Bishop was a high-school All-American coming out of Miami, Fla. but had to sit out his first two years at Ohio State because of grades (in 1999) and then because of a redshirt season (2000). He talked about how tough those first two years were on him.
"It was real hard," Bishop said. "First, with the situation with my grades, I had to get that worked out and by the time I qualified the next year, I was already behind on the field. When I finally joined the team two years ago, I was a little rusty from sitting out. I had to work out and get my techniques down. It was tough, but I just kept telling myself to work hard and everything would work out for me."
Last year, Bishop surprised a few people by cracking the starting lineup and playing solid for the most part. How much did it mean to finally be a starter?
"It meant a lot to me to be a starter here, but I still have a long way to go to get where I want to be. My goal last year was to be a starter. This year, I just want to get better everyday."
Bishop thinks the offensive line is going to be a strong point of the team this year. He hears the concerns, but just doesn't buy it.
"I think we are going to be really good. We have a lot of returning starters coming back and we'll have a lot depth with these freshmen coming in. I think we are going to be really good up front."
What are Bishop's strengths? He is more of a run-blocker, or pass-protector?
"I love to run block. I need to get better at my pass technique."
Bishop likes what he has seen from the young stable of running backs.
"All of them are really good and they'll all be competing for the starting position. It might be like two are first-string or something like that."
Bishop gets to see the Buckeye defensive line up close in practice everyday. Are they as good as advertised?
"Definitely. They are going to be pretty good simply because our offensive line is no slouches and we are going to compete and make them better."
The next guy we tracked down was defensive tackle Tim Anderson.
Anderson talked about the defensive line and why he thinks they are going to live up to the hype.
"It's a great group to play with," Anderson said. "Will is a great defensive end and so is Darrion Scott. Simon Fraser is pretty darn good too. Kenny Peterson can play tackle or end and do a fine job at either. We are solid all the way through. Defensive tackles, defensive ends and backups, we have no worries about anything up front."
Anderson was a two-time state heavyweight wrestling champion in high school. How much does his grappling background help him down in the trenches?
"Well, it's obviously been quite a while since I actually stepped on a wrestling mat, but I think it helps as far as the attitude and mental toughness. I think anyone who wrestles will tell you that it's one of the most difficult sports to prepare for, so I think it helps mentally a lot. Physically, you use your hands a lot wrestling, just like you do as a defensive lineman, so I think there are a lot of factors that have transferred from wrestling into football."
No plans of challenging Alex Stepanovich, also a former wrestling standout, to a duel?
"Last time I checked, Alex and I are not going to step on the mat," he said with a laugh.
Anderson spoke of the Silver Bullet defense in general.
"I think our whole defense is really strong. Obviously with our DBs, we have Michael Doss back there, the two-time All-American and I'm sure he'll be an All-American again this year. We have Donnie Nickey, a four-year starter. We are going to have two new corners in there, but we have a solid corps of linebackers. Matt Wilhlem is back again, we have Robert Reynolds who'll be back there and our defensive line is returning three starters. I think we are really looking forward to the opportunity. Our goal is to be the best defense in the country and our goal as a team is to win it all. Every team should be saying that. That's the ultimate goal, that's why you come to a school like Ohio State. You want to win a national championship."
Anderson, who had his breakout year last year, said redshirting as a freshman in 1999 was a smart move.
"I think redshirting helped me out a great deal. When I was a freshman, Ryan Pickett was still here and I got the chance to watch and learn behind Ryan and Mike Collins. You know, plus it gave me an extra year to get bigger and stronger. I think it's helped me out a great deal and I'm really glad I did it."
How much bigger is the 295-pound Anderson now than he was as a frosh?
"I'm only about 20, or 25 pounds heavier, but when I first came in, my body fat was around 25, or 26 percent and now it's down to 15, which is a big drop. So, I haven't gained a tremendous amount of weight, but I've added a lot of muscle and dropped a lot of fat."
By the way, looking ahead to 2003, you can pretty much mark it down that Anderson is going to be a captain. This guy is impressive on and off the field.
The final guy we spoke with at photo day was freshman DB Nate Salley. Salley is hoping to follow in Rickey Dudley's and John Lumpkin's footsteps and play both football and hoops at OSU.
"I definitely want to play (basket)ball, I want to give it a try, but I haven't talked to coach (Jim) O'Brien since winter," Salley said. "If it was up to me, I'm going to do it no matter what because it's something I really want to do. I at least want to give it a try and see how it goes. I don't want to leave college and feel that I didn't go out and give it my best. I mean, I don't want to have any coulda, shoulda, woulda, or anything like that. So, yeah, I'm definitely going to try to do both."
As for the gridiron, the 6-foot-3 Salley was considered a safety coming out of high school, but is being looked at as a cornerback. Does he have a preference between the two positions?
"I doesn't matter too much, but right now they have me at corner. I like corner and I feel like I can do it, I've just got to keep working at it and get used to the coverages a little more. The coverages aren't really that much different than what I did in high school, but it's just getting used to the speed. It's a totally different ballgame out here. Once I get used to that, I'll be fine."
Is Salley expecting to be redshirted?
"I don't know. I'm just going to do my best and if they redshirt me, that's fine. I want to play just like anyone else, but it won't be a wasted year if I redshirt. I'll get to learn the system and eventually get that extra year to play."