Michael Brewster is a wanted man – and his fate could very well determine the tenor of the 2008 Ohio State offensive line.
As a freshman, Brewster entered his college career with a mane of curly, unruly hair that has apparently drawn the ire of his older teammates. As the Buckeyes have gone through fall camp, a plan was hatched to deprive him of his looks by way of a good, old-fashioned head shaving.
But junior center Jim Cordle – the mentor teaching Brewster the system – has found himself stuck in the middle between his teammates and his roommate for fall camp.
“I’m not taking a side,” Cordle said. “They came looking for him and I didn’t let them in one night and then the next night I told him, ‘I can’t stop the train. Those guys will kick down the door, so you’d better go on the run until bed check.’ ”
That mentality from Cordle has drawn the ire of senior left tackle Alex Boone, one of the ringleaders in the whole plot.
“The thing is, have you ever seen Brewster’s hair? It’s ridiculous,” Boone said. “I hate the way it’s too long and curly. I hate the way it looks, so we were going to tie him down and shave his head. Jimmy’s over here hiding him in his room pretending like he’s not in there.”
Brewster clearly knows what his teammates are up to, having mentioned on team photo day that people shouldn’t be surprised if his locks are gone by the time Youngstown State comes to Columbus. Senior left guard Steve Rehring said Brewster has been in hideout for a week now.
Although he now sports a neatly trimmed haircut with newly buzzed lightning bolts in each side, Boone entered the 2006 season with a head of hair that reached to his shoulders. That fact has no bearing on the senior’s desire to shave the freshman, apparently.
“If I had to cut my hair, then he has to cut his hair,” Boone said.
During the season, Boone walked into postgame interviews with a freshly shaved head. Asked what happened to his haircut, he explained that his girlfriend had shaved it while he slept.
Now, nearly two years later, Boone has come clean and exonerated the woman in the story.
“That was a joke,” he said with a laugh. “I couldn’t believe you guys all fell for that one. I got it cut because the coaches wanted me to get it cut.”
The coaching staff is realistic enough to know that the Buckeyes will not be able to replace the school-record 14 sacks Vernon Gholston brought to the table last season with just one person. A number of players are being tasked with increasing their totals by a few sacks in the hopes of cumulatively being able to make up for the void Gholston’s departure left.
One of those players is junior defensive end Lawrence Wilson, a player who missed nearly all of last season due to injury. Described as a fearsome pass rusher, he will likely fill the starting spot vacated by Gholston.
But defensive coordinator and defensive line coach Jim Heacock cautioned against viewing the two as similar athletes.
“I don’t know that they’re really similar,” he said. “They’re a little bit different. I think probably Lawrence is a little bit more of a physical player. Vern had a little bit more speed, but I think Lawrence is a bit more physical. He goes hard. He comes off the ball hard. I think they’re both good players.
“For some reason I can’t compare them. They don’t seem the same to me.”
A Lofty Comparison
One of the most talked-about players on the OSU defense is sophomore Thaddeus Gibson, a former linebacker who has been moved to end in the hopes he can provide a dangerous pass-rush threat when called upon.
While there have been plenty of reports on how Gibson has looked throughout fall camp, Rehring said the youngster reminds him of a former Buckeye he has seen only on film.
“Thaddeus has a different body profile,” he said. “We’ve got Lawrence who’s a little bit taller and a little bit thicker. Then you’ve got Thaddeus who is flying with linebacker speed coming off that edge.
“He’s the quickest guy I’ve seen off the snap in a long time. Probably as fast off the ball as Will Smith.”
After redshirting last season, OSU fans have been hoping that Solomon Thomas might be able to make an impact during his redshirt freshman season. A defensive end by trade, Thomas came in at 6-5, 225 pounds and has since managed to add 15 pounds to his frame.
Although he does not appear in the two-deep along the line and might be a longshot to see any sort of significant action this season, that did not stop defensive coordinator Jim Heacock from singling out the West Chester (Ohio) Lakota West alumnus for being impressive this fall.
“Solomon Thomas is having a great fall,” Heacock said. “We haven’t gotten real far yet in the scheme of things, but Solomon looks pretty good.”
A True-Blue Buckeye
When Justin Boren opted to transfer out of the University of Michigan and enroll at OSU, the decision raised more than a few eyebrows. None of those came from within the Buckeyes locker room, however, both Boren and several of his teammates have gushed about how well both sides have gotten along since his arrival.
Any concerns about the central Ohio product being an agent planted by the Wolverines were quickly allayed, Rehring said.
Asked if he checked to see if his new teammate was wearing a wire, Rehring said simply, “Oh man, if you hear him talk you don’t need to.”