"Mike told me the other day that he wasn't a full-time starter on the offensive line at (Cleveland) St. Ignatius until his senior year," OSU coach Jim Tressel said. "He said they won the state when he became a starter. He wants to help lead this team to a championship. I know he will work hard on that."
It has been a long journey for the 6-4, 300-pound Kne to reach this point. After helping St. Ignatius win the 1999 Division I state title, he spent one year at Division I-AA Fordham. He led that team in total number of plays.
Kne then decided to transfer to Ohio State in 2001. He walked on to the team and became eligible in 2002. He appeared in 11 games during the team's national championship run, primarily in the Jumbo set as the sixth offensive lineman.
Prior to last season, Tressel put Kne on scholarship. He went on and played in 10 of the 13 games and started against Northwestern. He spent time working behind the likes of Adrien Clarke, Alex Stepanovich and Bryce Bishop at guard. Now, with those guys all out of eligibility, Kne is positioned as the starter at right guard.
"It's a dream come true to just have an opportunity. Ever since I was a little kid I've always dreamed about playing for Ohio State. I've put in a couple years of hard work. Now I'm excited to show what I can do and see what these younger guys can do as well."
Kne is joined in the lineup to open the spring by returning starters Nick Mangold at center and Rob Sims at left tackle. Sophomore Doug Datish (6-5, 290) is listed at left guard, while sophomore Tim Schafer (6-5, 290) is penciled in at right tackle. Kne believes this revamped line will be able to do some things last year's line was unable to do.
"I'm very excited about our athleticism," Kne said. "We're going to go out there and run around and try and get the ball outside a little more. We want to make some big plays.
"Last year, we tried to get the ball outside a little more. We want to get out there and get pulling and just get the whole defense moving around. We want to run outside and run screen plays. It's like a new wrinkle. We're all similar to those guys who played last year in strength. But I think we can move around a little bit better. I'd like to see us get the ball outside."
Kne doesn't think this line will give up much in pass protection, either.
"We're all about 300 pounds," he said. "The size won't be a factor in pass protection. Nobody is worried about that."
And nothing is etched in stone, either. Kne expects offensive coordinator/line coach Jim Bollman to mix and match his line combinations.
"I know, just from talking with the coaches, we're going to see who are the best players," he said. "Even though we are all penciled in, we're going to be switching around just to see who fits best where. I'm looking forward to that.
"I noticed R.J. Coleman put on some weight and looks athletic. Doug has always been strong. We're working on our footwork and speed. I think we've all made strides."
Kne was also impressed with early enrolling freshman lineman Steve Rehring.
"For any freshman, making the jump from high school to winter conditioning would be tough," he said. "Steve has made the transition very well. Now he is with the whole swing of things."
Injury problems limited Kne late last year. He missed the Michigan State and Michigan games as well as the Fiesta Bowl against Kansas State.
"I missed two or three games there at the end of the season," he said. "I feel pretty good. I had turf toe, then I messed up my other ankle. But I feel pretty good. I participated in the 6 a.m. workouts and didn't have any big problems."