Kick Scrimmage Hinges On Pettrey's 59-Yarder

Aaron Pettrey made a 59-yard field goal on the final play of Thursday's kick scrimmage at Ohio Stadium to lift his team to a 28-27 win. Ted Ginn Jr. also had an 80-yard kick return for a score. (NOTE: This story updated at 11 p.m. with a ton of notes and quotes on Pettrey, Ginn, punter A.J. Trapasso and an update from Jim Tressel on the Tyson Gentry situation.)

Thursday's kick scrimmage at Ohio Stadium came down to one final play, and redshirt freshman kicker Aaron Pettrey delivered in a big way.

Pettrey booted a 59-yard field goal on that final play to lift his Gray team to a 28-27 win over the Scarlet in the kick scrimmage.

"It might have been a kicking scrimmage record field goal," OSU coach Jim Tressel said. "The Gray team was down 27-25 with one play left in the scrimmage. Aaron Pettrey hit a 59-1/2 yard field goal. I'm not sure how the NCAA would have marked it, 59 of 60. But it was a bomb shot and he made it and pandemonium broke out. It was a great highlight."

The battle for the starting kicker job at Ohio State is a spirited one. Pettrey ended up unofficially 6 of 8 on field goals, while sophomore Ryan Pretorius was unofficially 7 of 8 for his team.

"There is a lot of competition," Tressel said. "I don't know if Ryan missed more than one field goal and Aaron had one blocked. I do remember that. I thought both of the punters, A.J. Trapasso and Johnathan Thoma each punted the ball well. Drew Norman, the long snapper, snapped the ball solid.

"This was practice 13 and we have two more here in the spring and 29 more in the fall. I think we have a little battle on our hands. We'll see who settles into it. It will be interesting. Consistency will determine who the kicker is, not who can kick it the farthest."

Tressel allowed dynamic Ted Ginn Jr. to make just one punt return during the course of the scrimmage. In typical Ginn fashion, he made it count with an 80-yard touchdown.

There were no punts blocked in the scrimmage, which consisted entirely of special teams plays.

With the Woody Hayes Athletic Center under renovation, the losing side did not have to walk back to the WHAC. But Tressel said they instead had to do some push-ups after the scrimmage.

"We did a set of slow push-ups," Tressel said. "What I forgot about that is the coaches and the players are part of the penalty. I may have been close to having some injuries with the coaching staff."

Pettrey's Big Kick

Pettrey and Pretorius seem intent on carrying on the tradition set in recent years by Mike Nugent and Josh Huston at the kicker position.

Pettrey's big day has been a long time coming. He graduated from high school in Raceland, Ky., in 2004 and then played the waiting game before OSU finally came up with a scholarship for him this past winter quarter.

"This was a blast today," Pettrey said. "It was the first time I got to participate in it because last year I was hurt in the fall. It was a lot of fun. I was a little nervous going out there. I thought I did pretty well for the first time and getting the jitters out. I've been hitting the ball good in practice."

Pettrey, who holds the Kentucky prep record with a 58-yard field goal, discussed his game winner.

"It felt good," he said. "Right when I hit it, I knew it had the distance. It started out to the right but came back at the last second. On film, it just sneaks by the post. As soon as I hit it, I knew it had a chance. It was a good snap, a good hold and the line held up real well. I had to drive that one and keep it low.

"I got tackled by the Gray team. It was a lot of fun."

Pettrey had one kick blocked and missed kicks of 55 and 40 yards. He is excited about competing for the starting job.

"Coming into the spring, I thought I had a good chance to start," he said. "I was finally healthy. I've been hitting the ball good coming into this spring."

Pettrey attended Ashland (Ky.) Community College and Southern Ohio Community College before enrolling as a walk-on this past fall. When Huston left the program, Pettrey picked up his scholarship.

"It was a relief," said Pettrey, who turned down offers to other schools. "I thought it was about time. It took a lot of pressure off after paying out-of-state (tuition).

"Today made that wait seem like nothing. It was great."

Pretorius also enjoyed success with just one miss. He was happy for Pettrey after his big kick.

"I think that's great for the team," said Pretorius, a South Africa native who will turn 27 on May 2. "I kick every day with him. It was a great kick.

"The frustrating thing is you just want to know who is going to be starting in the fall. We are in the spring, but we still have all of fall to go through."

Tressel discussed how the rotation of kickers has gone this spring.

"The order we've gone in practice has been Ryan and then Aaron and then we've been alternating (walk-ons) Andrew Good, Mike Mattimoe and Jonathan Skeete," he said. "They haven't got quite as many reps as the first two. Yesterday, the first kicker taken in the draft was Aaron.

"Aaron hit one kickoff 10 yards out of the end zone. I thought the kicking was good. They get pumped up and excited for this because it's their day."

It's Teddy

Ginn flashed his signature speed on his 80-yard punt return touchdown.

