One player who has consistently stood out during Ohio State’s spring practices is Storm Klein. The true freshman from nearby Newark (Ohio) Licking Valley graduated early from high school and enrolled in winter courses at OSU, and the move appears to have paid off.
During the spring, Klein primarily worked with the third-team linebackers but saw a few reps on the second team as well. During the spring game, Klein had four tackles including 1.5 for loss and a pass breakup while suiting up for the Gray squad.
“I feel like I’m making waves every day and getting better,” he said. “That’s what (linebackers) coach (Luke) Fickell is telling us to do. He likes being aggressive. He’ll take that any time over passive players.”
During the spring, Fickell said Klein is a player who figures to see action this fall in some capacity.
“Storm’s done a good job,” he said. “He’s going to have a chance. I think he’ll be able to help us at some place, whether it’s special teams or not. He’s a guy who didn’t play a ton of linebacker in high school because he was carrying the ball 40 times a game, but he’s pretty natural and a strong kid who can run.”
Klein said he is still adjusting to the speed of the game and the way OSU plays. Asked to clarify that last point, Klein said, “We play fast and hard. It’s different from high school football. You’re constantly moving and running and it’s a lot more busy.”
Junior linebacker Ross Homan cited Klein as a young player who had caught his eye this spring.
“He doesn’t know the defense a whole lot but he’s constantly learning, trying to get in the film room and learn mentally,” Homan said. “He’s been real good out there so far. He’s really hard on himself and very critical, which is only going to help him in the long run.”
The Pledge: There were plenty of newsworthy nuggets to emerge this spring, but one question has been on the lips of every onlooker who has taken in a practice.
Why did Anderson Russell shave his head?
“It was going away so I just went ahead and took it off,” he said. “Everybody in my family is bald so it’s not a big deal.”
Fellow safety Kurt Coleman offered up a different explanation.
“I think at first he was just cutting his hair and he just nicked himself,” Coleman said. “Ever since then he’s been shaving. I think he looks good, but Coach Tress picks on him a little bit.”
According to cornerback Chimdi Chekwa, the daily jabs from Tressel are always different but along the same theme.
“He says he looks like he’s pledging a fraternity,” Chekwa said.
Nice Shoes: There is at least one class difference among the Buckeyes, and it has to do with their feet.
During practice, most players wear either white or black Nike shoes that are provided thanks to the university’s contract with the company. However, a few players sport red-colored cleats – but those come with a price tag.
“Whoever has red shoes, they have to buy them themselves,” Chimdi Chekwa said. “We only get the white and black ones.”
Chekwa was wearing the red shoes but gave them up to wide receiver Ray Small because he did not like how they felt on his feet. He did not initially buy them himself, but rather inherited them from a former player he declined to name.
The Strongest: James Laurinaitis leaves OSU as one of the most-decorated linebackers in school history, and in doing so he finally opens the door for Austin Spitler to see some playing time.
The two were friends and occasional roommates during Laurinaitis’ tenure with the Buckeyes, and Laurinaitis often credited Spitler for having helped push him to be better on the field as well as in the weight room. This spring, a rumor began floating that Spitler was actually stronger than Laurinaitis – a rumor the senior would neither confirm nor deny.
“I can’t throw my guy under the bus,” Spitler said with a laugh. “Jimmy’s been my man for four years now. We have our different strengths. He worked his (butt) off. I guess where I’m at I can thank him because he pushed my (butt) too.”