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How next phase of Return to Play workouts will look for Buckeyes

Justin Fields-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football
Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields and the Buckeyes will be ramping up workouts on Friday. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

Ohio State Football

How next phase of Return to Play workouts will look for Buckeyes

COLUMBUS — Ohio State is ready for the next step in the Return to Play blueprint.

The Buckeyes haven’t exactly barreled nonstop through the previous phases, at one point shutting down workouts for a week after having positive tests pop up on the roster earlier this month. But they have remained on track to start ramping up in the hopes of being ready for a season that still doesn’t have a definitive start date yet.

But whether the schedule slides up to the first week of September or the Big Ten delays the opening kickoff, the Buckeyes are clearly doing everything they can to provide an opportunity for arguably the most talented team in the country to show what it can do.

“As we’ve talked about our planning principles, first and foremost is health and safety of the student athletes,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said earlier this month. “Then it’s flexibility and control. With our conference games being able to move up into September, that allows us the opportunity to create flexibility and handle disruptions.

“Now we can say to ourselves: How do we want to play? … We can be nimble and we can adjust.”

Master Teague-Ohio State-Buckeyes-Ohio State football

Ohio State running back Master Teague reported for workouts in June. (Birm/Lettermen Row)

That ability to adapt will continue to be tested as college football deals with this unprecedented uncertainty, and the Buckeyes have already had to change their own plans on the fly this summer while also participating in larger discussions about how the Big Ten will manage to play an abbreviated season.

So, even the next phase starting on Friday is subject to change. It’s also important to note that it’s not strictly mandatory since players can opt out if they still have concerns about COVID-19, though multiple sources have told Lettermen Row that nobody has done so at Ohio State to this point.

With the whole team expected to take part in the next phase of workouts, then, here’s what the Buckeyes can expect according to a school release on Thursday evening:

  • This 14-day period will include up to 20 hours per week of activities (and not more than four hours per day) that may include:
    •  Up to eight hours per week of weight training and conditioning (no sports equipment can be used)
    •  Up to six hours per week of walk-throughs, which may include the use of a football (no conditioning or contact; no protective equipment; and no speed drills)
    • Up to six hours per week of meetings, which may include film review, position meetings, one-on-one meetings, etc.
  • Student-athletes must be provided two days off during the 14-day period.
  • Skill instruction (ie: practice) is not allowed until the beginning of preseason practice, which is set for Aug. 7.
  • The health, safety and wellness of our student-athletes is our highest priority.
  • Health and safety protocols are designed to be as responsible as possible based on guidelines established by the Ohio State COVID-19 Transition Task Force and its Safe Campus and Scientific Advisory Subgroup, and also the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Ohio Department of Health.
  • Ohio State football players are being routinely tested for COVID-19 and training/workout decisions will continue to be re-evaluated by medical staff to protect the health and safety of students.
  • To protect the individual medical privacy of the student-athletes, the university will not release information about the test results. 
  • A strict set of protocols remain in place requiring daily symptoms assessments, physical distancing, masks, hygiene, limited density in indoor spaces and cleaning procedures.
  • Players will continue to dress/undress at their apartments and bring used workout gear back the next day for daily cleaning by the equipment staff. 
  • Upon completion of activities, student-athletes will pick up clean workout clothes for the next day and receive food-to-go before exiting premises.
  • Workouts at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center will take place in the weight room, on the indoor field and as much as possible on the outdoor fields.
  • Areas off limits at this time include the locker room, showers and players’ lounge.

Austin Ward

Austin Ward is Lettermen Row's senior writer covering Ohio State football and basketball. The award-winning journalist has covered the Buckeyes since 2012, spending five of those seasons working for ESPN after previous stints at the Casper Star-Tribune and Knoxville News Sentinel.