Ohio State boasts two first-team all-Big Ten linebackers in Ross Homan and Brian Rolle. This winter, their true tenacity might be tested when the Buckeyes go through 6 a.m. conditioning workouts. With both set to play their final games in the Sugar Bowl against Arkansas, the two seniors will not be required to take part in the drills.
They might show up anyway.
"We always joke that we'll come in for 6 a.m. workouts and sit on the bleachers and watch them die," Homan said with a laugh. "That would be worthwhile. B Rolle always says he's going to come in with a cheeseburger and just eat it right in front of them."
Homan and Rolle would apparently not be the first linebackers to do so in recent memory. According to Homan, current St. Louis Rams starter James Laurinaitis was notoriously annoying when it came to the early-morning workouts.
"The first year, James came back in walking in at 5:30 in the morning for a 6 a.m. workout like, ‘Hey man, you ready?' " Homan said. "He's in the hot tub chilling and I'm like, ‘Oh gosh, here we go.' He's out there giving us crap the whole time. It will be fun doing that stuff.
"He was that guy that would rub it in your face that he didn't have to listen to the coaches or anything like that."
Clifford Sighting: The last time OSU fans likely heard of Eugene Clifford, the former five-star safety prospect was transferring out of the program after off-the-field problems derailed his promising career.
After playing in four games as a freshman in 2007, Clifford was left off the travel squad for the BCS title game after violating unspecified team rules. That subsequent offseason, Clifford was charged with assault after a bar altercation and later pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor. He was then kicked off the team and resurfaced at FCS school Tennessee State.
This year, Clifford was named an All-American as a senior after recording 83 tackles, 14 passes defended – a league-high total – and four interceptions. Still in Columbus, senior cornerback Devon Torrence said he was glad to see his former teammate having success.
"That's great for Eugene," said Torrence, also a member of OSU's class of 2007. "He definitely had a few situations when he was here but it's good that he's still got his head on straight and he's been able to work through that. People have their different paths and stuff they have to go through to get to where they want to be and need to be. It's good that he just did that."
Torrence said he had mostly lost touch with Clifford since the move but said they had occasionally been in contact. Fifth-year senior offensive lineman Connor Smith, who played with Clifford at Cincinnati Colerain, said the same.
"If I would see him obviously I would talk to them but I really haven't had a chance to see him," Smith said. "He's doing his thing and I'm doing my own thing. Our times off never match up."
"It's just part of life," Torrence said. "People have their different paths. It's their way that they have to go and stuff that they have to figure out in life. Unfortunately he had to figure out by leaving here to go somewhere else to get through it. We did wish he would've stayed here.
"He's a great friend to all of us. Everybody loves him."
Smart Snapper – In addition to being a fifth-year senior, Jacob McQuaide is apparently the smartest player on the team. The long-snapper from Cincinnati has earned academic all-Big Ten honors during his OSU career as well as the respect of his peers.
For that, he has his course of study to think: aeronautical engineering.
"I think (his teammates) don't realize how much time he has to put into it and how much extra studying he has to do as opposed to my degree, which is sport and leisure studies," senior kicker Devin Barclay said.
McQuaide apparently achieves high marks despite having what Barclay views as poor study habits.
"He doesn't do a good job of balancing it," the kicker said. "He hibernates after practice for hours on a single homework problem. He's intense. He just manages to (get it done). He spends his time wisely, I think."
Even senior cornerback Chimdi Chekwa – who like McQuaide received his bachelor's degree in December – gave kudos to the snapper.
"As bad as I want to say I'm the smartest guy on the team I'll say Jake McQuaide," Chekwa said. "He's an engineering major, 3.6 GPA, does a good job. He doesn't really talk about what his major is. He might be one of the smartest guys."
Scranton Native? Homan leaves little room in his life for anything aside from family and football. It is an attitude that has allowed the fifth-year senior linebacker to become a first-team all-Big Ten player during his Ohio State career.
But when he does need a break from the grind that is year-round training for football, Homan does what most college students do: he turns to his television. Atop his list of favorite shows is The Office, a long-running sitcom on NBC.
Homan said he most closely resembles Jim Halpert, a sarcastic lead character.
"I'm laid back like Jim," he said. "I'm definitely not a Dwight."
Which Buckeye would be Dwight? Homan had an answer.
"Nate Williams would be Dwight," he said. "He has these dumb one-liners all the time and he thinks he's the best thing on earth. He's definitely the Dwight."
Finally, Homan added one more playful jab at a teammate: senior wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher.
"I always tell Dane that he looks like B.J. Novak so I call him Ryan," he said. "He gets pretty mad about that. It's because of how he talks and how he acts."