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Football: Secondary shines, other observations from Ohio's 10th practice of fall camp

Ohio held its 10th practice of fall camp Tuesday in Peden Stadium. 

After Tuesday’s practice, the Bobcats are over the hump. There are only nine practices left in fall camp, and time is of the essence. Although they began Tuesday with team drills, the Bobcats spent much of practice in position work and attempted to round out the edges of their game.

Here are The Post’s observations from Ohio’s 10th practice of fall camp: 

Defensive backs impress during team drills 

Ohio’s defensive backs shined against the offense Tuesday during team drills. The cornerbacks and safeties broke up passes, contained completions and almost intercepted the ball on several plays. Tuesday was among the secondary’s best, despite not getting a turnover.

Cornerback Pierre Kemeni stood out among the secondary players Tuesday. Kemeni had his own share of pass deflections during team drills and one-on-ones and showed visible excitement during and after practice. The redshirt freshman has bonded with cornerbacks coach De’Angelo Smith and believes his recent success in camp is because he is called out when he makes mistakes .  

“Coach (Smith) is always holding me accountable,” Kemeni said. “Always making sure I’m doing what’s right.” 

Kemeni is one of the most energetic players in Peden during practice. He had plenty of reasons to be happy after his stellar practice. 

“If you see me at practice, I’m always the one screaming, talking loud,” Kemeni said. “I love football. There’s nothing better, really.” 

Along with Kemeni, other members of the secondary who had pass deflections and near-picks include Jarren Hampton, Justin Birchette, Torrie Cox Jr., Alvin Floyd and John Gregory.  

Rourke tests his footwork

Kurtis Rourke wasn’t known for his rushing abilities last season. In three games, he rushed for only 17 yards on 14 carries and struggled when running the ball himself.  

The redshirt sophomore used Tuesday as an opportunity to improve his rushing ability. Rourke worked on his movement and tried to get comfortable using his legs rather than his arm. Rourke wants his weakness from last season to become a strength. If he can round out his run game, Rourke can match fellow quarterback Armani Rogers in dual-threat ability.

Kicking battle continues 

It’s still unclear which one of Ohio’s three kickers will take priority on game day. Jonah Fortkamp, Stephen Johnson and Tristian Vandenberg continue to receive equal amounts of reps in field goal and extra point drills.  

Vandenberg only made one-third of his field goal attempts in 2020; however, most of his kicks in fall camp have hit their mark. The redshirt sophomore seems more confident during drills and might have shaken his stage fright from last season. 

But Johnson and Fortkamp are not to be counted out. 

Johnson is the most experienced of the trio. The redshirt senior completed both of his field goal attempts with Oklahoma last season and didn’t miss a single extra point attempt. 

Fortkamp has also impressed during fall camp. He completed all three of his kicks during drills Monday, which included a 40-yard field goal.

All three present convincing arguments for the starting job. There are nine practices left in fall camp, and Ohio has limited time to decide which kicker it will place its confidence in.


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