Most Important Buckeyes: No. 4
By Patrick Maks
COLUMBUS — For the first time in the last 49 games, the guy snapping the ball for the Buckeyes won’t have “Brewster” on the back of his jersey.
Photo by Jim Davidson
After the loss of former All-American Ohio State center Michael Brewster, who started all but two games during his four years in Columbus, junior center Corey Linsley faces a challenge of filling his predecessor’s shoes.
For Linsley, whose career seemed to be on the verge of derailment this time last year, such a tall order couldn’t be at a better time in the progression of the Youngstown, Ohio, native.
That, and Linsley’s turnaround under first-year coach Urban Meyer, makes him an obvious choice for the No. 4 spot on our countdown of the Buckeyes Top 20 Players for the 2012 season.
What Makes Him Important?
Arguably, if it weren’t in part for Linsley, the offensive line wouldn’t be what it is today. That turnaround, while painstakingly obvious, is massive in the progression of Meyer’s renovation of the Buckeyes’ offense since coming to OSU last November.
Part of Linsley’s importance to OSU is based largely on his role for OSU. As the center, Linsley is the quarterback of the men in the trenches. As such, he’s thrown into a leadership role in Meyer’s offense. His competence in doing so, however, remains to be seen in a game situation though Meyer, assistant coaches and teammates have praised Linsley since spring ball on his maturation of a football player both on and off the field.
What Can Be Expected of Him?
It can’t be over-emphasized how critical Linsley is to Meyer’s offense so Linsley should rightfully be expected to do what’s always been asked of centers at Ohio State. The plan never changes.
The thing about offensive lineman, though, is that often times, it seems like the only time people notice them is when they’re called for a penalty, jump off-sides or blatantly miss a blocking assignment. It’s arguably one of the most thankless jobs not only in football, but also in all of sports.
So if Linsley’s name isn’t being talked about, that’s not always necessarily a bad thing.
It needs to be noted, however, that no matter what circumstances the 6-2, 292-pounder faces, he’s going to be compared—at least for this year—to Brewster and the job he did under center since he took over the job three games into the 2008 season.
Linsley shouldn’t—and likely won’t—worry about what fans and reporters say about him. But, fair or not, he will be expected to live up to the level of play that Brewster demonstrated during his years at OSU.
What Would the Buckeyes Do Without Him?
Well, it’s funny considering that the Buckeyes really almost had to do without Linsley.
Without him, it might be fair to think that the offensive line wouldn’t have made the turnaround it did. It’s reasonable, though, also to assume that without Linsley, Meyer would be left with little options at playing another center considering Linsley’s backup is freshman Jacoby Boren.
While Linsley’s impact on Ohio State will certainly be felt in tangible ways on the field, it’s also possible that the center’s greatest value to the team is his budding leadership qualities. It’s entire possible; maybe even likely, that he will find himself as a captain this time next season.
It almost seems like that’s the way the story’s supposed to end for him.
A nice start in 2012 couldn’t hurt.
Most Important: No. 5 Carlos Hyde
Most Important: No. 6 Jack Mewhort
Most Important: No. 7 Ryan Shazier
Most Important: No. 8 Curtis Grant
Most Important: No. 9 Jake Stoneburner
Most Important: No. 10 Bradley Roby
Most Important: No. 11 Zach Boren
Most Important: No. 12 C.J. Barnett
Most Important: No. 13 Devin Smith
Most Important: No. 14 Corey Brown
Most Important: No. 15 Jordan Hall
Most Important: No. 16 Christian Bryant
Most Important: No. 17 Reid Fragel
Most Important: No. 18 Ben Buchanan
Most Important: No. 19 Michael Bennett
Most Important: No. 20 Drew Basil