BSB: What sold you on Ohio State?
Landers: “The thing that pushed me toward Ohio State wasn’t even the football program. It was the programs that Coach Urban and the rest of the coaching staff have set up for the athletes as far as graduating. You’re guaranteed to graduate college and you’re going to get a great education. They also help you network so that when you graduate college, nine times out of 10 you have a job or you’ve put yourself in a great position to get a job. Personally, that’s always been my thing. I know football comes to an end, and you have to fall back on a good job and a great education. Talking with my mom about the things I’ve been through, if I have a chance to go to the NFL that’s my Plan B. My plan A is my education.”
BSB: You said you’re kind of undersized for a defensive tackle. How would you describe your playing style?
Landers: “My playing style is very aggressive and relentless. I’m very undersized and for who I am, I know I have to rely on things like my speed and my first step off the ball and my football IQ. I rely on the little details that will put me that extra step above everyone else because I know I’m not the tallest, I’m not the biggest and I’m not the strongest. But at the end of the day, I’m going to find a way to win and I’m going to excel at everything I do. If I have to stay an extra hour to watch film, I stay an extra hour. If I have to do extra reps to work on my fast twitch or hand placement, that’s what I’m going to do.”
BSB: What did it mean to earn an Ohio State offer after tearing through the Division I playoffs?
Landers: “Honestly, at one point and time I was one of the kids who was like, ‘Man, we’re going to the playoffs and my recruiting process isn’t the best because I’m undersized.’ At that point in time, when I committed to West Virginia, it was all about making a statement. Yes, I may be undersized for a D-lineman but at the end of the day I can still play football. Even though I’m not the 6-3, 6-4 that you want, I’m going to get you those extra plays and I’m going to sacrifice my body for the betterment of the team. My biggest thing throughout the playoffs was just to play Robert football. Don’t worry about anyone else. Just go out and bust your butt to try to make yourself better. I was pretty good, but there’s always someone better than me and I always keep that in mind. Other guys might have had 15 offers, but I knew I’d eventually show that I should have more, too.
BSB: Is there anything you’ll miss about home?
Landers: “Honestly, not really. The biggest thing I’ll miss is my family. Me, my mom and my two younger brothers are very tight knit because of my situation with my dad passing away. It shows you life is really short and we all try to stay as close as possible. That’ll probably be the only thing I worry about in college. I’ll miss high school sports, but once you get to college, it’s like, ‘OK, I don’t really care about that anymore’ – especially when you’re playing in The Shoe. I won’t worry about anything else.
BSB: Do you know what you want to major in?
Landers: “Yes, I want to major in sports administration and minor in communications.”
BSB: Why does that appeal to you?
Landers: “Number one, I love being around sports. That’s just my thing. I look at it as, if I’m going to wake up at 5 o’clock every morning, I want to do something that I love to do. I don’t want to wake up every morning dragging tail like, ‘Man, I don’t feel like going to work today.’ If I get up at 6 o’clock in the morning, I’m going to love my job. That’s the field I want to go into.”
BSB: What opposing stadium are you most looking forward to visiting?
Landers: “The one stadium I can’t wait to play in is The Little House. I can’t wait to be up there. That’s going to be fun.”
BSB: It’s quite an atmosphere for The Game.
Landers: “One of my friends Tyree Kinnel is committed there, and I know from talking to him and his dad that he came out of the womb an Up North fan. He’s like, ‘Man, there’s nothing like it.’ But me personally, I can’t wait to get up there. You want to play in that type of hostile and competitive environment and just see the fans.”
BSB: Who are you rooming with?
Landers: “I’m rooming with Davon Hamilton from Pick Central. I emailed him and his dad a few weeks ago and we talked. We had talked at the spring game a little bit and we’ll be rooming together.”
BSB: Do you have any pregame rituals or superstitions?
Landers: “My biggest thing is I’m not the rah-rah type. Teams jumping up and down hollering and yelling, I’m that kid sitting in the corner with his headphones in, quiet and looking like he’s ready to kill somebody. That’ just who I am. I don’t believe in the jumping around and yelling because at the end of the day, you can do as much jumping around and screaming as you want, but if you don’t perform then all that screaming and yelling was for nothing.”
BSB: What music do you listen to when you have the headphones in?
Landers: “I have a pretty broad genre of music I listen to. One of my favorites right now is Yo Gotti, and I listen to a little bit of Maroon 5 – some of their music I like a little bit. I like a lot of genres of music.”
BSB: What’s your favorite football memory so far?
Landers: “Even though it’s a rough one, I would have to say our state championship game (a 31-21 loss to Lakewood St. Edward). That environment was phenomenal. There’s nothing like it. Especially with all the adversity we had to face. At the beginning we didn’t know if we’d have a team because of the levy not passing. And then pay to play might have been $728, but even when it became $428 that’s still a lot of money. We didn’t know if kids would come out and we weren’t deep on our roster. I feel like it was a blessing for us to make it that far and compete the way we did. Even though it was a tough pill to swallow and it’s a hard memory to think about, that’s hands down my best memory of my football career.”