WARREN - Change has come to Ohio State's football program during this offseason, and most of it wasn't exactly welcomed by the Buckeyes.
Coach Jim Tressel resigned on Memorial Day and quarterback Terrelle Pryor announced a week later that he would not return for his senior season.
Even after those bombshells, the Buckeyes are still very much in a state of flux as almost daily revelations about possible NCAA violations pile up. A date with the NCAA awaits Ohio State in August, when the university should learn the extent of impending sanctions.
Tribune Chronicle / Ed Puskas
Daniel “Boom” Herron talks Monday after the conclusion of drills at the 16th annual Nick Frankos Mims-Manoa Football Camp at Mollenkopf Stadium in Warren.
But Buckeyes tailback Daniel "Boom" Herron - a Warren G. Harding High School graduate and one of the players involved in what became known as "Tattoo-gate" - said Monday he and his teammates will approach the 2011 season the way Ohio State always did in Tressel's 10 seasons in Columbus.
"I still have the same mindset I had right after the bowl game - just come back, work hard and try to win a national championship," Herron said. "We still have a great coaching staff. Losing coach Tressel is a big thing, but I think we can can all pull together and do this."
Herron was back home Monday and joined former Harding teammate Sidney Glover - a former West Virginia safety - at the 16th annual Nick Frankos Mims-Manoa Football Camp at Mollenkopf Stadium.
"I came home for a couple days to see my family and friends and my old teammate Sidney Glover called me and said we should come to the camp," Herron said. "We wanted to come back and support the kids."
Ohio State was a perennial title contender, playing in three BCS championship games - and winning one - under Tressel's guidance, but now the program's future seems cloudy as the Buckeyes move forward with interim coach Luke Fickell in charge.
Fickell, a former Buckeyes defensive lineman, faces the challenge of leading Ohio State out of the storm of the last few months and through whatever future penalties are on the way, and he'll have to do so without Pryor, who hired agent Drew Rosenhaus on Monday and is pursuing an NFL career.
Herron likes what he has seen of Fickell since the 10-year Ohio State assistant took over.
"He's doing his best to keep us going," Herron said. "I think he's doing a great job. He's going to be a great coach for us."
Fickell and the Buckeyes also will be without Herron, who rushed for 1,155 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior in 2010. The former Harding star was one of five Ohio State players who were suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for accepting cash and tattoos in exchange for memorabilia.
It was a difficult life lesson for Herron, who had established himself as a fan favorite in Columbus thanks to his hard-running style.
"You get better from it," Herron said of his approach to dealing with the suspension to come in his senior season. "You live and learn from the mistakes you make when you're a younger child. No one is perfect in this world. I've learned from the mistakes I've made. Those five weeks I'll be out, I'll just be getting better and trying to lead my team the best way I can, on and off the field. That's all I can do."
Herron said he supports Tressel, who was 106-22 at Ohio State, but eventually resigned after wave upon wave of bad publicity and media attention put the football program in a negative light.
"Coach Tressel is still a great person to me. He's been a great person to me," Herron said. "I still love him and I still respect him. Nothing has changed the way I think of the great man he is. He's still a great man to me. He's been a mentor to me and he's done great things for me. I still support him and I'll still back him in everything he does."
Pryor, like Herron, had promised to return for his senior season with the Buckeyes. But after Tressel resigned, Ohio State and the NCAA announced a new investigation into Pryor's use of vehicles from a Columbus automobile dealership. Later, a former friend told ESPN that Pryor had accepted payments for signing memorabilia for a freelance photographer.
Those probes, as well as a growing sentiment that Pryor was the face of the Ohio State scandal, led the quarterback to decide to end his career with the Buckeyes. Some teammates even seemed to turn against him after Tressel's stunning resignation.
Herron, however, calls Pryor a "great teammate."
"I wasn't really sure what would happen," he said. "But what happened, happened. He's still a great teammate to me and I wish him the best."
Now, Herron says, it's time to prepare for the season to come.
"We're pretty much focused on what we have to do to get ready," he said. "The NCAA is going to do what the NCAA is going to do. There's nothing we can do about that. We just have to take it one day at a time. We're going to try to win a Big Ten championship and a national championship."