Most Important Buckeyes: No. 12
By Patrick Murphy
(Editor’s Note: Patrick Murphy is a new contributor for The-Ozone who will be helping us with coverage of the football and basketball teams, along with some other Ohio State sports. He is a former soccer player, a graduate of The Ohio State University, and a massive fan of the Columbus Crew. Check back for a full introduction on the Front Page some time next week).
COLUMBUS, Ohio — To begin what would be a disappointing 2011 season for Ohio State, Corey Linsley watched from his home in Youngstown as the Buckeyes torched Akron in the season-opener.
Photo by Dan Harker
Linsley had been suspended for the first two games of the year for violating team rules. Fast-forward to a year later and everyone had been given a fresh start in the new regime under Urban Meyer. Maybe no one took advantage of that quite like Linsley.
After being a backup for his entire college career, Linsley took the opportunity to impress the new coaching staff by getting into the gym and the film room a lot. He understood that things had to change if he were to turn both his football career and his life around.
This dedication to work hard and earn his spot not only won him the starting center position, but also brought him accolades from his head coach, who claimed he was the most improved player on the roster before the season began.
For that, Linsley checks in at No. 12 on our postseason countdown of the Most Important Buckeyes for a 12-0 season in 2012.
What Made Him Important?
Not only was Linsley a starter for the first time this season, but playing a new position, center, and replacing former All-American Michael Brewster. Brewster had been a starter for four years and, though the offensive line struggled some during his tenure, was a constant fixture for the Buckeyes.
Filling those shoes would not be easy, but nothing had been for the red-shirt junior. He had to learn the position, while also making himself into a true Ohio State football player.
Throughout the season, Meyer discussed the consistent play of the offensive line, and continuously referred the center position. He called it the apex of the offense, where everything begins; nothing can go right if things do not start well there. Meyer praised Linsley for the leadership role he took with the line, an area of question heading into the season.
Despite Meyer’s emphasis on the position, center is not a spot that garners much attention from the outside, unless of course something goes wrong. While the 6-3, 295-pound Linsley was not always perfect this season, the mistakes that were made – typically high snaps – were not generally pointed out because of the positives that he brought to the line.
What Would The Buckeyes Have Done Without Him?
Without Linsley this season the Buckeyes would have had another adjustment to make. Behind him on the depth chart was freshman Jacoby Boren. While both Linsley and Boren had similar experience on the field – none – life experience has taught the upperclassman the focus and dedication needed to succeed in major college football.
This offensive line, led by Linsley, gave up 11 fewer sacks than their predecessors. They also blocked for runners to gain 2,907 yards on the ground – averaging just over five yards a carry – this season and 37 total touchdowns.
Given the difficulty last year’s Buckeyes team had at moving the ball, this is a huge accomplishment. While some of this can be credited to Meyer and offensive coordinator Tom Herman’s schemes, and to the ability of guys like Braxton Miller and Carlos Hyde, much of the credit should go to the offensive line.
Just as Meyer did when discussing the line play, the recognition has to go to Linsley, who was the man in charge in the trenches throughout the season. His determination from suspended and on the couch, to the zenith of a revamped and undefeated offensive is the reason why he is the 12th-most important Buckeye this season.
How Does It Compare To Our Preseason Expectations?
While the expectations from the fans may not have been high for Linsley in the preseason, he was No. 4 on our list heading into fall camp.
This had a lot to do with his importance of his role in the offensive line and the hole left by Brewster, which he was required to fill. While there was not a lot to go on for Linsley on the field, it was obvious in the preseason he was going to be vital to this team’s success this year. His ability to effectively play the center spot, and become a leader for this team, is a begin reason why the Buckeyes finished 12-0.
The fact that Linsley finishes the year at 12 is not a smudge on his season, simply a reflection of how successful his teammates were as well. Football is called the ultimate team game and, while he was a huge part of the success, others too exceeded expectations to push this team to a perfect year.
Most Important Countdown:
No. 13 Nathan Williams
No. 14 Christian Bryant
No. 15 Etienne Sabino
No. 16 Andrew Norwell
No. 17 Travis Howard
No. 18 C.J. Barnett
No. 19 Garrett Goebel
No. 20 Kenny Guiton