The best laid plans often work out – but sometimes they don’t.
The No. 48-ranked player in the Scout 100 in the class of 2012, Schutt was set to spend his college career at Penn State, having committed to the Nittany Lions in August 2011.
Of course, the Penn State world changed three months later when the Jerry Sandusky news broke. A few weeks later, Urban Meyer was hired at Ohio State. Two weeks after that, Schutt became the first player to commit to Meyer the Buckeye coach, “an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” he said.
The decision has worked out in many ways. Schutt has made the lifelong friends that comes along with playing college football, plus a handful of championship rings earned a season ago.
But on the field, things haven’t exactly gone the way he expected when he got here. A five-star prospect coming out of Glen Ellyn (Ill.) Glenbard West, Schutt has 17 tackles in 32 games including one start. Sideswiped by a couple of foot injuries that have slowed his development just as he seemed to be ready to break out, Schutt has been a bit player to this point on the field in his OSU career.
“It’s obviously a little frustrating, but stuff like that happens,” Schutt said. “Injuries happen. I use it now as a motivation thing, that I haven’t produced the way I want to the last couple of years. It’s my opportunity to show what I can really do.”
That opportunity begins tonight. Penciled into the starting lineup as the Buckeyes begin the season at Virginia Tech, Schutt is expected to hold down the nose guard position for the Ohio State.
To head coach Urban Meyer, the former five-star talent is in line to excel.
“He comes from a wonderful family, one of my favorites,” Meyer said. “To see his progress, it’s overdue to be honest with you. He knows that. I know that. (Defensive line coach Larry) Johnson knows that. He’s had a really good camp. He’s very active. His body weight is right where we want it. Academically, he’s made a surge, too.
“He’s a classic guy that probably screwed around a little too much – not as far as lifestyle but wasn’t doing what we expected out of a highly recruited kid, but he looks like it now.”
Schutt admits the transition to college was harder than he expected.
“I think everyone will tell you that, that the jump from high school to college is tough,” he said. “It’s getting adjusted to the whole college life, having full days of class, the competitive level – Ohio State is the best.”
That adjustment came with its fair share of tough days, especially when the injuries are factored in. So much of playing football at the highest level in college is confidence – see the way Ohio State played at the end of last year – and Schutt admits there were times he didn’t have it.
“I would say the injury bug got me a little bit, which also altered my confidence,” he said. “That was my biggest thing was battling back and fighting through those injuries and also keeping my mind in a place where it needed to be.”
Schutt credited his teammates in the defensive line room for helping him get past those setbacks, and his mind-set was focused as he came into this season for the simple fact that it’s his last chance to wear the scarlet and gray.
“I really took it to heart,” he said. “This was my last time doing this with all of the guys. I don’t want to let anybody down, and I put in a lot of extra time in the offseason. I want to make sure I make this last year worth it.”
To do so, he’ll have to get the job done on each and every play. His hope is that the No. 90 that has flashed in past seasons will be more of a disruptor on an every play basis.
“I would say the biggest thing for me throughout my career has just been consistency,” he said. “I’ve shown flashes that I can make plays and be an effective player out there. Sometimes I let down and not play the way that I want to. That was always my thing was playing more consistently. I’m finally at the point I think I can go out and play the game at the same level.”