That is why it was somewhat of a surprise to see the Scarlet team, after winning the first pick in a coin toss, select sophomore punter A.J. Trapasso with the first overall selection.
But, cornerback Antonio Smith, one of the seniors on the Scarlet squad and part of the draft team for that side, summed up the strategy.
"The punt is the most important play in football," Smith said with a sly grin as he stole one of OSU head coach Jim Tressel's favorite mantras.
Continuing one of his favorite traditions, Tressel divided his team's seniors and had them draft sides for Saturday's Scarlet and Gray Game at Ohio Stadium (1 p.m., WBNS-TV and Ohio News Network).
As noted, the 20 seniors were divided by the coaching staff for the Scarlet and Gray squads. The Scarlet team won the coin toss and got to open the first position. All players at that position – punter – were then selected in a draft before the Gray got to open the next position.
Prior to the draft, a number of players were ruled out of the game due to injuries by trainer Doug Calland. They included: OL Kirk Barton and Doug Datish, WR Devin Jordan, RB Shaun Lane, TB Antonio Pittman, LB Mike D'Andrea, DB Curt Lukens, DT Quinn Pitcock and DE Ryan Williams and Doug Worthington. Punter Tyson Gentry was also mentioned in the injury report. He remains hospitalized at OSU Medical Center after suffering a serious neck injury on Friday.
Tressel announced the general rules for the game. On first down, the offense will use a two-back set. On second and third down, the offense will go one-back or empty. For the defense, on first down they will be in the base 4-3 with zone coverage. On second and third downs, the defense will have a 30 front with zone coverage.
The special teams will be live, with the exception of punts that must be fair caught. Defenses may attempt to block punts, however.
The game will be four 12-minute quarters with a standard clock.
Before the draft, Tressel announced that sophomore Devon Lyons would be drafted as a receiver, perhaps signaling an end to the experiment of playing him at safety this spring.
Tressel also set down some limitations on key personnel. They include: DT David Patterson (will play on the first quarter), DE Jay Richardson (only first half), OG T.J. Downing (only first half), WR Anthony Gonzalez (only first half), WR Ted Ginn Jr. (only first half), QBs Troy Smith and Justin Zwick (first quarter only and in black jerseys for no tackling).
Here is a look, in order, of how the positions were opened and the players were drafted with seniors assigned at each spot:
* Punter -- A.J. Trapasso (Scarlet), John Thoma (Gray), Jason Weihrauch (S), Evan Jablonka (G). Injured players assigned: Tyson Gentry (S).
* Defensive End -- Lawrence Wilson (G), Vernon Gholston (S), Alex Barrow (G), Brent Day (S), Bryan Gray (G). Injured players assigned: Doug Worthington (S), Ryan Williams (G). Senior assigned: Jay Richardson (S).
* Defensive Tackle -- Todd Denlinger (S), Nader Abdallah (G). Seniors assigned: Quinn Pitcock (G, injured), Joel Penton (G), David Patterson (S), Juan Garnier (S).
* Cornerback -- Malcolm Jenkins (G), Donald Washington (S), Andre Amos (G), Kurt Coleman (S), Sirjo Welch (G), Brandon Underwood (S), De'Angelo Haslam (G), Zach Willis (S). Seniors assigned: Michael Roberts (G), Antonio Smith (S).
* Center -- Tyler Whaley (S), Jimmy Cordle (G), Jon Skinner (S), Andrew Moses (G).
* Offensive Line -- Alex Boone (G), Steve Rehring (S), Ben Person (G), Kyle Mitchum (S), Josh Kerr (G), Danny Dye (S), Doug Ebner (G). Seniors assigned: T.J. Downing (G), Tim Schafer (S), Doug Datish (S, injured). Injured player assigned: Kirk Barton (S).
* Tailback -- Erik Haw (S), Maurice Wells (G), Chris Wells (S), Joe Gantz (G). Injured players assigned: Antonio Pittman (S), Shaun Lane (G).
* WLB -- Marcus Freeman (G), Ross Homan (S), Ryan Lukens (G).
* SLB -- Curtis Terry (S), James Laurinaitis (G), Larry Grant (S).
* WR -- Ted Ginn Jr. (G), Anthony Gonzalez (S), Brian Robiskie (G), Brian Hartline (S), Albert Dukes (G), Devon Lyons (S), Dan Potokar (G), Brent Ullery (S), Dre Riddick (G), James Wallace (S). Seniors assigned: Roy Hall (G), Derek Harden (S). Injured players assigned: Kyle Ruhl (G), Devin Jordan (S), David Lisko (G).
* Safety -- Jamario O'Neal (S), Anderson Russell (G), Nick Patterson (S), Michael Dougherty (G), Marcus Williams (S), Matt Daniels (G). Senior assigned: Brandon Mitchell (G). Injured players assigned: Curt Lukens (S).
