ATHENS, Ohio -- The Ohio football team held its first of 15 spring practices ahead of the 2020 season this morning inside Walter Fieldhouse.
The first practice of spring ball provided the first opportunity for returners from the Bobcats' Famous Idaho Potato Bowl championship team last season to compete alongside the portion of the freshmen class that has early enrolled at Ohio for the spring semester.
Rising redshirt senior wide receiver Cameron Odom (Bedford, Ohio) early enrolled at Ohio back in 2016. Now, he's coming off his first season as a team captain and will enter the 2020 campaign as the veteran presence in the wide receiver room. Odom caught up with the media following this morning's practice session.
On the approach to spring practice now that former three-year starting quarterback Nathan Rourke is no longer under center:
Odom: "Going into this spring, we're definitely really focusing on the little things. As far as receiver-wise and the quarterbacks, definitely working on timing before we even started spring ball and trying to get that connection with every single quarterback because we really don't know which one is going to start. Just having fun with it and trying to build more of a family-type mentality between us and the whole team."
On working with a freshman quarterback, CJ Harris, who was in high school just two months ago:
Odom: "I kind of did the same thing (early enrolled), so just talking to CJ and realizing how old I am now, being the old guy in the room. Just helping him out with little things outside of him being a quarterback. Anything I can help him with, I'm always there. Just trying to build a relationship with him and get to know him more."
On bringing nearly the rest of the offense back from a year ago and how that can benefit a freshman quarterback:
Odom: "It helps a lot. Playing with the guys you played with this past season, you know what they're capable of, who is going to play for you. Just finding that last piece as far as our quarterback will help the group come together faster."
On what has jumped out to him about freshman quarterback CJ Harris:
Odom: "CJ's definitely athletic. He's an athletic guy. He has a great ball, from what I see. He's not the most vocal guy, but we're trying to get it out of him a little bit more."
On how long it takes to build chemistry with a quarterback:
Odom: "I don't really have a timespan on it, but as far as trying to build chemistry, we try to get things done every day. It's just getting little catches in at the end of lifting. We've been meeting Saturday and Sunday mornings getting little catches in this past offseason. Going out to dinner, things like that. Just getting to know each other as receivers and quarterbacks as a whole."
On his relationship with 14th-year wide receivers coach Dwayne Dixon:
Odom: "Coach Dixon has meant a lot. He's one of those type men you meet and you never forget. He's taught me so many things, on and off the field. To me and a lot of the receivers in the room, he's a legend. He's the same person as a coach as he is a regular guy walking on the street. He's never two different types of people. He keeps it real with you one hundred percent of the time, and we love him to death."
On if his preparation is any different heading into the final spring practice season of his collegiate career:
Odom: "This spring ball, I've really been focusing on trying to get healthy. I've battled an injury I've been dealing with since October. I've been working on that, being smart about my reps, things like that. Definitely working on better leadership. I can always improve on being a leader on this team, being a captain, eldest guy in the receiver room, things like that."
On his leadership style:
Odom: "I wouldn't be the most vocal, yelling in front of the whole team type of guy, but I do come up to guys if I see something, and I'll explain something in a way I feel like that person will learn the best. Definitely by example. I think that's my biggest key point when leading, is by example."
On filling the leadership void left by the departure of former quarterback Nathan Rourke:
Odom: "Nate was a great leader, on and off the field. I plan on continuing on that leadership. It may not be in the same way, but I definitely want to affect the team in a strong way. Me as a leader, I have to find other leaders as well. Trying to get guys to understand that just because they're young that doesn't mean they can't be a leader. Finding more guys to lead the team, which we feel like we have."
On going from catching passes from former quarterback Nathan Rourke to his younger brother, redshirt freshman quarterback Kurtis Rourke:
Odom: "It's different because me and Nate had more of a chemistry. I played with him for three seasons. He threw me my first college touchdown. But, football's a game of adjustments, and it's all about adjusting to these younger quarterbacks."
On what he wishes he would have known when he early enrolled at Ohio back in 2016 that he knows now:
Odom: "Don't try to give yourself too many expectations. You're still learning. You're going to make mistakes. Don't be afraid to make mistakes. I came in here thinking because I was a young guy that guys weren't going to help me out and things like that. I wasn't lifting as strong as everybody else or running as fast. But, when I came here, I was able to be under the leadership of Jordan Reid and Sebastian Smith, and they took me in as a little brother and were able to show me the ropes to where I was gradually progressing and learning and not being afraid and just going in and just having fun. Just not to think too much and continue to have fun and play the game."
Ohio will conduct its second spring practice on Thursday (March 5) morning inside Walter Fieldhouse. The Bobcats will open the 2020 season on Saturday, Sept. 5 against North Carolina Central at Peden Stadium in Athens. To purchase 2020 season tickets, click here or call the ticket office at 1-800-575-2287.