Ohio State freshman Marcus Baugh didn’t have to look far when faced with adversity after an offseason misstep.
Baugh was arrested July 14 for underage drinking and using improper identification, and the consequences for the first-year player are considerable – he’ll miss the Buckeyes’ Aug. 31 season-opening game against Buffalo. Additionally, some of the time Baugh now spends in the tight end meeting room has been diverted away from football so that he can examine his actions.
The stakes couldn’t be higher for Baugh, who didn’t figure to crack the two-deep at the tight end spot to begin with and continues to battle for the third and final travel spot at the position.
But it’s the same players that Baugh is competing against for playing time that might be the most influential in helping him stabilize his young career. His fellow tight ends, as well as position coach Tim Hinton, threw their unquestioned support behind Baugh during OSU’s Aug. 11 Media Day at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
Losing potential touches in the Buffalo game, as well as time in the meeting room for necessary discussion about his social issues, has put Baugh at a disadvantage, Hinton said, but he’s always had the support of his coaches.
“College education is an experience and a time of life where (students) grow as a person,” Hinton said. “And let ‘ye without sin cast the first stone,’ and we all have to raise our hands and say we probably made some bad choices in our lifetime, but the idea is to learn from it.
“Do you mature from it and not make the mistake again? That’s kind of the approach you take (to Baugh). Any of us that have ever had children go through teenage years know that there’s a growing period there. Sometimes you have to put your thumb on them really hard and, absolutely, very disappointed that it happened and very disappointed in the choice but, you know, part of it is you’ve go to learn and grow. You do the discipline part just as you would as a parent.”
Hinton also confirmed that Baugh is doing community service as part of his reparation.
The support structure for the Riverside, Calif., product extends from Hinton on down to the rest of the tight ends, including redshirt freshman Blake Thomas — the player standing directly between Baugh and a chance to travel to road games.
Thomas said there’s no question that he wants to beat Baugh out for the travel spot, but when it comes to their friendship, he’s behind Baugh all the way.
“We all support each other in the room,” Thomas said. “We support him and we do our best to pick each other up when we’re down and to stick together as a unit.”
At this point, Hinton said, Baugh and Thomas are competing for a kind of relief tight end duty, a job that will provide breaks for Jeff Heuerman and Nick Vannett, the Nos. 1 and 2 tight ends, respectively, when OSU’s up-tempo offense takes flight.
Vannett has worked alongside Baugh throughout the first week of camp and has plenty of opportunities to oversee the freshman’s development. Not only are Vannett and Baugh rooming together during fall camp, but Vannett also serves as Baugh’s “big brother” as part of the Meyer-instituted initiation program for new Buckeye players.
Having watched Baugh progress since his mid-July transgression, Vannett said he now views the incident as a minor bump in the road for his adopted little brother.
“He had a little hiccup. It happens,” Vannett said. “You’re young. He just came in (to OSU). He knows the expectations, so there’s no issue.”
Baugh, who was not made available during Media Day, will likely have some catching up to do considering that he’ll miss the first game of the season, but it’s clear that he won’t be alone as he tries to cover that ground.
In a sit-down chat with Baugh, Heuerman said he made it clear to the true freshman that the opportunities to succeed will still be available to him. After all, Heuerman said, Baugh is not a bad kid.
“I told him he just needed to calm down, relax (and) figure things out,” Heuerman said. “Get your priorities straight and you’ll be fine. Everything will work out.”