Al Washington came to Ohio State from Michigan knowing that he had to improve the play of the OSU linebacker unit.
After just one game, the early results are quite positive. The linebacker play noticeably improved in the season opener. The performance shouldn’t have come as a surprise considering how much his players have raved about the impact that he has made on them personally in such a short amount of time.
For junior linebacker Baron Browning, Washington’s impact significantly changed the path of his career as a Buckeye after a quiet first two years.
Browning didn’t play much in his first two seasons at Ohio State, starting a couple of times last season in place of starting middle linebacker Tuf Borland. He found a role in the nickel at times last year, but there wasn’t much production to show for it. So far in his collegiate career he has recorded just 37 tackles and has left some onlookers wanting more.
Last week, however, Browning’s season got off to a good start with his performance in the season opener against Florida Atlantic. Browning not only had more playing time out on the field, but he had an impactful performance where he recorded four tackles and a tackle for loss.
“I watched a lot of film and prepared,” Browning said earlier this week. “My approach, I feel really comfortable in the defense and just playing. I’m not thinking, I’m just comfortable.”
He attributes his success in that game to Washington.
“I just feel like the approach Coach Washington had in helping me prepare played a big role,” Browning said. “Experience plays a role too, but I’d just mainly say Coach Washington for real.”
From his work in the offseason with Washington, Browning feels that he is a much more confident player this season.
“Absolutely, absolutely. I feel more comfortable,” Browning said. “I told Coach Washington after that game that that was one of my first games where I didn’t feel nervous before. I just felt at ease about it and I just think that goes into how I’ve been approaching every day and just every moment and listening to him.”
Browning recognizes that there were expectations for him based on his 5-star recruiting rankings coming out of high school, but he hasn’t let that feeling of disappointment get to him. Instead, he has worked even harder this season to prove to others what he can do.
“I know people have expectations and stuff, but I think the best thing I’ve done is just block all of that out and focus on getting better and listening to Coach Washington and following his plan he has for me,” Browning said.
And even though he feels that things have started to click for him, Browning still has areas that he wants to improve upon this season and down the road as a Buckeye.
“I feel like I did some things well and I feel like I could have done some other things better,” he said. “So, the focus for me was just fixing those things I could have done, hand placement, just things like that, and just listening to Coach Washington and what he said I could have done better.”