Richardson Focused As OSU Opens Camp

Jay Richardson is a big, talented defensive end and this is the year he is hoping he puts it all together and has a huge season for Ohio State. Richardson says he took his workout routine to another level this offseason under new strength coach Eric Lichter and is entering preseason camp in the best shape of his life.

With three senior starters, the defensive line is expected to be the strength of Ohio State's "Silver Bullets" defense this season.

And one player who wants to take his game to the next level is defensive end Jay Richardson.

Richardson (6-6, 280) has always been a talented player, but his motor has often come into question. Now as a fifth-year senior, Richardson knows it's now or never, and you can see the determination in his eyes.

"I feel like I bring a good pass rush and I feel like I bring leadership," Richardson said. "I just want to try and go out there and lead by example and work hard and get to the quarterback.

"I definitely feel that I have a lot to prove this year. I feel that it's up to me and the rest of the seniors up front to lead the defense."

Players reported to preseason camp on Sunday. The first practice is Monday as the Buckeyes lead up to the Sept. 2 opener against visiting Northern Illinois.

"This being my last season, my last camp, it's kind of weird," Richardson said. "But I'm just excited for the season. Excited about the kind of talent we have and getting into this preseason stuff is getting everybody pumped up.

"As far as camp in general, it's all about building mental toughness, because we're not hitting yet. It's about getting the mental side down and making sure everyone learns the defense and offense and learns the system and gets comfortable – especially for the younger guys. For the older guys, we're kind of waiting for things to pick up. But for the younger guys, it's really important that we slow the first week down for them and get them into it."

The Buckeyes will have their grueling conditioning test Monday morning to find out who exactly pushed themselves to the max this summer.

"I plan to do the best I can tomorrow morning," Richardson said. "It's real early and you have to be in great shape, but we've been working hard all summer and I think the guys will be ready.

"Personally, I feel great. I feel that I'm in the best shape of my life. And I'm sure a lot of other seniors would say the same thing because we've been working really hard."

Richardson actually lost five pounds this summer, but says he is stronger than ever.

"I'm at 285 right now, which is down from last year when I played at 290," he said. "I'm a little trimmer, but I feel a lot bigger because, once again, we've been lifting really hard."

Richardson immediately formed a bond with OSU's new strength coach during the offseason.

"We've got a big lift from Eric Lichter coming in and helping us out," Richardson said. "He set the bar high for us and he was a really inspiring guy all summer. He brings a lot of energy to the weight room and makes you want to be in there. And I think a lot of guys individually turned it up a notch this summer. Like Tony Gonzalez – he is always a workout warrior but I think he turned it up another notch this offseason. And myself too, I did some extra workouts and did pretty well. We as a team have taken it a lot more seriously."

There's a lot of talk about how young Ohio State will be on defense this year. But with a total of four seniors on the defensive line – including backup tackle Joel Penton – you won't find many teams with more experience, or talent, than the Buckeyes up front.

"Yeah, I think up front, that's where our leadership is going to have to come from," Richardson said. "And then we have a lot of young talent in the back seven. But our linebackers, it's not like they're rookies. We've got guys that have played. John (Kerr) has played, Marcus (Freeman) has played, Curt (Terry) has played, James (Laurinaitis) has played. And our DBs, it's one of the most talented groups I've seen since I've been here; we have a lot of guys that can play."

The Buckeyes learned last week that they were picked as the preseason No. 1 in the Coaches' Poll. Such a lofty ranking can be a blessing, or a curse, depending on how you look at it.

"We were honored to have it, but that wasn't our focus," Richardson said. "We don't care where we're ranked. We know we have a lot of work to do and we've got a young team. We know we've got a good offense and we've got a defense that's on its way up. All we've got to do is work hard these three weeks of camp and get ready to play."

Richardson didn't have a lot of free time this summer. But he did break free for a one-day jaunt to Sandusky recently and told an amusing story about the trip.

"I went to Cedar Point two weeks ago and I couldn't fit in Millennium Force," he said. "I was too big and it took three of the workers to pull me aside and they got me in another one and it took all three of them to strap me in. It took a while; I almost didn't fit. But going up there was probably the most fun I had all summer. Everything else was working out."


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