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April 5, 2013

Buckeyes utilizing Dynavision machine

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -- When the 2012 season came to a close, Ohio State cornerbacks coach Kerry Coombs knew that Doran Grant needed to improve his hand-eye coordination. So he turned to his Cincinnati roots and Buckeyes strength and conditioning coach Mickey Marotti.

With both coaches having a history at the University of Cincinnati, they each were familiar with the Dynavision machine that the Bearcats baseball program uses to improve its players' reaction times. The device is a large board with dozens of square bulbs that randomly light up and don't dim until its user hits them with his hand, prompting another random bulb to become the target.

The Dynavision machine has been used by Air Force jet fighter pilots for training, as well as NBA All-Star Tim Duncan, who holds the machine's all-time record with 132 lights hit in one minute.

Upon Grant's first use of the machine, Coombs' assessment proved to be correct. The junior-to-be scored just a 60- one of the lower postings on the team. Hard work and practice seem to have paid off for the Akron native, as he now holds the Buckeyes' high score with a 108.

Grant said that the Dynavision machine has not only been good for his bragging rights, but his on-field play as well.

"It's showing up on my breaks, me seeing plays better, my overall vision on the field," Grant said. "I can make more plays and do certain things that I can see."

For a program that thrives so much on intrasquad competition, the Dynavision is a natural fit. On any given day inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, you can find multiple Buckeyes lined up around the machine, encouraging each other, while also trying to top each others' scores.

On Thursday, it was wide receiver Chris Fields going at it with Grant, with the latter ultimately winning thanks to a score of 101 that topped Fields' 100.

"It's good 'cause it's competitive. It's kind of like a video game," Marotti said. "They're into it and they want to see who can get the highest score. They're fighting back in that back room to get the highest score. The object is obviously to decrease reaction time from the time they see a light sensor to they hit it. The theory is when you see a ball, the awareness of what's going on around them, they can speed that up a little bit."

According to Marotti, the device is especially useful for skill position players, such as wide receivers, defensive backs, and quarterbacks. Coombs said that each of his unit's meetings starts with a go-round with the Dynavision, which helps amp up the competitive spirit in the cornerbacks room.

"There's no downside to kids doing that kind of stuff on their own," Coombs said. "We train so hard. We train your body physically. We train your, frankly, your soul with ethical conduct and character. We train your heart with toughness and those kind of things. Why not train your eyes and your mind and try to close some of those synapses that are going on in your brain?"

The Buckeyes have only had the machine for a couple of weeks now, but it appears to be paying dividends. Like Grant, Fields mentioned that it has been helpful to his play as Ohio State enters its final week of spring practice.

"My skill position as a receiver, I've got to react fast. I gotta move fast, move quick" Fields said. "I feel like that's been beneficial."



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