There wasn’t much to see of Ohio University’s indoor facility when Pickerington Central players Brennan Dudziak and Andrew Meyer toured campus last summer during their recruiting visit.
But they could imagine the big picture.
“Nothing was up — they were just moving dirt to clear the way for construction — but the thought that I would be practicing and working out in that building one day definitely had an effect on me,” said Dudziak, a 6-foot-5, 270-pound offensive lineman. “I immediately thought we would be a better team.”
Dudziak had yet to play his senior year of high school, but he wanted to be a Bobcat. He was one of 12 players who committed during the summer.
Yesterday, Dudziak and Meyer were part of a 24-player class that coach Frank Solich signed to national letters of intent.
Solich said the 74,000-square-foot Walter Field House, which cost $12.5 million to build and is nearly completed, has been a game-changer in recruiting. The facility will have a regulation synthetic turf football field and four-lane running track. Netting can be lowered around the field so other activities won’t be affected.
“This is a great, great deal,” Solich said. “We had been behind other schools a bit not having an indoor facility. Attracting quarterbacks and receivers has been hard. We’ve been lucky to get a few good ones. Now, these guys can catch and throw year-round.”
The building is not solely for football. All athletic teams, the Marching 110 band, students and staff can schedule time for use.
Solich can’t wait for the doors to open sometime next month for spring practices.
Neither can rising senior defensive back Nathan Carpenter of Lancaster.
“I was told we’d have this facility by the time I was a senior, and they were right,” he said. “It has been tough practicing outside in the cold and rain, especially those 10 to 12 practices in December for bowl games. It can get so bitter cold. You can get sick. You also don’t always get quality work done.”
Meyer envisions spending a lot of time in the building working on his skills.
“That is going to be exciting being able to run around in that place,” Meyer said. “It is huge. The temperature will be regulated in there. I can run routes in there all the time. You have to do that if you want to get better.”
Dudziak can relate to what Ohio players have gone through.
“This past season, we had a really bad week of weather after a loss to Pickerington North,” he said. “That was not fun. We went at game speed in the mud and cold. It was hard to practice well in all that.”