"One of the rules in today's kick scrimmage was Teddy could only have one return," Tressel said. "Whenever it was, I did not care. He better make the best of it, and he did."

Wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell, who tutors the returners, discussed the play.

"We had a big return out of Teddy," Hazell said. "We were only allowed to use him on one punt return and he made good on it. He's back to his old form, so that's good.

"They kicked him into his left corner. He split two snipers and then broke it off to the right side."

Hazell said that Anthony Gonzalez and Malcolm Jenkins have also been working on punt returns. OSU will probably utilize its diamond alignment again on kick returns with Ginn as the deep man.

"We think we will get a lot of pooch kicks and crazy kicks because of the success we've had," he said. "We will probably have to flank him like we did at times last year."

Hazell understands the importance of the kick scrimmage, a Tressel invention.

"Today was something where you could see you can gain an advantage with the ball moving up and down the field if you do things right," he said.

Trapasso: Top Pick

Trapasso returns for his sophomore year as OSU's starting punter. As such, he was the first player selected in Wednesday's draft for Saturday's spring game.

"I didn't even know that happened until my dad called and rubbed it in," Trapasso said.

Trapasso is serious when he says he didn't know what happened. He thought he had been made the top pick in the kick scrimmage, not the spring game.

"I don't know anything about that," he said. "There are plenty of guys who deserved to go ahead of me."

Asked to describe his performance on Thursday, Trapasso said, "I think I did OK. I think I mishit a couple of balls. We were working with a mixed group of people. It's constant reps and these guys were tired, but they were pushing as hard as they could.

"There were no blocked punts and that was a plus. We had one or two blocks last year. Our punt protection teams did a good job today."

Update On Gentry

Tressel took an opportunity after the kick scrimmage to update the status of punter/wide receiver Tyson Gentry, who suffered a neck injury after a reception in last Friday's practice.

Gentry has been hospitalized at OSU Medical Center ever since and has twice undergone surgery.

"He is getting tremendous care over there and he has some goals set," Tressel said. "He has had some little victories. Whenever there are neck injuries, it's slow. We've had some neat things. He had a chance to talk to (former Penn State player) Adam Taliaferro. Today, we had a chance to talk at length with the coaches from Cornell. They had that young man who had a similar thing this basketball season, and he is doing extremely well.

"We're just trying to move along. It's not fun and Tyson is doing the best you can."

Tressel said it figures to be a long and arduous process for Gentry.

"We all like to look for instant progress and it doesn't happen in these cases," he said. "You just have to dig in and if you keep doing what you need to do and the prayers keep coming and the good fortune keeps coming, you turn around and it's a year later and good things have happened. We just have to hunker down and deal with it."

Trapasso knows Gentry as well as anybody on the team after the two competed for the punter job last year.

"Tyson is one of the greatest guys I've ever met," Trapasso said. "What happened to him could not have happened to a less deserving person. It's insane to think it was Tyson on last Friday. It could have been any one of us. It could be any one of us tomorrow or Saturday. You put things in perspective.

"He was doing everything he could for the team. They switched him out to receiver and he was taking care of business out there. In a second, his life changed forever. It makes you take a step back and think about what we're doing out here."

Tressel was asked about a column written by's Dennis Dodd. In the column, Dodd quoted Tressel as saying he was miffed by the fact that he had received more e-mails about OSU's jersey switch than from people wishing Gentry well in his recovery.

"I thought that was one of those off-the-record discussions (with Dodd)," Tressel said. "I didn't have an agenda to discuss that. We were just talking about things. It is interesting what people choose to talk about. But that is what is wonderful about this country – you are allowed to talk about what interests you."

Dodd attended a pair of OSU interview days earlier this week and had access to coaches and players at that time.

No News On Boone

Reports have swirled in Ohio that sophomore offensive tackle Alex Boone's eligibility for the 2006 season may be jeopardized by his recent drunken driving conviction.

Boone was cited for DUI following a two-car accident on Ninth Avenue near campus on April 2. According to reports, he could face judicial action from OSU and may be suspended for fall quarter.

"I can't say anything about a case that's involved with Student Judicial Affairs," Tressel said. "That is all in their court, so I can't say anything about that."

Vrabels Pay Forward

Earlier this week, it was announced that former OSU All-American defensive end Mike Vrabel and his wife, Jen, had pledged $75,000 to the Woody Hayes Athletic Center renovation project.

"At Ohio State, they call it paying forward because Coach Hayes gave it that label," Tressel said. "That's the truth. There's not much you can give back to the past, but you can certainly help build for the future and show you're grateful for what was provided for you when you were here.

"Mike is that kind of guy and his wife, Jen, was a (volleyball) athlete here as well. They feel strongly about Ohio State athletics. Plus, Mike spends a lot of time in the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, so for him being a part of that renovation was a natural."

The Vrabel family will be recognized at Saturday's spring game.

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