One of the first names out of his mouth was sophomore tailback Antonio Pittman.
"I thought Antonio Pittman looked sharp and I think he has all spring," Tressel said following Saturday's Scarlet and Gray Game. "I am really encouraged by the way he is playing. I thought he really expressed himself this spring."
Pittman took the praise in stride.
"It feels all right (to hear him say that), but you've still got to work hard no matter what," Pittman said.
Despite Tressel's high praise, Pittman does not think he did enough this spring to lock down the starting job.
"No, can't never do enough," Pittman said. "I mean, I feel as if I still have to work hard, or even harder. It's not going to be determined until the opener, that's how I put it."
Pittman and redshirt freshman Erik Haw will continue to battle for the job. But all signs point to Pittman being the starter in 2005. He has a year of experience under his belt and was a bit more impressive than Haw this spring.
"I wouldn't look at it as me being the starter," Pittman said. "Regardless of what it is, I say we both came into the spring as backups. There were no starters. If he worked hard, I needed to work harder, and vice versa. So, it was just a good battle and it's going to continue until the opener." Pittman had 14 carries for 57 yards in the spring game and only played two quarters.
"Oh yeah, I felt I had a good day," Pittman said. "It was slippery – I had to watch my footing and everything. But overall, the line blocked well, the receivers blocked downfield and it worked out well. I played all right. I only played two quarters, but I felt good out there. It's just a preview of what you're going to see this year."
The field conditions looked terrible due to the winter-like weather.
"It wasn't as bad as it looked, but on a wetter surface, you've got to make little choppy steps," Pittman said. "You can't try and cut crazy or something or you'll slip. You know what to expect."
Overall, it was a positive spring in terms of Pittman's development.
"Yeah, I feel like I had a great spring," Pittman said. "It was good just to come out and there was only two tailbacks on the roster and we got some needed reps."
The 5-11 Pittman has added 10 pounds of muscle and now weighs just under 200 pounds. This offseason, he plans on spending long hours in the weight room.
"Just get bigger and stronger this offseason. That's it," Pittman said. "More weight. Hitting the weights harder, just coming in the best shape as I can come in."
Pittman says his added weight is not a main reason he played better this spring.
"It's not even about the whole weight thing, I'm more confident now," he said. "Last year, I'd come in only during certain situations, or toward the end of the game. When I came in last year, we'd run certain plays. Now, I'm just more confident and I think the coaches are more confident in me. It's just all clicking. Going out there and everything's all right."
But the extra muscle mass will help his durability.
"Oh yeah, it will help me absorb the hits," Pittman said. "You know, it's a pounding in the Big Ten. So, putting on that weight just helps out the body."
But even with the extra weight, Pittman says he's faster than ever.
"It hasn't taken away any of my speed," he said.
Last season, Pittman had his breakout game in OSU's 30-7 win over Indiana – rushing 20 times for 144 yards and one touchdown.
Pittman was asked what he remembers most about that game.
"My touchdown," he said. "That was my only one. I'm trying to get more than that. I'm going to get a lot more this year.
"The Indiana game, that was a stepping stone. That gave me more confidence. It felt good to just play."
Pittman is from Akron Buchtel High School. In recent years, several talented athletes have come out of the Akron-area, led by basketball phenom LeBron James.
"It's a takeover," Pittman said with a laugh. "Akron takeover."
And arriving at Ohio State in 2006 will be Akron Garfield running back Chris Wells – considered by many as the top prospect in the state of Ohio. He verballed to the Buckeyes in February.
Wells has mentioned that one of the players he looks up to is Pittman. Well, Pittman says he can't wait to play on the same team with Wells.
"That's my dude," Pittman said. "His freshman year was his coming out party against us. I think I rushed for about 400-something and he rushed for like 200-something. He was just a freshman and we were a good team."