Tomorrow begins the first of 29 days of practice preparing for Ohio State's season-opening contest Sept. 1 against Youngtown State. Between now and then, position battles will begin, starting spots will be won or lost and players will get to know the OSU playbook like the backs of their hands.
A goal for the next 29 days, now, is to start developing identities for both sides of the ball for the 2007 team.
"It started during the summer," junior Malcolm Jenkins said. "We, as a defense, are trying to develop a swagger about ourselves, an identity, so that when people watch us on film there's something about us that they can pinpoint."
The team's 2007 media guide, which was distributed to the media first at the Big Ten Kickoff Luncheon in Chicago on Tuesday, details a few changes to the starting lineups. The two starting safeties are listed as Anderson Russell and Kurt Coleman, ahead of Nick Patterson and Jamario O'Neal, respectively.
Wideout Brian Robiskie – who said he is now "6-3, 6-4, about 200 pounds" – said the team does not pay much attention to the depth chart.
"When we're at camp, a lot of guys are just competing," he said. "It's not really a looking-at-the-depth-chart kind of thing, seeing where you're at. Guys usually get a pretty good feel of where they're at just day-to-day as far as consistency and how they're performing."
One difference in the latest depth chart is the inclusion of just two starting spots for wide receivers. One season ago, the chart allowed for three possible starting wideouts – owing to the Buckeyes' expected high-powered, spread offense.
This year's change went unnoticed by Robiskie, a junior pegged as the starter at split end.
"We're not going to look at anything like that," he said. "I think that we know we've got a lot of great receivers coming back. We're not thinking that we're going to come in here and just block for the whole year."
One position that will likely remain up for grabs throughout fall camp is the spot vacated by last season's Heisman Trophy winner, Troy Smith. Junior Todd Boeckman is listed as the starter on the depth chart, but Jenkins said another quarterback stood out to him during 7-on-7 drills during the summer.
"I think Robby Schoenhoft is probably the most impressive to me because he's just a leader," Jenkins said. "He rallies his team up and they all follow him. They follow his voice and he makes some good decisions."
"He got hurt a little while back so he won't be starting camp – well, he's here but he won't be taking part in practices early on," Johnson said of his backfield teammate.
Monday will mark the first day of practice, but the team will not begin practicing in full pads until Saturday. That will mark the first time the players and coaches will all be on the same field running plays since the spring game April 21.
For the week, the temperature is expected to remain in the mid-90s until at least Saturday.
When asked if the Buckeyes were ready for that, Jenkins laughed and said, "We have no choice. We still have to go out there and take care of business. Our feet might be burning up, but we still have to play football."
To help ensure that they are hydrated, many players have taken to carrying around two-gallon jugs of water that they continuously drink from.
"We've got our early-morning run tomorrow, so I have to get ready," Robiskie said.