Brian Hartline tipped off the world: Ohio State football coaches are back at work at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
After the Buckeyes receivers coach posted a picture of himself at the facility (“It sure feels good to be back I the Woody Hayes Facility this morning! Even if it’s only for a couple of hours.”), a university spokesman confirmed a limited number of football staff are transitioning back to work at the WHAC this week.
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“All staff entering the facility will take a daily symptom assessment, including having their temperature taken,” Jerry Emig of OSU athletics communications said. “Staff will follow physical distance guidelines, wear face coverings when together, and will be strictly limited in terms of available offices and maximum number of individuals in a room.”
The entire complex is not open – Emig said the weight room, training room, dining area, indoor facility and locker room will all remain closed during the return-to-work transition.
The 25 coaches who are able to return will work just three hours per day and three days per week in shifts that are staggered.
A maximum of 10 people are allowed in a staff meeting room at once, though Emig said that many will not gather at one time anyway.
Ohio State cut short spring practice in March and closed its workout facilities.
Players – along with all the rest of the student body – were sent home and finished the spring semester via distance learning online.
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The summer term has begun – also via distance learning – and president Dr. Michael Drake announced Saturday a task force is exploring and developing plans for the fall and beyond.
Although all university events are canceled through July 6, the school’s goal is to announce plans for autumn semester by the middle of June.
On May 4, the Big Ten announced its suspension of all organized team activities is extended through June 1.
When players are allowed to return to campus is unknown at this point, but coaches have expressed an interest in six weeks or so to prepare for a regular season that is set to begin Sept. 5 at home against Bowling Green.
That six weeks would include three weeks for conditioning to make up for lost time in the spring and summer.
“I'm sure we'll have some degree of (physical) testing to kind of figure out what conditioning level the players are at because you're going to need a few weeks of conditioning level just to get your team back in running shape and get their legs and get their stamina and all those things back up to speed,” Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson said April 22. “Typically we have about three weeks of preseason before game week. With that we would probably maybe go down to two weeks. I know sometimes there's been a lot thoughts of contact and player protection, that we hit too much, but I know (offensive line coach Greg Studrawa and linebackers coach Al Washington) will tell you as line guys we have to hit enough that they are contact-safe and they know how to hit.
“So I think we've looked at maybe a six-week scenario or a couple, three weeks of conditioning and a couple, three weeks of practice so in between six or eight weeks, but I think we'll just wait to see as we get through April into May.”
Hartline, Wilson and the rest of head coach Ryan Day’s staff have been busy on the recruiting trail since the lockdowns across the state and beyond.
Despite being unable to travel or host recruits for visits, Ohio State has secured 11 verbal commitments since March 15.
That includes eight new members of a 2021 class that is No. 1 in the 247Sports Composite national rankings.
The Buckeyes have also added three members to the class that will graduate in 2022, including Alter athlete C.J. Hicks and Lakota West offensive lineman Tegra Tshabola.
“We’re doing the best we can to communicate with these families and using FaceTime and different things to communicate and try to answer their questions the best they can even though right now they’re not able to visit on campus,” Day said in late March.
The 2021 class consists of 17 players, including four five-star prospects and 10 four-stars.
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Next in the national rankings is Tennessee, which has also enjoyed a commitment spree recently, followed by North Carolina, Clemson, USC, Florida, LSU, Minnesota, Texas and Iowa.
Notre Dame has the No. 11 class in the country followed by Michigan, Miami (Fla.), Maryland and Penn State.
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