Bowl Practice In Full Swing At Ohio State

Ohio State's 2008 bowl media kicked off with Jim Tressel briefing reporters on a variety of topics, including the health of his star tailback and the status of a freshman who had a brush with the law last week. The head coach also revealed which Buckeye juniors have inquired with the NFL about draft prospects.

As the Buckeyes prepare for their Jan. 5 date with Texas in the Fiesta Bowl, Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel presides over a relatively healthy team – at least for the time being.

"We're in pretty good shape," he said Monday at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center during Ohio State's annual bowl media day. "Now, they're banging each other pretty good here, which we want to do during this week."

For the week between final exams and Christmas break, Tressel is putting his team through the paces, working on fundamentals, game planning for the Longhorns and competing to get better.

"You want to keep the competitive edge," Tressel said. "Whether it's with the young guys or the old guys, you want to compete. They love competing.

"That's why the week off will help them, and the game week preparation will be scaled back a little, you know, like you do on the site."

The Buckeyes will conclude practice in Columbus next Monday then reconvene in Arizona on Dec. 29.

Although he gave his team an overall clean bill of health, Tressel did add that star tailback Chris "Beanie" Wells was only 85 percent, but not because of any of the nagging foot and hamstring injuries that slowed him at various times during the regular season.

"Beanie and Brandon Smith didn't get to practice yesterday," Tressel said. "They got to do some physical fitness because we had a little issue with the going on the news.

"They ran quite a bit yesterday, so Beanie looked a little sore this morning in practice. I would call him right now probably 85-percent healthy, and we anticipate he'll be 100 percent as we go into the game."

Wells was originally scheduled to speak with reporters Tuesday but then was not made available.

Smith said the pair appeared on the Fox News morning show "Fox and Friends".

"I guess we didn't properly talk to the people we needed to talk to in order to make sure that was cleared," Smith said. "We paid for it."

"They went on TV and they missed a class, and you're not allowed to do that," Tressel said. "So they had a reminder. It was a teachable moment for the whole team because those guys got worked."

In addition, Tressel told reporters that Wells, a junior, had listened to him and chosen not to submit paperwork to the NFL draft advisory board to inquire about his potential status should he choose to leave school early to enter the 2009 draft.

"Beanie didn't need to fill out the paperwork," Tressel said of the player his team voted most valuable player and whom many draft experts project will be a high first-round pick. "I told him to save the transcript, save the paper."

Six Buckeyes did submit their information, which unlike in previous years included an official university transcript for their academic work. Those players are defensive backs Kurt Coleman, Anderson Russell and Donald Washington, receiver Brian Hartline, tight end Jake Ballard and center Jim Cordle.

Of that sextet, only Coleman and Russell were made available for interviews, and both said they would not focus on their pro prospects until after the bowl game was complete.

Finally, Tressel updated the situation of Nathan Williams, a true freshman defensive end who was arrested and charged with shoplifting Dec. 10 in a Dayton suburb. He entered a plea of not guilty in Fairborn Municipal Court on Tuesday.

"We've gone through the steps of talking with our athletic administration first and foremost to see what policy we would need to follow there," Tressel said. "Then we went to our coaching staff and we went to our seniors to talk about the what-ifs, and the way it appears right now, from an institutional standpoint, there isn't any mandated punitive situation. From a team standpoint, there is some in a physical nature and there's some in a playing-time nature that the coaches and the seniors all agreed upon."

Williams is scheduled to make the bowl trip with the team, and Tressel did not rule out his playing.

"He'll have some work to do and miss some time, and he'll have some constraints on the bowl trip, and so how he handles all of that will determine what exactly happens on the 5th."

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