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Aug. 8, 2000

%^$This is Ohio State’s 111th season of intercollegiate football. The Buckeyes own an all-time record of 717-283-53. Ohio State, which began football play in 1890 with a modest 1-3 record, is now one of just seven schools with 700 or more wins.%^$

%^$The Big Ten
%^$Ohio State joined the Big Ten in 1912, but did not begin league play until the following year (1913). OSU posted a 1-2 record in its first season in the Big Ten, falling to Indiana (7-6) and at Wisconsin (12-0), before closing out the season with a 58-0 win over Northwestern. The Buckeyes have gone on to post an all-time league record of 390-149-24 and have captured 28 league championships.%^$

%^$The Head Coach
%^$John Cooper is now in his 13th year at the helm of the Buckeyes. Only Woody Hayes (28 years) and John Wilce (16) enjoyed longer tenures at Ohio State. Only Hayes (205) has more wins than Cooper (103).%^$

%^$Coaching Changes
%^$Cooper made a number of staff changes following last season. Fred Pagac was elevated from defensive coordinator to assistant head coach. Jon Tenuta was promoted to defensive coordinator and will continue to coach the secondary. Jim Heacock will continue to coach the defensive tackles and has been given the added responsibility of coaching the defensive ends. Brian Williams, who coached at the University of Pittsburgh last year, will take over as linebackers coach. On offense, Chuck Stobart was promoted to offensive coordinator. Tim Salem will continue to coach the quarterbacks and also will now coach the wide receivers. George Belu, who last year coached at Wake Forest, was hired as the Buckeyes’ new offensive line coach. Greg Bellisari, who played for the Buckeyes from 1993 to 1996, will serve as a graduate assistant coach this fall. He will work with the defense.%^$

%^$Number Changes
%^$Offensive tackle Adrien Clarke, who wore No. 62 last year, will wear No. 63.%^$

%^$Position Changes
%^$LeCharles Bentley who spent time at offensive guard and tackle last year, was moved to center in the spring and will be the starter in the fall. Other spring switches included linebacker Tim Cheatwood to tight end, and defensive tackle Joe Brown to defensive end.%^$

%^$Medical Report
%^$The Buckeyes came out of spring practice relatively injury free. Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett did undergo minor surgery on his left shoulder in early April, but is expected to be fully recovered in the fall. Fred Pagac Jr., who sat out the last half of last year after breaking his leg against Wisconsin, practiced in the spring and will be full-go in the fall. Wide receiver Darik Warnke, who has suffered a series of concussions the past two years, will remain on scholarship, but will not play this year. Offensive lineman Ben Pulfer, bothered by a series of ACL injuries to both knees, has given up football, but will remain in school and on scholarship.%^$

%^$Transfers
%^$Defensive end Julius Yeast (So., Harrodsburg, Ky.) and offensive tackle Matt Zahn (Fr., St. Henry, Ohio) left school during spring quarter and will not play in the fall. Quarterback Austin Moherman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) transferred to Murray State following the 1999 season.%^$

%^$In-State Rivalries
%^$The game this year with Miami marks the fourth-consecutive season in which the Buckeyes have played an Ohio school. Future OSU schedules have in-state schools scheduled through 2005.%^$

%^$All-America Notes
%^$The Buckeyes go into the 2000 season with a string of nine-consecutive seasons in which they have produced at least one first-team All-America (Linebacker Na’il Diggs kept that string alive last year by being named to the Football News’ first team). The list of honors candidates this year include, LeCharles Bentley at center, Jamar Martin at fullback, Ken-Yon Rambo at flanker, Mike Collins and Ryan Pickett at defensive tackle, Nate Clements at cornerback and Mike Doss at safety.%^$

%^$Heisman Anniversaries
%^$This year marks the 25th anniversary of Archie Griffin receiving his second Heisman Trophy and the 50th anniversary of Vic Janowicz winning that award in 1950. Griffin, who won his first Heisman as a junior in 1974, is still college football’s only two-time winner of the award. Janowicz also was a junior at the time he received college football’s most coveted individual prize.%^$

