COLUMBUS -- Urban Meyer waved his arms skyward, appealing to the mass of students lining Ohio State's indoor workout facility for noise.
Then he motioned them onto the field. As the Buckeyes set up to practice a series of 27-yard place kicks against a live defense, hundreds in the crowd Saturday tightly encircled the formation
"That was awesome," said kicker Drew Basil, who did not miss inside the human wall.
The claustrophobia-inducing scene was part of Meyer's ongoing effort to connect with the student body.
Despite rain forcing the practice from Ohio Stadium to the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex, an estimated crowd of 3,100 students and faculty members watched the two-and-a-half-hour workout. Another 2,000 toured the stadium.
The practice, which was open to students with a BuckID, had a festival-like feel. Students cheered plays like a 70-yard run by freshman tailback Bri'onte Dunn and quarterback Braxton Miller's 45-yard touchdown pass to Devin Smith. They crowded Meyer 10-deep afterward for photos and autographs. And they posed for a group shot with the team.
"It's a benefit for the students and fans, and it's a benefit for our kids and coaches to get around them," receivers coach Zach Smith said. "At times it's like you're in your own world here. You're locked in the Woody Hayes, it's indoors, and you're just going, going, going. You lose the magnitude of what this place is. What makes this different from the NFL, different from every other level, is the students and the fans. It's awesome."
ON THE MOVE: The man who calls himself the "Big Hungry" could soon be devouring ballcarriers.
Redshirt freshman Chris Carter, who at 358 pounds is the Buckeyes' heaviest player, moved this week from guard to defensive tackle.
Meyer said OSU's defensive coaches have lobbied for the switch, but he hesitated because of depth problems on the offensive line.
"We didn't have the luxury to move him over," Meyer said. "But he wasn't progressing. Maybe give him a shot at defense."
EARLY START: Meyer is encouraged his first recruiting class includes six early enrollees, including Dunn, a five-star tailback from Canton GlenOak.
"That's a real advantage for a young man academically because there's not the pressures of the season," Meyer said. "But we certainly don't push that or we don't demand that because that's a big family decision."
Meyer's 2007 recruiting class at Florida included four early enrollees who became first-round NFL draft picks: quarterback Cam Newton, offensive linemen Mike and Maurkice Pouncey, and cornerback Joe Haden,
EXTRA POINTS: Meyer apparently holds rock-star status with more than the fans. "When he first came and walked in, I said to myself, 'I can't believe Urban Meyer is right in front of me,'" Devin Smith said. "And every day I come over here or talk to him, I say, 'I can't believe Urban Meyer is my coach.' " ... Sophomore receiver Evan Spencer will miss the next two weeks after breaking a bone in his shoulder during practice earlier this week. He called the fracture a "freak injury" that came during light contact with defensive back C.J. Barnett. ... Linebacker Curtis Grant left practice Saturday with an apparent shoulder injury and did not return. ... Ohio State's spring game is at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Ohio Stadium and will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
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