Spitler Just Wants To Have Some Fun And Play Well

Middle linebacker Austin Spitler will likely be the backbone of the Ohio defense as they take on the Pennsylvania All-Stars in the Big 33 game. It's a role that he relishes but it's also one that the future Ohio State Buckeye never really imagined that he would be in about this time a year ago.

Around this time one year ago, not many people outside of Bellbrook knew a whole lot about Austin Spitler, a relatively unknown linebacker from Bellbrook High School at the time.

What a difference a year makes.

Spitler, who played in the North-South Classic a month ago, will be starting at middle linebacker for the Ohio team against the Pennsylvania All-Stars in the Big 33 game on Saturday. And in just a couple of weeks, Spitler, who verbally committed to Ohio State last November, will officially become a member of the school's football team.

"I didn't have a clue and I never would have thought that I'd be where I am today," said Spitler after his final practice on Friday in preparation for the big game. "Coming from a small school I just didn't expect it really but I'm so blessed to be here and it's so much fun. We had a great week of practice and I'm really looking forward to the game."

Admittedly Spitler dreamt about this kind of stuff happening but he never really imagined that he would be living that dream to this extent.

"I think (going to college) is on every kid's mind in high school, they want to make it to the next level, and that was definitely my goal," he said. "I tried to work as hard as I could and it ended up happening so here I am today. It's more than I ever imagined but it was my goal. Every Ohio kid's dream, or most every Ohio kid's dream I should say, is to play at Ohio State some day and I was born a Buckeye so I'm definitely very excited to be where I am today."

Ohio State was definitely Spitler's boyhood favorite team.

"My dad has taken me to the games every since I was a little kid so I know the atmosphere and it's just a lot of fun," he said. "I was really excited when I got the word that I could go there."

Apparently the OSU staff needed to see him play in his senior campaign a few times before they extended him that offer.

"They wanted to see me play through some of my senior season and they had some people come to my games," Spitler said. "So I guess they liked what they saw and that was one of the reasons why I got an offer."

Spitler was a tackling machine at Bellbrook. In his senior campaign he recorded 132 total stops which was an improvement on his junior season when he registered 120 tackles. During his high school career he played defensive end in his first two seasons before moving to linebacker in his final two.

"I love to play linebacker, it's my favorite position for sure," said Spitler who also played some fullback on occasion. "But I really love to play linebacker. I love defense."

At 6-3 and 240 pounds, Spitler is built similar to a Chad Hoobler, who starred in the Big 33 last year, and is constantly around the football like an A.J. Hawk, who played in the game in 2002. But he's never tried to pattern his game after any of the talented Buckeye linebackers that he'll officially be teammates with very soon.

"I'm not trying to emulate anybody at Ohio State and I don't know that I do," Spitler said. "I'm just trying to be myself and work as hard as I can to be where I am. Yeah those guys are great players up there right now, every single one of them, and hopefully they'll teach me some stuff when I get there. And I know they will because I've been up there for two or three weeks now and I've already learned a lot from them. So it's been great."

And understandably he's in no big hurry to make it on the playing field when he gets to Ohio State.

"I'm not expecting anything right away, playing with probably the best linebackers in the nation," Spitler said. "But if you work hard enough then maybe you'll get on the special teams or something. So that's my goal."

But for now he's only focused on what his role will be in his last high school football game.

"I just want to be a team player and have fun," Spitler said. "This week is all about fun and having a great time and excelling in the game hopefully."

It is, after all, important for him to play well.

"I take pride in playing well and of course I want to play well," Spitler said. "So hopefully we'll go out there and win as a team and if a couple of plays come my way then they do."

A lot of eyes from OSU's fans will probably be watching to see if Spitler is indeed in on all of the plays that come his way.

"There's definitely a little bit of pressure but you just have to go out there and do your best," he said. "And hopefully you'll do well enough and impress them."

And after coming so far in the past year, that would certainly be considered icing on the cake as far as he's concerned.

"Like I said I never would have thought that I'd be where I am today," Spitler said. "It's just a great experience being here and looking forward to the next step at Ohio State. I couldn't ask for anything more."

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