COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Saturday before the Ohio State Spring Game was an open scrimmage for OSU students dubbed "Student Appreciation Day", and perhaps no student appreciated it more than redshirt freshman tight end Marcus Baugh.
Troubles Behind Him, Talented Baugh Looking to Rebuild Coaches' Trust
By Tony Gerdeman
Baugh was one of the stars of the day, catching two long long touchdown passes and proving himself a difficult cover for the Buckeye safeties. It was the first real glimpse that the public had gotten of Baugh, and it almost never happened.
Adjusting to the self-governing rules of the college life can be trying for many freshmen, and Baugh found those trials in two citations for underage drinking in the span of about six months, with the last one coming this past January.
His future as a Buckeye was in serious doubt, and he admitted following that Saturday scrimmage that he thought his time at Ohio State was over.
"Yeah, definitely after my second incident I thought I was done," he said.
Instead of getting the boot, however, the Californian hunkered down, doing everything his coaches asked him to do in the process. He also took great advantage of the increased reps this spring due to an injury to starting tight end Jeff Heuerman.
Still far from a finished product, Baugh has the tools that a coach can work with.
"He’s very athletic, there’s no doubt about it," said tight ends coach Tim Hinton.
"He’s a very athletic tight end. He’s got to learn to block better at the point of attack, and that will come with strength. That will come with physical maturity and that will come with having confidence in yourself. All those things you’re developing. So every day you go out, it’s another learning opportunity, another opportunity to get better. We very seldom back off of them here. We’re going to push them to be a little better every day."
While showing the necessary improvement on the field was certainly a positive for Baugh, it was the necessary improvement off the field that was primary. He had shown enough growth after his first incident that he felt he began to earn back his coaches' trust, but it wouldn't last.
"It's pretty tough," he said of earning back that trust. "I kind of felt like I got it back after my first incident. They had me traveling to the Big Ten Championship, and stuff like that. I just kind of felt like I earned it back, and then I just lost it all again. It was rough."
After the first incident, Urban Meyer obviously wasn't happy with Baugh. Following the second one, however, along with the standard internal disciplinary actions, Meyer essentially employed the silent treatment when it came to the tight end.
"I didn't really have much communication with Coach Meyer after the first one," Baugh explained. "And then having that second one happen, it just kind of shut down. But he's talking to me now, just asking me how things are going and stuff like that. I'm just overcoming it and trying to get better and show that I am a good person."
Baugh is still working on regaining the trust and respect that players covet from their coaches. When Meyer found out that Baugh had spoken with the media following the Student Appreciation Day he was upset because he said that Baugh had not yet done anything to deserve the privilege of speaking with the media.
Obviously, the lessons are still ongoing, and it's not an easy process.
"The nice thing is, Marcus knows, he has a clear understanding that there are expectations in this program," Hinton said.
"He knows what’s expected of him. He knows how to handle his life. Every day we work to improve who he is as a person and make sure he lives up to the expectations at the Ohio State University.
"It’s certainly a challenge and I’m not gonna deny the challenge that is put upon a young kid. That’s part of the expectations at Ohio State, you’ve got to learn to act like an Ohio State football player and live under Coach Meyer’s rules. I gotta tell you, he’s really trying to get that done and I’m very proud of him."
The quest for Baugh now is to show that not only is he ready to contribute on the field, he is also ready to contribute off the field. He realizes that if he finds trouble again, the silent treatment will be the least of his worries.
He wants to earn back his coaches' trust, but he knows that that hasn't happened yet.
"No, not yet," he admitted. "I'm just doing what they want me to do. I'm showing that I'm not a bad person."
A lesson learned always adds to wisdom, and Baugh is appreciative of the patience that his coaches have shown him despite his troubles.
"It definitely opened my eyes," he said. "I'm out of chances. I have to do this."