Schlegel Wastes No Time Testing Knee

OSU senior middle linebacker Anthony Schlegel was listed as having limited activity this spring. But Schlegel was in the middle of the action at Thursday's first practice. Get his take on his health, a potential pro career and OSU's September showdown with Texas.

As Ohio State opened spring practice Thursday, senior middle linebacker Anthony Schlegel was wearing a blue jersey. That is supposed to signify limited activity.

But as practice observers noted, there was nothing limited about the way Schlegel attacked the tackling dummy during a drill.

OSU coach Jim Tressel could only shake his head as Schlegel, fresh off off-season surgery, was testing his knee.

"It's up to the trainer," Tressel said. "Once he proves to the trainer that he can do this or he can do that, then he'll be able to play. I worry and I tell him all the time, `Anthony, don't overdo it.' I'm more interested in him playing in September than I am about him playing in the spring game. But you know him. He's champing at the bit."

Schlegel is a football player in every sense of the word. Missing practice when he believes he can go is not part of his make-up.

"I just want to be out there," Schlegel said. "You have to listen to them. Coach is just thinking about the bigger picture. Sometimes, that's just how we are as football players. We want to get into the heat of the battle and hit people. People don't understand that spring is a fun time. We get to hit each other and work on things. I listen to them. I just have to show them I can do it and not get hurt."

Schlegel and classmate Mike D'Andrea split time in the middle until D'Andrea went down with a season-ending injury in the fourth game. Schlegel pressed on as a full-time player, finishing third on the team in tackles.

"Mike and I had certain packages we would each go in," Schlegel said. "I thought I played pretty well. I thought I definitely made a point that I can play here and, if I have the opportunity to play more, I'll have a lot more plays. You just go out there and do your job. When you're in there, you want to make the most of it and I think that's what I did last year. I think I can be better this year."

But he Schlegel played much of the year with a balky knee.

"I thought I had an OK season," Schlegel said. "There were times when that brace may have hampered me. I had some missed tackles. I honestly could not break down or change directions very well. I had one speed and that was full speed. If I tried to break down, I couldn't cut."

At season's end, Schlegel said, "Something had to be done," so he underwent the surgery.

Although the doctors have not cleared him 100 percent for contact, Schlegel believes the surgery will help make a difference in his game. He also may feel by playing this spring he will gain an edge on D'Andrea, whose own health issues continue to linger.

"This year, will definitely be better because I will be healthy," he said. "I think I can help this team get to that national championship game and that's what it's all about."

Schlegel, of course, played two seasons at Air Force before transferring to Ohio State. He got out of the academy before he would have been faced with a mandatory five-year military commitment.

"The military commitment had nothing to do with it," he said. "I just wasn't happy. The military commitment had nothing to do with it. I am so much happier now that I'm here. I do want to go to the NFL. We talk about how I'd like to coach. I do a lot of FCA stuff and I like talking to people.

"I feel I have the capability of making it (to the NFL). But I don't look at it that much. You look back at our 2002 team, players will go based on how good that team is. People will notice you if you're on a team like that. It's all about team first. The individual goals and aspirations will come."

Schlegel marveled at the mention that linebacker teammates A.J. Hawk and Bobby Carpenter each ran 40-yard times in the 4.5-second range recently.

"I'm like a 4.6-second guy," he said. "I haven't run in a long time. I'm not going to be a 4.4 guy, but I think if I work at it I can be in the 4.5's. I work out with them and I see what's going on. Bobby is like 260 something and he's running like that. A.J. is like 245. They're phenomenal athletes. They are big men who can move and they play football extremely well. They are great guys. I knew they were going to do that."

As a native of Texas, Schlegel is keyed up that Ohio State will face Texas in a Sept. 10 showdown at Ohio Stadium.

"I'm looking forward to that game," Schlegel said. "It's going to be a good game, especially now that it's at night. Obviously, I'm thinking of Miami first. The people I know talk to my wife about tickets. They don't even talk to me. She has to deal with that."

Schlegel was asked about how the Buckeyes will contain Texas quarterback Vincent Young.

"He is a phenomenal athlete, but we have a lot of speed on defense," Schlegel said. "When the time comes that we have to get ready for them, I know we will have a game plan specifically for that. We will just have to run around all over the place. He is a great athlete and everybody talks about him."

Did Schlegel grow up a fan of Texas?

"No," he said. "It was weird. I just liked college football. My dad coached in Dallas, so I can remember going to SMU games back in the late-80's when I was real little. I'd go to TCU games. I didn't have a favorite team. I liked Notre Dame a lot. I just liked watching college football. That was really my biggest thing."

Ohio State is being mentioned as a top-10 contender for 2005, and Schlegel understands why. Moreover, he accepts the high expectations.

"They're talking about us because we have 19 guys coming back and we played some solid games at the end of the year," he said. "Everybody has those last two games in their mind – Michigan and Oklahoma State – and those were great games for us.

"Every year, it seems like Ohio State has aspirations of winning a national championship. Why not have that? It just makes you work that much harder."

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