%^$Stadium Update
%^$The project to preserve and renovate Ohio Stadium is in its second year and will be completed in time for the 2001 season. Notable changes this year include the lowering of the field (14’6″), a permanent south stands, 19 new rows on the east side of “C” Deck, 10 new rows (“AA” Deck) around the lower bowl, a new scoreboard (30’X90′ screen) with instant replay capabilities, additional handicapped seating and new restrooms in “A” Deck and on the east side of “C” Deck. This $187 million project is being financed without any tax, state or university money, including student tuition increases. Eighty-two hospitality suites and 2,500 club seats (both of which will be completed in time for the 2001 season) will finance 80 percent of the project. The remaining 20 percent will come from increased ticket and concessions revenue.%^$

%^$Schedule Highlights
%^$The 1950 and 1975 Ohio State teams will celebrate reunions at the Homecoming Game (Minnesota, Oct. 14). Additionally, Alumni Band Day is scheduled for Sept. 2 (Fresno State) and Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame Day for Sept. 16 (Miami, Ohio).%^$

%^$Season Outlook
%^$John Cooper is confident that last year was an anomaly. After winning 43 games between 1995 and 1998 and twice finishing second in the national polls in that four-year span, Ohio State finished with an uncharacteristic 6-6 record in 1999.%^$

%^$It is worth noting, however, that all six of those losses were to teams that went on to play in bowl games, and that four of the setbacks were on the road. Additionally, the Buckeyes lost record-setting quarterback Joe Germaine and All-Americans Rob Murphy, David Boston, Antoine Winfield and Andy Katzenmoyer following the 1998 season.%^$

%^$Given the scope of those departures and a disappointing opening-game setback to Miami (Fla.) in the Kickoff Classic, the Buckeyes never developed the consistency, either offensively or defensively, that a championship team has to have.%^$

%^$But Cooper, now in his 13th year at the helm of the Buckeyes, expects his team to bounce back in 2000.%^$

%^$”None of us are happy with last year,” he said. “Not the players, not the coaches. Our goal is to get this program back to the top of the Big Ten standings and to compete for the title. And even though the Big Ten will be extremely competitive again this year, I think that goal is realistic.”%^$

%^$Much of Cooper’s optimism is based on what he witnessed in winter conditioning and then in spring practice.%^$

%^$”I really like the attitude of this team,” he said. “These guys have worked hard since the end of last season. It’s kind of a blue-collar mentality. Everyone is really pulling together. There is a closeness to this group. They want to be better.”%^$

%^$The continued progress of 6-foot-3-inch, 220-pound junior Steve Bellisari at quarterback and the maturation of the offensive line are two of the keys to success.%^$

%^$”A year ago, we went into the season not knowing who our quarterback was,” Cooper said. “Steve is `The Man’ now and everyone knows it. He has a year of experience under his belt and that should make a big difference.”%^$

%^$Under new offensive coordinator Chuck Stobart, the Buckeyes’ wide receivers coach the past five years, the OSU offense has undergone a number of subtle changes, including the introduction of an option package to take advantage of Bellisari’s considerable athletic talents.%^$

%^$”We want to get Steve out on the corner and spread the defense,” said Stobart. “He is most effective that way.”%^$

%^$”We may have tried to hit too many home runs last year,” Cooper said. “Maybe, we need to hit more singles and doubles.”%^$

%^$Bellisari has a pair of talented receivers to throw to in split end Reggie Germany and flanker Ken-Yon Rambo, both seniors. He also has two quality running backs in senior speedster Derek Combs at tailback and junior blockbuster Jamar Martin at fullback.%^$

%^$But as any football fan knows, football games are won and lost in the trenches. That is why so much attention was devoted to the offensive line during spring drills.%^$

%^$”We want to play Ohio State football this fall. That means lining up and running the ball when we want to run it and controlling the line of scrimmage,” Cooper said. “Our emphasis in the spring was on being tougher, both mentally and physically, up front.”%^$

%^$The Buckeyes also have a new defensive coordinator in Jon Tenuta. Don’t look for any major changes from the fiery Tenuta, who like his predecessor, Fred Pagac (who will still call the plays on game day), believes in pressure defense.%^$

