Campwatch (7/29)

This year, Dave Biddle will be keeping a "journal" of sorts during practices that he will be attending. This will be a Bucknuts Fan Club feature, and length of the feature will vary from day-to-day, but today, we wanted to post the latest on Derek Morris and the freshmen quotes for everyone. Dave talked with OL coach Jim Bollman on Morris and also chatted with Mike D'Andrea, Doug Datish, Quinn Pitcock, and E.J. Underwood.

First off, the question everyone is wondering about: No, Derek Morris did not report to OSU today with the rest of the freshman class. However, there is still a chance that Morris will qualify. The NCAA clearinghouse will likely let the OSU coaches know Morris' status sometime next week.

There was some misconception that Morris could practice until the clearinghouse made its decision. Observers noted that Joe Montgomery practiced with the team back in 1994 for a week before he was ruled ineligible. However, Montgomery apparently fell "under the radar" that year. He was not supposed to be practicing, but the coaching staff was under the impression that he had already qualified. 

Many were using the Montgomery example as a reason why Morris would be checking in with the rest of the freshmen on Monday, regardless of his status. That obviously was not the case. What we do know is that the NCAA rules clearly state that athletes are not permitted to join the team until they have been academically cleared.

Offensive coordinator/offensive line coach Jim Bollman was asked if he was optimistic about Morris qualifying.

"I have no idea what's going on with that one yet," Bollman told "He may, or may not. We're waiting just like you."

Is Bollman expecting a few of the linemen to crack the two-deep, or possibly start?

"Naturally, it would be helpful. I think those guys can come in and contribute. They all know the opportunity is there. Now is the time to see how fast they can pick everything up. That is a big, big key to playing up there because you can't make mental mistakes. In my opinion, the closer you get to the football, the more difficult it is to play the first year. Your athletic ability cannot take over like some other positions. If you're a wide receiver and you run a route too short, you can adjust to the ball. Or if you're a defensive back, you have some recovery time while the ball is in the air. But as an offensive linemen, you cannot afford to make any mental mistakes," Bollman said.

Offensive tackle Doug Datish wants to play right away on Bollman's line.

"That is what I've been working for," Datish said. "I want to play from the first game on."

Datish, who is up to 305 pounds, says he doesn't care which side of the line he plays on.

"It doesn't matter. They tell me it switches everyday around here anyway. One day I could be on the left side and the next day I'll be on the right."

Any comment about Morris from Datish?

"I hope he qualifies. I'm surprised it's even a issue. I've talked to him a few times and he seems like a pretty smart guy."

Linebacker Mike D'Andrea was also pretty blunt about wanting to see the field right away.

"My goal is to contribute right away," D'Andrea said. "I'm just going to try to do the best I can in practice."

Does D'Andrea think he'll play inside, or outside?

"They're talking about middle. I prefer the middle, but any linebacker spot is good. Middle is just more action, I guess, and everything kind of revolves around you."

Has D'Andrea envisioned playing alongside Matt Wilhelm, even if that means moving to the outside for a year?

"That is basically up to the coaches. All I'm going to do is go out there and do my best."

Defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock says he's back to 100 percent following gall bladder surgery.

"Yeah, I feel good," Pitcock said. "The doctor told me once it's out, it's out and I shouldn't have any problems anymore."

Did Pitcock lose some weight, or strength, due to the surgery?

"No, I'm still at 295 and I feel strong. I've been working out pretty hard, getting ready for camp. I want my playing weight to be around 300, or 305. The surgery didn't really set me back at all."

Does Pitcock anticipate playing right away?

"I want to, but I know we have a really good defensive line here. Whatever they want me to do, I'm going to do, but I want to make it a hard decision for them."

Cornerback EJ Underwood also wants some immediate playing time.

"I'm going to push for a starting spot because I love to compete," Underwood said. "I just want to take it one step at a time and learn the system."

Underwood described his strength as a cover man.

"I think my strength is my man-to-man, you know, playing right up on the line. I need to get better playing off the ball, but I think I've gotten a lot better at that this summer playing in the all-star games."

We will be bringing club members more comments from the freshman class on Tuesday, following their first practice in a Buckeye uniform.

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