Spring Draft and Practice Notes

Dave Biddle checks in with some quick notes from the spring draft and spring practice...

The second annual spring game draft, with rules designed by head coach/commissioner Jim Tressel, was not your typical draft. The two teams did not take turns selecting the best overall players available, instead they rotated picking players at "specific" positions (i.e right tackle, not offensive line) until all players at that position had been drafted. For example. Scarlet won the pre-draft coin-flip and opened up defensive end as the first position to be drafted. The Scarlet team made Will Smith the first pick of the draft (Mike Doss of the Gray offered to trade two future first rounders for Smith, an idea quickly vetoed by Tressel). Gray was then left with the only other healthy rush end on the roster, walk-on Steve Graef - not your typical No. 2 overall selection.

What made the draft so interesting was that the seniors, a.k.a. general managers, really got into it. You would have thought you were in an NFL draft "war room" from last weekend with all the intensity and last-minute shuffling that took place.

"Yeah, baby!" Shouted Scarlet co-GM Kenny Peterson when his side won the pre-draft coin flip.

"Big backs, big backs, big backs," Doss chanted after he and his cohorts picked up the trio of Maurice Clarett (No. 1 RB drafted), Lydell Ross (No. 3 RB) and Brandon Joe (No. 1 FB).

The draft provided a glimpse at which underclassmen truly had the respect of the seniors. Sometimes, the players know best who should be starting and you just know that the coaching staff was paying close attention to some of the "toss-up" picks. Speaking of that, here's a rundown of the positions of interest at the draft and who beat out who for bragging rights... At quarterback, Craig Krenzel got the nod over Scott McMullen. The order at running back went Maurice Clarett, Maurice Hall, Lydell Ross, then JaJa Riley. At fullback, Brandon Joe was taken over Brandon Schnittker. At SAM linebacker, Rob Reynolds was drafted ahead of Pat O'Neill. At X receiver, Chris Gamble was drafted first, Mike Jenkins second, Drew Carter third and John Hollins fourth. At Z receiver, Bam Childress got top honors, Angelo Chattams was second and Mo Lee was third. At left cornerback, Dustin Fox was drafted ahead of Bobby Britton. At right corner, Harlen Jacobs was taken over Richard "Dick" McNutt. At safety, Will Allen beat out Thomas Matthews. And finally at kicker, Mike Nugent was No. 1, walk-on Jeremy Uhlenhake was taken second, and kickoff artist Josh Huston third.

* Kudos for Tressel for doing the draft this way. It makes it fun for the players, coaches and fans alike. We have come a long way from 1999 when spring practice was closed and there was no true spring game. There was a scrimmage held at the WHAC for media-only, but it was like Coach Cooper knew that year's team was going to struggle and didn't want anyone else to know it yet.

"I don't even remember anything about that spring game," safety Donnie Nickey said. "It was really weird that year."

Even the years when Coop did allow the spring game to be played, he never held a draft. He and his staff would always break the teams up themselves.

Spring notes...

Tressel on what he foresees as the biggest difference between the 2001 and 2002 Buckeyes...

"The one ingredient that I don't think you can replicate that we had last year was Jamar Martin. We don't have a 270-pound battering ram that, regardless of what technique the defensive ends and linebackers are taught, they are going to lose. Jamar was the best pure fullback in the nation last year and was the first true blocking fullback taken in the NFL draft.

"This year, we won't have the luxury of having someone like Jamar back there, but I think we'll be able to put more speed on the field offensively than we did last year. This spring, we've tried to do some things to make sure we take advantage of that speed."

Tressel on the quarterback battle (the dreaded 'if there was a game tomorrow' question)...

"I would think if we had a game tomorrow, Craig would be the starting guy, but I think we'd say that more than one guy would play. After having watched both Scott and Craig in the spring, having watched both of them in their limited game time last year, I'm encouraged because I think they can both do the things that we need to do. Now who will emerge and get the chance to do them most often? ... I think the jury is still out on that one, but I feel good about the progress of both of those guys."

Tressel on the talented young crop of tailbacks...

"I think that we've got a lot of potential there. Don't have much game experience, Lydell has the most and Maurice Hall has some, but I think we're going to have really good, well-rounded running back play. I think these are guys we can put out in the slot and get one-on-one with linebackers and I think they'll be satisfactory blockers. I'm really excited about what we have the potential to be at that position... And I don't think you can discount Ja Ja Riley. He's shown us he's pretty natural out there in the slot and he's made some plays. We're just anxious to try and find a way to get a lot of fast, tough, explosive guys on the field at the same time."

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