Jody Victor®: Buckeyes In The News

Jody Victor: If dues-paying was an official NCAA statistic, Austin Spitler would be among the national leaders. Few players have remained on the runway as long as Spitler, waiting for their careers to truly take flight. He red-shirted at Ohio State in 2005 and watched as James Laurinaitis stepped into a featured role following two key injuries at linebacker. For the next three years, Spitler backed up Laurinaitis, who became arguably the most decorated linebacker in Ohio State history. Laurinaitis has finally moved on to the NFL, an Spitler will take over a starting job this fall, either at middle linebacker or strong-side 'backer.

Jack Mewhort spent the majority of this year in Columbus attending Ohio State University. The 6-foot-6, 285-pounder, enrolled early to get acclimated with juggling college life and being a member of the Buckeyes football program. With two quarters completed the St. John's Jesuit graduate still hasn't quite slowed down to relax over summer break. Mewhort is participating in the Inaugural International Federation of American Football Junior World Championship involving teams representing eight countries across the globe. He's one of 45 players age 19-and-under on the U.S. team. Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Sweden, New Zealand, and the U.S. make up the teams involved in the football tournament at Fawcett Stadium in Canton, Ohio. The tournament includes 12 games with each team playing three games over eight days.

Former Licking Valley standout and future Ohio State Buckeye Storm Klein felt right at home Saturday in Fawcett Stadium. Klein, a starting linebacker and one of four team captains for Team USA, helped his squad cruise to an easy 78-0 first-round win against France in the International Federation of American Football Junior World Championship. There were plenty of Licking Valley and Buckeye fans in attendance, which made things more enjoyable for Klein. Klein – who finished with four tackles, including two solos and 1.5 tackles for loss – gave the hometown fans plenty to cheer about, although his playing time was limited because the game never was in doubt. No fans cheered more loudly than Klein's father and step-mother, Jason and Melanie Klein, and Valley coach Randy Baughman.

During spring quarter, Ohio State offensive lineman Jim Cordle worked out and went to spring football practice, and also took four classes and earned a 3.75 GPA. But his hardest work was on display Friday night, June 26th. The charity bowling tournament Cordle planned in his hometown of Lancaster raised more than $18,000 for the county Special Olympics and provided one of the most interactive Buckeye experiences for fans. With all 42 lanes in operation and sponsored for at least $200, the participating fans stayed in their lanes and bowled while the Buckeyes rotated through the lanes. So you might bowl one frame with Thaddeus Gibson, the next with Dane Sanzeubacker, the next with Cameron Heyward and the next with Kurt Coleman. Or Dan Herron. Or Doug Worthington. Or Anderson Russell. Or Mike Brewster. Most of the players really interacted with the fans, high-fiving and shaking hands and signing T-shirts. Pretty cool night!

Go Bucks!!

Jody Victor

Posted in OSU

Jody Victor®: Buckeyes in The News

Jody Victor: Practice is underway for USA Football's Junior National Team. The team has completed its first days of practice in preparation for the 2009 IFAF Junior World Championship beginning Saturday, June 27. Incoming Ohio State freshmen Storm Klein and Jack Mewhort will be checking in periodically in the days leading up to the championships. Members of the team arrived at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, Saturday from 22 states, each soon to enter one of 33 college football programs. The team conducted its first practice Sunday afternoon, led by head coach Chuck Kyle of Cleveland St. Ignatius High School.

Hockey – Many young players enter the NHL and think only about scoring goals. They feel that's the way to get noticed. Livonia native Ryan Kesler, of the Vancouver Canucks, has been a little different. Ryan Kesler is a symbol of all that is good for the Canucks. Kesler is among the three finalists for the Frank Selke Trophy, awarded to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game. The other nominees are Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, last year's winner, and Mike Richards of Philadelphia.

Football – Former Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman, who threw 25 touchdown passes in 2007 but lost his starting job early last season, has signed as a free agent with the Jacksonville Jaguars. The 6-4, 244-pound Boeckman has NFL size and a strong arm. If he can demonstrate accuracy and touch on a range of passes, he'll have a chance to stick with Jacksonville.

Women's Basketball – The Indiana Fever have signed third-year center Jessica Davenport. The former Ohio State star, released by the New York Liberty at the end of training camp earlier this month, replaces injured veteran forward Yolanda Griffith on the Fever roster.

Davenport was selected by San Antonio with the second overall pick in the 2007 draft and then traded to New York in the deal for Becky Hammon. The 6-foot-5 center averaged 5.1 points and 2.7 rebounds in 47 games over two seasons with the Liberty. A two-time Big Ten conference player of the year with the Buckeyes, she led them to the Big Ten title game in all four years of her college career.

