The Football Fever: Five NFL head coaches workout 17 former Buckeyes at OSU Pro Day
COLUMBUS -- Ohio State’s Woody Hayes Athletic Center has become a must-see location on the itineraries of NFL teams since Urban Meyer’s arrival in 2012. Thursday was no different as all 32 teams sent scouts to the Buckeyes’ annual Pro Day, which attracted a collection of NFL GMs, coaches, scouts and family members.
Under the watchful eye of assistant athletic director for football sports performance Mickey Marotti, 17 players from the 2017 Big Ten and Cotton Bowl champions took part in some combination of interviews, testing and competitive drills for more than 140 NFL representatives.
Five NFL head coaches were on hand: Bill Belichick (Patriots), Mike Tomlin (Steelers), Marvin Lewis (Bengals), Matt Patricia (Lions) and Mike Zimmer (Vikings). Four defensive coordinators and three general managers were also present in addition to a contingent of 71 local and national media that included a crew from ESPN, the NFL Network, and the Big Ten Network.
“The kids who have all come out over the last five or six years have all made quick transitions and been impactful in their rookie years,” said Lewis. “Today, we’re looking for guys to compete. The combine is more of a sterile environment. Today, you have to react. And it happens faster.”
“It was exciting,” said QB JT Barrett. “This is the place you want to be. I’m very grateful to be here at Ohio State Pro Day with all the great guys from my draft class.”
“It’s a lot of motivation to go as hard as you can especially when you got guys like Matt Patricia and Bill Belichick coaching you up,” said DE Sam Hubbard. “It was an incredible experience. We did some new drills we haven't done before. It was cool.”
Thursday’s competitors included six captains from last year’s team: Hubbard, Barrett, DL Jalyn Holmes, DE Tyquan Lewis, DT Tracy Sprinkle and LB Chris Worley. Other participants were LB Jerome Baker, CB Denzel Ward, TE/FB Zach Turnure, safety Damon Webb, DT Michael Hill, DL Nick Seme, safety Erick Smith, TE Marcus Baugh, DB Trevon Forte, WR Elijaah Goins, and OL Jamarco Jones.
Rimington Award winner and 2017 Big Ten Offensive Lineman of the Year Billy Price met with team representatives but did not take part in drills after tearing his left pectoral muscle during the bench press at the NFL Combine in February.
In the last two years, Meyer’s Buckeyes have produced 19 NFL Draft picks, the most of any program in the country. Among those were eight first-round selections.