Offseason Only A Term For Ohio State

The crucial 15 practices that comprise the spring session are over with, but that doesn't mean all is quiet for the Ohio State football team until camp begins in early August. The Buckeyes have plenty to do to not only stay busy but to get better during the intervening months, a process outlined by the players after the spring game.

As a true freshman who arrived at Ohio State in June before his initial season of 2007, Dane Sanzenbacher wasn't going to rock the boat.

His teammates were going through summer drills that included workouts and 7 on 7 ball, but the recent Toledo Central Catholic graduate found himself tending to fall to the back of the group.

"I was a little hesitant my first summer here," he said. "I would just stand in the back and take it all in. I wasn't going to be the one jumping in there before I knew what I was doing."

That isn't an option now for a veteran like Sanzenbacher. For those who want to compete for a national championship, the end of spring's 15 practices, signaled by Saturday's spring game, aren't the end of the work that will happen before the team reports for preseason camp on Aug. 9.

Though the coaching staff is unable to work specifically with the team as a whole on the field until that time, there is plenty to be done.

"We'll get in the weight room next week, get back to it," junior linebacker Ross Homan said after his Gray team won 23-3. "We'll look at film from spring and all through the practices, today, all the scrimmages, and just try to continue to work on things here and there. We have to get better.

"There's definitely no offseason in football."

At this point in the year, the most important members of the Buckeye staff would seem to be Eric Lichter, Jeff Uhlenhake, Doug Davis and Troy Sutton, all members of the strength and conditioning staff.

But first, the Buckeyes enter a discretionary period, as NCAA rules say a team must spent eight weeks away from any mandatory work between the end of a season and the start of the summer. Safety Anderson Russell said that a team meeting was scheduled for yesterday but during the rest of the discretionary time, no workouts or conditioning can be required by the coaching staff.

That doesn't mean that the Buckeyes won't be putting their nose to the grindstone. Last year's seniors said after the spring game that workouts essentially would be mandated by the upperclassmen the week after the spring game, but this year Russell said that he doesn't expect to have to make it that way from the start.

"We'll be in here working out on our own because we're going to be hungry for the season coming up," the safety said. "We'll probably be out for maybe like a week or two, but everybody will still be working out on their own. Guys are going to be getting ready for the season."

Once the discretionary period ends, the Buckeyes will be back under the tutelage of the weight staff. As spring quarter continues through early June, pumping iron isn't the only thing the team will undertake.

For one thing, there's a matter of getting healthy, which is of the utmost to someone like Sanzenbacher, who missed the last half of the spring after suffering a leg injury.

"A lot of stuff is just recovery," he said. "A lot of injuries and little stuff happens during the spring. For me personally, the rest of this spring is just going to be getting healthy. I'll be in the training room."

Summer follows. According to the NCAA rulebook, the organization views summer as beginning nine weeks before the official reporting date; for Ohio State, that means June 7.

Of those nine weeks, eight can be spent on "voluntary weight training and conditioning activities" for eight hours per week. In addition, with the new freshmen in town, it is up to the team's upperclassmen to get things like 7-on-7 ball organized.

"I'm sure we'll have a lot of work over the summer," Sanzenbacher said. "We have what we call senior drills where a lot of guys get out there and it's run by the leaders of the team, the seniors. We just go through 7-on-7 and little things like that.

"I don't think there's a certain temperature where we won't do it," he added. "We have an indoor.

"I think it's progressed every summer that I've been here."

During his postgame remarks after the spring game, Tressel stressed the importance of the time between spring practice and the fall, a time that also includes plenty of work in the classroom.

"We've got to make sure that we do a great job this last month or so of this academic quarter and have a tremendous summer and preseason," Tressel said. "It's got to be extraordinary."

Russell put it even more simply.

"You can't just show up on Saturday and think it's going to happen for you," he said. "You have to put in the work to do it."

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