Aug. 16, 2006
It was a hot, Friday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. It was also quiet, as all but three members of the Ohio State football team were elsewhere, probably resting at home with their families in the few days they had left before reporting for the first day of preseason camp.
Senior offensive linemen Doug Datish and T.J. Downing and senior quarterback Troy Smith emerged from the locker room in full uniform and headed across the indoor practice field. At one corner was a make-shift photography studio, set up by a crew from Sports Illustrated, complete with a large backdrop, lights, photo umbrellas and computers.
For about 60 minutes, the SI crew snapped shots of the trio and brought in Ted Ginn Jr. for a portrait with Smith.
This week, the photos graced the cover of SI, one of six regional college football previews, proclaiming the Buckeyes the No. 1 team in the nation.
It marked just the second time that Sports Illustrated had been on campus to set up a posed cover with Ohio State football, the other being August 1998 with Andy Katzenmoyer.
“You grow up with Sports Illustrated and dream about being on the cover,” Datish said. “Now we’re on the cover. It’s amazing.”
A crew of four assisted the SI photographer. A sound system rang out with tunes likely found on the iPod of the three players.
“It was really cool,” Downing said about the photo shoot. “They got us to loosen up and we had a good time with it.”
Though Smith was photographed the most and gave up a over an hour of his last off-day before camp, he enjoyed the experience and looked forward to seeing the pictures when they came out in the magazine. “It was everything I thought it would be,” Smith said. “They did a great job.”
Looking on were members of the OSU athletics communications staff, who set up the shoot, and the football equipment staff, including Lewis VanHoose and Rob Lachey. For the first time, the Buckeyes’ new scarlet jerseys were put over the pads.
“I just came out to see how the new jerseys looked,” VanHoose said.
A smile came across his face and his head nodded, answering his own question.
“And the players love them,” he added.
Same goes for the cover.