Ohio State's returning starter at right tackle often times showed why he was a five-star recruit out of Klein, Texas, during his junior season. The problem was keeping Shugarts on the field. A nagging foot injury, called inflammation by former head coach Jim Tressel, kept him on the sidelines in the second half of two games down the stretch of the 2010 season.
Shugarts ended the season on a high note, however, playing well in the Sugar Bowl victory against Arkansas thanks to an orthotic in right cleat. Unfortunately, that momentum did not last through spring. His foot was fine, but a minor shoulder injury shelved him for the latter half of the spring season, including the spring game itself.
Fortunately for Shugarts – and his Ohio State teammates – he is fully healthy and ready for his final season in scarlet and gray.
"Everything's 100 percent," Shugarts said. "I'm ready to rock."
A healthy Shugarts would go a long way toward the OSU offense finding some success when the season kicks off Sept. 3 vs. Akron. The Buckeyes will have a new starting quarterback under center thanks to the departure of Terrelle Pryor and will likely rely on its deep group of running backs to move the ball.
The offensive line will also start the season with only two returning starters – Shugarts and senior center Michael Brewster. Fellow senior Mike Adams, the starting left tackle, will miss the first five games of the season serving a suspension. That leaves holes at one tackle spot and both guard positions.
Shugarts said his linemates have been working hard in preparation for the season.
"There's no excuses," Shugarts said. "No talking back, nothing. Just straight work every day."
As for last year, Shugarts admitted being frustrated at times with his foot issues. The orthotics he now wears on his right foot help alleviate pressure on joints, and the turf toe he also dealt with last season has healed.
"Every football player knows about playing through injuries and doing stuff when you're hurt," he said. "It was tough, but I got through it."
Unfortunately for Shugarts, dealing with injuries has been an issue since he arrived as part of the noted "Brew Crew" recruiting class of 2008. The 6-7, 297-pounder missed six games as a freshman because of a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery. As a sophomore in 2009, he took over the starting right tackle spot and was healthy for most of the season. He did, however, not start the home finale against Iowa because of a minor injury suffered a week earlier at Penn State.
Then came the nagging injuries of last season.
"I was always giving 100 percent, but at times it was frustrating," Shugarts said of his junior season.
"At the beginning of the season I was really healthy and playing real well, and towards the end of the season (after the injuries) I was back on my game," he added. "I am 100 percent and I'm ready to prove to everybody how good a player I can really be."
His teammates and Buckeye fans are eager to see that, too.