Malcolm Jenkins came back for a lot of reasons. His senior year at Ohio State presented him with another chance to spend time with his friends, his teammates and his fraternity brothers. It gave him a chance to enjoy 12 – more than likely 13 – more games as a Buckeye before he dons another uniform in the NFL.
It also gives him a chance to continue to compete for the Jim Thorpe Award, given annually to the nation’s top defensive back. To do so, Jenkins will likely have to improve on his four-interception total from last season.
But to do that, Jenkins will first have to have the ball thrown in his direction. If teams do not throw the ball near him, though, it means he is doing his job.
Sort of like a catch-22, right? Not to the senior captain.
“I would rather see it every play if I could,” he said. “When you’re a competitor, you love to get some competition. It’s kind of boring when they don’t throw your way the whole time. Everybody wants to make plays and everybody wants to have an impact on the game.
“I guess you can have an impact if they don’t throw your way the whole time. It’s just fun to actually play the game and have some challenges. It’s a compliment when they don’t throw it, but it’s kind of boring at the same time.”
NFL Comparisons: After reaching the national championship game but falling short of a title in each of the last two seasons, the Buckeyes received a comparison that was akin to a backhanded compliment during the offseason.
OSU was likened to the Buffalo Bills of the early ‘90s, a team that consistently found its way to the Super Bowl but was never able to win one. Senior linebacker James Laurinaitis sees it a different way.
To him, the Buckeyes are like the New England Patriots of the last seven years.
“Ohio State’s a school where you either love them or you just hate them,” he said. “It’s like the Patriots. It seemed like the whole rest of the country hated them and wanted them to lose last year. It’s something special. You’re doing something right if you have that status.”
It takes a special team to achieve that level of notoriety, he said.
“People want to be a part of you, but if they’re not, they’re kind of envious of that,” he said. “If you’re just a mediocre team, you’re not going to be hated by everybody. People just aren’t going to care that much.”
Why So Sore? Senior left tackle Alex Boone knows that the Buckeyes have little to gain and everything to lose when they take to the field against Youngstown State. A win is simply expected, and a loss would send reverberations throughout the program that would likely last for years.
But win or lose, Boone knows he will feel the repercussions – literally.
“If we win, people are like, ‘Oh, you didn’t beat anybody,’ ” he said. “But then why am I so sore? At the same time, if you lose people are going to be like, ‘Oh my God, I knew it.’ ”
Torrence Angling For A Shot: For most athletes, undergoing a position change shortly after spending an entire summer playing a different sport might be a bit much to realistically be able to handle.
Apparently, Devon Torrence is not like most athletes. The former wide receiver at OSU was converted to cornerback just after returning from spending his summer playing minor league baseball for the Houston Astros. Now, Torrence finds himself in line for playing time this weekend partly due to the fact that three cornerbacks who were on the roster when the Buckeyes concluded spring football will not be available.
But senior cornerback Shaun Lane doesn’t see it that way. To him, Torrence is a talent worthy of seeing playing time regardless of the status of his teammates.
“Devon is a tremendous athlete,” he said. “I don’t know if I’ve seen too many guys that can put it together so well. He’s a decent sized guy. He can move real well, and with his baseball skills he’s just a tremendous athlete.”
Do Your Best: For OSU fans, getting to the national championship and winning it is the only priority for the 2008 season. That is not the case for the Buckeyes, though, who talk about wishing to simply play their best and know they left everything on the football field.
According to senior wide receiver Brian Robiskie, there is a clear difference between winning and being successful. You can have one without the other.
“I think the biggest thing for us is being successful,” he said. “That is a little bit different than winning in that being successful is playing your best and then seeing what happens. If you play your best and you lose, we feel like we’re successful because we played as good as we can play.”
It’s All New To Him: Each game at Ohio Stadium brings a number of people who get to experience their first-ever OSU home game. In an arena that seats more than 105,000 fans, that typically leaves a number of wide-eyed gawkers taking in the entire scene that is gameday in Columbus.
This year, one of those newbies will be wearing a uniform: freshman quarterback Ross Oltorik.
“I’ve been talking to Ross, the freshman quarterback,” junior tailback Chris “Beanie” Wells said. “He’s never been to a Buckeye game, so he’s so excited. He’s been to the spring game, but he’s never been to a real game and I’m sure he’s real excited about it.”
A walk-on quarterback, Oltorik prepped at Cincinnati Moeller. He is on scholarship to play baseball for the Buckeyes this spring.