Early Enrollees Adjust To College Life

Adjusting from high school to college can be difficult for anyone, but for the five members of Ohio State's 2011 recruiting class who enrolled early it is a little easier because they are not going through it alone.

Ryan Shazier found out one bad thing about being a part of a family atmosphere when talking to the media Wednesday afternoon at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center on National Signing Day.

Shazier was talking about the adjustment he has had to make after moving from his native Florida to icy and showy Ohio. Unfortunately for the Plantation, Fla., native, Shazier made a verbal mistake when describing ways to beat the cold.

"Just keep a jacket on and stay indoors," said Shazier, who was donning an Ohio State winter stocking cap inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. "I've got four good guys who are with me and are helping me stay warm."

Shazier immediately realized how his comments could be taken out of context. As the room filled with laughter – especially from his teammates – Shazier added, "Well, not like that. Not like that. They make me feel at home.

"I have a family around here."

Verbal faux pas aside, Shazier, along with defensive back Jeremy Cash, defensive lineman Joel Hale, tight end Jeff Heuerman and quarterback Braxton Miller, have grown close during their first month college student-athletes.

"It's nice to know you have people here to support you," Hale said. "I've met these guys on visits before, but getting to know them has really helped a lot. It's helped push me through the tough times."

Cash, Hale and Heuerman were the first three to arrive on campus for the start of winter quarter, and Miller and Shazier arrived after participating in the Under Armour All-America game on Jan. 5. The five have been taking classes and working out with their teammates as they wait for spring football.

The quintet of Buckeyes will have an advantage over most of the remaining members of the 2011 class because they will have several months with which to get adjusted to life in college. They will be joined by two more in the spring quarter when offensive lineman Tommy Brown and defensive back Ron Tanner arrive at Ohio State just in time for spring practice.

Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel said getting a fast start is a positive for any player, especially a quarterback like Miller, who will battle for the starting quarterback job for the first five games of the 2011 season while suspended senior Terrelle Pryor sits out the first five games.

"Coming in early and getting those reps is huge," Tressel said. "You get not just scrimmage reps or spring game reps, which people will see at the outset, but you talk about every day in practice and every individual drill and every perimeter drill and every drill throwing one on one.

"You can't beat experience."

But before Miller can battle for the right to start Ohio State's first game Sept. 3 against Akron he'll have to find his way around Ohio State's large campus. That was what the Huber Heights (Ohio) product called his biggest adjustment co college life so far.

"I was lost the first day I got here," Miller said. "Ryan and I are in the same classes and we were looking at this big old map the whole time. It was about as big as my freaking laptop. Ohio State's pretty big."

In addition to learning how to adjust to college life, one player is also in the midst of a position change. Shazier, who excelled as a defensive end in high school, is learning how to play linebacker. He said the adjustment has not been that difficult.

"The adjustment has not been as hard as people have made it seem because I've actually been practicing on it during the season, even though I was at defensive end," Shazier said. "I was almost always practicing with my coaches all by myself on drops and working on my stance and reads."

Hale is another new Buckeye making a change. The defensive lineman is the second-heaviest member of the class, weighing in at 310 pounds. He listed dropping weight as one of his goals for his first few months on campus. One of the main changes Hale has made since arriving at Ohio State came in the weight room. The way he learned to lift weights had to change when Hale entered OSU's winter conditioning program.

"It's totally different than what I was used to," Hale said. "Back in high school we did a lot of heavy weights for low reps. Now that I'm in college doing this program it's a lot of light weights for a lot of reps. They want me to control the weight to build more muscle."

Like the rest of his new classmates, Hale said he is thankful that he is not starting his college life alone.

"I love these guys to death," Hale said. "We've really become very close. We know each other's lives very well and help support each other."

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