Aug. 9, 2006
ATHENS, Ohio - The Ohio football team continued its first week of practice with its third official workout on Wednesday. The NCAA-mandated five-day acclimatization period ends Friday, and two-a-days begin on Saturday.
While the Bobcats return 17 starters from last season, the squad has some big shoes to fill at cornerback. All-America selection Dion Byrum is currently in training camp with the Chicago Bears, while the remaining Bobcat defensive backs try to fill the void of last season's national leader in defensive touchdowns. T.J. Wright, a two-year starter, returns for his senior season as the Bobcats' active career leader with nine interceptions. He is the first Ohio player to have at least three interceptions in three straight seasons since Bop White did it from 1999-2002).
"We've been working hard," said Wright. "We have a lot people who've been here. I think this is a good program, a good system. You just need to take your talent and get the most out of your ability. I don't think there will be a noticeable difference."
Senior Cornerback T.J. Wright
On the defensive backfield's goals for the season:
"We want to lead the conference in every category that we can. We want to max out our potential. If we can max out our potential, we'll be one of the top secondaries in the conference."
Cornerbacks Coach David Brown
On who is penciled in to take Byrum's spot as a starter:
"Mark Parson (is the starter) right now. He played a lot last year as a freshman so coming in as a sophomore he has the most experience as far as the other guys. He's in front of a lot of other guys right now, so it's his spot to lose."
On how the players have responded to having to replace an All-American:
"Guys have stepped up. We have to replace a great player, but the guys have done a great job learning the system and in the weight room. They're competing, so we should be fine."
Comparing the current corners to Byrum:
"Athletically, we have guys that can step in. As far as being a playmaker, we have to wait and see. Obviously, he made a lot of plays and put the team in the position to win some games. Hopefully, we have some guys that can step up and make some plays like he did. He was here for four years, so as far as leadership, we'll have to see how that's replaced. Athletically, we can do some things. It's just a matter of going out and making plays like he did."