%^$”Our philosophy hasn’t changed,” Tenuta said. “We will still play man-to-man and get after you every chance we get. We want to keep pressure on the other team and force them into bad plays and turnovers. We didn’t force enough turnovers last year. Good defenses need to make big plays and get their offense back on the field.”%^$

%^$Players to watch on the defensive side of the ball include junior tackles Ryan Pickett and Mike Collins, as well as junior cornerback Nate Clements. Sophomore Mike Doss is a promising young prospect.%^$

%^$While the defensive line appears to be set, depth at linebacker and in the secondary is a concern.%^$

%^$”Those are two areas where our incoming freshmen may have to help,” Cooper said. “We won’t hesitate to play young players there if we think they can help us.”%^$

%^$In the kicking department, senior Dan Stultz returns to handle the placements, but the team still must find a punter. Additionally, Cooper would like to see more out of the return game.%^$

%^$”We need to step up our production in that area this year,” he said. “Field position wins games.”%^$

%^$The Buckeyes open the season Sept. 2 by hosting Fresno State, then travel to Arizona before returning home to host Miami (Ohio). The Big Ten season starts Sept. 23 when Penn State visits Columbus. The following week, OSU travels to Wisconsin to take on the defending Big Ten Champion Badgers.%^$

%^$Cooper is hoping his team, which returns six offensive and seven defensive starters, can gel early and build confidence heading into the conference schedule.%^$

%^$”We are a young team in a lot of ways, so we need to get off to a good start and feel good about ourselves,” Cooper, who has a total of 40 letter winners returning, said.%^$

%^$The Buckeyes were one of college football’s most successful teams in the 1990s. They would like nothing more than to continue their winning ways as the millennium unfolds.%^$

%^$Quarterback
%^$Coach – Tim Salem
%^$Key Returnees – Steve Bellisari
%^$Key Losses – Austin Moherman%^$

%^$
%^$ %^$ Quarterback Steve Bellisari
%^$

%^$Junior Steve Bellisari started the final 10 games of last year and is firmly entrenched as the starter. He is the Buckeyes’ leading returning passer and rusher, throwing for 1,616 yards and 12 touchdowns last year, while scrambling for 332 yards and a pair of six pointers in an up-and-down first season as a starter. But the resilient signal caller survived his baptism under fire in 1999 and appears ready to lead the Buckeyes into the millennium. Certainly no one can doubt his athleticism or will to win. And it is the coaches’ hope that a new offense, designed to get him out on the corner and spread the defense, will allow him to excel.%^$

%^$The real question at quarterback revolves around the No. 2 spot. Both Craig Krenzel and Scott McMullen, a pair of redshirt sophomores, had good springs, but neither emerged as the clear-cut backup. Look for that spirited competition to continue in the fall. Both are talented athletes with strong, accurate arms. Krenzel had the edge early, but McMullen’s impressive performance in the spring game enhanced his status.%^$

%^$Tailback
%^$Coach – Tim Spencer
%^$Key Returnees – Derek Combs, Jonathan Wells, Jerry Westbrooks
%^$Key Losses – Michael Wiley%^$

%^$
%^$ %^$ Tailback Derek Combs
%^$

%^$The departure of senior Michael Wiley leaves the Buckeyes without a proven performer at tailback for the first time in several years. Wiley carried the ball 183 times for 952 yards and 10 touchdowns last year. His three backups – Jonathan Wells, Derek Combs and Jerry Westbrooks – totaled 111 carries, 535 yards and seven touchdowns between them.%^$

%^$Based on spring practice, Combs, a 6-0, 197-pound senior, will inherit the torch from Wiley. Probably the fastest of the three candidates, Combs, who prepped at nearby Grove City High School and was the Associated Press’ Mr. Ohio as a senior when he averaged over 9.5 yards a carry, was the Buckeyes’ most consistent back in the spring. In addition to blazing speed, he also is an outstanding receiver. Those qualities, coupled with his 100-yard rushing performance in the first quarter of the spring game, locked up the starting position for him. He also is the most experienced of the three, with 26 games to his credit.%^$