Go Bucks!!!

Jody Victor

Posted in OSU

Jody Victor® : Former Buckeyes Give Back to Community

Jody Victor: In the nearly 120-year history of the Ohio State football program, student-athletes from around the country have had the opportunity to excel both on and off the field under the direction of the Ohio State coaching staff. From doctors and lawyers to Heisman Trophy winners and All-Americans, the players of Ohio State football have been molded to exemplify the best The Ohio State University has to offer.
Embracing the “pay it forward” mentality of the late Woody Hayes, for years, Ohio State athletes have had the opportunity to grow as players and individuals by giving back to the Columbus community.

For former Buckeye defenseman Ryan Miller (1993-96), Mike Vrabel (1993-96) and Luke Fickell (1993-’96), the chance to support the local community was an experience that would shape both their future and time spent at Ohio State.

“There were a number of organizations we had the opportunity to be involved with when we were in school,” Miller said. “You don’t realize how big an influence you have just by putting on scarlet and gray. There is a responsibility there you don’t even realize. Young boys and girls across the state of Ohio look to you as someone they want to emulate.”

Drawn together on the field, the friendship the three developed as players would remain intact for years to come.

“When you look at why people become roommates, you look at their attitudes, their work ethic and the things that define their personalities,” Vrabel said. “We were roommates and we played football so we saw each other constantly and it just continued to grow from there.”

During their four-year tenure at Ohio State, the three were a part of a Buckeye team that clenched a pair of Big Ten co-championships and compiled a record of 41-8-1. Concluding their senior campaign with a 20-17 Rose Bowl victory over Arizona State in 1996, Miller, Fickell and Vrabel ended their Buckeye careers with a No. 2 ranking in both national polls and an 11-1 record.

“Winning the Rose Bowl was just really exciting,” Miller said. “It was something we had all talked about for so long, so to win the way we did felt like justification for four years of hard work.”

Upon graduation, Miller, Fickell and Vrabel, although still guided by football, found themselves headed in different directions. 

Miller, a linebacker, joined WBNS-AM and later WBNS-10TV as a sports anchor, eventually earning two Emmys for his work in sports broadcasting.

“It was a unique experience to be so close to the sport you love so much and had a chance to play,” Miller said. “I honestly don’t think I would have liked it as much if I were living in a different city or didn’t have the Buckeyes to cover.”

Notching 212 tackles during 50-consecutive game starts at nose guard, Fickell would spend a year on the New Orleans Saints injured reserve list before joining the Buckeye coaching staff in 1999 as a graduate assistant. Actively involved in game planning and strategy for the Buckeyes, Fickell was named co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach in April of 2005.

After graduation, Vrabel, a first-team All-American selection and Big Ten defensive player of the year, also became a member of the National Football League. Joining the Pittsburgh Steelers as the 91st overall draft pick, Vrabel went on to become one of the most decorated linebackers in the history of Ohio State.

Signing with the New England Patriots as an unrestricted free agent in March of 2001, the 6-foot-4-inch, 261 pound Vrabel has recorded 614 tackles, 51 sacks and 10 interceptions in his professional career. Recognized by Patriots head coach Bill Belichick for both his personality and playing ability, Vrabel boasts three Super Bowl victories, the most of any former Buckeye.

And while the three found their individual successes both at and away from Ohio State, they had not forgotten the lessons learned as former players. Coming together after several years, the trio made the decision to once again reach out to the community which had always supported them.

Inspired by their previous work with the Right to Read program, Miller, Fickell and Vrabel decided to again volunteer their time to read to local children, this time with the idea of providing each child with their own book.

“We had always enjoyed Right to Read Week,” Vrabel said. “As athletes, it was a great way for us to go to the elementary schools and get kids’ attention.”

Focusing on literacy and urban youth, Miller, Fickell and Vrabel decided to hold a football camp in 2000 to help raise funds for their new initiative. Raising enough money to purchase books for seven second classes, the Second and Seven Foundation was created.

The foundation, now in its 10th year, has grown to incorporate elementary schools throughout Central Ohio and has been adopted by athletic programs at Toledo, Notre Dame, Michigan, Wisconsin and North Carolina. The weekly readings, which now feature Ohio State student-athletes as part of the foundation’s “Tackle Illiteracy” program, reached 3,100 children in 46 schools in the 2007-08 school year.

