June 30, 2012

Linsley finds home as center of attention

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Follow Noon | Givler | Axelrod | Birmingham

Ever since he arrived at Ohio State in 2009, Corey Linsley has just been trying to fit in. And now that Urban Meyer has taken the reins in Columbus, Linsley may have finally accomplished that goal.

Now a fourth-year junior who has spent the majority of his time in college playing guard, the Youngstown, Ohio native has taken control of the offensive line's center position, and doesn't appear to be giving it up any time soon.

"I feel like I found a home at center, definitely," Linsley said. "(Former OSU offensive line coach Jim Bollman) told me that was my position and where I belonged and that is what I have always believed."

Although center may have always been his natural position, he's yet to have had the chance to play it at Ohio State. Arriving a season after four-year starter Michael Brewster took ahold of the Buckeyes' center spot, Linsley didn't have much of a choice but to find other ways to contribute during his first three seasons in Columbus.

In 2009, Linsley took a redshirt to give him an extra year of separation from the elder Brewster. In 2010, he worked his way up the depth chart at guard, but failed to see consistent playing time with seniors Justin Boren and Bryant Browning entrenched in the starting line-up.

With Boren and Browning's graduations, and a five-game suspension to tackle Mike Adams causing a reshuffling on the offensive line, 2011 appeared to the first season in which Linsley would see significant playing time for the Buckeyes. His chances at earning a starting spot, however, took a hit when he was suspended for the first two games of the 2011 season due to a violation of team rules.

Upon returning, Linsley proved to be one of the Buckeyes more consistent linemen, even if his playing time came on a unit that was inconsistent and constantly changing due to injuries and suspensions. The 6-foot-2, 302 pound center insists that he's a completely different person- both on and off the field- than he was a year ago.

"I have gotten a lot tougher and my work ethic is back in gear and I also feel like I have got a lot of tangibles better, my feet are quicker, I am stronger, more athletic, faster," Linsley said. "But the things that matter to me most is that I have gotten back to the values (that my high school coach) he instilled in me, working hard and being tough and I really feel that through our strength staff is what my personal thing is that I have gotten best at."

A lot of Linsley's transformation- if not all of it- could be credited the arrival of Meyer as the Buckeyes' new head coach last November. During his meetings with the media throughout the spring, Meyer consistently praised Linsley as one of the Buckeyes most impressive players, both on the field and in the weight room.

"It is always nice to hear the stuff in the media but what he tells me behind closed doors, it is just motivation," Linsley said. "He is just telling me every day that I have to got better and I know with our strength staff and with (offensive line) coach (Ed) Warinner that I am going to be the best that I can be and get to my potential."

From suspended a year ago to now a leader on a team desperate for some, Linsley is not only confident that he'll have a breakout season playing the position that suits him best, but that the offensive line will no longer be viewed as one of the weak links on the OSU roster.

"We have come a long way from where we were last year," Linsley said. Every single one of us as individuals, as players, we have come a long way and got a lot better but we can't be satisfied with where we are. We can't be complacent, I think a big key to it is having fun with it. You can't hate your job and expect to get better."


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