%^$Wells, a 6-1, 230-pound junior, averaged a team-best 5.7 yards per carry last year (51 carries). His 76-yard run at Michigan was the Buckeyes’ longest in 1999. Westbrooks, a 6-2, 231-pound senior, averaged 4.1 yards per carry in limited action (17 attempts) last season. In addition to excellent size, both have outstanding speed. Both will play extensively in the fall. History has proven there is no such thing as too many good tailbacks in the Big Ten.%^$

%^$Fullback
%^$Coach – Tim Spencer
%^$Key Returnees – Jamar Martin and Nate Stead
%^$Key Losses – Matt Keller%^$

%^$
%^$ %^$ Fullback Jamar Martin
%^$

%^$Those prototypical Ohio State fullbacks of the past – Matt Snell, Bob Ferguson, Willard Sander, Jim Otis, Pete Johnson and Vaughn Broadnax, who could carry five defenders into the end zone and single-handedly wipe out three players with one block – may have met their match in Jamar Martin.%^$

%^$Martin, a 6-0, 245-pound junior, started six games at fullback last year, when senior Matt Keller was injured. But Martin won’t share time with anyone this year. He’s much too valuable. Clearly one of the Buckeyes up-and-coming stars, Martin will be more involved in the OSU offense this year, both as a runner and as a blocker. Martin carried the ball 19 times and averaged 5.3 yards per carry last year. He also scored two touchdowns – one rushing and one receiving. Look for all those numbers to go up this year.%^$

%^$Martin has two capable understudies in Nate Stead and Jesse Kline. Stead, a 5-10, 255-pound sophomore, saw brief action in four games last year and was used mostly as a blocker. Kline (6-1, 227) was redshirted last year as a freshman. He played well in the spring and is a skilled football player. The coaches will not hesitate to use either Stead or Kline if need be, making this one of the Buckeyes’ deepest positions.%^$

%^$Offensive Line
%^$Coach – George Belu
%^$Key Returnees – LT Tyson Walter, C LeCharles Bentley, RT Henry Fleming
%^$Key Losses – RG Ben Gilbert, C Kurt Murphy%^$

%^$Tackles Tyson Walter and Henry Fleming, along with converted center LeCharles Bentley, give first-year OSU line coach George Belu a solid nucleus to build around.%^$

%^$Walter, a 6-5, 300-pound senior, has made 37-consecutive starts at left tackle and is the Buckeyes’ most experienced player at any position. He is a heady player, with the ability to dominate.%^$

%^$Fleming, also a senior, has played in a total of 27 games. The 6-6, 305-pounder started for the first time last year and showed steady improvement throughout the season. A rigorous offseason strength program should enhance his consistency.%^$

%^$Bentley has a chance to be very special. The 6-2, 290-pound junior started seven games last year, six of those at left guard. He was moved to center in the spring, replacing two-year regular Kurt Murphy, and quickly adapted to his new position. He is quick, tough and savvy. Before the season is over, he may be the best center in all of college football.%^$

%^$Mike Gurr and Tam Hopkins, both seniors, are expected to round out the offensive line. Gurr will move in at Bentley’s left guard spot. Hopkins takes over for three-year regular Ben Gilbert at right guard.%^$

%^$The 6-7, 290-pound Gurr started the first five games of 1999 and played in all 12. He also played in all 12 games as a sophomore. Hopkins (6-5, 305) has been a key reserve the past two years, playing in a total of 28 games. He started the Michigan game last year.%^$

%^$A number of other players will play key roles, including 6-4, 325-pound Adrien Clarke, a promising young redshirt freshman. Clarke emerged from spring practice as the No. 2 right tackle, but he has the athletic ability to also play inside, so it will not be a total surprise to see him help out at guard from time-to-time. Junior Jim Massey will provide depth at tackle, as will senior Eric Smith and sophomore Scott Kuhnhein at the guard spots. Bryce Bishop, ineligible last year, also hopes to make an impact. He was one of the nation’s top high school prospects two years ago.%^$

