Ohio State football: Ryan Day wants Buckeyes to build more than muscles this summer

What does an Ohio State football player do during the summer, anyway?

Coach Ryan Day offered an explanation as the season before the preseason kicks into gear at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

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“They're lifting, and they are in lifting groups based on what their class schedule is,” Day said. “Usually have three lifting groups a day and then we break them up differently every day. So sometimes it's by position, sometimes by class, sometimes it's offense and defense based on what kind of running we’ll be doing.”

As far as organized workouts, the players are allowed eight hours a week.

When they aren’t in the weight room, they have running programs and drills.

Then of course there is class.

As for what Day wants to see from his players this summer, the beginning of his answer made him sound more like an old coach than one who just turned 40.

“Well, the first thing is leadership,” said Day, channeling his inner Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer. “The second thing really is getting some team camaraderie going and building those relationships with each other, building those relationships with the coaches.

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“You don’t have a full course load in the summer, it’s a little lighter, so you get an opportunity build some of those things. You spend more time together, and I think that's really really important.”

He wants them to come to preseason camp in late July bigger, faster and stronger while also knowing the playbook inside out, but that’s not all.

"I mean the football part of it, you know, in terms of strength and conditioning, speed, power, all those things are really important,” he said, noting the coaches saw impressive workout numbers last week when they tested players,” and that's going great, but it’s really about building that team esprit de corps right now.”

While the players work on themselves, the coaches will work on the future.

Recruiting might be a year-round activity now, but it really ramps up in June as Ohio State hosts several camps and — for the second year — official visitors on campus.

Greg Mattison, the new defensive coordinator for the Buckeyes and veteran coach of nearly 50 years, said he likes the change in rules that allows players to take official visits before their senior year begins.

“Previously, visits made before the start of the school year had to be paid for out of pocket by the recruit and/or his family.)

“Oh yeah — I like it a lot,” he said.

While having something else to spend time on during the summer might not be ideal for coaches, the change in the calendar allows Ohio State to unveil one of its secret weapons: director of football performance Mickey Marotti.

With the coaches unable to work directly with the current players during the summer, Marotti spearheads the task of team development, and Mattison said getting to see him in action is impressive to football folks young and old.

"Mickey Marotti our strength coach is the best in the country,” Mattison said. “If you’re a recruit and you get a chance to come in the summer and see why so many players have done so well and how so many players have improved themselves and gone on to the NFL, you watch it first hand. That’s a great advantage. You don’t always get to do that.

“I’ve worked with him eight years at Notre Dame, three years at Florida and there’s not a better strength coach in America. This guy works the players at the top level of how you have to work to get good. He’s cutting edge always on what’s the best thing to do. And then he works them extremely hard and they listen to him and they believe in him and he’s got their back. This guy, he gives every single thing he has to this team and that’s why the players have improved the most of anybody.”

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