Jard Work: The Heat Is On

The temperatures are cooling slightly in Columbus, but the battles are heating up in the Ohio State camp. In this installment of "Jard Work," get updates on Christian Bryant's position change, Devon Torrence's number change and more.

There is a new star in the Ohio State defense – true freshman Christian Bryant.

The former four-star prospect from Cleveland Glenville opened fall camp at the cornerback position but has been shifted to the star position – a hybrid linebacker/safety spot utilized when the Buckeyes deploy their nickel defense.

With junior Nate Oliver sidelined by injury, Bryant spent Tuesday's noon practice as the second-team star and worked behind senior Tyler Moeller.

"He's doing a good job," Moeller said of Bryant. "He's a freshman so he doesn't know too much and he's out there just playing football but he's out there and he's a good player. He can lay some hits. I think that's a big reason why they moved him from corner to safety."

Listed at 5-9, 178 pounds, Bryant lined up at cornerback, quarterback, wide receiver and kick and punt returner during his prep career. While at Glenville, he played with Jermale Hines, who has played the star position but will be a full-time safety this fall.

A senior, Hines said he likes having Bryant at his old spot.

"Christian is a very competitive guy and very physical," he said. "I'm trying to teach him the ropes. He should be OK. He definitely has the physical mentality to be a safety.

"I realized it the first day of camp. He had about three big hits in a row and everybody was like, ‘Woah.' It only took one day. I already knew he could hit from watching him in high school. He showed it in one day."

While Moeller and Hines are in favor of the move, senior cornerback Chimdi Chekwa is not. Chekwa and Bryant are roommates during camp, and the starter said he will always consider the freshman to be a cornerback.

"I took him under my wing and then he moved out to safety," Chekwa said. "I still see him as a corner. He's playing that star position so he's not necessarily a safety but it's more safety movement so you put him in the safety room but I still expect him to play like a corner.

"He wasn't really excited. He's a corner at heart, but he wants to play football so he's hungry to play football. He doesn't care what position he plays; he just wants to get on the field and make an impact."

Like Hines, Chekwa said he is impressed with Bryant's ability to hit.

"I think he fits just about any role he wants to fit," he said. "He came in coming downhill hitting guys. Once you start hitting, you can play whatever position you want to once you have that mind-set. That's why I think he's going to be successful and great at this school."

Special Work … – Saturday, cornerbacks coach Taver Johnson headed the Gray team in the fall kick scrimmage. Following his team's 33-30 victory, the Buckeye assistant who also is responsible for the punt return unit drew attention to a few players from his victorious squad.

Tops among them was sophomore fullback Zach Boren. The former three-star middle linebacker prospect took the snap on a fake field goal and rumbled around left end for 41 yards. Along the way, he delivered a stiff-arm to wide receiver Grant Schwartz and showed some nifty footwork.

Johnson said that play typifies what Boren is about on the field.

"We had a play the other day where (Chekwa) came up with an interception and ran it all the way back," the coach said. "Zach Boren, he was nowhere near Chim but he ran his tail all the way down the field. That just shows a sign of toughness and that's one thing that guy is. When (No.) 44 steps on the field, he brings another element of toughness to this football team. We need it and we embrace it."

A number of young faces will factor into the mix in the return game, but Johnson stopped short of naming a favorite. When the likes of Corey Brown, Chris Fields and Jordan Hall were mentioned, Johnson also cited Bryant and Bradley Roby.

"All those guys are catching balls throughout practice and had a chance to catch some today," he said. "We haven't made a definite on who's going to be our starter. That probably won't happen until right before the game."

The Buckeyes also had running back Dan Herron working on the kick coverage unit at one point. Johnson said it is possible that OSU will use a potential starting tailback on special teams should the need arise.

"Every bullet that we have, we have to use," he said. "It doesn't matter who we're playing because the other team has scholarship guys too. We can't have guys sitting out because they're a tailback or a center or anything like that. Everyone has to play."

As an example, Johnson said the Buckeyes used starting tailback Brandon Saine on kick coverage during last season's Rose Bowl.

Heat… – As the Buckeyes have gone through fall camp, they have dealt with temperatures in the mid-90s that have felt even hotter on the artificial turf covering the practice field.

Following one particularly scorching practice August 10, a number of Buckeyes were asked about the heat. Junior center Michael Brewster, a native of Orlando, downplayed it with a laugh.

"This feels like a humid winter day in Florida," he said. "Everyone is like, ‘It's so hot' and I'm like, ‘You guys have no idea.' "

Hines described the heat as something the players can not prepare for regardless of background.

"We ran real hard the whole summer but once you get out here it's totally different," he said. "It's something you've just got to fight through, be mentally tough."

Junior quarterback Joe Bauserman saw it much the same.

"You can train, but you can't train for this," he said. "You're out here in pads running gassers and sand pits in the heat or at 6 a.m. It's tough."

New Number – Now a senior, cornerback Devon Torrence has switched his jersey number. After wearing No. 10 for the first three years of his career, Torrence will don No. 1 this fall.

According to the Canton, Ohio, native, the desire to wear a different number has been there since, well, day one.

"I just felt like it was my last year here so I said, ‘Why not?' " he said. "This was the number I wanted but when I came in I couldn't because (former OSU linebacker) Marcus Freeman had it. I feel like I'm maturing a lot.

"I have a different story than a lot of other people. I just decided it's my last year here, so why not change it? I feel like I've changed a lot, so why not make the complete change?"

A two-sport athlete out of high school, Torrence signed a contract to play professional baseball for the Houston Astros and underwent two summers in the minors before opting to fully concentrate on football. As a junior, he claimed a starting spot at cornerback and will reprise that role this fall.

Asked if head coach Jim Tressel had explained to Torrence that the No. 1 was a special one to wear, Torrence said, "He definitely did. I've been requesting it every year. He just told me as long as I focused on one thing at a time that it wouldn't be a problem. He let me have it and it's just an honor that he believes in me enough to let me have it."


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