August 9, 2011

Sabino is ready to just play

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COLUMBUS, Ohio - No football player enters college football looking to redshirt at any point of their career, especially right in the middle of it. Linebacker Etienne Sabino didn't have much of a say when it came to that and spent the 2010 season as an observer rather than a player, an unenviable position for a former four star prospect to be in.

Instead of letting the decision push him further out of the mix however the redshirt junior used the year to better himself and now is in a position to play a major factor for the Buckeyes, a team that has to replace a pair of linebackers from the 2010 season.

"It was very hard for me last year but last year is over with and now I am looking forward to this year," Sabino said after practice on Tuesday afternoon. "I am very excited."

Observers have been waiting for Sabino to finally "turn the corner" and get onto the field but that has not been the case with a crowded depth chart in front of him in conjunction with one of the more complex defensive schemes around.

The Ohio State coaches have always been in favor of flexibility when it comes to the linebacker positions and the ability to step into any of the three spots in a pinch. That doesn't help however when a player is struggling to find a position to call 'his own' and have a stepping off point when it comes to the schemes.

"I definitely have a better grasp of the defense," Sabino added. "Maybe I might have played a little slower earlier in my career because I really didn't understand completely what I was doing, jumping around from different positions may have slowed me down a little bit."

Now Sabino is in the mix during practice with Andrew Sweat and Storm Klein running with the first team but the competition is fierce behind him with several young guys feeling that they have paid their dues as well and wanting to get onto the field and make a name for themselves.

"I learned to take nothing for granted," Sabino said of his experience. "Basically I just need to get better every day and that is all that I need to worry about. You have to pay your dues and learn your role and now I feel that I am ready to play and contribute."

It would have been easy for a player to get lost in the shuffle and disconnect with his team after feeling like they had lost their opportunity but Sabino gives a lot of credit to his teammates for not singling him out and instead offering a lot of support during this additional developmental year.

"The guys on the team really helped me get through everything," Sabino said. "I always felt like I was part of the family."

And now Sabino has a new coach to work with after the addition of Mike Vrabel to the staff and junior linebacker knows that Vrabel will only add that much more to the team and more specifically to the linebackers.

"He brings a lot, he brings experience," Sabino said. "He played last year in the NFL. He demands a lot out of you but he is a player's coach and he is going to get on you when you are doing (poorly) but he will help you when you are doing (well). He is not going to let you get complacent and I think that is what we all need."

Don't expect Sabino to get complacent or take anything for granted at any point moving forward after this delay in his path to the field.


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