Thomas Bradley / Campus editor
Contact practice starts in August for Ohio State football, but players are already working out with the strength staff. Offensive lineman J.B. Shugarts, tight end Jake Stoneburner and linebackers Tony Jackson and Tyler Moeller spoke with the media Tuesday about the 2011 season.
OSU introduced the newest member of its coaching staff on Monday. Three-time Super Bowl champion Mike Vrabel will be coaching the linebackers next season.
Shugarts said that Vrabel is a future Hall of Fame candidate and that his experience will make him an asset to OSU.
“He’s a great football player, he has a great knowledge of the game, and he brings a lot of intensity,” Shugarts said. “He’s one of the greatest to ever play.”
Jackson added that with the addition of Vrabel, along with the intense coaching style of head coach Luke Fickell, the defense will be more prepared than ever.
“Coach Fickell and coach Vrabel are definitely competitors, all they want us to do is compete,” Jackson said.
Moeller said he thinks Vrabel will be a great addition to the staff.
“I’m excited about what (Vrabel) brings to the table,” Moeller said. “His experience and everything that he’s been through, I’m excited about having him on staff.”
Moving past ‘The Vest’
Shugarts said the recent hits the program has taken – including the loss of Jim Tressel – are significant, but he said he is ready to move on to next season.
“It’s tough to deal with, but at the same time I’m worried about today,” Shugarts said. “I’m worried about getting better right now, I’m worried about getting better next season.”
Stoneburner said that he will miss Tressel because of the lessons Tressel taught him, which extended beyond playing football.
“(Tressel taught us) how to be a football player, a better man, and we all took those to heart,” Stoneburner said. “Now we gotta listen to what coach Fickell says, cause he’s the new coach, he’s the new guy in charge, and he’s what we look up to and he’s going to lead us to victory.”
Stoneburner said Fickell will bring his known intensity over to the offense, but doesn’t expect the offensive game plan to change very much.
He added that there are a number of good running backs and tight ends on the squad. Stoneburner expects the offense to be geared toward those positions in the beginning of the season and thinks the wide receivers will develop with time.
Jackson said there wasn’t any time to dwell on the past, the focus is on next season.
“You never know what can happen, we don’t even know if we’ll be here tomorrow,” Jackson said.
After missing most of the last two seasons due to injury, Moeller said he is ready for the upcoming season.
“I’m close to 100 percent, my upper body is a lot stronger than it was last year and my lower body is getting there,” Moeller said.
Moeller missed most of the 2010 season with a pectoral injury and he missed all of the 2009 season due to a head injury he suffered after being assaulted in Florida.
“I can’t worry about my head, I can’t worry about my chest,” Moeller said. “I’m not going to think about it.”
Moeller said he is going to be clear for contact when the team starts hitting in August. He said he is grateful for the opportunity he has been given to play again.