Football: Bobcats spring into the season

Ohio's Donte Foster hauls in a pass in the end zone against Marshall University at Peden Stadium. on Sept. 17, 2011. The touchdown was negated after Ohio was penalized for an illegal formation in the backfield. Ohio won the game, 44-7. (JASON CHOW | Staff Photographer)

Coming off the school’s first 10-win season in 43 years, the Bobcats began spring football with extra pep in their step.

For the first time under coach Frank Solich, Ohio is coming off both a winning season and a win in its final game.

The Bobcats defeated Utah State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl to give the school its first bowl victory in six tries.

“We were very anxious to get back out,” Solich said. “With the basketball team having great success, that helps energize everybody and coming off the season that we did have, everybody’s wanting to get out here and pick up where we left off. There’s a lot of confidence out here.”

For the first time since returning Austin Everson in 2006, the Bobcats entered spring practice with the security of a returning starting quarterback, but Ohio will be looking to replace three of its top four pass catchers.

Donte Foster caught 30 passes for 352 yards and hauled in five touchdown passes as the third receiver on the depth chart last season.

As the top returning receiver for the Bobcats in 2012, Foster will likely play a large role in trying to reproduce the combined 17 touchdowns caught by seniors LaVon Brazill and Riley Dunlop in 2011.

“I’ve been under their wing for the past two years, learning from LaVon and learning from Riley, so I think I’m ready to step up and lead the other receivers to a winning season,” Foster said.

Solich and Foster said returning starting quarterback Tyler Tettleton will help ease the transition for new receivers.

“We threw more than we ever have in the winter. Just been out here catching with all the wide receivers, so I think it’s going to help tremendously,” Foster said. “(Tettleton) is an amazing quarterback, so we know he’s going to do whatever it takes to win.”

The Bobcats will also need to replace starting running back Donte Harden as well as receivers Phil Bates, Bakari Bussey and Jerry Gross, who combined for 61 receptions and four touchdowns last season.

Foster is Ohio’s only returning receiver who caught a touchdown pass in 2011.
Despite losing more than 2,300 receiving yards to graduation, Foster said there are players ready to fill the vacant roles.

“Everybody has been waiting for their chance to shine,” he said. “Mario Dovell has been out here working hard. We have this transfer, Matt Waters, he’s out here learning. I think people are going to be able to fill the shoes.”

For the remainder of the week, Solich said the team will focus on improving its conditioning.

He said the team did not do enough running during the winter, leading to poor conditioning to start camp.

“You can see it here, we’re not really coordinated,” Solich said. “It’s amazing in this game once you stop doing a lot of running, you’re just not sharp. You’re stumbling around in the game. It was one of those first days, but we’ll get that corrected as we play ourselves into shape.”

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