Freshman tailback Antonio Pittman graduated high school early and took part in spring drills. He put on a good show in the spring, but admitted it was a tough adjustment.
"It was difficult because everything was moving so fast," Pittman said. "In high school, things move at a slower pace. Then after a while everything started to slow down and basically I knew what I had to do."
Pittman was the star of the spring game, rushing for over 100 yards.
"I was kind of surprised that they worked me in so early, but after I played a little bit and knew what I had to do, it just came to me," he said. "It felt good to get those runs in the spring game. I never played in front of a crowd like that. I just hope I can help the team when the season comes."
Pittman had been counting down the days until preseason camp began.
"Today we finally came outside and practiced and it just felt so good to put the helmet back on and get back at it," he said. "I can't wait for the pads to come on. It's something I waited for for a long time: to finally start the whole process of officially being a Buckeye. I can't wait until the season starts."
Pittman is a versatile back. He's a polished runner with good vision and can catch the ball out of the backfield. The 190-pounder is a bit on the thin side, but he's a willing blocker.
"I can contribute a lot to the running game, to the blocking and to the passing game," Pittman said. "Whatever they need me to do, I'll do. Anything to help the team. My goals this year is just to do anything I can do to help the team."
Pittman knows that going through spring ball gives him an edge heading into the season.
"Yeah, the spring gave me the momentum that I needed and I feel comfortable in the backfield now," he said. "I don't have any nerves, no jitters or anything. I have learned the plays already so now it's just a matter of getting better."
Pittman was asked how he would feel if he didn't have those spring practices under his belt.
"Nervous. I would be nervous right about now," he said. "New people, faster game, bigger players. You would have no choice but to be nervous. Spring, it was a slower pace because the coaches would take the time to break it down for you. But now, with just 17 days and trying to learn the whole playbook, everything is going fast."
Pittman worked on a number of things in the offseason.
"I just focused on getting stronger, eating more, trying to pick up more weight and just watching a lot of film and trying to pick up on my mistakes," he said.
"I mean, if you're good enough and you feel like you can come in and contribute and you work hard, I believe that they will find a place for you on the field," Pittman said.
Everyone is excited about freshman cornerback/wide receiver Ted Ginn. He was one of the top recruits in the nation last year and had a strong summer in the all-star games.
Ginn is a laid-back character. He has a very easy-going mentality. Ask him what position he wants to play, you are likely to get a polite shrug.
"I mean, I like playing both sides of the ball," Ginn said. "I have fun. Today, the first day of practice, it was just fun out there. It felt great. I was comfortable out there. "Right now, I really don't have a favorite position. I like defensive back, I have the skill to play there, but I do like to play receiver too. I got the skill for that too."
Right now, Ginn is strictly a defensive back and kick returner, but that is likely to change. He is sure to get some opportunities on offense.
"I go to the defensive meetings, but maybe I'll end up going to some of the offensive meetings too," he said. "Wherever Coach (Jim) Tressel wants me to go."
Ginn is following in the footsteps of Chris Gamble, right down to the No. 7. But Gamble is not someone Ginn patterns his game after.
"A little bit, but not too much," he said. "I mean, Chris was a good player, I'm a good player, but if I come in and do everything I'm supposed to do - do everything right - I can't help but to play on the field."
Ginn was asked if it's just a coincidence that he has Gamble's old number, or if he picked it that way.
"Well, it's kind of a coincidence, but then again it was the only single digit I could get," he said. "I like that I got No. 7 because it's a single digit, but it's going to bring a lot of attention.
"I wore No. 2 all my life, but as long as I got a single digit, I was cool. I love single digits. I never wore a two-digit number except in the Big 33 (No. 21)."
Ginn says his mentality is just to come in, work hard and let the chips fall as they may.
"Yeah, I got to," he said. "I'm just a freshman and I got to come in and show what I have. If I come in and show what I have, they can't help but to try and put me on the field."
Ginn plans on making an impact on special teams. He could be just what OSU's return game ordered.
"Yes, punt return, kick returns, wherever they need me," he said.
Ginn has a quiet confidence about him. He is not concerned that playing two ways will be too much to handle for a true freshman.
"Yeah, because I've been doing it for years," he said. "I know what type of work you have to put in, so I really don't think it will be much different. I've been doing it my whole life, so I'm just going to come in and keep it rolling."
Even a superstar like Ginn is not above getting some advice from the upperclassmen.
"All the DBs; all the receivers (are helping me)," he said. "They're showing me how to run routes, how to line up. Just helping me out and that's what I need."
Ginn knows that young kids look up to him and says he enjoys the responsibility that goes with it.
"Whatever you want to call it, I look at myself as a role model, and when you're a role model, there's going to be pressure on you," he said. "But hey, I'm just a kid. I'm just going to do what I do."
"My mindset is: I'm coming in here to play and be the starter," Downing said. "But I've got great competition with Kirk Barton and Tim Schafer and I know it's not going to be easy. It's going to be difficult, but that's what battling and being a champion is all about. No one says it's going to be easy."
Downing came in as a left tackle two years ago, but was quickly moved to the right side.
"I played left tackle in high school and obviously Rob Sims has done very well there," Downing said. "I made the transition to right tackle and they're also working me at guard. I'm just ready to get out there and play some ball."
Downing has bulked up quite a bit since his first year.
"When I came in, I was about 270 pounds and now I'm about 295," he said. "That redshirt year I got up to 300, but now I kind of trimmed down after I had knee surgery last year. I just tried to trim down and lose some of that baby fat on me and build muscles in places I didn't know I could have them. I've been working on getting stronger and I think it's definitely paid off. I'm a lot bigger and stronger than high school."
Downing knows that the Buckeyes lost four offensive linemen to graduation. However, he's optimistic about the young O-line.
"I think it's definitely going to be hard replacing all those three year starters," Downing said. "They won a national championship here. But it's like a revolving door here. Guys leave and new guys come in. That's what the recruiting process is.
You bring guys in that you feel should replace them and I think that Coach (Jim) Bollman feels that all of us will do a very good job replacing guys like (Alex) Stepanovich, (Shane) Olivea, (Adrien) Clarke and (Bryce) Bishop. I think he feels very confident about that."