Ohio State coach Ryan Day wanted his players engaged for Saturday’s spring game.
One of them took him literally.
Punter Drue Chrisman proposed to girlfriend Avery Eliason at halftime. She accepted and Chrisman’s teammates crowded around them in celebration.
“I couldn’t think of a better place to do it than in Ohio Stadium, with the history behind the stadium,” Chrisman said. “To be able to do that was just a privilege.”
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He said he began the process two weeks ago. He discussed it with Day and athletic director Gene Smith. The school’s compliance office also had to grant permission.
Finding a way to get Eliason on the field without provoking suspicion required some creativity. Former Buckeyes kicker Sean Nuernberger was at the game along with his girlfriend. Chrisman told Eliason that the girlfriends of the kickers would have a kicking competition.
She bought it. She came on the field. Chrisman got into the holder’s position with a football. As she approached, he pulled the ball away and pulled out a ring. Stunned, she immediately accepted, prompting players to rush around the couple.
“Honestly, I think she was more relieved she didn’t have to kick a ball than when she actually got proposed to,” Chrisman said. “It worked out perfectly.”
Chrisman, who’ll be a fourth-year junior in the fall, has dated Eliason for almost a year. She attends Brigham Young University.
“I’ve known her my entire life,” Chrisman said. “She was my neighbor growing up. I finally got out of the friend zone.”
Chrisman said he expects the wedding to happen in about a year.
“Honestly, I’m thinking probably around this time next year when the weather starts getting warmer,” he said.
How about at next year’s spring game?
“Maybe,” Chrisman said with a laugh. “That would be something.”
Safety Jahsen Wint made some of the biggest plays on defense for the Gray team.
Wint intercepted Chris Chugunov and Matthew Baldwin on consecutive series late in the second quarter.
The Gray team included the second-team defense.
When Wint snagged his second interception, of Chugunov, he sprang toward the sideline and leaped in front of Jaelen Gill, a redshirt freshman H-back, to make the catch before falling out of bounds.
Wint also intercepted Baldwin along the sideline when the redshirt freshman lobbed a pass into double coverage.
It was among two of the three interceptions, which were “good for the defense,” Day said.
Wint also made four tackles.
Ohio State honored its 2014 national championship team with several members in attendance, including running back Ezekiel Elliott, defensive end Sam Hubbard and cornerback Eli Apple.
They were among the handful of football alumni on hand. Heisman Trophy-winning running back Eddie George was an honorary captain.
“It’s good, especially for the recruits, just seeing how many NFL guys that Ohio State produces,” quarterback Justin Fields said. “It’s definitely good seeing those guys coming back and supporting. That just tells you how much they love the fan base and love being around here. Them taking the time to support us is great to see.”
Ohio State’s announced attendance for the spring game was 61,102, an increase from last year’s crowd of 47,803.
It was, though, smaller than recent spring games, including in 2016 when a record 100,189 were on hand.
Capacity at Ohio Stadium was limited to 76,000 due to construction in the upper deck above the north end zone.
The school said earlier in the week that more than 63,000 tickets had been sold.
Among the recruits at the spring game was Lejond Cavazos, a four-star defensive back from IMG Academy in Bradenton, Florida.
Cavazos decommitted from Ohio State in December after Urban Meyer announced his retirement as coach. He recommitted Friday.