%^$The Buckeyes have good size and athleticism. Depth is a concern, so expect Bishop and some of the true freshmen to get the chance to prove themselves early. Belu will be watching closely to see how the group develops as a unit.%^$

%^$Tight End
%^$Coach – Bill Conley
%^$Key Returnees – Darnell Sanders
%^$Key Losses – Kevin Houser, Steve Wisniewski%^$

%^$Steve Wisnewski started nine games last year and played a total of 158 minutes. Kevin Houser started the other three and logged 187 minutes. Both players have graduated, meaning the Buckeyes, for the second year in a row, are looking for a new starter.%^$

%^$Darnell Sanders and Ben Hartsock are the leading contenders for the job. Sanders is a 6-6, 265-pound, third-year sophomore. He played in 11 games last year, but much of his playing time came with the special teams. Hartsock, a 6-3, 250-pound freshman, was redshirted last year and is highly regarded by the OSU coaching staff.%^$

%^$Sanders goes into the fall No. 1 on the depth chart. The one-time quarterback and safety, has great hands, is an excellent target and poses a deep threat with his speed and quickness.%^$

%^$Hartsock plays with an experience that belies his youth. He rarely makes a mistake and also is an outstanding blocker.%^$

%^$Tim Cheatwood, converted from linebacker in the spring, gives the Buckeyes another talented athlete who can run and catch. The 6-4, 250-pound junior provides much-needed depth at tight end. He will play an important role in the OSU offense this year if he develops as a blocker.%^$

%^$Receiver
%^$Coach – Tim Salem
%^$Key Returnees – SE Reggie Germany, FL Ken-Yon Rambo
%^$Key Losses – none%^$

%^$
%^$ %^$ Flanker Ken-Yon Rambo
%^$

%^$Seniors Reggie Germany and Ken-Yon Rambo return at split end and flanker, respectively, giving the Buckeyes a pair of talented, experienced wideouts. Together, they combined for 84 receptions and seven touchdowns a year ago. Germany (6-2, 195) averaged 15.3 yards per catch on his team-best 43 receptions. He runs precise routes and catches almost everything he gets his hands on. Rambo (6-1, 190) averaged 20 yards per catch on 41 grabs and scored six touchdowns. He may be the fastest player on the team and is electrifying in the open field. Both were in their first years as starters, although, both had played extensively the year before in backup roles.%^$

%^$Vaness Provitt is slated to back-up Germany. Bothered by injuries throughout his career, the 6-3, 205-pound senior had seven catches for 122 yards and one touchdown last year. He played in 11 games. Provitt is hoping this will be his breakout year and that he will emerge as the third wide receiver.%^$

%^$Glue-fingered senior Chad Cacchio will play behind Rambo. A former walk-on who has since been converted to scholarship, Cacchio had four receptions last year.%^$

%^$A pair of redshirt freshmen, Drew Carter (6-4, 187) and Ricky Bryant (5-10, 175), should provide quality depth. Both have excellent speed and hands and are coming off fine showings in the spring. With continued work, these two have a bright future.%^$

%^$Defensive Line
%^$Coach – Jim Heacock
%^$Key Returnees – DE Brent Johnson, DT Mike Collins, DT Ryan Pickett, DT Joe Brown, DE Rodney Bailey
%^$Key Losses – DE James Cotton%^$

%^$There is quality and quantity along the defensive front, beginning with tackles Ryan Pickett and Mike Collins, one of the best inside tandems in recent memory at OSU. Additionally, ends Brent Johnson and Rodney Bailey are solid players, as is Joe Brown, who moved to end last spring after playing tackle his first three years. Redshirt freshman Tim Anderson is another highly-regarded player, as is sophomore David Thompson. To further sweeten the pot, junior Heath Queen and sophomore Kenny Peterson each had solid springs.%^$

%^$Pickett is in his third year as a starter. He broke into the starting lineup against Penn State as a freshman and started the final nine games of the season. He started all 12 games last year and finished the season with 48 tackles, including nine tackles-for-loss. In addition to his physical prowess, the 6-3, 290-pound junior has tremendous instincts.%^$

