April 9, 2010

Small things lead to big rewards

The transition from high school to college is dramatic for any 17 or 18 year old but the curve may be that much more drastic for a college athlete who goes from being the big show in town to another number within a program.

For every Terrelle Pryor that comes in and plays a freshman or even a Zach Boren there are multiple players on the Ohio State football team who see a limited role that first year if not a redshirt season.

14 members of the 2009 Ohio State recruiting class took a redshirt year last season and while several players came in knowing that they likely would be on the five year plan there are always several who have a hard time not being able to jump right into the mix.

Both of Ohio State's 5-star recruits ended up with a redshirt last season and by all accounts it was very difficult for linebacker Dorian Bell a player who dominated at the high school level. Many pundits expected Bell to be right in the mix from day one for time in the two deep but the Buckeyes have been so stacked through the years at the linebacker position it should have come as no surprise that the path to the field would be crowded.

"They come from high school where they are Mr. Everything and come into a big program like this," linebacker Ross Homan said. "You need to sit them down and tell them to keep working and don't get frustrated and it will come to you."

The path to the field won't be much less crowded this year with Homan, Brian Rolle and Etienne Sabino as the front runners for the starting spots with Andrew Sweat sitting in the catbird seat for the fourth position. The Buckeyes will roll more than four backers in 2010 but the coaching staff and senior leaders will also have to keep the pressure on the next wave of linebacking greats.

"I try and tell them it is not about where you start but where you finish," Ohio State linebacker coach Luke Fickell said. "That is hard for young guys and hard for guys in that recruiting process and it is hard for freshmen when they get here. I talk about it from the get-go when we start camp, it is not about where you start but where you finish."

Rolle knows a thing or two about having to wait their turn.

"I told the guys just to be patient and that was something that I had to do," Rolle said. The guys come out of high school rated high and they expect just to come in and just jump into a role and play. But as I learned playing behind (James) Laurinaitis and (Marcus) Freeman that you wait your turn in a program like this and in a couple of years everyone will know your name."

And Rolle's path to the field is more of the norm rather than the exception and the younger guys will always benefit once they are able to buy into that fact and continue to work at getting all of the details taken care of and develop their game day to day.

"You have to be consistent," Fickell added. "That is the biggest thing about this program from the head coach down is consistency to communicate with them and make sure they understand what you are talking about and as a young guy that might go in one ear and out the other but after they hear it seven, eight, nine times hopefully it sinks in."

Players like Bell and other young guys are taking notice but still are dreaming about getting more playing time when the Buckeyes open up the 2010 campaign.

"That is just how it is here but you have to wait and do the small things right," Rolle said. "Everyone wants to jump in and play but it takes so much more to get there. Dorian Bell is just taking that in now and (Friday) he told that he was going to play this year and I hope so because he is a guy that wants to be on the field but you have to do the small things and that is how you get on the field."

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