Buckeyes Come Together For Photo Day

The 2005 Ohio State football team got its first glimpse of the green grass inside Ohio Stadium with photo day this afternoon. The event allowed reporters to quiz Ted Ginn Jr. on his role and also gave players such as Troy Smith and Erik Haw a chance to address some off-season difficulties. Click here for more. (This story was updated at 8:50 p.m. with more notes and quotes.)

The Ohio State football team took a break from preseason practice Thursday afternoon to conduct its photo day for media and family members at Ohio Stadium.

The players then adjourned across the street to attend an autograph session at French Field House. Fans were lined up around the field house and over to Lane Avenue in an effort to get a look at the new team.

The Buckeyes were ranked ninth in the initial USA Today coaches poll. Jim Tressel, beginning his fifth season as the OSU coach, took stock of his team.

"I would say that we have some experience, especially at linebacker and in the secondary," Tressel said. "We have more experience than we've had on the offensive line. We have a ton more experience at quarterback than we had at this time a year ago. Just, in general, we have more experience."

The photo day gave media members a first chance to take pictures of the incoming freshmen – including prep All-Americans like Alex Boone, Jamario O'Neal and Maurice Wells -- in their OSU uniforms.

Plus, it afforded media members their first chance to interview players such as Troy Smith and Erik Haw, who were the focus of off-the-field issues during the off-season.

Haw found trouble in the off-season after he was caught smoking a marijuana cigarette on campus. However, he said he has been through extensive counseling and also endured team punishment with 6 a.m. workouts.

"There's an eye on you and you have to deal with the criticism and work through it," Haw said. "The last two quarters, I got a 3.0 and a 3.2. Grades aren't a problem. I just made a mistake. I'm a man and I admit my mistake. I asked my mom to forgive me as well as the fans of Ohio State."

Smith created a stir this summer when it was discovered that he missed class to travel to Tennessee and work as a counselor at a football camp. He was absolved of wrongdoing by OSU's compliance staff, but he still must sit out the opening game against Miami (Ohio) as the second of a two-game suspension for accepting illegal extra benefits last year.

"Life is filled with trials and tribulations," said Smith, who has bulked up from 215 pounds to 225. "It's just how you handle it that makes the difference. I'm glad the outcome that came down. I am looking forward to getting on the field with my teammates."

Smith talked about the expanse of leadership on this team, which boasts 17 returning starters.

"We have guys stepping up to the plate," he said. "We have good leadership. We know it will be a full season this year instead of breaking it up into sections. We have a great group of leaders with A.J. (Hawk), Santonio (Holmes), Justin (Zwick), Nick (Mangold), Rob (Sims) and the list goes on and on."

One storyline that will continue most of the year will be the role of sophomore Ted Ginn Jr. He made a splash last year as a flanker and punt returner. But Tressel has already intimated that Ginn will also handle kicks, could moonlight some at quarterback and running back on offense and could see time at cornerback on defense.

"I'm going to go out and have fun and it's going to be great," Ginn said.

Ginn was asked if he could eclipse the OSU-record four punts he returned for touchdowns last year.

"I'm going to try to, but I know it will be very hard," he said. "I know they will kick away from me. I'll have to prepare myself for that. I know being out there by myself it's going to be a long journey and I might not get a ball."

Ginn was also asked about the "Shot Ginn" formation, where he lined up as wide as a tight end and as deep as a tailback. The formation afforded him running room off the line of scrimmage.

"I like it a lot," said Ginn, who appeared to have gained some weight. "It's a great formation. I bet we see it a lot."

Also Notable

* With Smith unavailable for the Sept. 3 opener with Miami, redshirt freshman Todd Boeckman goes into the season as the backup to Justin Zwick at quarterback. This is big news for Boeckman, who last played in 2002 at St. Henry, Ohio. He sat out 2003 as a grayshirt and redshirted last year.

"I'm anxious to get in there and see how things go," Boeckman said. "It's definitely a neat thing just to have an opportunity to play for Ohio State. It's a great opportunity for me and I just want to make the best of it.

"I haven't taken a snap in a real game in almost three years. I am definitely looking forward to that opportunity to come. I'm definitely anxious to get into a real football game. You never know what can happen and you don't want anything to happen. You never want to see injuries, but if it does happen somebody has to step in there."

Boeckman talked about the team's preparations this summer.

"We all worked hard," he said. "We got out there a couple days a week and worked on seven on sevens and got comfortable with each other and the system."

* One of the most highly touted freshmen on display was tailback Maurice Wells. Wells may only be 5-10 and 185 pounds, but he said he does not intend to back down from anybody.

"It doesn't matter what size you are," he said. "If a hole is there, an athlete is going to run through that hole and get a touchdown, no matter if he is 190 or 250 pounds."

Wells enrolled for summer quarter and worked out with the team.

"I've been thinking about it a long time," he said. "It is a big deal to get into school. This is the school I picked. Everything, so far, is going the way I want it to. Practice is going good, school is going good. I got my summer classes out of the way and I did good with those. I'm making a lot of friends. These are friends I'll probably have the rest of my life, so everything is going good."

Still, working out and practicing are two different things.

"They throw a lot of stuff at you, but a lot of stuff is sticking, too," Wells said. "The passing game is the most difficult thing. The running game is easy. But learning the blocking schemes and the pass routes, that's the hardest thing."

Wells' believes OSU's leanings toward the spread will work in his favor.

"In the bowl game, they ran a lot of the spread with four wide receivers," he said. "That is more my style, to spread it out and slash it up in there. I like that."

Wells talked about making the jump from high school to college.

"It's intense," he said. "Everybody is getting after it. There are some athletes out there. It's not high school any more where there are only a couple of guys who can really play."

* Senior linebacker Mike D'Andrea that his knee is still only about 85 percent. He admitted he would consider a redshirt year if he isn't able to be full-go.

"Right now, I'm having problems bursting and sprinting 100 percent," he said. "I don't want to go out my last year at less than 100 percent."

D'Andrea confirmed that he and the school would also pursue a medical redshirt for him for the 2004 season, when he played just four games.

* Redshirt freshman wide receiver Albert Dukes said he was relieved to be back with the team. Dukes actually returned in the spring after missing winter quarter when he was accused of sexual assault in his hometown of Belle Glade, Fla. The charges were ultimately dropped.

"I'm glad that is behind me," Dukes said. "I knew deep down inside that, through prayer, everything was going to be OK."

* Freshman Andre Amos was originally ticketed as a wide receiver. But after strong showings as a cornerback in a pair of summer all-star games, he agreed to move to cornerback.

"I also think I can get on the field at corner maybe the quickest," said Amos, whose number changed from 86 to 13 before he reported.

* Preferred walk-ons included in OSU's initial 105-man roster for camp include kicker Aaron Pettrey (wearing No. 20); 5-8, 220-pound running back James Aston (No. 29); punter John Thoma (No. 48); offensive lineman Andrew Moses (No. 66) of Columbus Watterson; and tight end Will Crall (No. 83) of Bexley, Ohio.

* Here are links to our first photo day photo gallery and a sidebar on Troy Smith:

Photo day photo gallery I.

Sidebar on Troy Smith.

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