%^$Collins (6-3, 290) will play more of a nose guard position this year in order to take better advantage of his strength and physical style of play (he and Pickett will flip-flop). He started the final 11 games last year and led the defensive line in tackles (56) and tackles-for-loss (11). That effort came on the heels of a productive freshman year in which he played in 10 of the 12 games (he sat out the Minnesota and Northwestern games with a bad back).%^$

%^$Johnson will start at right end. In his third year as a starter, the 6-3, 265-pound senior is a solid, all-around player who is equally effective against the run or the pass. He had 34 tackles last year. It was Johnson who blocked a potential game-tying field goal in the waning moments of the Purdue game to preserve Ohio State’s 25-22 win.%^$

%^$Bailey will be on the other side — at left end. The 6-3, 270-pound senior started all 12 games in 1998 and got the call six times last year. The veteran Bailey has played in 37 games as a Buckeye. He actually had his best year last year in terms of tackles, finishing with 23. A talented athlete, the coaches expect great things out of him this year.%^$

%^$Brown gives the Buckeyes a quality reserve, who can step in at either end position. The hard-working senior has started 18 games at tackle during his career and has the size (6-6, 285) and quickness to be an outstanding end. Brown was hampered by a thumb injury in 1998 and a shoulder injury last year. Healthy, he can be an effective football player.%^$

%^$The 6-4, 265-pound Peterson, meanwhile, emerged from spring ball as the backup to Bailey and appears ready to challenge for quality playing time.%^$

%^$Depth at the two inside positions will come from the 6-4, 275-pound Queen at tackle and the 6-3, 289-pound Anderson at nose guard.%^$

%^$Clinton Wayne, a 6-3, 275-pound senior, also could provide depth, if he returns in the fall. Wayne has played in 36 games and has eight starts to his credit.%^$

%^$Linebacker
%^$Coach – Brian Williams
%^$Key Returnees – WLB Joe Cooper, MLB Jason Ott, BLB Courtland Bullard
%^$Key Losses – BLB Na’il Diggs
%^$

%^$The early departure of All-America Na’il Diggs for the pros has left first-year linebackers coach Brian Williams with a sizeable pair of shoes to fill. After all, the athletic Diggs led the Buckeyes in tackles last year with 94, and recorded team highs in tackles-for-loss (15) and sacks (6). He also was credited with three of the Buckeyes’ 10 forced fumbles.%^$

%^$Joe Cooper hopes to step into those shoes. As Diggs’ understudy on the boundary last year, Cooper played in 12 games and had a respectable 36 tackles. At 6-0, 225-pounds, he doesn’t have Diggs’ size (6-4, 240), but he is athletic and has demonstrated the potential to be a playmaker. Best of all, he is a ferocious hitter.%^$

%^$Pat O’Neill and Cie Grant, a pair of redshirt freshmen, will back up Cooper on the boundary. O’Neill, one of the state’s top linebackers two years ago, has added 20 pounds since the beginning of last year and is coming off a solid spring. Grant, a defensive back by trade, was moved to linebacker in the spring and quickly took to his new position. At 195 pounds, he is a little light, but he has the frame to add weight and the potential to develop into a good linebacker.%^$

%^$
%^$ %^$ Linebacker Jason Ott
%^$

%^$Jason Ott returns at middle linebacker. The 6-4, 240-pound junior started all 12 games last year and finished the season with 79 tackles, fourth best on the team. He also had 11 tackles-for-loss.%^$

%^$Sophomore Fred Pagac Jr., will back up Ott. He saw action in the first five games last year, but had his season ended against Wisconsin when he suffered a broken leg. Before being hurt, he was in on 11 tackles and was playing well for a true freshman. He did play in the spring and showed no lingering effects of the injury.%^$

%^$Junior Courtland Bullard is expected to round out the starting linebacking corps. Another talented athlete with outstanding speed, Bullard started 11 games last year and had 40 tackles. It was an especially satisfying season for Bullard, who sat out most of the 1998 campaign with a groin pull.%^$

