Due to a (failed) calculated gamble on my part — months ago I planned a vacation that I didn’t think would cross into the start of Ohio’s fall camp — I was absent for the start of the Bobcats’ preseason preparation last week.
I have to admit I felt anxious about missing the start of camp and — despite it just being three no-hitting practices — what I might be missing.
But all that ended Monday as I was back in Athens County, and back inside Peden Stadium for practice No. 4 of Ohio’s fall camp.
Check this space daily for updates from the Bobcats’ camp. If I’m covering a practice, I’ll post a short story, or observations, or a combination of both in this space.
And now on to a rundown of the thoughts I collected from Monday’s early morning practice at Peden.
Change of plans
Ohio moved up its practice start time on Monday, and has followed suit a couple more days this week, in part to accommodate head coach Frank Solich.
Solich, who left Monday’s practice with a couple periods still remaining, has another pressing matter to attend to this week. He’s one of 15 members on the search committee as Ohio hires its next athletic director.
The AD spot has (essentially) been open since June, when Jim Schaus announced he was leaving to become the commissioner of the Southern Conference. The committee was created soon thereafter, and appears to be entering the final stretch of the search.
Solich, as part of the committee, will be interviewing finalists for the position this week. Ohio has, or will be, bringing each of the finalists to Athens this week for on-campus interviews.
The next AD is expected to be announced before the Ohio season opener on Aug 31, and perhaps before the fall semester begins.
With Solich gone at the end of practice — a rare occurrence that I can never remember before — it was Offensive Coordinator/Associate Head Coach/Running Backs assistant Tim Albin who handled the post-practice huddle.
Ohio is scheduled for another 7:50 a.m. start on Tuesday, will not hold practice but take care of promotional photos/video on Wednesday, practice on Thursday and Friday, hold its first scrimmage on Saturday and then have a full off day on Sunday.
So who made it?
All but three of the announced members of the 2019 recruiting class were on the field on Monday.
RB Walter Wilbon III, did not dress from practice and watched most of it from the bleachers, but remains listed on the official team roster.
Neither DT Denzel Daxon nor CB Keniuel Gates are in camp, and neither 2019 signee has appeared on the official team roster as of yet. Daxon was the highest rated player in the class.
I’m still awaiting an official word on Daxon and Gates; It’s possible one, both or neither will yet make it to Athens for the 2019 season.
Out of action
Three thought-to-be-integral parts of the 2019 team were held out on Monday. Sophomore RB Julian Ross, junior CB Jamal Hudson and redshirt freshman WR Shane Hooks were non-participants on Monday.
Ross is competing to be the starter, while Hudson is projected to start. Hooks was expected to make a strong push for a starting role as well.
Ross missed most of spring camp as he rehabbed from in-season surgery in 2018. Hudson, as well, missed most of the spring because of injury.
Ross and Hudson did various running and conditioning drills during practice, which seems to indicate both could be back in the mix soon.
Depth chart issues
Ohio has yet to have a fully-padded practice, and things will change, but the Bobcats’ starters on both sides of the ball offered few surprises. If you checked out the roster breakdown series for instance, you’ll still have a good feel for how each position group breaks down in the early stages of fall camp.
The two new faces in the lineup were WR Tyler Tupa — who appeared with flankers Cam Odom and Jerome Buckner — and Ilyaas Motley at CB (opposite Marlin Brooks). It was a big jump for Tupa, who was limited in spring camp after a knee injury in 2018.
Motley, like his twin brother Xavior, came on during the latter stages of 2018 and could be pushing for starter’s reps if Hudson’s injury issue lingers.