Bollman Unfazed by Low Numbers on O-Line
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — When the Buckeyes missed on mega-prospect Seantrel Henderson last year on National Signing Day, Jim Bollman had to formulate a backup plan.
Rather than scramble to find another lineman in the class of 2010 to fill Henderson’s spot, Ohio State’s offensive line coach opted to bank the scholarship for 2011.
“I don’t think next year we’re going to have any problem,” Bollman said last February.
“We might have to get one more next year than you expect.”
The Buckeyes quickly sent out offers to four in-state offensive linemen, as well as a handful of out-of-state guys for the class of 2011. By April 3rd, they already had commitments from four of them with the hopes of adding at least one more.
It never happened, and the Buckeyes came up short on the offensive line for the second year in a row when only three linemen signed with Ohio State on National Signing Day.
“We were headed in the number of four or five. We're a little bit short here at the moment,” Bollman said last Wednesday.
“We'll see how things evolve and develop. But that's something that we'll have to see here shortly how things develop.”
Bollman was indirectly speaking about the situation involving Chris Carter, who committed to the Buckeyes but never signed his letter of intent. That’s because the 6-foot-4, 325-pound Cleveland native spent the previous night in jail on allegations of sexual imposition.
Carter has since been released, and may end up being a part of this class if charges are dropped, but it was losing out on another offensive line prospect that really stuck in Bollman’s craw.
“In your guy in general, we’re all competitive guys. That’s why we do this. When you let your emotions get into the deal, because all of us hate to lose,” he said after finding out that Aundrey Walker would sign with USC instead of Ohio State.
“In the long run, when you do this with the philosophy and ideals that coach Tress has for our program, and we all believe in them. When people know those things and they chose to go elsewhere, that’s ok. Just like some of the other guys chose to come here because they wanted to be part of the deal. Why do you not choose to come here? You choose not to be part of the deal. So it happens the way it should happen.”
Even if Carter does sign with the Buckeyes, they will still be dangerously low in numbers on the offensive line after coming short of their goal in each of the past two classes.
“Well, we’re going to have to catch up sooner or later,” Bollman said.
“We’re gonna have to see how things evolve in that situation and work towards what we have to get; however we have to do that. The thing is, and it’s hard to predict that, to try like crazy to make sure the guys you get are good guys.”
That has been Bollman’s recruiting philosophy for quite some time now. Including this year’s haul, the Buckeyes have taken only 17 offensive linemen in the past seven years. That’s an average of just over two per class, which means Bollman is really banking on those 2-3 guys panning out.
“We only have seven guys returning, but they’re seven pretty good guys. So we’ve got to mix and mash,” Bollman said.
“They’ve got to be able to play different positions. If one guy gets a nick, they’ve got to be able to get in there and do this and that. So, then see where some of these guys might be able to jump in the mix.”
Of the seven returning guys, three were starters on the offensive line last season and another (Marcus Hall) had starting experience as a freshman. However, one of them (Mike Adams) is suspended the first five games of the season and another (J.B. Shugarts) has a history of foot problems.
Losing Sam Longo to a transfer along with the departure of seniors Justin Boren, Bryant Browning, Andrew Miller and Connor Smith means some of these freshman might find themselves in the two-deep the moment they step on campus.
“These guys will give us a lot of depth immediately. They're all very strong guys and ahead of the ballgame in that part of their development,” Bollman said.
“There’s no reason some of these guys can’t come in here and jump in and help us too if we need them.”
Brian Bobek is a good looking center prospect out of Palatine, Ill., but the other three will need some time to develop. They might be strong, but there is a lot more to playing in the trenches at this level than power.
Even if Carter, Antonio Underwood and Tommy Brown are able to provide depth, all of them play inside. Bollman said they might eventually be able to move outside the way guys like Rob Sims and Doug Datish did later in their OSU careers, but those guys were pretty good football players.
The Buckeyes already have a tremendous offensive line prospect committed for the class of 2012 in Kyle Kalis. The 6-foot-5, 300-pound tackle out of St. Edwards is joined by Pickerington Central guard Jacoby Boren, younger brother of Justin and Zach.
They have also offered five out-of-state offensive linemen for next year, and every one of them is a tackle. That speaks volumes to where the depth is lacking. It took them less than a day to offer 6-foot-9 Blue Earth (Minn.) offensive tackle Jonah Pirsig after they missed out on Walker.
Ohio State has also offered Vadal Alexander out of Georgia, Jordan Diamond from Chicago, D.J. Humphries out of Charlotte and Richard Webb of Hyattsville, Md. for the class of 2012. They have also shown interest in Kyle Dodson, a 6-6 tackle out of Cleveland Heights, and Taylor Decker, a 6-8 tackle out of Vandalia Butler.
Of course, there’s always the option of looking at Junior College kids as well.
“We’ll see on that deal. This is a little bit too early to go that far in the deal,” Bollman said.
“But it’s a possibility. Something you can always think about, I guess.”
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