This fall, Drew Basil will likely find himself on the field for Ohio State. This spring, he was simply trying to get accustomed to being on campus.
The freshman kicker from Chillicothe, Ohio, was one of two incoming freshmen to enroll early and take part in spring practice. The other, running back Carlos Hyde, arrived for winter courses after having spent a semester after high school in prep school and was initially a member of the class of 2009.
Basil, then, was a little like a man without a country as he went through spring drills. In his case, however, he said he enjoyed being a part of the fraternity of kickers.
“They’re helping,” he said during spring drills. “It’s great to be hanging out with these guys. They’re great role models. I love hanging out with them through practice and training tables and lifting. It’s been great.”
A three-star prospect out of high school as ranked by Scout.com, Basil boasts a booming leg that he displayed throughout the spring. Although he was just 1 for 4 during the team’s kick scrimmage, Basil was occasionally called upon by head coach Jim Tressel to attempt long-range field goals near the end of practice. In addition, he handled the majority of the team’s kickoff duties.
The latter role appears to be Basil’s to lose when the Buckeyes start the 2010 season.
“He’s got a very good chance,” head coach Jim Tressel said during the final week of spring practice. “(He has shown) that he’s got some pop in that leg. If we were kicking off tomorrow, I would kick off with Drew.”
For that, Basil can at least partially thank the fact that he graduated early from high school and got a jump on his collegiate career.
“The whole staff gets to see him and evaluate him from the start,” special teams assistant Wes Satterfield said.” If he came in the fall, he would have that many less kicks to be evaluated.
“Kicking is no different, in my opinion, than any other position on the field. If a high school kid graduated early and wanted to play a lot in the fall, him coming to spring practice would benefit him tremendously.”
Asked if any of the players have treated him like a rookie, Basil laughed and said, “It’s maybe happened once when they made me go get the balls but that was maybe a 100-yard run.”
One of the biggest adjustments for kickers as they go from high school to college is the transition from kicking off a tee to kicking off the ground. Basil said he has been preparing for the transition.
“I worked on that last summer and then as soon as I got done with my school season I took probably a month off just to rest my leg and then I got straight to kicking off the ground and working on the kickoffs too,” he said.
Basil, who watched last fall’s kick scrimmage from the stands in Ohio Stadium, said he enjoyed the pressure of being at least a bit player in this year’s installment.
“It’s not too different,” he said. “You just add a bunch of seats. The field is still the same. You just block the seats out.”
His primary focus in practice has been on kickoffs, with the majority of the field goal reps going to returners Devin Barclay and Ben Buchanan. Although he has bonded with Barclay and Buchanan, Basil said he is living with tight end Reid Fragel, who saw playing time as a true freshman last season.
“I’ve gotten pretty close with him and a couple other guys,” he said. “It’s great to be meeting some of these big guys I used to see on TV all the time.”
Graduating early did not preclude him from all high school activities. Although he missed his senior bowling season, Basil said he was able to attend two proms: one the day of the kick scrimmage and another following the spring game.
“This has definitely been a great decision, to graduate early well and come in,” he said. “It’s really fit my lifestyle well. I’ve learned that you need some self-motivation for classwork but as long as you get that done the rest will take care of itself.”