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April 14, 2000

Coach John Cooper liked what he saw Thursday at the Wody Hayes Athletic Center

“That was a pretty good practice,” he said, following the Buckeyes two-hour workout. “The weather was great and we were able to work on some situational stuff — down and distance plays — for the first time.”

Asked about the tailback situation, where seniors Derek Combs (Urbancrest, Ohio) and Jerry Westbrooks (Boca Raton, Fla.) are contending with junior Jonathan Wells (River Ridge, La.) for the vacant starting spot, Cooper declined naming a pecking order.

“I think you can win with all three of them,” said the veteran coach. “Jonathan is a very good football player. Derek has had a good spring and can hit the homerun for you. Jerry may be the most improved player on the team. He has the size and speed you are looking for. All three of them are going to play for us, and in this league you can never have enough good tailbacks.”

The Buckeyes practiced without defensive tackle Ryan Pickett (Jr., Zephyrhills, Fla.), who underwent successful shoulder (his left) surgery Wednesday morning. Offensive tackle Tyson Walter (Sr., Bainbridge, Ohio) made his first appearance of the spring after sitting out the first six sessions with an inner-ear infection.

In a position switch, Cie Grant (So., New Philadelphia, Ohio) was moved to linebacker from strong safety.

“He’s 200 pounds right now and capable of putting on more weight. We think linebacker may be his best position.”

The Buckeyes are off Friday, but resume practice Saturday morning.