Ohio State Football: Columbus Now The Land Of The Wolves

Looking to establish a competitive environment for offseason workouts and spring practice, Ohio State coaches have transformed the football facility into the land of the wolves.

Raekwon McMillan played early, starred early and led early, so it figures he was also ahead of the curve in Columbus when it came to embracing all things lupine.

Ohio State’s middle linebacker is all in on wolves, with the interest apparently strong enough to expand his cinematic horizons.   

“I'm all about the whole wolf thing, the whole pack thing,” he said. “I got into Twilight just because they had wolves in it. I’m about the whole wolf thing. Either you’re going to run with the pack or you’re going to get eaten by it and ran over by it.”


So where do wolves fit into Ohio State football? Strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti is currently putting the Buckeyes through his infamous mat drills – “The hardest part about these workouts is knowing you have another one tomorrow,” McMillan said – and each year with the help of video guru David Trichel he kicks off the offseason conditioning with a motivational video of sorts.

This year, the theme was wolves.

“He put this thing together and it was kind of like, I forget what movie it was, but wolves are out there and it’s in a barren land and you got to survive,” Marotti said. “That’s kind of the motto, the thing that we kind of grew on the last couple weeks is this wolf thing. I mean you’re out there in the wilderness, man, and you’ve got to survive and that’s part of our young guys and the mentality of our young guys in the offseason.”

Consider a certain middle linebacker pleased by that development.

“It's funny that Coach Mick said that because I was about to get a wolf tattoo on my arm,” McMillan said.

The video was an appropriate metaphor for a team that lost nine underclassmen to the NFL draft and returns only a handful of starters on each side of the ball. With more than half the team having freshman eligibility and so many spots open, there’s an urgency for Ohio State to develop young players into starters and an opportunity for those young players to become multi-year starters.

One year after there were few position battles because of the sheer amount of returning starters, territorial disputes have returned to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

“It’s snowy, it’s hostile, this is the land of the wolves, you’ve got to eat or be eaten,” center Pat Elflein said. “These guys haven’t been through this offseason program before. You’ve either go to go out there and attack it and make a name for yourself or you won’t survive. So that’s kind of the land of the wolves, you have to eat to survive or if you don’t you’re not going to make it.”

McMillan didn’t make it through the whole Twilight series (“I was really into it for the first two, but then they started doing too much so I had to get out of it”) but it looks like Columbus might be home to the land of the wolves for the foreseeable future.

“It really hit a nerve,” Marotti said. “It really hit a nerve with the head coach, too, because he was jacked up. He doesn’t like to watch some of those movies because there’s a lot of things that might have happened the previous year that weren’t very pleasant, but he was fired up and I think it’s just something that we’re going to run with.” 

Top 10 Wikipedia Wolf Facts 

1. In certain conditions, wolf howls can be heard over a 50 square mile area.

2. Late January and early February is also the recruiting homestretch for wolves, with mating season occurring in the winter months.

3. The average pack consists of 5-11 wolves, but packs can grow up to 40 members.

4. Wolves engage in surplus killing in winter.

5. Pups are born blind and deaf.

6. The killing method of packs varies from species to species of prey.

7. There are no more wild wolves in Ohio, but they dominated the state in the 19th century.

8. Wolves can eat more than 15 percent of their body weight in a single sitting.

9. Norse and Japanese mythology portrayed wolves as near deities.

10. Wolves are monogamous.

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