%^$Matt Wilhelm, who played in the last 11 games last year as a true freshman, will play behind Cooper. At 6-4, 245-pounds, he also could step into the middle if the need arises. He had 16 tackles as a rookie and impressed the coaches with his headiness and physical play.%^$

%^$The coaches would like to see more depth here. Expect the incoming freshmen to be given every opportunity to strut their stuff.%^$

%^$Defensive Back
%^$Coach – Jon Tenuta
%^$Key Returnees – CB Nate Clements, SS Mike Doss, FS Donnie Nickey, CB David Mitchell
%^$Key Losses – CB Ahmed Plummer, FS Gary Berry%^$

%^$This is another area where depth is a concern. With just six able-bodied upperclassmen returning, two of whom did not play last year, the incoming freshmen will have to help. But don’t be surprised to see another strong unit. Tenuta has a knack for getting the most out of his players.%^$

%^$Nate Clements is unquestionably the top returnee. He started all 12 games at corner last year, opposite first-round NFL draft choice Ahmed Plummer, and was second on the team in tackles with 90 total stops. The 5-11, 190-pound junior also had a pair of interceptions and nine passes broken up. A jarring hitter, he will take over for Plummer as the cover corner this year. The Buckeyes have been spoiled with the likes of Shawn Springs, Antoine Winfield and Plummer the past five years. Clements has the same potential.%^$

%^$David Mitchell will start at the other corner. A 6-1, 195-pound senior, Mitchell was the Buckeyes’ nickel back in 1999. He finished the season with 25 tackles and always played well when called upon. In his lone career start, he had seven tackles against Purdue last fall. Mitchell played in all 12 games as a true freshman in 1997 and has played in 36-consecutive games during his career. He is eagerly awaiting his first chance to start.%^$

%^$
%^$ %^$ Free Safety Donnie Nickey
%^$

%^$Donnie Nickey and Mike Doss will be the starting safeties. Nickey moved from strong to free safety in the spring, replacing three-year starter Gary Berry. Doss will take over at the strong spot.%^$

%^$Nickey started 10 games last year and had 73 tackles. He was named to a second-team spot on the Sporting News Freshman All-America team. It was a solid first year for the redshirt freshman.%^$

%^$Doss gradually worked his way up the depth chart last year as a true freshman, first turning heads with his special teams play and then drawing attention to himself with his stellar play at safety. After recording 12 tackles at Michigan State, he started the final two games of the year against Illinois and Michigan. If last year is any indication of things to come, Doss can be a special player over the next three years.%^$

%^$Richard McNutt and Derek Ross are the other two returnees. McNutt was redshirted last year as freshman. He will back up Clements. Ross, who played in all 12 games as a freshman in 1998 but was not eligible last year, will play behind Mitchell.%^$

%^$Another redshirt freshman, Kelton Lindsay, was converted from running back to corner in the fall, but missed spring practice after undergoing knee surgery in December. Curtis Crosby, ineligible last year as a freshman, is expected to be available in the fall. If so, Tenuta can at least fill out the two-deep with eight different names.%^$

%^$Special Teams
%^$Key Returnees – PK/P Dan Stultz, P B.J. Sander
%^$Key Losses – LS Kevin Houser%^$

%^$Veteran Dan Stultz is coming off his best year. He handled virtually all of the Buckeyes kicking last year and responded by hitting 12 of 16 field goals (including a pair of pressure boots in a 20-17 win at Minnesota), making 31 of 34 PATs and averaging 38.6 yards per punt. Stultz, who also kicked off, was the Buckeyes’ second leading scorer with 67 points, one behind Michael Wiley.%^$

%^$The Buckeye coaching staff is hoping that Stultz won’t have to do it all this year. If either B.J. Sander or Andy Groom can handle the punting duties, Stultz would be free to concentrate solely on placements.%^$

%^$Sander hoped to make his presence felt last year as a true freshman, but a bruised foot early in the season sidelined him for the remainder of the year. Groom is a walk-on, who on occasion has shown signs of promise. As yet, neither has demonstrated the consistency the coaching staff is seeking. One of them needs to step forward in the fall.%^$