While questions swirl and turmoil churns around the Ohio State football program, inside the walls at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, football goes on unabated.
It wasn’t that long ago that the lone bit of turmoil surrounded the Buckeye receivers and the adversity of losing one position coach and getting to know a new one.
Despite the escalation of issues surrounding head coach Urban Meyer, the receivers and their new position coach — Brian Hartline — still have jobs to do and relationships to build. The questions that people had about their position group and a new coach still remain.
Things appear to be going well, however.
“It’s been great working with him,” senior H-back Parris Campbell said prior to camp. “He’s a great guy. He’s played at the next level and also dominated at the next level, so it’s been great.”
Hartline spent seven years in the NFL — producing 1,000-yard seasons in 2012 and 2013 — finishing with 344 career receptions and 4,766 yards. He earned millions playing professionally, which is why some people might be surprised that he came back to Ohio State — and initially on simply a volunteer basis.
Not everyone is surprised, however.
“It’s not surprising, especially not coming from Ohio State,” Campbell said. “I feel like a lot of guys, when you leave Ohio State it’s something that you forever miss. Just to be back around, that for him, I think that was good for him.”
Hartline has been part of the program for two years now. Initially, he was volunteering during bowl practices — and even participating on the scout team in order to help the Ohio State defense. Last year, he spent his time as a quality control coach while still working with the Buckeye wide receivers.
In other words, the players know him, which should make the transition quite a bit easier.
“For sure,” Campbell said. “Just because he’s someone who is already familiar with the way we go about things. He’s been here for two years, so everyone has grown their relationship with him.”
Back in the spring, once again doing whatever he could to help, Brian Hartline was one of the receivers running routes for quarterback J.T. Barrett during OSU’s pro day.
Sometimes, he wasn’t quite able to come down with a deep ball, which led to plenty of laughs and grief from the current Buckeye receivers. That interaction gave a glimpse as to the level of comfort that the receivers have with Hartline, as well as the level of comfort that Hartline has within the football program itself.
“The relationship has just grown over the time,” Campbell said. “He’s been helping us, just adding that extra sauce to the table. Being an NFL vet, he’s just bringing a different type of energy to the wideout room. It’s something fresh and something new.
“That relationship didn’t happen overnight. He came in when we were practicing for bowl practice, and that’s kind of when it all started. Just since from there, he’s been clicking with all of the wideouts.”
The different sauce that Campbell mentions is the intimate knowledge that Hartline has with what it takes to not only make it to the next level, but what it takes on each and every snap to get the best of the defender trying to stop him.
Hartline is able to bring insights that few coaches can bring to their position because he’s put his words to the test.
What Brian Hartline is teaching his receivers now is testimony. It’s not theory. He knows what has worked and what hasn’t, and the players respect that knowledge and where it comes from.
“Yeah, definitely,” Campbell said. “Just because he has dominated at that level. So you’re going to listen to a guy who is experienced in the same position as you. He’s been through what we’re going through, so it makes it easier to believe in and trust what he is saying.”