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April 1, 2000

The Ohio State football team opened spring practice today, working out for approximately two-and-a-half hours on the grass fields at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

“It was a good first day,” said Head Coach John Cooper. “The players were really eager, the effort was there and the tempo was good”

During the offseason, Cooper elevated Fred Pagac to assistant head coach, promoted Chuck Stobart to offensive coordinator and Jon Tenuta to defensive coordinator, and hired George Belu to coach the offensive line and Brian Williams to coach the linebackers. “From an organizational standpoint, I thought things went very well,” Cooper said. “The new coaches seemed to blend in very well.”

“This was really exciting for me,” said the veteran Belu. “I have been in coaching a long time, but to take the field for the first time at Ohio State was something special.”

Starting offensive tackle Tyson Walter did not practice. He is out with an inner ear infection. Defensive back Kelton Lindsay, expected to battle for a starting corner spot, also watched from the sidelines. He will miss all of spring ball, following December knee surgery.

Freshman linebacker Fred Pagac, Jr. did participate in drills. He missed the final seven games of the 1999 campaign with a broken leg.

The addition of junior college linebacker Jack Tucker and the return of young Pagac enabled Cooper to move linebacker Tim Cheatwood to tight end. Defensive end Julius Yeast also spent the first day at tight end.

“Nothing permanent,” Stobart said. “We are just looking.”

A more permanent move has 6-3, 290-pound junior LeCharles Bentley moving to center. Bentley played guard and tackle last year, starting six games at the former and one at the latter, and was voted at season’s end as the Buckeyes’ offensive lineman of the year. He takes over at center for Kurt Murphy.

Added Stobart, “For the first day, I thought we had a pretty good day. The players seemed to have a pretty good grasp of what we were doing, both in terms of the old stuff and the new.”

Tenuta was pleased, too, with the effort of his players. “I thought we really got after it pretty good. Our goal is to build on our fundamentals and get our players in position to make plays. I think we are off to a good start. The key is to get better every single practice.”

The Buckeyes resume practice Monday. Spring drills conclude April 29 with the annual Scarlet and Gray Game in Columbus Crew Stadium. Tickets for the game currently are on sale at Ticketmaster at $5 each.