Schlegel To Play Tour Guide In Texas

OSU middle linebacker Anthony Schlegel, a native of just north of Dallas, is looking forward to playing in his first college game in his home state at the Alamo Bowl. Click here for more on this special player.

In some ways, Ohio State linebacker Anthony Schlegel is looking forward to the Dec. 29 Alamo Bowl against Oklahoma State. He's also kind of dreading it.

As OSU's middle linebacker, Schlegel is juiced to go against an Oklahoma State offense that ran the ball 77 percent of the time during the regular season. And, the game in San Antonio will mark the first time that Schlegel, a native of the Dallas suburb of Highland Park, Texas, will play a college game in his home state.

Ah, but that's the rub. Schlegel's teammates have told him they expect him to show them around during their week in the Lone Star State.

"I've never played in a college game in Texas," Schlegel said. "It's going to be a good experience. All of my family is coming down. It should be a good time. As far as being the tour guide, we're going to be practicing. I don't think they understand how much we'll be practicing down there.

"I've been down there to San Antonio a couple of times. It's a beautiful city and I think everybody is going to enjoy it."

Schlegel said the Buckeyes know they must contain Oklahoma State's 1,400-yard rusher Vernand Morency as well as run-pass quarterback Donovan Woods.

"We get to do our thing and play physical football," Schlegel said. "The running back is a good football player. He's a big, physical back. I think what's helping us is how we played against Michigan. At the end of the season against some predominantly running teams, we were more physical than them. That's what this game will be. They have big tight ends who will fire off the ball. He's a good running back, but it's going to take all of us just playing hard.

"They're a good offense. They've got guys all over the place who can make plays. They've got big tight ends who are physical. They have a quarterback who's really young who started to develop at the end of the season throwing the ball. They've got some really talented receivers and a great running back. They're close to Wisconsin, probably. It should be a great challenge."

The 6-2, 245-pound Schlegel helped the Buckeyes rise to the challenge, especially down the stretch. He split time with Mike D'Andrea over the first four games before D'Andrea was lost for the year with an injury. Schlegel closed the year as the middle linebacker and, despite playing only on a limited basis early on, ended the year third on the team in tackles with 79. He trailed only fellow linebackers A.J. Hawk (136) and Bobby Carpenter (59).

Schlegel led the Buckeyes in 3-1/2 sacks and 10-1/2 tackles for loss. The former transfer from the Air Force Academy came in more than just handy when D'Andrea went down.

"Going back a year to the Michigan game, we really did not have a Mike linebacker," said defensive coordinator Mark Snyder. "The guy we had playing, Fred Pagac Jr., was hurt. They really exploited us. We lost Mike during the year to injury, but in this game against Michigan they were not able to exploit us. A big factor in that game was shutting down their run and having Anthony available. He played lights out."

Schlegel had 15 tackles in the loss at Iowa, 12 in the loss to Purdue and 10 each against Penn State and Indiana. He tallied five stops in the season finale against Michigan.

"It was just us executing," Schlegel said. "In the games we won, we didn't give up big plays. In the games we lost, we gave up big plays. Michigan had that one big play, but we bounced back and had a good game."

With D'Andrea on the shelf, Schlegel felt duty bound to play despite being hurt himself. He has a knee issue that may need addressed after the bowl game.

"Honestly, everybody plays in pain," Schlegel said. "Look at Quinn (Pitcock). He was banged up on both of his (knees) and he played. It's something you do. I don't really talk about myself like that. When you have to wear a brace, it will affect your ability to cut. But you just have to keep playing. There's no excuses for anything.

"I feel great. I think this has been a good time for us. We're having hard practices, but we're not killing each other. It's a time for everybody to recover. I'm looking forward to this bowl game."

Schlegel came highly regarded from Air Force, where he was a team captain and All-Mountain West pick as a sophomore. He had to sit out in 2003 as a transfer and was excited to get a chance this season, even if he had to split time early in the year.

"I think we built a really good foundation," Schlegel said. "I think I got to help do that a little bit. I kind of got to step in and show some of my character of how I like to play and just practice hard and be a good example for everybody in how you play and practice."

There are no guarantees that Schlegel will start next year, when D'Andrea figures to return. But he has become tight with his fellow linebacker mates as well as neighbor Simon Fraser, an OSU defensive end. He wouldn't change a thing.

"I have always thought this was the right move," Schlegel said. "I really felt that the Lord wanted me to come to Ohio State. When we were down a little bit, I thought maybe I could help get people going a little bit. That's how I took it. This last month or so, I think we've built a good foundation for next year.

"I just liked Ohio State. I just felt I was meant to come up here. I liked the guys and the coaches up here."

OSU center Nick Mangold said Schlegel and his wife (and former high school sweetheart), Stephanie, have already given the Buckeyes some pointers on where to go in San Antonio.

"His wife has already given us a few eating places we should check out," Schlegel said. "He should know the area pretty well and we'll follow him around. We'll be like little ducks following behind him."

Mangold said there is no disputing the fact that Schlegel is a Texan through and through.

"It's kind of a make-up," Mangold said. "He's down to earth and likes to have fun. He does a lot of hunting. All jokes aside, you say, `Don't mess with Texas,' but if you ever do say something about Texas, he'll be on you in a heartbeat. I always give him crap and say, `Don't mess with Ohio.' "

Schlegel said he has one cowboy hat he "wears out" and four pairs of boots. (Red Wing Boots are his preferred brand.)

"I'm going to go home and relax and work out and then start practicing in San Antonio on Dec. 22," Schlegel said of his plans for his time in Texas. "After the game, I'll probably go deer hunting. It's deer season.

"I think everybody is going to go down there and enjoy it. Texas is a great place. I'm just real excited that I get to play there for the first time in college. I'll have people like my high school coach, who can't catch a game in person, will be able to be there."

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