COLUMBUS — Mount Vernon’s Russell Doup is living the dream.
Doup, a kicker on the Ohio State football team, got his first chance to dress and be on the sidelines with the Buckeyes on Saturday against Indiana.
“It was surreal. Kind of like it didn’t really happen,” Doup said. “I couldn’t believe I was on the field dressed in my Ohio State jersey with those guys. It was pretty cool.”
If he thinks it didn’t happen, he’s got plenty of pictures and a facebook page devoted to the fact he was there to remind him it was true. Several of his friends sent him pictures of himself on TV on his cell phone after the game. Doup could be spotted behind Ohio State coach Jim Tressel during at least one portion of the game.
“I have a few texts of pictures of me on TV and I got a lot of texts from people who say they saw me. It was pretty neat getting those,” Doup said.
Doup’s day started out with team meetings at the Blackwell, then over to St. John Arena for the Skull Session with the Ohio State marching band.
“When we got to St. John Arena, everyone was clapping and cheering. Coach Tressel gave a pep rally speech and got everyone pumped up,” Doup said.
The team then walked through a long line of well-wishers to the locker room at Ohio Stadium, where they prepared for the game.
When it was time for the game, the players came out of the locker room, hooked their arms together for their ritual dance, then charged out onto the field in front of 105,000 fans.
“I was just trying not to trip. I was in the middle and don’t know who was beside me at the time. We packed in, formed our lines and put our arms together. We never did anything like that in high school. I’ve been to Ohio State games and seen that, but it’s a different feeling being a part of. It was really neat,” Doup said. “You could really tell there were a lot of people there, especially on the kickoffs and on third downs. It was loud.”
After the game, Doup got to be part of the celebration in the locker room for Tressel’s 100th victory at Ohio State. The coach’s wife made a cake in honor of the accomplishment and the players all got a piece, if they wanted.
Then, on his way out to meet his family, Doup had another first –– an autograph request.
“That’s the first time anyone’s asked me for an autograph. I thought it would be weird, but I just grabbed the sharpie and the ball and signed it,” Doup said.
The freshman then got to go to dinner with his mom, Alice, dad, Kelly, and sister, as well as his grandma, grandpa and other relatives.
“They were all at the Skull Session and very pumped as well,” said Doup.
Saturday was just one highlight in a string of them so far this fall at Ohio State for Doup. He’s been practicing with the team since starting school on Sept. 21.
“Practice has been pretty cool. The guys are really nice and are helping me out. Just trying to make me better. It’s pretty neat to watch the offense and defense do their thing in practice,” Doup said.
The Buckeyes usually don’t practice on Mondays, but Tuesdays through Fridays are especially busy for Doup. He takes classes in the morning, including math, psychology and business, then heads to the Woody Hayes facility for practice at 2 p.m.
The team watches video and has meetings, then the special teams players (kickers and punters) go out to the practice field and work on field goals, kickoffs and punts. Once the rest of the players come out, they work on long snaps, then go back inside the facility for some extra kicking practice. The practices usually last four hours.
The Mount Vernon graduate is one of three kickers on the team right now. Devin Barclay is a senior, while Doup and Drew Basil from Chillicothe are both freshmen.
He probably won’t travel with the Buckeyes this year, since they are allowed to dress just 70 players on away games, but will be on the sidelines for home games and will get a chance to earn a spot on next year’s team at spring practice.
“It’s like a learning year for me. I’m still new and will probably redshirt. It’s a development year where I can practice kickoffs and field goals. Next spring will be the real test,” Doup said.