Buckeyes Bolstering O-Line with Preferred Walk-Ons
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It may not be the long-term answer fans were looking for, but Ohio State seems to have found a short-term fix to their numbers problem on the offensive line.
After coming up short in each of their last two recruiting classes, the Buckeyes are hoping they can find a diamond in the rough in a preferred walk-on.
A number of recruiting sites reported Thursday that 2011 offensive tackle Graham Glasgow had accepted on offer to enroll at Ohio State as a preferred walk-on this fall. The 6-foot-7, 300-pound lineman out of Aurora, Ill. is extremely raw, but also a gifted athlete who considered himself a basketball prospect until his senior season at Marmion Academy.
According to his Rivals.com profile, he had not been offered any scholarships, but had visited Minnesota back in January. He was also hearing from Wisconsin, Michigan State and Michigan about a preferred walk-on option.
The fact four other Big Ten schools—including the other two 2010 co-champions—were interested in bringing him in is a good sign for the Buckeyes, who have had some success in the past with preferred walk-ons on the offensive line.
“Every year since we’ve been here there’s been a guy who came here as a walk-on who was kind of a major piece to the puzzle,” said OSU Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman, who coaches the offensive line for Jim Tressel.
“Scott Sika being the guy last year.”
A preferred walk-on out of Strongsville, Sika never started a game for the Buckeyes in his five seasons at Ohio State. He did, however, work his way into the two-deep as a junior in 2009, and became a dependable backup to All-American Michael Brewster at the center position.
Sika played in a number of games with the second-team offensive line last season, but the Buckeyes have had other walk-ons who enjoyed even larger roles for the team during Tressel’s tenure in Columbus.
“Before that was Andrew Moses and Michael Knee,” Bollman said.
“And on and on.”
Moses was an all-state performer out of Bishop Watterson, who spent most of his career as a backup on the offensive line. Along with being Academic All-Big Ten, Moses moved in to the two-deep at center as a redshirt sophomore and even started a game at left guard as a senior in 2009 when Justin Boren missed the New Mexico State game with a foot injury.
And of course, who could forget the most famous walk-on to play for Tressel on the offensive line.
“Michael Stafford started four games here in 2002 and wasn’t good enough to start in high school,” Bollman said of the Upper Arlington product.
Stafford gained notoriety as the pulling left guard for the Buckeyes during much of their 2002 run to the BCS National Championship. Ohio State brought in another walk-on guard this off-season when Ivan Blackman transferred from Robert Morris University.
“He transferred in. We’ll see how he does this spring,” Bollman said of the redshirt freshman out of Bedford.
“He’s an excellent student, he’s tough guy. So now it will be time for him to start learning something in a little more serious manner.”
Blackman could get on-the-job training this spring as a member of the two-deep on the offensive line. The Buckeyes return only seven scholarship linemen from last year’s team, and won’t have their three new signees until the summer.
When they do arrive, the Buckeyes will likely be counting on them to step in and contribute right away, at least in practice. It’s unlikely that Blackman or Glasgow will see any playing time this year, but it doesn’t cost Ohio State much to give them a shot.
“So could Ivan be one of those guys,” Bollman asked.
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