Excerpt From April Bucknuts Mag: "Animal Instinct"

In this week's excerpt from the latest issue of Bucknuts the Magazine, we have a portion of a story by Gary Housteau called "Animal Instinct", which is about soon-to-be OSU freshman linebacker James Laurinaitis. Learn a bit more about this talented young linebacker and how he became interested in OSU as we give you a glimpse of Gary's story that ran in the April issue of Bucknuts.

As part of the redesign of the Bucknuts.com web site, we have added an area where we can publish excerpts from Bucknuts The Magazine. Each week, we will put in a new excerpt from the latest edition of Bucknuts The Magazine.

BTM has evolved from humble beginnings as a 32-page magazine into its current format as an 80-page magazine. It is published 10 times a year (monthly from September through April, then once in the Spring and Summer).

The magazine retails for $4.95 on newsstands. We also sell annual subscriptions to the magazine on the Internet for $39.95.

But the best deal going is our annual subscription bundle. For $99.95, you get a full year of BTM as well as access to all of the premium content and message boards on Bucknuts.com. Subscriptions to the web site, itself, are priced at $9.95 per month. So, for roughly $100 you receive the value of almost $160 between the web site and magazine.

In each issue of Bucknuts The Magazine, we have in-depth features on Ohio State football players, coaches and prospects. We also have analysis pieces on the Buckeyes as well as their opponents, the Big Ten and college football world in general. Plus, we have features on OSU athletes in a variety of sports, including men's and women's basketball, hockey, wrestling, baseball and other sports.

The Spring edition (Ted Ginn Jr. on the cover) is on newsstands now. If you subscribe now, your subscription will start with the Summer edition, which will stand as the Football Preview edition.

Here is this week's excerpt from a story published in the Spring edition of BTM. This week, we take a look at a portion of a story on incoming linebacker James Laurinaitis, written by Gary Housteau:

Headline: Animal Instinct

By Gary Housteau

Credit Andy Katzenmoyer with an assist for initially attracting the top football player in the state of Minnesota last season to The Ohio State University. When James Laurinaitis of Plymouth Wayzata High School got a Katzenmoyer jersey years ago from his father, he was hooked on the All-American linebacker of the Buckeyes, and now he actually has a chance to follow in the former Butkus Award winner's footsteps.

"My first college football jersey was Andy Katzenmoyer's," Laurinaitis said. "My dad was performing in a wrestling match in Ohio somewhere, I think it was in Columbus, and he got me a Katzenmoyer jersey. I remember it even had the name on the back - number 45, Katzenmoyer across the back of it - and I just fell in love with it. I just loved that jersey and I loved the way he played. And that's when I really started loving linebackers. I was really young then."

Several years later at the very end of the 2002 college football season, Laurinaitis' interest in Ohio State was renewed. This time, he took the Buckeyes in a "family-friendly bet" with his uncle, who was a big Miami Hurricane fan, in the national championship contest.

"It was more of a gentlemen's bet for some bragging rights and I took the Buckeyes. It was awesome," Laurinaitis said. "So I've actually been a Buckeye fan for a while now, since the Katzenmoyer days."

But when Laurinaitis verbally committed to the University of Minnesota last April, it was looking as if he would never have the chance to become another Katzenmoyer-like linebacker to roam the field at Ohio Stadium for Ohio State.

"I was at the spring game for Minnesota last year - my best friend Dom Barber plays for them; he was a freshman this year, and his older brother is Marion Barber - and they offered me or what not," said Laurinaitis, who claims he was actually unaware that he gave a verbal commitment to Minnesota but went with it anyway when it was reported in the paper that he did. "I just kind of let it slip by because at that point I was so excited that I'd gotten the offer that it was more of a blessing than anything."

So the whole summer before his senior season, everyone thought that Laurinaitis was all set with the Gophers, and most of the recruiting traffic aimed at him had stopped. Other than attending a camp at Notre Dame last summer, Laurinaitis really gave no indication that he was looking at any other schools but Minnesota. But the door was still open as far as he was concerned and Ohio State eventually stepped in.

As the season approached, word got back to Laurinaitis that OSU had a real interest in him. For many years, Dick Tressel scoured the North Star State looking for gridiron talent when he was the head football coach at NCAA Division III Hamline University. "Doc" Tressel became the point man in the pursuit of Laurinaitis.

"He came to my Cretin-Derham Hall game when Cretin was nationally ranked and we ended up beating them," Laurinaitis said. "I had one of my best games of the year; I had like 17 tackles in the game. After (Ohio State) saw that game, they kind of offered me."

So all that was left to do for Ohio State at that point was to set up an official visit. And that visit is what eventually sealed the deal for Laurinaitis.

"When I took the visit, I just knew right away," Laurinaitis said. "The Gopher coaches weren't too thrilled about me going on the visit. I think that they kind of had a sense of what was going on."

Laurinaitis had never been to Ohio State prior to his Dec. 10 visit, and he was literally blown away by the stadium and the facilities and the entire experience. Ohio Stadium was only the third outdoor stadium that he had ever been in at the collegiate level, after being at Iowa's and Notre Dame's in person, and it was by far his favorite.

"When I stepped on the field at Ohio State and I saw how big it was, I could only imagine how this place is when it's filled with 105,000 people. It's just crazy," Laurinaitis said. "And the coaches were telling me about the walk from the hotel to the skull session and then over to the stadium, and I just had goose bumps going."

He knew it was the right fit, and he told his father as much when they were on the visit. He knew then and there that Ohio State was going to be his home away from home.

"Just the whole family feel of the program, from the players to the coaches to the fans was awesome," he said. "The whole staff just made me feel really comfortable with the whole program. After meeting all of the coaching staff, I realized that these guys know what they're doing. They know how to get people to the next level and they know how to make championship teams. This is a serious big-time program at Ohio State and this is what I want to be about. In high school, I've been a part of a tradition of great defenses at my school, and I wanted to continue that at the next level. And what better place than a school with a linebacker-strong tradition like Ohio State has."

Guys like A.J. Hawk, Bobby Carpenter and Anthony Schlegel were just three of the reasons that Laurinaitis cited to for him choosing Ohio State instead of possibly having a chance to get on the field a lot sooner at Minnesota.

"Just think of all that I can learn just from the guys that are there. I figure if I'm coming in as a true freshman, then I want to learn behind someone that knows what they're doing, and obviously those guys do," Laurinaitis said. "By going to Ohio State, look who I get to learn behind. I get to learn behind All-Americans and guys who will be going on to the NFL and try to learn what they do as far as studying film and studying their work ethic and put that into my own game. And hopefully something special comes out of it."

So Laurinaitis eventually committed to Ohio State on the Thursday before his Minnesota visit that was scheduled for the following weekend.

"On that Thursday, I called up the Gopher coaches first and I told them that I wouldn't be coming down there. I let them know that I was pulling my commitment and I was going to go to Ohio State. I talked to them about it and they were obviously disappointed and what not," Laurinaitis said. "And then I called Coach (Jim) Tressel right away and told him and then called Coach Snyder and Coach Fickell and kind of let everyone know."

And then on signing day, Laurinaitis made it official when he signed his letter of intent and faxed it to the OSU coaching staff.

"I was wearing the Ohio State football shirt and it was a fun experience," he said. "For that one moment it was official and I was a Buckeye. It was a big weight off of my back. I knew it was time to get to work and get that workout program going. It was more of a celebration about the anticipation and excitement for what lies ahead at Ohio State in the next chapter."

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