We begin this look at Ohio State’s 2010 draft class with the last of the four players picked in April.
That would be Austin Spitler, a Miami Dolphin linebacker who hopes to be one of the last men standing after a training camp battle set to begin July 30 in Davie, Fla.
Speaking with a representative of the team’s website after minicamp earlier this summer, Spitler said, “I walked away realizing it's going to take a lot more time in the classroom learning the play and installations and stuff. It's more time consuming.”
Learning the defense is not Spitler’s challenge alone, however, as the presence of new coordinator Mike Nolan has everyone going back to school this offseason.
Among those he's competing with at inside linebacker in the Dolphins' 3-4 defense are Carlos Dansby, Channing Crowder, Tim Dobbins and A.J. Edds
Also new to the Dolphins organization is linebackers coach Bill Sheridan, who told the Miami Sun-Sentinel that Spitler has done a real nice job so far.
“You can tell he comes from a really good football program,” reports Mike Berardino. “He’s not overwhelmed by this stuff at all. He can digest the X’s and O’s. He’s quality in coverage. He’s a good run support player. He ran into some injuries at Ohio State that kind of diluted some of his playing time, especially his last year, but he is a quality football player.”
Meanwhile, the Miami Herald's Barry Jackson reported in late June that Spitler, who received his Ohio State degree last summer, has gotten positive reviews, but the reporter seems to indicate there may not be room on the roster for him.
“There's good competition among the defensive front seven, where Miami began last season with seven linemen and nine linebackers,” Jackson wrote. “Eleven jobs appear secure; Tony McDaniel is likely a 12th. That leaves potentially two linebackers to choose among Quentin Moses (good chance), Erik Walden (special teams value), seventh-rounders Austin Spitler and Chris McCoy (Spitler has drawn more positive reviews), and J.D. Folsom (Dolphins people say he's improved). Of those, Spitler and Folsom play inside linebacker, where four players are ahead of them; Miami kept only three to start 2009.”
Kurt Coleman, a seventh-round pick like Spitler, will be playing catchup when camp starts for the Philadelphia Eagles rookies on July 26 in Bethlehem, Pa.
Coleman missed three weeks of the team’s offseason work leading up to Ohio State’s June 13 spring commencement, but the team’s official website reports he made it to the team’s facilities as soon as possible.
“I did everything I could to prepare myself for when I got here, because I knew I had a lot of catching up to do,” he said. "I can learn things several different ways. I can learn it visually, being out there on the field and seeing everything happen. And I can learn it by writing everything out and memorizing that part of it. But, of course, the more reps you get will help you out. Not being here hurt me, but I'm making up for it by writing everything out, by working now with the coaches and getting the finer details of the assignment.
"These last few days have been busy. I've logged a lot of hours and it is worth it. This is something I want to do well. I want to be a good safety for this team and in this league for a long time. I'm doing everything I can to catch up to where everyone else is. I don't want to be a step behind in training camp I feel really good about where I am in the defense."
The Eagles' site also provides a useful overall look at the free safety position, where free agent acquisition Marlin Jackson was looked upon as the answer until a ruptured Achilles tendon ruined his season before it starts. That leaves 2010 second-round pick Nate Allen and third-year player Quintin Demps along with Coleman in the mix.
Finally we conclude our look at the Ohio State rookies with the Pittsburgh Steelers, for whom Thaddeus Gibson and Doug Worthington will suit up when training camp starts July 30 in Latrobe, Pa.
Like Coleman, Gibson missed much of OTAs because neither he nor his class had graduated until mid-June.
A fourth-round draft pick, Gibson told Pro Football Weekly he is slated to backup former Michigan standout LaMarr Woodley at left outside linebacker in the Steelers’ 3-4 defense coordinated by Ohio State alumnus Dick LeBeau.
"You couldn't be in a better place or a better situation," he said.
In a separate update, Gibson told PFW he was able to keep up in his NFL studies with the help of Steelers defensive assistant Jerry Olsavsky, who met with Gibson in Columbus periodically.
Worthington, a seventh-round pick, will work to provide depth on the Pittsburgh defensive line.