Freeman Makes Most Of Opportunity

Sophomore linebacker Marcus Freeman got a chance to work with the first team this spring with linebackers Anthony Schlegel and Mike D'Andrea out of action for much of the spring. Freeman was one of the stars of Saturday's Scarlet and Gray Game, logging a team-high nine tackles (including two for losses) for the victorious Gray side.

One of the fresh faces who delivered a big game in Saturday's spring-ending Scarlet and Gray Game was sophomore outside linebacker Marcus Freeman.

Freeman was in on nine stops, including six solos and two tackles-for-loss, as the Gray team took a 19-6 win.

"The defensive line did a good job of keeping the offensive linemen off the linebackers," Freeman said. "Overall, I thought we did a great job."

Freeman got plenty of opportunities for reps this spring as senior middle linebackers Anthony Schlegel and Mike D'Andrea missed much of the spring. Starting outside linebacker Bobby Carpenter would move inside at times, giving Freeman time with the first unit.

"With Schlegel being out, I got a lot of reps with the ones," Freeman said. "The one offense had a lot of speed. I got to learn the speed of the game better. I know playing with the ones, I have to be ready to play. I think I grew a lot by playing with the ones."

OSU coach Jim Tressel said he was pleased with Freeman's progress this spring.

"Marcus Freeman has always been a heck of an athlete," Tressel said. "He's starting to get more reps now. He's been in there studying extra with Bobby and A.J. I see him in that weight room a little bit extra like those guys. I think he has made some excellent strides."

Freeman's showing led some to ask if he made a case for some playing time in the fall -- regardless whether Schlegel and D'Andrea are healthy and Carpenter and fellow outside starter A.J. Hawk are among the best linebackers in the Big Ten.

"I did the best I could," Freeman said. "If the coaches decide to put me on the field, I'm going to go out and do the best I can. If not, I'll do what I can on special teams and cheer my team on.

"I know I got an opportunity to play this spring and I know I'll be ready to play if anybody gets hurt."

Freeman was asked if he would lobby for a linebacker rotation, as new defensive coordinator Jim Heacock uses on the defensive line.

"I don't know," he said. "On the defensive line, they need a lot more people. They're trying to get after the quarterback on every play. If we rotate like that, I'll be happy. If not, I'll be happy and do what I can do."

Saturday's conditions -- with near-freezing temperatures and rain -- were optimum for defensive football.

"It was all right," Freeman said. "It was cold and wet out there, but I think we did a good job playing in the nasty weather."

After playing mostly on special teams last year as No. 17, Freeman exchanged that number for No. 1 this spring. He shared 17 with quarterback Todd Boeckman last fall. No. 1 was vacated with the graduation of linebacker Thomas Matthews.

"Todd and I both had 17 last year," Freeman said. "As we've seen in practice, I think Todd is going to be a great player here. I'm not big on sharing numbers. I wanted a single digit. No. 1 was open, so I asked Coach Tressel if I could have No. 1."


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