- Adam Rittenberg, ESPN Staff Writer
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Posted by ESPN.com's Adam Rittenberg
COLUMBUS, Ohio -- I won't be making it out to Purdue this spring, but I experienced the next best thing Thursday at Ohio State's practice. During each practice, the Buckeyes simulate a Big Ten road environment, and Purdue served as Thursday's theme.
Right before every snap during team drills, an official blared a giant horn that resembled the train signal at Ross-Ade Stadium. It also reminded me of the horn at hockey games (go Blackhawks). Standing about 10 feet from the contraption, I'm sure I sustained some degree of hearing loss.
It was a gorgeous day, and 100-200 people gathered around the two turf practice fields behind the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. For a second, I thought I was at USC. The open practices are a nice touch at normally close-to-the-sweater-vest Ohio State.
Onto the practice observations:
The first-team offense: Quarterback Terrelle Pryor (who's he?), running backs Brandon Saine and Dan "Boom" Herron (rotated), wide receiver Ray Small, wide receiver DeVier Posey, wide receiver Lamaar Thomas, tight end Jake Ballard, left tackle Andrew Miller, left guard Justin Boren, center Mike Brewster, right guard Bryant Browning, right tackle Jim Cordle.
The first-team defense: Safety Anderson Russell, safety Kurt Coleman, cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, cornerback Devon Torrence, linebacker Etienne Sabino, linebacker Brian Rolle, linebacker Austin Spitler, defensive end Thaddeus Gibson, defensive end Cameron Heyward, defensive tackle Doug Worthington, defensive tackle Dexter Larimore. Ross Homan, a projected starter at linebacker, is out with a hamstring injury.
Several of Boren's teammates talked about the nastiness he brings to the offensive line. The Michigan transfer showcased his strength during 1-on-1 drills, manhandling Larimore and Garrett Goebel.
Thomas worked as first-team wide receiver because of a high ankle sprain sustained by Dane Sanzenbacher. He made several catches on short passes (quick outs, middle screens) and seems to bring explosiveness to the offense.
Sophomore tackle Mike Adams is freakishly huge, one of the bigger linemen I've seen this spring. But his toughness has been questioned and challenged a bit, and he worked exclusively with the second-team offense Thursday. He has been rotating at first-team left tackle with Miller, a converted tight end.
Pryor looked decent on short passes, but he underthrew Posey on a deep post and Torrence batted down the pass. He also overthrew Small but hit Thomas, Saine and Ballard on some nice throws. With only three quarterbacks on the roster this spring, Pryor took snaps with both the first- and second-team offenses.
Head coach Jim Tressel has repeatedly praised the spring progress of backup tight end Jake Stoneburner, a converted wide receiver. The 6-foot-5, 230-pound redshirt freshman certainly passes the eye test and made a nice grab on a hitch route.
Backup quarterback Joe Bauserman, who played three seasons in minor league baseball, showed off a strong throwing arm during individual drills.
Saine will be a critical component on the offense this year, and the junior showed some explosiveness at practice. He had a big run up the middle during team drills and caught several screen passes. Health is always the issue for Saine, but he looked good Thursday.
Defensive back Rocco Pentello had an impressive practice. He forced a Herron fumble that cornerback Donnie Evege recovered, and after a bad snap on a field goal attempt, he returned the ball for a touchdown.
Spitler and reserve backer Andrew Sweat both delivered huge hits during team drills. Small was able to hang onto a pass despite getting rocked by Spitler.
One of the day's more exciting plays came on a bad snap to Pryor, as Rolle scooped up the ball and raced down field, only to be caught from behind by Saine. I guess a running back should track down a linebacker, but it was impressive on both ends.
After watching James Laurinaitis for all these years, it was funny to see a running back wearing No. 33. Fifth-year senior Joe Gantz had a long touchdown run during red zone drills and also got rocked by Dexter Larimore.
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