Jard Work: Making The Grade

Which former Ohio State player is the only to get an "A" in head coach Jim Tressel's coaching football class? What was Chimdi Chekwa doing instead of watching the Iowa-Michigan State game? Which pair of current Buckeyes both dressed up as pirates for Halloween while growing up? The answers to these questions and more are in this week's installment of 'Jard Work.'

When Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel was discussing the player who had won weekly awards from the coaching staff for their play against Minnesota, he mentioned that junior defensive end Thaddeus Gibson is enrolled in Tressel's coaching football course this fall.

The course, which is offered at 7:30 a.m., is offered to all students. The number of football players in the class has dropped over the years, Tressel said.

"We had a couple take it the first year or two and they got a couple C-minuses and B-minuses and the word got out that's not the prof you want to take," the coach said.

Gibson said this year's class features more women then men. The lineman said he sits in the front of the class and enjoys going because he generally arrives at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center at 6 a.m. to work out on his own. Afterward, he simply goes to class in his workout gear.

Cordle said the final project required for the course should come in handy if he ever decides to go into coaching on his own.

"The final project was to make a binder," he said. "It was something like now if I want to be a coach someday I've got my foundation right there in a binder. I know I can jack a playbook from here too, but it was cool to have something like that."

Both Cordle and Gibson agreed on one thing about the class: the best guest lecturer is former OSU head coach Earle Bruce.

"When you've got Earle Bruce teaching, those days were great because he woke everybody up at 7:30, that's for sure," Cordle said.

"He's amazing," Gibson said. "His intensity. He gets us going. I sit there like, ‘This guy should talk to us before a football game.' He just gets you going. You have to see it to believe it."

The player who scored the best in the course, Tressel said, was former defensive lineman Will Smith.

"He was real serious, sat in the front row, worked like crazy and I think, don't quote me … Will Smith might be the only one who got an A," he said.

Seated outside of the room but within earshot, senior lineman Jim Cordle yelled out that he had taken the class and received an A. Tressel did not miss a beat in his response.

"A-minus," the coach called out.

Talkin' To Troy
One week ago, the buzz was that Terrelle Pryor had become friends with LeBron James. This week, the sophomore quarterback for the Buckeyes said that he keeps in touch with former OSU signal-caller Troy Smith, the program's most recent Heisman Trophy winner.

When things were tough on Pryor following the loss to Purdue, he said Smith offered him some advice.

"He just kept on preaching to me," Pryor said. "He was like, 'Look, at this time when I was here I wasn't even playing. I was sitting on the bench and watching quarterbacks throw the ball and make plays. You can be better than me.' "

During the summer prior to his senior year, Pryor attended a senior advanced camp at OSU and met Smith while on campus. The result was a secondary recruiting violation that was reported to the NCAA, according to the (Cleveland) Plain Dealer.

Smith's message apparently sunk in, as does everything else Smith tells Pryor. The two do not talk regularly, Pryor said, but Smith is all ears when needed.

"Everything he says, I'm so glued in because I look up to Troy so much," he said. "Whatever words he says, my ears are pinned open. I'm ready to learn and sponge it in. He's said so much that I can't really talk - it just all makes sense to me. To hear it from a type of guy like Troy and the type of man he is and the way I look up to him, it's amazing."

It's A Holiday
With OSU's game against New Mexico State falling on the same date as Halloween, a number of players were asked about their favorite costumes while growing up.

Both junior right guard Bryant Browning and junior defensive end Thaddeus Gibson said they had gone as pirates, with Browning saying he dressed up with his brother. Senior tight end Jack Ballard said he went as a member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles while in third grade.

It was suggested to Browning that he go as a Tarblooder, the mascot of his high school alma mater in Cleveland Glenville.

"No, that's a lot of equipment," he said. "It's like a robot that wears red and black and usually sometimes has a wheel for feet. That's what the mascot looks like."

Big Favorites
A popular question posed to players this week was what they thought of being 40-point favorites against the visiting Aggies.

Ballard perhaps summed it up best.

"I think it's dumb," he said. "We haven't played a team in the WAC in a while. They're going to experience something they've never experienced before, and this will make or break their season. I think it's kind of dumb."

Checkwa Goes Bowling
A few hours after OSU put the finishing touches on its victory against Minnesota, Iowa pulled out a last-second victory against Michigan State. OSU junior cornerback Chimdi Chekwa was not exactly paying strict attention to the game, however.

"I was bowling, but I watched a little bit of the game on the big screen," he said.

His first game resulted in a score in the 120-130 range, but Chekwa said he topped 140 in his second game.

BSB staff writer Jeff Svoboda contributed to this report.

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