“We used to go read the books two days a week, with four schools one day and three the next,” Vrabel said. “Now the student-athletes represent us and Ohio State. We obviously can’t get the message out to every single kid, so it’s nice to have the help of the student-athletes.”

To celebrate the foundation’s success, the decision was made to write and publish a unique book based on the principles of teamwork and determination. After brainstorming ideas, The Hog Mollies and the Pickle Pie Party was born.   

“Everybody really pitched in and had their own concepts and there were no egos involved,” Miller said. “It was just how can we write a book that’s fun and mold it into something that’s exciting for a kid to read and get from student-athletes.”

To continue to raise funds for literacy awareness and the book’s publication, the foundation will have a busy schedule in the upcoming weeks.

Events are set to kick off Saturday, June 13 in the Arena District with a booth and story time led by Vrabel at the Park Street Festival. The FUNdamental Football Camp, which has now grown to accommodate 400 children, will take place June 15-17 at Hilliard Weaver Middle School. Finally, an 8-Ball Celebrity Shootout which in the past has featured the likes of Greg Oden, Tedy Bruschi, Troy Brown, Joey Galloway, Kirk Herbstreit and Jody Shelly, will be held in the South Campus Gateway June 18.

With the goal of raising enough money to publish 30,000 books for the upcoming school year, Miller, Fickell and Vrabel know their mission would not be possible without the support of the local community.

“Without the athletic department, without the volunteers, without the community and without the sponsors, it would be very difficult to reach as many kids,” Miller said. “Everyday we are thankful there is so much generosity. Ohio State has been great and I wouldn’t expect anything less. It makes you proud to be a Buckeye.”

Jody Victor

Posted in OSU

Jody Victor® : Buckeyes In The News

Jody Victor: Ohio State wide receiver Brian Robiskie finished as one of five male finalists for the 2009 Arthur Ashe Jr. Sports Scholar of the Year award, announced by Diverse: Issues In Higher Education magazine. The first Ohio State student-athlete to become a finalist since the national awards program began 16 years ago, Robiskie was also a national finalist last year.

Robiskie led the Buckeyes two seasons in receiving, with 42 catches for 535 yards and eight touchdowns in 2008. Twice a first team Academic All-American and a 2008 National Football foundation postgraduate scholar, the Cleveland product graduated from Ohio State in March with a bachelor's degree in marketing. Winner of the Big Ten Medal of Honor, Robiskie was a second-round draft pick of the NFL's Cleveland Browns.

– Phil Steele has released his preseason All-Big Ten Team. Phil Steele's College Football Preview is one of the nation's most informative preseason football magazines and has always provided a preseason All-American team as well as preseason All-Conference teams. Ohio State is represented on the first team by safety Kurt Coleman, cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, offensive lineman Justin Boren and return specialist Ray Small. Second-team selections were quarterback Terrelle Pryor, safety Anderson Russell, linebacker Ross Homan and defensive end Thaddeus Gibson.

Kicker Aaron Pettrey, running back Brandon Saine, center Mike Brewster and receiver DeVier Posey were third-team picks. Kick returner Lamaar Thomas was on the fourth team.

– The Rimington Trophy committee has released its 2009 Spring Watch List. The list includes 12 returning players from the 2008 Watch List. In all, there are 44 players on the Watch List. The SEC checks in with the most candidates, with six players being named. The ACC, Big-12, Big Ten and WAC are represented by five players each on the Watch List. Center Mike Brewster is on the list for Ohio State.

Go Bucks!!!

Jody Victor

Posted in OSU

Jody Victor® : Buckeyes' Season Ends at Tallahassee Regional

Jody Victor: Playing its second game of the day, Ohio State was eliminated from the NCAA Tallahassee regional by No. 1 seed Florida State, 37-4, Saturday. Florida State wins the regional and advances to play in a super regional next week.

The Seminoles set NCAA tournament game records for runs, hits with 38, for total bases with 66 and for doubles with 15. This came against an Ohio State pitching staff that was totally depleted and spent after playing its fourth game in three days and its second of the day.

“Well we had one good game and one bad game today,” Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. “I'm not sure you can tell the kids anything after a game like that. Everybody knows what happened today pitching-wise. And everything they did was right and what we did was wrong. It was like an intra squad game.”

The Buckeyes advanced to this Tallahassee Regional first championship game by defeating Georgia, 13-6, earlier on Sunday.

Ohio State concludes its 126th season of baseball with a 42-19 record.

Go Bucks!!

Jody Victor

Posted in OSU