Position Switches No Sweat For Junior

Junior Andrew Sweat moved from strongside linebacker to the weakside during Ohio State's loss at Wisconsin when senior Ross Homan suffered a foot injury. Now Sweat will be called upon to play in Homan's place during the next two weeks as he and sophomore Jonathan Newsome, who takes over on the strongside, try to help the Buckeye defense get back on track.

Junior Andrew Sweat moved to the strongside linebacker position before the season in order to try to earn more playing time and, more importantly to him, do what's best for the Ohio State football team.

Now he is back at weakside linebacker – his original collegiate position – because, again, it is what's best for the Buckeyes. A foot injury suffered by starting weakside linebacker Ross Homan will move Sweat from the strongside (Sam) to the weakside (Will) for at least the next two weeks for games against Purdue and Minnesota.

Sweat saw the most extensive playing time of his OSU career against Wisconsin, seeing the field at Sam linebacker against the Badgers' rushing attack before Homan's injury forced him to play Will. On a night that did not feature many highlights, Sweat's play could be listed among the best. Sweat recorded eight tackles, including a crucial third-down stop of John Clay in the third quarter, to go with an interception of Scott Tolzien in the second quarter.

"I was flying around, trying to have fun and make plays," Sweat said. "I wasn't expecting to play Will that game, but I was going off my instincts and reading (plays) and playing football."

For Sweat, he is just happy to be on the field at all. A right knee injury derailed his sophomore season last fall, but instead of moping about his injury, Sweat said he took the time to learn from more experienced players like Homan and middle (Mike) linebacker Brian Rolle.

"When I was hurt last year with my ACL, the thing I got to do a lot was just watch Ross and B-Rolle and how they play and how they handle things," he said. "I think that helped this year."

Sweat returned to full action in the preseason amidst rumors that he might redshirt in 2010 in order to continue to rebuild strength in his knee. Instead he beat out Etienne Sabino for the starting spot at Sam linebacker and now it is Sabino who is redshirting.

"That's what they thought was the best move, so I moved to Sam," Sweat said of the position switch. "I'm enjoying it, but I'll play Will whenever. I get to play, unlike last year when I was just standing there (on the sidelines)."

Sweat credits linebackers coach Luke Fickell for his ability to quickly make the change from Will to Sam – and now Sam to Will.

"Coach Fickell prepares us really well," Sweat said. "I have an understanding of the defense because they always preach learning the scheme so you know all the linebacker positions. That prepared me and I'm comfortable (anywhere)."

Sweat will not be the least experienced linebacker on the field on Saturday when the Buckeyes play against Purdue. That distinction will go to Jonathan Newsome, who will remain at the Sam linebacker position after taking over at that spot against Wisconsin when Sweat was forced to replace Homan.

"He has great skills, great hands," Sweat said of Newsome. "If you play Sam linebacker you have to be able to shed blockers a lot, and he's progressing well there. I think Coach Fickell sees a lot in him and he's doing pretty well."

In addition to Homan's injury, backups Storm Klein and Dorian Bell have recently been battling injuries. Both missed last week's game against Wisconsin. Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel did not specify what sidelined Klein but said Bell suffered a concussion against Indiana. If Klein and Bell cannot go against Purdue that would mean players like Tony Jackson and Jordan Whiting could possibly move to primary backup positions.

"There's always guys waiting in the wings," Sweat said. "We have other linebackers, and people are just waiting on their chance to play."

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