Tressel, Buckeyes Preparing For Oregon

Ohio State will make its first appearance in the Rose Bowl since the 1997 game, and preparations are underway in Columbus. Although it has been a hectic month for head coach Jim Tressel, he met with reporters on bowl media to give the latest on his team's health and academic situation as well as which juniors might be considering heading to the NFL.

As of right now, it will be a healthy and rested Ohio State team headed west to face Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

Speaking to reporters at the team's bowl media day, head coach Jim Tressel said the down time afforded to his players since the season-ending victory against Michigan has allowed the team to return to near-full health.

"We haven't had guys out," Tressel said Dec. 14. "Everyone's been practicing. Our guys had about 10 days in there where they really didn't have that much practice, so they seem to be in good shape."

There are two notable names relevant to that list. Senior kicker Aaron Pettrey has been back kicking after suffering a knee injury Oct. 31 against New Mexico State and missing the rest of the season, while freshman running back Jaamal Berry remains limited as he nurses a hamstring injury.

Pettrey is listed on the depth chart as sharing kicking responsibilities with junior Devin Barclay, while Berry is pegged for a redshirt this season.

Whether or not the entire team will be academically eligible for the bowl game remains in doubt, however. Tressel said he will not know the answer to that question until 5 p.m. and did not elaborate further.

"I assume everyone's in major jeopardy until I see – until their things come true," the coach said.

In addition, Tressel said 10 Buckeyes have submitted preliminary paperwork to the NFL in an attempt to gauge their draft status. Asked to name the players, Tressel said, "I'm sure you can guess who. All of them are starters. I haven't sent in any of the guys that are back-ups and don't have film to be studied and we haven't gotten any of the letters back on it."

The paperwork was sent earlier this season, Tressel said, giving his players the chance to take it home and talk with their family members during Thanksgiving.

Junior running back Brandon Saine and cornerback Chimdi Chekwa confirmed that they were among the 10, while redshirt sophomore Dan Herron said he did not. No other juniors were made available for comment.

Expected to be among that group are defensive linemen Thaddeus Gibson and Cameron Heyward. Tressel said he did not specifically broach the topic with either player.

"Usually what we try to do is before the kids break for practice, if they have any more data they need, we'll try to get on the horn real quick (at) what would be the latter end of this week and the first day or so of next week before they head home if they wanted," the coach said, "but we haven't had any discussions."

In addition, Tressel said one member of his coaching staff was interviewed for a coaching job at another school but that the position has since been filled, meaning that as of right now the Buckeyes figure not to lose any assistants to other programs.

The month of December was a hectic one as described by Tressel, who said his primary focus has been on hitting the recruiting trail. He made reference to the fact that the Buckeyes welcomed in a number of 2010 prospects for official visits during the past weekend, but NCAA rules prohibit Tressel from discussing specific players until after they have signed national letters of intent.

All told, Tressel said he expects this year's recruiting class to check in at 20 players.

In addition, Tressel said he spent time in New York City where he saw former OSU linebacker Chris Spielman's induction in the college football hall of fame. While there, the coach had his first encounter with Oregon head coach Chip Kelly.

Both are former I-AA coaches – Kelly at New Hampshire and Tressel at Youngstown State.

"We were talking about, ‘Hey, isn't this amazing? It's New Hampshire against Youngstown in the Rose Bowl.' We were laughing a little bit about, who'd-a-thunk-it, that type of thing."

It marked one of the bigger amounts of preparation Tressel said he personally has done to prepare for the Ducks.

"I personally have not seen that much film yet," he said, citing his busy month. "But I can tell you that looking at their schedule, the Pac-10, I thought, was very strong top to bottom and when you play Boise State and Utah as well, they had a heck of a schedule. And obviously they scored a lot of points. Saw them on TV a couple times."

The Buckeyes will continue to practice in Columbus until Dec. 21, at which point each player will get to go home before flying to California on Christmas evening.


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