* Tight End -- Marcel Frost (G), Rory Nicol (S), Brandon Smith (G), Will Crall (S), John Larson (G).
* MLB -- Austin Spitler (S), Chad Hoobler (G). Seniors assigned: John Kerr (S), Mike D'Andrea (G, injured).
* Long Snapper -- Dimitrios Makrides (S), Matt Drummelsmith (G), Kurt Schnittger (S). Senior assigned: Drew Norman (G).
* Quarterback -- Todd Boeckman (G), Rob Schoenhoft (S), Ben Kacsandi (G). Seniors assigned: Justin Zwick (G), Troy Smith (S).
* Fullback -- Dionte Johnson (S), Trever Robinson (G). Seniors assigned: Stan White Jr. (G), Ryan Franzinger (S).
* Kicker -- Aaron Pettrey (G), Ryan Pretorius (S), Jonathan Skeete (G), Andrew Good (S), Michael Mattimoe (G).
As always, Tressel asked seniors and assistant coaches from each side to say a few words after the draft about their respective teams. Here is a sampling of some of those comments:
* John Kerr, MLB, Scarlet -- "We had a good draft and I think we have the upper hand defensively. We have a lot of guys who will work hard there and I think we're in good shape."
* T.J. Downing, OG, Gray -- "In today's draft, I think we did well at wide receiver and in the specialty game. We are a little worried about our offensive line. We do not have as much depth as they do. But we are happy about our defensive ends."
* Antonio Smith, CB, Scarlet -- "The Scarlet team looks very well. We have a lot of depth on the offensive line and at receiver. Our defensive line is good as well. We're ready to go out and have a good game."
* Drew Norman, long snapper, Gray -- "I think both teams are pretty well evenly matched. I like what we have up front on the defensive side. We should be able to come off the edge and make some plays with the guys we got. Hopefully, (Aaron) Pettrey will come through with his long leg. I think he has a little longer leg than (Ryan) Pretorius."
* John Peterson, assistant coach, Gray -- "The Gray team is pleased with our picks. We worked as a team in picking our players. We expect a lot of pressure coming off the ends and we think our corner spots will be able to lock down their receivers."
* Darrell Hazell, assistant, Scarlet -- "The Scarlet team is very offended by that last statement that they think they will lock down our receivers. We will have to make sure we exploit those DBs. We're looking forward to a good afternoon and get after it."
* Paul Haynes, assistant, Gray -- "We are happy with our choices. We have a lot of depth. We definitely feel good about our receivers and we feel good about the running back position. We think Maurice Wells will do a good job. And we will lock down those receivers. That will be the key."
* Tim Beckman, assistant, Scarlet -- "I think it's a balanced draft as you look at it. We like the players we got at linebacker. We like the way Ross (Homan) has been playing. We think he brings an advantage for us there. Offensively, I think we did a great job of picking people. I think with Beanie (Chris Wells) and Erik Haw running the ball we can do some exciting things there."
* Troy Smith, QB, Scarlet (Smith arrived near the end of the draft) -- "The Scarlet is way better and will be more equipped for the game. I see our receivers and the depth we have up front is unmatchable. We have guys across the board who can get it done. Our draft team did a great job and I can't wait to play."
More Spring Game Details
Ohio State provided the following release on the Scarlet and Gray Game:
Tickets for Saturday's Scarlet & Gray football game in Ohio Stadium remain on sale at the Athletics Ticket Office in the Jerome Schottentstein Center and can be purchased in person in the southeast ticket lobby of the JSC or by going on-line at www.hangonsloopy.com.
The ticket office is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets are $5.00 each with one dollar from each ticket sold going to the National Youth Sports Program, which is sponsored each summer by the Ohio State Department of Athletics. The latter program benefits inner-city youths and allows them to use OSU facilities and learn from OSU coaches and staff members.
Ohio State ticket director Bill Jones reports more than 20,000 tickets have been sold to date for the spring game.
In anticipation of a large walk-up crowd on Saturday, Jones said the ticket office will sell tickets in the southeast and southwest lobbies of St. John Arena, as well as the usual locations in the north-end rotunda and surrounding gates in Ohio Stadium. All day-of-game locations open at 11 a.m. Jones also noted all will-call will be in St. John Arena and not in the Schottenstein Center as in past years.
As part of this year's "Celebration of Champions" theme, the Big Ten championship trophies from this past year's football, men's and women's basketball and men's gymnastics teams will be on display near Gate 8 inside Ohio Stadium. The Fiesta Bowl trophy and the Big Ten women's basketball tournament trophy also will be on display at that location. Fans are invited to view the trophies, take pictures and have their pictures taken next to the championship hardware.
All four championship teams will be honored at halftime of Saturday's game, including many of the seniors from the 2005 football team. Ohio State made history this past year by becoming the first Big Ten school to win league titles in football and men's and women's basketball in the same academic year.