Underwood Going from Obscurity to Starter
By Patrick Murphy
Wait! Don’t click over to Google.
There’s a reason you probably haven’t heard much about the Ohio State offensive lineman. The fourth-year junior played in four games with one start as freshman in 2011 and appeared in six as a reserve in 2012.
He had no snaps in 2013 due to a torn ACL suffered just days into spring practice.
“It was kind of a freakish thing,” Underwood said he said of the knee injury.
“I stepped on somebody's foot, but didn't really think anything of it, then like three plays later, it just gave out on me. It was really nothing major where somebody came and took me out, it was just stepping wrong.”
Just days into spring the guard was done for the year, done before his season began.
"Starting back around last spring, obviously I got injured around the sixth practice, it was definitely a blow to me because I was doing well,” he said.
“I was starting to rebound and work my way back, but hey, you have setbacks sometimes. I just rehabbed through the whole season. I came back around bowl practice and midseason last year, just working back and getting healthy.”
Getting back towards the end of last season was tough with all the rehab required after ACL surgery but it showe Underwood’s determination and drive, something he had to develop when Urban Meyer became head coach.
"It was just more so me being more consistent, work ethic,” he said.
“I was just able to be more consistent and get my work ethic to where it needed to be, which really put me in a position to start.”
When Meyer and his staff took over, they expected a level of excellence. If you wanted to see the field, you had to meet these expectations and Underwood had to make the adjustment.
“Those guys work man,” he said of the change in culture.
“The coach is on your back. It had to be beaten in to me. It was just a situation where, I’m going to do this or I’m going to do that. I just had to choose the right path.”
The injury forced him to make a decision. Was he going to work hard to get back and earn a spot on this new-look Buckeye offensive line or drift away into the background? The coaches provided that answer when he was named a starter in spring practice.
“Man, that’s a long time coming,” he said in regards to becoming a starter.
“This is my fourth year so I was glad I was able to adjust to the new staff coming in, like the culture change, me being able for them to look at me as a guy who can possibly be a starter for them and help contribute to the team.”
OSU lost four starters from the unit Meyer called the best offensive line in the country a year ago so there are big shoes to fill, but overcoming adversity should be no issue for Underwood after what he has faced.Underwood is confident what he’s been through has prepared him to step right in.
“I decided I wanted to be a dude that could step up and help this team do this,” he said.
“It was really a step back and it was shocking for me to get hurt, but times like that and adversity, you just have to fight through it, look at this kind of like a blessing in disguise.”