It had been more than a week since Ohio State took the field for practice as the Buckeyes returned from spring break for their third practice of the spring Tuesday and the signs of increased intensity were obvious.
As the media walked in for the open hour of practice the screen overlooking the Woody Hayes Athletic Center was still there, a sign of the 2016 Ohio State mantra 'Land of the Wolves,' but blood had been added to the canine's snout. The Buckeyes were out for blood early as the team went to the circle drill immediately after stretching.
The drill took place at the far end of the field, making determining winners nearly impossible, but the matchups of young offensive and defensive players were called out over the speaker system.
- Rashod Berry vs. A.J. Alexander
- Torrance Gibson vs. Damon Arnette
- Antonio Williams vs. Tuf Borland
- Michael Jordan vs. Davon Hamilton
- Isaiah Price vs. Robert Landers
- Mathew Burrell vs. Jalyn Holmes
- Mike Weber vs. Jerome Baker
- Austin Mack vs. Denzel Ward
The most interesting of those matchups was likely the first. Berry is still listed on the Ohio State roster as a tight end but has clearly transitioned to defense and was lined up against the classmate he shared a position group with last season in Alexander. While it was tough to determine the winners from our vantage point, based on the groups reaction the defensive players won more of the matchups than the offense.
Following the circle drill the Buckeyes went into the punt drill. Dontre Wilson was the No. 1 returner Tuesday followed by Marshon Lattimore, Gibson and Johnnie Dixon. It's largely assumed that Curtis Samuel will join that group when fully healthy.
The defensive line was going through drills during the punt work, though defensive end Sam Hubabard spent time with the punt unit before joining his position group. In his absence the first-team defensive line was Darius Slade, Michael Hill, Tracy Sprinkle and Jalyn Holmes. Working in next were Jashon Cornell, Landers, Dylan Thompson, Davon Hamilton and Dre'Mont Jones.
Tyquan Lewis was not participating once again and will not for the remainder of spring practice as he recovers from a shoulder injury.
The defensive backs saw the return of Cam Burrows. The safety was limited during the first two spring practices, but as expected was able to return to full participation after spring break.
Eric Glover-Williams continued his work with the safeties this week, solidifying his move from corner.
Weber was taking the first-team reps at running back followed by Williams and walk-on Patrick Wise. Senior Bri'Onte Dunn was not seen working with his position group or off to the side during the hour that was open.
The receivers were still without the top three targets -- Corey Smith, Noah Brown and Samuel -- as they will be all spring. Gibson and Mack were two of the first receivers to go through drills. K.J. Hill was still limited, wearing a wrap on his right hand, but did make some nice one-handed grabs in drills.
Dixon, Parris Campbell and James Clark worked in alongside Mack and Gibson.
The team transitioned into 7-on-7 drills before the open portion of practice concluded.