The Ohio State football team will have had its fourth spring practice by the end of Thursday. Though the Buckeyes are just getting spring ball underway, linebacker Jerome Baker, who will be a junior this fall, instantly noticed that his new position coach came from the NFL.
Bill Davis replaces Luke Fickell, who left the program in the offseason to become the head coach at Cincinnati, as OSU’s linebackers coach. Davis began his coaching career in 1991 as a graduate assistant at Michigan State. He then spent the next 23 years coaching in the NFL for nine different teams – the Pittsburgh Steelers, Carolina Panthers, Cleveland Browns (twice), Green Bay Packers, Atlanta Falcons, New York Giants, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals and Philadelphia Eagles.
As mentioned, it didn’t take long for Baker to notice that Davis came from the professional ranks.
“The first meeting you could (tell Davis is a former NFL assistant coach),” Baker said after the third spring practice on Tuesday. “I was like, ‘This has to be an NFL meeting room,’ because the way he coaches and his style is geared toward pro athletes. So you could tell he had been in the NFL for a few years.
Baker went on to explain that a striking characteristic Davis has that proves he coached in the NFL is that he won’t stop to explain something a second time unless someone asks him to do so.
“It’s a lot of things that he’ll say and you have to really study it and really understand that he implies that you understand it,” Baker said. “And if you don’t, you’ve got to ask a question. He’s not going to keep going back and going over it. If you have something you’re struggling on, you have to go ask him.”
Much like Baker has had to acclimate to Davis’ coaching style in the meeting room, he's had to do the same with the way Davis coaches on the field.
“It was weird at first. The first practice we did a lot of different things tradition-wise that the linebacker room did that we didn’t really do as much (in previous years),” Baker said. “The third day, it’s like a regular coach or any coach, you just get a feel for him.”
Some of the changes had more to do with former linebackers like Joe Burger and Craig Fada, who have graduated, not being around and Fickell leaving, though.
“Fada, Joe, when you take the field with them, it’s a lot of screaming and cheering for no apparent reason,” Baker said. “It’s just a different feel now that Coach Fick is gone. But you try to carry on some things in the linebacker room.”
While there’s been an adjustment period, Baker likes Davis’ NFL coaching style.
“It’s preparing me for the future,” Baker said. “That’s my goal, to play in the NFL, so it’s definitely preparing me and it’s fun just to be a part of it.”
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