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Arden steps up at Big 33

HERSHEY, Pa.

Saturday, July 21, 2001

HERSHEY, Pa. – It’s phase three of Redgie Arden’s preparation plan for Ohio State.

The first phase has been in place for years, namely his training program. Phase two came at the North/South All-Star Classic three weeks ago.

Phase three comes Saturday night when Arden plays for the Ohio All-Stars against Pennsylvania in the Big 33 Classic.

"The one major thing you have to adjust to is the speed. The North/South was faster than high school, and the Big 33 will be faster than the North/South. The Big 33 won’t duplicate college, but at least I’m taking some steps toward college because I’m getting to play against guys who are going to major universities and I get to see what it’s going to be like," Arden said.

Arden, who will wear No. 57 at Ohio State but No. 80 in the Big 33 Game, said he will be starting at linebacker along with Marysville’s Chase Blackburn. Arden wanted No. 84 but he said no one got the number they requested.

"I’m wearing No. 80 because I might have to back up the tight end if he gets hurt," said Arden.

But the jersey numbers aren’t of any real concern. The Ohio All-Stars defense must focus on stopping quarterback Cecil Howard and running back Kevin Jones who was Pennsylvania’s Mr. Football.

"I think we’re ready. We have to stop their quarterback. He runs the option pretty well. He’s going to Syracuse and he’s been compared to (ex-Syracuse star Donovan) McNabb. If we can stop him and Jones, we’ve got a pretty good chance to win. The big thing is how our defense handles the option," Arden said.

‘But this is the best of both (the North and South teams), so it’s a lot better. But I’ve been playing with them."

Ohio got its first look at Jones Thursday night on an outing at a local amusement park. Arden said Jones was one of the main players "talking trash" to the Ohio team.

"There was almost some fights in the park tonight because of that," Arden said.

Arden nearly came to blows in practice during the week. Although there hasn’t been a lot of hitting, Arden managed to get his licks.

"I’ve had some pretty hard hits. I hit (running back) Maurice Hall pretty hard and he got mad and we had some words, but it’s okay now," Arden said.

Although the hitting has been cut back, Arden said workouts have been more difficult than the North/South Game. He said part of the reason was the talent level.

"We’re going twice a day, but it’s pretty fun. We had one day of three-a-days. It was a long day," Arden said.

Long days and hard work are nothing to Arden. In fact, he has been disappointed that he hasn’t been able to lift weights. He reports to Ohio State on Aug. 14.

"I’ve got some work to do when I get home. I’ll be working out until I get home. This is my vacation, pretty much," Arden said.

Arden was staying at the home of Kim and Marti Etzel, the same couple who hosted Ironton’s Michael Henry two years ago.