Students, Buckeyes Ready To Race

Dontre Wilson

Everyone loves a good footrace, and there could very well be one of those Saturday at the spring game when Buckeye players Dontre Wilson and Devin Smith take on the four fastest members of the student body. One thing is for sure, though -- no one competing is going into the race expecting to lose.

"Would you believe me if I tell you?"

So said Malcolm Branson, an Ohio State senior from Massillon, Ohio, who left Buckeye football players peeking at their stopwatches with stunned looks after he dusted the field in his heat Saturday in the fastest Buckeye races at OSU's student appreciation practice.

Branson seemed to have no lack of confidence as he met with the media afterward, especially when asked about the fastest 40-yard dash time he's run.

"Would you believe me if I tell you?" he said with a laugh before telling scribes that he ran a 4.28 hand-timed 40 on the turf field between Morrill and Lincoln towers.

A high school track athlete at Massillon Perry, Branson might have the best chance based on his blazing time Saturday afternoon to beat Ohio State players Devin Smith and Dontre Wilson when they race at next Saturday's spring game.

Branson will join three other student heat winners in taking on Wilson – thought by many to be the fastest player on the team – and Smith, the 2011 Ohio Division I 100 meters champ and a Big Ten track and field medalist this spring.

But the criminology studies major thinks he has a chance to make his mark.

LINK: Student race heats, including Kerry Coombs' run

"I do (think I can win)," Branson said. "I think I have a chance. (Wilson is) very fast, fastest guy on the team, so I know I have to bring it."

Of course, neither Smith nor Wilson appears to be worried as they get ready for the first-ever Ohio State incarnation of the 40-yard dash race.

"Nobody is gonna beat me," Wilson said with a smile after Saturday's practice.

"I'm not worried," Smith added. "I'll do some running, get on the treadmill a little bit, stretch a little bit, get in the hot tub, cold tub a little bit. I'm just going to be ready."

That's not to say Branson didn't catch their eye, though, with his blazing time Saturday afternoon.

"I was real impressed," Wilson said. "My friend right here (Branson), man, I've known him before, and I knew what type of athlete he is. I knew I was going to have some kind of competition."

Smith added, in reference to Branson, "I saw one guy, he can run. I'm just going to be prepared. Dontre and I will be ready. It's all for the fans. We're going to go out there and just have fun, compete, see who wins."

This is the first time the competition has taken place at Ohio State, but Meyer did the same thing at Florida during the spring of 2008, even saying he'd give a scholarship to any student who could beat his fastest player.

The original plan was for Jeff Demps, who would go on to win a silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in the 4x100-meter relay, to run but he was unable to go, leaving the race to Chris Rainey. There was no reason for Meyer to worry, though, as Rainey ran a 4.24 40 to dust the field.

Could the same thing happen at Ohio State? It's hard to tell. Branson said he lowered his track times to below 11 seconds in the 100-meter dash during his prep career, but Wilson ran in the 10.5 range in high school and Smith clocked a 10.74 to win his state title.

So Branson will have some very stiff competition, but he is looking forward for his chance to race next week.

"It's gonna be hectic," Branson said. "There's gonna be anywhere from 70 to 100,000 fans in the Shoe. I'm excited for it, though."

But just in case he thinks his counterparts on the team aren't taking it seriously, Smith said he might even do a track warmup beforehand just to make sure he's ready to go.

"I just might," Smith said. "Actually, I might talk to (track head coach Ed) Beathea and see if I can't get the uniform and come out here with it."

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