Eras End and Begin for Seven OSU-Bound Players in Big 33
By John Porentas
The time between endings and beginnings will be very short for seven football players who participated in the Big 33 football game last night.
The Ohio All Stars ended a three-year losing streak with a 38-31 win over the Pennsylvania squad. The winning Buckeye-state team featured seven players who will now move on to play college football at Ohio State. The win over Pennsylvania was sweet, but the seven will have little time to savor it before embarking on their OSU careers.
"Tonight we drive back, get a few hours of sleep, then head down to Columbus and enroll," said defensive lineman Corey Linsley of his personal plans after the game.
Each of the seven told the same story. They were all very happy with the win and all very anxious to get to Columbus. To a man, the plan was to be on the OSU campus within 15 hours of the finish of the game in Pennsylvania.
"We're driving through the night to get there," said offensive lineman Sam Longo.
As anxious as the were to get on with their college careers, all seven understood, or at least had grown to understand, the importance of bringing down the curtain on their high school careers with a win in the Big 33. Ohio had not won in that game in three years, a fact that was impressed upon all the members of the team this week.
"They fed us some history about the Big 33 and how important this is and how we've been a little bit of a losing streak," said defensive lineman Adam Bellamy.
"As the week went on we had a little bickering in the papers toward each other.
"The Pennsylvania side was saying a couple of bad things about us and it kind of got on our nerves. We kind of kicked it up a notch. We represent Ohio and what a great football state that is. We showed what we've got and what kind of guys come from Ohio."
"Losing the last three years, we had to bring the trophy back home. It's a big honor to bring that trophy back to Ohio by winning this game," added defensive end Jonathan Newsome.
The Ohio State contingent in the game included just on skill player, wide receiver Chris Fields, and six linemen. Two of the linemen were offensive players and four played on the defensive side of the line of scrimmage. Offensive linemen Sam Longo and Marcus Hall started at left and right tackles respectively for Ohio. Defensively, Jonathan Newsome and Melvin Fellows played at the defensive end spots while Corey Linsley and Adam Bellamy both played on the interior defensive line.
The game played out as a close, see-saw affair that was marked by big plays and turnovers. Bellamy was involved in a huge sequence when he recovered a Pennsylvania fumble inside the Ohio one-yard line to frustrate a Pennsylvania drive. On the very next play Ohio scored on a game-record 99 yard, 11-inch pass play to turn around the momentum of the game.
The Ohio squad held a two touchdown lead as the fourth quarter began, but a turnover led to a quick Pennsylvania touchdown. Another Pa. TD tied the score with under two minutes to play, but the Ohio offense, led by Miami of Ohio bound quarterback Austin Bouche, staged a late 80 yard drive to score the winning touchdown with less than 20 seconds remaining in the game.
How the future Buckeyes fared:
The Ohio defense played a five-man front most the game, and all four OSU bound defensive linemen were on the field together a good deal of the time. At times that defensive line was dominant, completely bottling up the Pennsylvania offense. They were particularly effective at rushing the passer. Pennsylvania's offense was to a large extent provided by scrambling and improvising by quarterback Curtis Drake. The 170 pounder headed to Penn State to play wide receiver was able to use his feet to scramble out of trouble, but the Ohio defensive line was able to pressure the Pennsylvania quarterbacks. Ohio offensive lineman Sam Longo, who practiced against the Ohio defense all week, said the quality of their play was far superior to the quality of the defensive line play he came up against in the game against Pennsylvania.
"Compared to those guys, and I'm not trying to rip on them, but it was a piece of cake tonight," said Longo.
"The speed they had coming off the edge, I'm looking forward to seeing what we have the next couple of years," Longo said.
Defensive ends Melvin Fellows and Newsome were very effective pass rushers while Linsley and Bellamy provided tough, hard-nosed play on the interior. Linsley is extremely strong while Bellamy is both big and quick.
"I'm quick and everything like that but I bench 475 pounds. Not a lot of people are going to move me. If I get locked out I've got you," said Linsley.
"This week I weighed around 303 because they've been feeding us real good," said Bellamy.
"I dropped a couple of pounds so I'm back down to 295, what I came in at. They measured me at 6-5 and three quarters.
"I prefer the nose, a three-technique kind of guy but I played more five-technique out here this week. I felt like I had the ability to do that and found myself clogging some stuff up on the bottom of some piles."
Newsome was very aggressive with his pass rush and extremely fast. His size however may be a liability to him in college as a defensive end, but he has the speed to be able to play linebacker if it turns out that size is factor for him at the college level. He is 6-3, 225 pounds and told us he consistently runs the 40 in the 4.58 to 4.6 range, plenty fast for a college linebacker.
On the offensive side of the ball, Longo and Hall both played well, but we were particularly impressed with Longo. He played extremely well in space and seemed to have the knack of staying in front of his man at all times in pass protection. The OSU coaching staff is looking at him as one of those players who can play tackle, guard or center.
"I like playing on the outside, playing tackle. I like the open space but I'm willing to play wherever I can the quickest," said Longo.
"I like being on my own, having the edge and being the important guy on the o-line."
Longo was tabbed as the left tackle on the Ohio squad and performed well. Though the Ohio team did not run the football much, on the game winning drive they ran to Longo's side when they got down to the red zone. The running plays were effective and set up the game winnings score.
Hall also performed well but at times looked like his foot speed could be better. He agreed.
"I gained a little weight so I weighed in at 320. I know a lot of that is going to come off me. I think I'll end up playing at about 305," said Hall.
Hall said that practicing this week against the Ohio defensive line helped him to elevate his game.
"Going this week against all those good pass rushers helped my pass protection a lot. I usually like to run block a lot but I think my pass protection improved a lot this week going against guys like Jonathan Newsome and Melvin Fellows. It was good competition.
"It was definitively a high level. They play intense. I'm used to guys taking one or two plays off now and then but those guys play intense every play. It really pushed my game to another level."
Wide receiver Chris Fields was used mostly on bubble screens and on short routes. He did not score in the game but was satisfied with his role.
"They wanted me to catch the ball and if I break away I break away. My whole goal was to catch the ball," he said. "It's a team game and getting the win is the big thing. I'm glad I could help out the way I did."