They came to Ohio Stadium on Thursday wearing suits and ties instead of jerseys and helmets. They carried résumés and briefcases, not footballs.

They came to Ohio Stadium on Thursday wearing suits and ties instead of jerseys and helmets. They carried résumés and briefcases, not footballs.

In the same stadium where Buckeyes football players seek victories and glory on fall Saturdays, they came hoping to make connections and impressions that will help them when their football careers end, whether it's after their senior season or after an NFL career.

Under coach Urban Meyer, players must show a greater degree of commitment to the game. The same goes for life after football. He has established a program called Real Life Wednesdays to help them prepare for their post-playing career.

Business leaders such as Limited Brands CEO and chairman Les Wexner have spoken to the team. So have former players such as Mike Doss, Jeff Logan and Dee Miller. Thursday was the culmination of the program. Fifty-seven companies set up shop in the Huntington Club at the stadium for a job fair specifically for Ohio State athletes, beginning with the football team.

"What are you going to do when all the cheering stops and you stop being an Ohio State football player?" said safety Christian Bryant, who will be a senior in the fall. "This is the time to network with companies and businesses to get our names and faces out there and to give them our résumés."

Meyer started a scaled-down version of the program late in his tenure at Florida. The idea started days after the Gators won their second national championship in January 2009.

"We were sitting around the staff room," Meyer said, "and one of my coaches said, 'You know what, Coach: We work so hard to get these guys degrees. When we were young, a degree meant a job. Those days are over. A degree doesn't mean a job. So what can we do for these players?' That's when I started thinking, and that's when I came up with this."

Ryan Stamper played on that championship Florida team. A two-time captain, he became one of Meyer's favorite players. Last summer, Meyer hired Stamper, who had been working as a policeman in Florida. As coordinator of player development, his job is to help players plan for their lives after football.

"We have our players sit down and think of the top four things they want to do when they're done with football," Stamper said. "They have the list with them when they're here."

In some ways, athletes are at a disadvantage when it comes to preparing for a nonplaying career. Their dedication to sports usually requires more than the 20 hours per week the NCAA allows schools to mandate, so they have to do it on their own time. They cannot hold jobs in-season.

Yet while athletic ability isn't transferrable to the nonsports world, the acceptance of sacrifice and sense of teamwork ingrained in athletes can serve them well in business. The cachet of having played for Ohio State can help, as well.

"What I try to tell our student-athletes is yes, you can help (a business) because you have a competitive spirit a lot of other people haven't had," Stamper said. "As a football player, you have to work under pressure. You can work under extreme pressure and get the job done."

The Real Life Wednesdays program, including a job fair, is almost unprecedented. Troy Vincent, a longtime NFL player who served as the head of the players union, represented the NFL on Thursday in his job as the league's senior vice president of player engagement. He said he knows of only two other colleges, both in the Ivy League, with similar programs.

"I think this is a game-changer," he said. "Exposure to the real world, there's no better teacher. You can't read it in a book."

Doss, a leader on OSU's 2002 national championship team, understands how difficult the adjustment to life after football can be.

"A lot of players get lost in that transition," said Doss, now a sales consultant for DePuy, which sells orthopedic implants. "It's hard for them to walk away from the game or find themselves outside the game. Events like this help open their eyes and give different exposure and a chance to see life outside of football."

Meyer tells his players that they should strive to earn four job offers by the time they graduate.

"Our coaches stress that it's 3 to 6 percent maximum of the guys in the room who are going to the NFL, and of those guys, there aren't very many who are going to make it 14 years in the NFL," defensive lineman Michael Bennett said. "It's essential to have a Plan B and a Plan C and a Plan D just in case stuff doesn't work out."

Backup quarterback Kenny Guiton is interning at Merrill Lynch this summer. He would like to become a financial planner.

"The NFL is a big dream," Guiton said. "That's what everybody came here for. That's your goal, and that still is my goal. But reality starts to set in, and I know I need these opportunities that I'm getting today in case my dream doesn't work out. It only works out for a few people playing in college."

It's Meyer's goal to make sure they understand that.

"I told them there are some game-changing moments in their career - when you get recruited and sign a scholarship, when you start your first game, when you graduate and when you come to a job fair," he said. "I'm hoping there might be a handful of guys (who find out) this is where they'll work for the next 35 years of their life."