Ginn Plays Both Sides To The Middle

Freshman Ted Ginn Jr. was on the winning and losing side of Saturday's jersey scrimmage at Ohio State. Of course, that is because he spent time with the offense and defense during the scrimmage. Click here for Ginn's thoughts on his camp showing as well as comments from Jim Tressel and secondary coach Mel Tucker in this prodigy.

Make no mistake, Ted Ginn Jr. is special. How do we know this? He was one of five players wearing a black jersey during Saturday's jersey scrimmage. (The others were the four quarterbacks -- Justin Zwick, Troy Smith, Todd Boeckman and walk-on Ben Kacsandi.)

Ginn was wearing black because he was a double agent of sorts, working in at wide receiver for about 10 plays and his natural cornerback position for about 20.

"I just come in and they try to get me in on both sides of the ball," Ginn said. "I had a few plays on offense. The black jersey thing is to let the offense to know I am on their team and then, when I'm on defense, to let them know I'm on their team, too. It's to separate me from getting tackled by my defensive players if I'm on defense.

"It's exciting to come out and see I could make an impact and go from there."

The 6-0, 170-pound Ginn was OSU's most celebrated signee after earning USA Today national defensive player of the year honors last fall at Cleveland Glenville. But Saturday was his first chance to play inside the cavernous Horseshoe, which will be rocking in just over a week with the Sept. 4 season opener against Cincinnati.

"It was a great feeling," Ginn said of his first time as a player on the Ohio Stadium turf. "I had fun. I just want to keep playing more games."

Of course, he was caught in the middle between the offense and defense during the scrimmage: "They were fighting over the jerseys, but I was in black the whole time. I was just playing ball. I just played my game, I guess.

"I want to play both. I want the opportunity to have fun and make plays on both sides of the ball. I like it."

Ginn has spent the lion's share of his time with the defense in drills, meetings and scrimmages during preseason camp. However, that could change since OSU is seemingly loaded at corner with Dustin Fox, E.J. Underwood, Ashton Youboty and senior Harlen Jacobs all coming through this fall. Meanwhile, Ginn's excellent speed could help him stretch defenses as a receiver.

And, it goes without saying that he could make a major impact as a punt or kick return man this season.

"The learning process on the defensive side is not that hard," Ginn said. "I just have to come in and learn the coverages and it will be cool. On the offensive side, there is a lot I have to learn. Every day, I am trying hard to get into their meetings and get it down. I just try to ask questions."

Ginn was active during the scrimmage. He made three tackles in his limited time on defense, including a nifty open-field tackle of 210-pound tailback Erik Haw on a sweep. Offensively, he took in a bubble screen and, following tight end Jordan Hoewischer's block, turned it upfield for a 7-yard gain. Could that be a play Ginn runs more this season?

"I ran it in high school a couple times," Ginn said. "I know how to set it up. I just have faith in my O-line and hope that they block for me and that big things happen."

Later in the scrimmage, Boeckman appeared to miss an open Ginn on a slant on the goal line. His pass sailed just wide of a sliding Ginn.

"It was a little low, but that's OK," he said. "We're working on getting our timing down. We just need to come back to practice and get it right."

Ginn added to his legend by returning an interception for a touchdown in his first padded practice with the Buckeyes last week. He knows he is far from a finished product, but he wants to help the Buckeyes this year.

"I need improvement in everything," he said. "Coach Tress knows what I can do."

Defensive backs coach Mel Tucker said he has enjoyed (finally) getting the chance to work with Ginn, who committed to the Buckeyes over USC and Michigan, among many others, on national television last January at the U.S. All-American Bowl in San Antonio.

"He's been working with our threes and with our twos," Tucker said. "He's done some things on special teams. He's been getting a lot of reps. He's been getting reps in there with good players. I think he's going to be all right.

"The first thing is he is a really good kid. He's a good person. He's a smart kid. He has a really good feel for the game of football. He asks good questions. He has tremendous speed on the field. He can play fast. He's not a track guy playing football. He's a football player first who happens to have good speed. You can't coach that. If you have a guy out there who possesses that kind of speed with cover abilities and ball skills, those guys are hard to find. You can always find a role for those types of guys."

Ginn is one piece of what has become a strong pipeline from Glenville, where his dad, Ted Ginn Sr., is the head coach. By our best recollection, Canton McKinley was the last school to have as many as three scholarship players on the squad at the same time. But Glenville now has four players on the roster -- Ginn, Smith, safety Donte Whitner and defensive end Curtis Terry.

That number would be five, but wide receiver Dareus Hiley has transferred to a junior college due to academic concerns. It could be five next year, when defensive back Jamario O'Neal, a senior at Glenville, is projected to sign with the Buckeyes.

OSU coach Jim Tressel talked about the Glenville connection.

"They are outstanding kids, number one," Tressel said. "I have known their coaches for a long time. Not just Coach Ginn but their entire staff is some great people and great servants in the Cleveland inner city.

"They have a very tough, structured program. If you're going to play for Glenville, you're going to play. As you can see the guys out here on the field … Curtis Terry was a young guy getting better as the scrimmage went on. We're very fortunate to have those kids."

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