Tim Moody/BSB

Freshman Focus: Michael Jordan

As the season nears, Buckeye Sports is taking a look at some freshmen who could make an impact for the Buckeyes this season. Offensive lineman Michael Jordan is in line to be Ohio State's starting left guard in his first collegiate season.

Every sports fan knows the name.

Because of the Chicago Bulls legend who won six NBA championships, the name "Michael Jordan" one of the most recognizable on the planet. Recognizable enough, in fact, that Ohio State quarterback J.T. Barrett didn't think freshman offensive lineman Michael Jordan had earned the right to go by that name when he first arrived on campus as an early enrollee last January.

Instead, Barrett called him Marcus until he proved he could live up to the work ethic needed to be associated with one of the all time biggest legends in sports. But by the end of spring camp, Jordan had already impressed Barrett, and by the time fall camp rolled around he was in line to be a starter for the Buckeyes in 2016.

"When I first got here (Barrett) used to call me Marcus because he felt like Michael Jordan was too great a name and I didn't have the work ethic that Michael Jordan had," Jordan said during Ohio State's media day Sunday. "But now he's saying that now that I'm starting right now, he said I'm kind of getting the work ethic that Michael Jordan has so he's started calling me by my name now."

The thing about all the talk surrounding his name and the comparison to the former basketball star, though, is that Ohio State's MJ doesn't really care about that connection. He takes plenty of pride in his name, but not because he happens to share it with an NBA player. He wasn't named after that Michael Jordan, anyway.

"It (the name) drives me because it's my family name," Jordan explained. "I was named after my dad. His middle name is Michael so he gave me that as my first name. So yeah it drives me to be the best I can so I can put on for my family."

So far as a college player – despite not playing in a game just yet – Jordan has at least met, if not greatly exceeded, his expectations. He said – just like any freshman – he arrived at Ohio State with the goal of starting day one, but that doesn't mean he ever really thought it could happen.

He admitted that he was surprised at first by the physicality of the college game. He wasn't surprised by how physical it was, but rather by how well he could hold up against players who were much older and already had collegiate experience.

"When you get to college everybody is good," Jordan said. "Everybody's good. But I played at a high level of football in high school so hitting wasn't that much different once I found out, once I put the cleats on in spring. Found out I could just go just like I did in high school.

"When I first got here the guy I spent the most time with was (freshman offensive guard) Tyler Gerald and I always used to tell him every day after practice just how surprised I was that I'm driving out people that are in college that are experienced to start this year."

That physical maturity has put Jordan in a spot very few freshmen linemen have been, but head coach Urban Meyer noted that his starting spot isn't locked down just yet. But a year after the Buckeyes played just four true freshman for the entire season, Meyer could confirm one thing when it comes to Jordan's upcoming season: "Michael Jordan for sure is playing," Meyer said. "That's done."

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