Tired Buckeyes press forward at Senior Bowl
MOBILE, Ala. – For all but two participants, this week’s Senior Bowl was a return to football after an absence of at least 15 days — and in many cases much longer.
For Ohio State’s Devin Smith and Doran Grant, it was back to work less than a week after playing in the national championship game.
"This makes the 16th game for me," Grant said. "And I can feel it."
But tired legs didn’t deter Smith and Grant — roommates, second cousins and teammates on the North side for Saturday’s Senior Bowl game — from coming to Mobile this week for practices in front and interviews with of NFL coaches, general managers and scouts.
"It’s the start of a new chapter," Smith said. "It’s crazy how fast things go. We played until a week or so ago, and the (NFL Scouting) Combine is in four weeks. I took a few days to myself and I’m as fresh as I can be.
"The competition is too good here for me to be tired."
Ohio State’s team charter returned to Columbus in the afternoon of Jan. 13, the day after the Buckeyes ran away from Oregon, 42-20, to win the national title and finish 14-1. There was business — agents, training, personal — to be handled and arrangements needed to be made.
"I was almost all the way packed up already," Smith said. "It was kind of strange."
Smith went home to Massillon for most of last week. Last Sunday, he flew to Mobile for the Senior Bowl. This Sunday, he’ll fly from Mobile to San Diego, where he’ll train through the NFL Combine in late February. He plans to train either in Massillon — his high school has a full indoor football facility — or at Ohio State in advance of Ohio State’s mid-March pro day.
Ohio State’s Michael Bennett and Jeff Heuermann and Michael Bennett dropped out of the Senior Bowl last week after initially accepting invitations. Linebacker Curtis Grant was a late addition to the game and the North Team are playing Thursday after another player was injured.
Grant spent most of last week in Columbus talking with academic advisors and professors at Ohio State. He’s six classes away from graduating and wants to be able to knock out as many requirements as possible via online classes and projects while preparing to begin his NFL career. He’ll be training for the next two months in Pensacola, Fla., and reported there late last week. He made the hour or so drive to Mobile last Sunday.
"I don’t even remember having time to pack," Grant said. "But it was a good thing. It’s been a dream. And I wasn’t going to miss the chance to come to the Senior Bowl and compete against the best."