When Adolphus Washington arrived at Ohio State, an older defensive lineman named Jonathan Hankins took him under his wing.
Now Washington is a senior starter for the Buckeyes, and Hankins is plying his trade in the NFL with the New York Giants. Washington’s roll as reversed in his time in Columbus, and he’s taken another young Buckeye lineman, Michael Hill, under his wing.
Hill was a four-star prospect out Pendleton (S.C.), but he only got into three games as a freshman before injuries forced him to take a red shirt year. He played eight times for the Buckeyes during their national title run last year, but found himself on the outside looking in as Washington and Tommy Schutt earned Ohio State’s two starting spots on the interior defensive line.
But as a rotation player, Hill has caught the eye, and Washington said that all started during fall camp.
“I don’t want to take all the credit for it,” Washington joked. “But during camp … me and him used to talk a lot. We used to talk every night about things he needed to do, and he started doing them and now you can see the results of it.”
Hill is Ohio State’s primary backup at defensive tackle in a system that utilizes multiple linemen rotating in and out. Washington said having players like his fall-camp roommate coming off the bench is a huge plus.
“Especially when we’re in the fourth quarter when guys are tired, when the starters are tired, you got guys that go in there and relieve you for a couple plays an you go back out there feeling good,” he said.
But in Hill’s case, simply being a rotation player might be a look to the future.
“When he puts his mind to it, nobody can block him,” Washington said.
Schutt agreed that Hill has made huge strides this season, and added that he expects his teammate to move more into the spotlight in coming weeks.
“I expect to see him out there more these next couple of weeks making some plays,” Schutt said.
Washington said mentoring Hill has been a thankless job so far, but he added it comes naturally because he was in a similar position of simply trying to find ways onto the field when he arrived at Ohio State.
He added that he would have chosen Hill as his roommate during camp if he had a chance, but Hill made that call first.
As Hill continues to improve and likely earn more playing time, Washington can sit back and enjoy watching his old mentor Hankins leaving his mark on opposing NFL offenses.
Hill will likely be doing the same with Washington next year, and he might just have a new roommate to mold himself as well.