Father - Bart Denlinger
What is special about him on the field?
"I guess just on any playing field -- I've coached him in little league baseball and hockey and everything else -- he's always been a coachable kid. Specific to football, I think just because it has been his love since he was old enough to hold one. He just has a sixth sense out there for it that sets him apart from some of the other kids. He's always had it since peewee football. Of course, he's always been a big kid but he has always been a very athletic big kid which made him stand out a little bit.
Can you tell me about Todd's love for OSU?
"We've gone to a few games over the years. We've never really made it a tradition to get over there every year, but he's been to probably five or six games over the years."
Any players he rooted for?
"Over the last couple of years, Tim Anderson with being a fellow defensive lineman."
He mentions being a leader – taking that seriously.
"He is not always the vocal, outspoken, rah-rah kind of leader but is more of an example type of leader, ‘hook up and follow me guys' kind of leader. He is going to do the right things on and off the field,."
He seems to be doing well in the classroom as well. Is it part of his 110% attitude?
"That's part of it. I think he takes that same attitude into there. He has an older brother that was a very fine student and sort of planted that seed into Todd also. And, it's a big thing in this house not to slouch off there. He has coaches on the field, and I would sort of pass off or credit his mother probably at home. She makes him walk the straight and narrow.
How special is it going to be for you as parents to have a son play so close?
"Phenomenal. Of course, we've gone on a couple visits there and went to a couple of games. Just that experience with Todd, walking around the field has been phenomenal with some of the fanatics yelling at him – knowing he was a recruit. Just getting a good feel for how excited people are about Ohio State football, and being that he is so close the whole family can go. The town [Troy] will be supporting him also. It will be a great 4-5 years for us."
Can you tell me about Annie (his little sister) and Todd?
"The one thing she did bring home from school this year apparently when one of the boys at school found out Todd was being recruited by the Buckeyes, he said ‘If he becomes a Buckeye, then he wants his autograph but he doesn't – then he doesn't [want his autograph]."
What makes you proud of Todd as parents?
"I think it is a personality thing with how humble he has been through the whole thing. Of course people like yourself have called him and reporters and the local paper – they want to write about him. He just takes it all in stride. If you met him on the streets he wouldn't bring up Ohio State football. Just the way he has handled this whole process has made me very proud of him."
What about Jim Tressel? Can you share your impressions of him?
"He's the type of guy – we've gotten to know him and have met him a
few times – I wouldn't have a problem handing my son over to him for 4-5
years and then going back and picking him up in 4-5 years. You know he is going
to be treated with respect. Everything will be on the up and up and Todd will be
given a fair chance to participate. People ask me what kind of guy he is and my
answer is, ‘He's exactly how you think he is.' He is a very family
oriented, Christian type guy."
How do your aggressiveness and high motor impact your game?
"It kicks in. You get that feeling right before game time. Something kicks in inside your body, and it turns it on. You really don't think much during the game, you just make tackles. Just reaction and reading the play."
What is it you love about defense?
"Not having too much responsibility. Kind of being free a little bit."
Dream scenario as a football player defensively?
"Sacking the quarterback, him fumbling, me picking it up and scoring."
You played LB but are slated in at defensive line in college?
"Yeah, that's what I will be playing at Ohio State. My team was short on numbers and being an athlete I was able to fill in that position."
Do you have a preference DE or DT?
"No, I just think size-wise I will end up being a defensive tackle. Either way I wouldn't mind."
What are your numbers?
6'3", 280-285, 4.8
Talk about working to get better – it's obvious you spend time in the weight room with 350 lb bench, 475 squat, and 26 inch vertical.
"Every morning this summer I have been in the weight room with my strength coach. Maybe not just once a day; usually two or three times a day lifting weights. He's had me row a boat, he's had me hit a punching bag – the workouts have varied. I've been working hard this season to really step it up my senior season."
What are your goals then?
I really don't have a whole lot of individual goals. I have a lot of team goals. I am really not an individual. The senior class of mine has been stable as I see it. I think we all have pretty big goals of getting into the playoffs, hopefully winning the league, and turning our program around where it should be."
What is the weak point in your game?
"Probably just reading plays, knowing when to do what. I can get to the ball and am good at pursuing, but sometimes just reading what the offensive line is doing. I can always work on that."
Are you spending time watching film then?
"Yeah. That's a big part. I'm always in the coaches' office during the season watching film, reading the offense, and knowing what to do."
You are a fairly early verbal, and you have talked about being a leader – what are you doing right now to try and lead others to OSU?
"I've called a couple recruits. I called Mark Sanchez before he committed to USC. I've talked to Ryan Williams – a couple of California kids. I'm on pretty good terms with all the other commits to Ohio State – Alex Boone, Jimmy Cordle – so I know all of them fairly well. I think that is a big part of any good team is to have a good relationship. That is a big leadership role I think."
Are you making phone calls to target recruits right now?
"Not right now."
Are you still getting calls from other schools?
"Not at this point I haven't. Right now is a dead period anyway."
Are you still getting letters?
"I get letters quite a bit – but that even slowed down a little bit."
What is your favorite Buckeye memory?
"Wow. I don't know. I've watched a ton of their games in recent years. I really don't have a certain one. The national championship was great."
Who is/was your favorite player to watch at OSU?
"Recently I would say Tim Anderson. Just the way he gets after things. He didn't always make big plays, but I think he was the anchor on the D-line for the four years he was there. I have talked to him a little bit when I was over the last couple of years but nothing personal."
Where do you expect to play at OSU? You mentioned both DE and DT. Marcus Spears of LSU was big enough to play DT but fast enough for DE. Can you see yourself in that type of role?
"That's what I am told I am. If I keep my speed where it is at, that's what's great about speed. You can play anywhere on the defensive line."
Would you like to try DE with some poor tight end having to block you?
"Definitely. You get more freedom. I love freedom – being able to rush the quarterback every play would be great."
What is your leadership style? Are you outspoken, or do you lead by example?
"A little bit of both really. When I see something that needs to be changed I will speak up, but mainly I lead by example."
With the number of players now coming to OSU early and successfully getting freshman playing time – will that cause you to consider coming in early?
"I have talked about it a little bit. I know Boone and Cordle are, but I guess I will kind of leave that and see where my family, my coaches, and my school is at that point. If I knew I was going to get a chance to play early, I probably would, but knowing the depth on the defensive line I don't see it out of the question that I might be redshirted. So, I might just go there in early June."
What is the most important characteristic of a leader?
"Being able to be coachable and do things right.
Does that mean you put in more work?
"Yes. Both the lines meet about every day now. We are always working before practice and sticking around after practice."
What are you working hardest on right now with your technique?
"I'm playing both ways this year. I'm playing center on offense and I'm working a lot on that right now just because it is a fairly new position to me. I know at this point my defensive line skills are good enough for high school that I can get by with them without as much work as center. So, I am really working on center right now."
How does that help you – playing center?
"Footwork. Any type of lineman has to have good footwork so when I work at center I am also working at defensive line a little bit."
Anyone else you seriously considered?
"Oklahoma, Wisconsin, and Tennessee. I kind of felt bad having to tell them no, but that is something everyone has to do when they make their decision. What I did was write everybody a personal note telling them I did commit. Some of them wrote me back telling me congratulations. Some of them just didn't say anything at all."