Baldwin Completing Transition to Offense
By Patrick Murphy
Transition will be the name of the game for the Ohio State offensive line in 2014 as they must replace four multi-year starters. Someone who might be able to help with that is fifth-year senior Darryl Baldwin, a player that knows a bit about transition.
Baldwin came to Columbus in 2010 as a defensive end and redshirted his first year on campus. The Solon product played in seven games in 2011 as a reserve but was asked to flip to the offensive line when Urban Meyer became the head coach.
Photo by Dan Harker
“When Coach Meyer brought in the new staff, they switched me when they got here,” Baldwin said. “They thought I had more potential on that side of the ball.”
A change like this is not easy for a player after spending the majority of his football life trying to get to the quarterback. All of a sudden it was Baldwin’s job to protect the signal caller. This is not a change all players would be able to embrace.
“Initially, I didn’t know how I felt about it because I’d never played the position before and defense was pretty much all I knew,” Baldwin said.
“Now I’m a lot more comfortable. It took a while but I’m really comfortable now.”
He’s comfortable now, but that doesn’t mean things came easy for him. Baldwin admitted that it took time for him to develop the comfort level after making the switch.
“I felt comfortable starting after the second year [on offense] and now, coming into the third year, I feel very comfortable. That’s how long it took me,” he said.
“I’m very confident. The coaches have a lot of trust in me, I trust myself and that helps add to that confidence.”
Baldwin’s work ethic and desire to play for the Scarlet and Gray has earned him the starting spot at right tackle for spring practice and can be an example to others on what it takes to be on this line.
“Our culture is very high effort,” he said.” [Coach Meyer] always talks about four to six, a to b. We’ve taken that to heart. We’re all high character guys, real good guys, and we just need to be very consistent. That’s what we need to be as an offensive line, develop a consistency and play real well together.”
Baldwin understands that consistency as a unit takes time to develop, just as it took him time to become consistent at his new position. Last year’s entity, which Meyer called the best in the country, didn’t become great over night and this year’s group still has a ways to go.
“Compared to last year’s line? Well they all started the year before they came in the spring so they were all comfortable together,” Baldwin said. “We’re still building that as an offensive line together.”
Just as Baldwin didn’t back down when asked to change positions, he is not afraid of the challenge of replacing his predecessors; in fact, he’s looking forward to it.
“It’s exciting,” Baldwin said with a smile when asked about the graduated players. “Especially losing four guys, it’s almost a new line. Four new guys are going to have to step in along with Taylor Decker and we’re just going to have to go where they left off.”
Baldwin’s enthusiasm as well as his experience will serve him well as OSU looks to replace possibly their most important unit.
“Offensive line is the heart and soul of the team so we’ve just got to keep that going and lead our unit and lead the rest of the team,” he said.
Baldwin knows where he stands on this team in his final year as a Buckeye. As one of the elders on the line, he has to help lead the new group to success.
“This is my third year playing offense now. I know what to expect, I know what I need to do and I just have to be the best I can be,” he said.
“I don’t need to do anything more than that and I’m really coming in and knowing that, that’s all I need to do.”