and ran a play against the first-team Buckeye defense as part of the program's second annual Student Appreciation Day.

The result was not a cracked nut but perhaps a slightly shaken up one, as Brutus rose to acknowledge the laughs of the Ohio State players including star quarterback Braxton Miller before dropping to his knees in front of the crowd to show the effects of the hit. (Whether he was play acting could not be determined, but Brutus did confirm with a nod to BSB that he was all right as he left practice shortly thereafter).

That was just one highlight of the day for students, about 2,500 of whom trekked to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center for a Saturday morning practice open to the university community.

There were food trucks, interactive games and photos with Brutus and OSU President E. Gordon Gee, but football was the main draw of the day.

"This is the craziest thing I've ever been to," said freshman Zack Willis, who painted his face for the event. "I was right behind Carlos Hyde (during practice). I was standing behind him and taking pictures of him. I've never been this close to football.

"Urban is awesome for letting us come out here and do this."

That was likely the reaction the coaching staff was going for when starting the event last year. The first open practice last year was inside of the WHAC, but with sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s forecast for today, the practice was moved outside.

The sun didn't show up until near the end, but fun was still had by many. The practice started with Quick Cals with the students before the two-hour long session included almost all live scrimmage reps.

There were big plays to be had for both sides of the ball, but the one thing that stood out was the hit on Brutus.

"See ball, get ball," Perkins said about the play. "I tried not to hit him that hard."

By the end, Meyer had the students surround the field for goal line drills – which the defense got the better of on this day – before the now annual tradition of having kicker Drew Basil attempt field goals while surrounded by his fellow Buckeye students.

There was a new twist this year, though, as two female students were also given the chance to kick field goals. The two – sophomore Casey Gayheart and freshman Katie Mitchell – were unable to make any of their tries, but both said they enjoyed the experience and might have had better luck if the kicks were centered on the field or a little bit shorter.

Gayheart played soccer at Fairborn High School near Dayton and considered joining the school's football team as a kicker, but she admitted the crowd – which surrounded the students for the kicks – got to her, causing her to send one of the kicks into the offensive line.

"It was a once-in-a-lifetime thing," she said. "I loved the experience. I was just really nervous with all the people around me. I made all of them in practice then I got here and rocked someone in the back of the head."

Mitchell, who plays volleyball at Ohio State, also nailed one of the members of the protection unit with a try and said the atmosphere was different than at a volleyball game.

"It's a little different because you're spaced out more at St. John Arena, but here they're right there," she said. "I had kids on me like, ‘Don't mess up.' It was a good environment. I loved it. I'm definitely looking forward to next year."

After the practice broke up, players stuck around for autographs and photos with students and a group picture.

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