Ohio State facilities offer players ‘best protected environment’ in return to training

Among the many questions Ohio State director of athletics Gene Smith took when he met with reporters via conference call Wednesday was why bring football players back to campus sooner rather than later.

Although the Buckeyes cut short spring drills in March and have not been able to work out together since, the calendar still says May, after all.

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The typical start date of preseason training camp is still more than two months away, so there is still plenty of time for players to get into reasonable shape before that.

The 2020 offseason is not typical, of course, as the disruption in March was caused by the desire to limit to spread the coronavirus, and all plans for the rest of the year are being made with that in mind.

With gyms among the Ohio businesses set to reopen next week, players who live in the state will have more options to work out on their own, too, than they have had for the past two months.

Matching the palatial facility on Olentangy River Road that Ohio State recently updated for the umpteenth time since it first opened in the 1980s is no easy task, though, and Smith pointed out not everyone has the same resources to work out on their own anyway.

“A lot of people for some reason are thinking a lot of our players are at home or gone,” Smith said. “We have some players who are local who are here in their apartments so it’s a mix, but to your point, we feel that the facilities that we have with the (safety) protocols that we can put in place relative to symptom checks and cleanliness and all those types of things is the best protected environment.

“Obviously, there’s a lot of health clubs and workout places, spas, gyms that will do an excellent job, but some of our young people are not in environments where they have access to those facilities, they’re not, so we want to provide them the opportunity to have access to the current state of the art equipment that we have.”

Aside from relatively new weights and other training equipment, that also means Ohio State’s doctors and trainers.

“We want to continue to make sure that they’re in the safest environment possible so that’s what we feel we can provide,” Smith said. “We can provide education resources for all of those things that some of them just don’t have access to based upon where they are.”

The plan is to begin with small groups get together throughout the day with cleanings in between each workout.

That is not the same as the full-team workouts they would normally have, but it should allow them to enjoy some of the companionship they have been missing since everything was closed and all formal activities were suspended in March.

Ohio State offensive linemen Josh Myers and Wyatt Davis both talked about missing their teammates when they spoke to reporters via conference call last week.

“Sometimes you get so into the routine of things that you can take things for granted, and then when you don’t have it anymore you realize how precious what you had was,” said Myers, a Miamisburg grad. “And I think that’s definitely going to be the general overall feel when we get back together. That’s the feel I get from (online) meetings, and I can’t imagine it would be any other way. When we come back, I think, I think it’ll make our bond stronger to be honest with you.”

Davis agreed.

“You can tell by how everyone will start cracking jokes like the first five minutes (of our online meetings), talking about how much they missed each other,” Davis said. “I think that it’s going to be stronger because this has truly shown us to appreciate what we have as far as being able to be in the facility with each other because you know this has shown us the whole pandemic that football and everything that comes with it can be taken away with just a snap like this.

“I think overall people are going to be more appreciative of what we’ve got.”

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