Patience is Virtue, and Sometimes a Little Tough to Come By
By Tony Gerdeman
Patience is a virtue.
But for a football player, patience is a hard road to travel. When a team has 85 scholarships to give out, and only 24 or so starting spots to fill, simple math will tell you that the majority of the team is going to be watching from the sidelines.
That’s not always easy at a place like Ohio State, where nearly every recruit coming in was the star on their high school team for years.
To put it another way, the kids who come to Ohio State haven’t had to sit in years, and there’s quite an adjustment period when they finally get to Columbus and see first-hand what awaits them.
“Actually, it’s weird because I didn’t really know much about Ohio State,” recalls Brian Rolle. “I remember when I first got here, I was like, ‘I don’t remember a James Laurinaitis or a Marcus (Freeman)’. I didn’t really know. So getting here was kind of like a shock for me.”
Not only is there the normal high school-to-college bit of adjustment, but there’s also the cold hard truth that there are people on the team better than they are.
That’s when the reality of the situation can either drive a player to work harder, or drive a player to become disengaged with the opportunity at hand.
“I tell the guys to just be patient,” explained Rolle, who was a special teams player his first two years at Ohio State.
“That’s something that I had to do. Guys come out of high school rated high. They expect to come in and just jump into a role and play. But as I learned playing behind Laurinaitis and Freeman, when you wait your turn in a program like this, in a couple of years, everybody will know your name, because that’s just how it is here. But you have to wait and then do the small things right. Everybody wants to just jump in and play, but it takes so much work to get there.”
It takes a special type to accept the fact that their time may eventually come, but definitely not for at least another year or so. Some players can only focus on how much they want to play, rather than what they actually have to do to get on the field. Redshirt freshman linebacker Dorian Bell was in that situation a bit last season.
“Dorian Bell, he’s a guy that’s taking it in now,” said Rolle. “He told me ‘I’m going to play this year’. I said I hope so, because he’s a guy that wants to be on the field, but you have to do the small things, and that’s how you get on the field.”
Rolle at least got to play his first year. Bell had to redshirt. But redshirting doesn’t always have to carry the connotation of a sentence being handed down, claims Boom Herron.
“If I could go back, I would definitely still redshirt. All the younger guys that redshirt, I tell them that they may be upset right now, but in the long run you’ll look back and say that I’m glad I redshirted. You learn so much when you redshirt--watching the older guys. I think it’s a good deal.”
Herron’s experience with sitting out his freshman season allowed him to give words of encouragement to fellow running back Jaamal Berry, who came in last season highly-acclaimed, but through off the field issues and injuries was forced to redshirt.
The year off was a good one for Berry, who handled the situation as best he could--no doubt thanks in part to Boom Herron being there alongside him imparting words of wisdom from somebody who had also dealt with a redshirt season and injuries.
“I think he honestly handled it very well,” said Herron. “He did have a lot of injuries. That is definitely frustrating, going through injuries when you want to play. I went through it the last two years. That’s something that you really don’t want to go through. I think he did a good job. I definitely tried to help him out with it, because I’ve been there before. I tried to keep him up. He’s out here now, he’s working hard. I think he’s excited to be out here for spring.”
Teenagers have a tendency to think that they are the only ones who have ever gone through whatever particular catastrophe they happen to be going through at that moment. And teenaged football players aren’t much different. The smart ones quickly realize that they’re not in Kansas anymore and it’s going to take more than a couple clicks of their cleats to see the field like they’re used to.
Brian Rolle explains that in order to get into the game, time spent off the field is just as valuable as the time spent on the field
“After being here for a year or two, and knowing that it’s going to take time to work--you know in high school, you’re the best guy here and you’re going to play all four years--but here, they teach you the value of working hard and doing small things in the film room, in the classroom and the field.”
Ah, doing the small things--which always seem to be the most important “things” to do in order to make your mark. And even then, chances are there will still be somebody ahead of you doing those small things longer and better than you.
And that brings us back to patience. Not only does it take a proper mentality to wait your turn, it also takes the right mindset to take advantage of an opportunity when it finally comes your way.
And then there can be no looking back.
“I tell guys being a two-year starter is great for me,” explained Rolle. “Coming here and being a four-year starter, that would be great. But God gave me two years, I’m going to make the best of those.”
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