The New Guys

Bauserman at OSU's spring game in 2007.

Two of the newest players to report for fall camp have more than a few things in common. Devon Torrence and Joe Bauserman are separated by a few years in age, but they are both freshman hoping to make an impact for the Buckeyes.

The two most recent players to report to camp at Ohio State have more in common that first meets the eye.

One is a wide-eyed, 17-year-old freshman reporting to camp for the first time after spending a summer playing minor league baseball. The other is a somewhat grizzled 21-year-old freshman who has also finished a baseball career and is reporting for his first camp.

Meet Devon Torrence and Joe Bauserman, the two most recent players to report to camp.

Torrence arrived in Ohio on Thursday and got to Columbus in time for practice to begin, while Bauserman was not allowed to join the team for official workouts until fall camp officially began.

It's been an adjustment for both players.

"It was kind of shocking to be on the field with everybody in their jerseys," Torrence said. "I've been thinking about it all the time, wondering what it would be like when I got my name on the back. That was one of the things I couldn't wait to see what it looked like."

For Torrence, it has been a few months since he last seriously tossed a football around. For Bauserman, it has been a few years.

The 6-2, 220-pound right-hander has spent the previous three summers playing minor league baseball in the Pittsburgh Pirates' system. He finished up the past season at high class A ball after compiling a 14-12 record and 3.42 career ERA.

Bauserman originally verbally committed to play for Ohio State in the summer of 2003 for the 2004 recruiting class, but he was drafted in the fourth round by the Pirates and opted to go the pro baseball route. He never signed a national letter of intent, and now joins the roster as a walk-on.

The Pirates are even paying for his schooling.

"It's just another option for me," he said of going back to school. "I just decided to give it a chance. We'll see what happens. Baseball, I wasn't enjoying it as much anymore and I wanted to take advantage of my options."

The desire to come back to football grew with each season, he said. Last winter it reached a breaking point, and Bauserman placed a call to OSU head coach Jim Tressel. He took an unofficial visit to campus, then made a return trip to Columbus for the OSU spring game in April.

The wear and tear on his body – he admitted to suffering from tendonitis in his throwing shoulder – coupled with the less-than-glamorous life of minor league baseball helped hammer home the desire to return to school.

"I decided I wanted to come back this year because maybe next year, I did have a shoulder – tendonitis is what it was – and it kind of opened my eyes, saying, ‘What if I blow my shoulder out?' he said. "It's a lot of work on your arm, pitching in the minor leagues. I just wanted to make sure I took advantage of all my opportunities."

Torrence finds himself in a somewhat similar situation. After signing a national letter of intent to play football for the Buckeyes in February, Torrence was selected in the 16th round of the MLB draft by the Houston Astros and reported to the team's rookie-level affiliate, the Greenville (Tenn.) Astros.

There, he batted .149 with 2 doubles and 48 strikeouts in 87 at-bats, playing in 30 games as an outfielder. It was a learning experience, he said, but one he plans to continue next summer.

"I'm definitely going to continue baseball," he said. "I'm never going to quit baseball and I'm not going to quit football anytime soon."

The two had a brief meeting on move-in day when Torrence's mother recognized Bauserman and was introduced by OSU recruiting assistant Greg Gillum.

"We kind of talked for a minute," Torrence said. "I wanted to get with him this winter and throw a little bit but I think he's going to give him arm a little rest for a while."

Now begins the task of attempting to climb the depth chart. Both players have their work cut out for them for different – yet similar – reasons.

Torrence is one of many young defensive backs battling to see playing time this season, while Bauserman is the fourth man in what was a three-man battle to replace Troy Smith under center.

Both admit they have their work cut out for them.

"I think it's just the fact that I have to get used to the defensive coverages because there's dudes that have been here for a while and I'm just now getting here so I have to hurry up and learn everything," Torrence said.

"I haven't played in four years," said Bauserman, who admitted to being rusty. "I picked it up occasionally, but not competitively or really tried to be a quarterback, more or less.

"I don't want to put any more goals right now other than learning the offense and getting better as a quarterback."

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