Schnittker Looking To Add Muscle To Running Game

Brandon Schnittker has quietly gone about his business his first four years at Ohio State. But now as a fifth-year senior, he is looking for a career year. Schnittker will play fullback, but will also play some running back in one-back sets, much like Branden Joe last year. We caught up with Schnittker to find out about his role on the team and more.

Senior fullback Brandon Schnittker is one of only four scholarship players that remain from Jim Tressel's first recruiting class in 2001 (granted, Tressel only had a few weeks to put it together, but it was his first class).

Schnittker redshirted in 2001, but played in all 14 games in 2002 on the national championship team. You might remember the big 15-yard reception he had on a third down against Michigan, on a ball that was not intended for him.

In 2003, Schnittker battled a hamstring pull for much of the season and only appeared in eight games, including one start.

Last year, Schnittker started two games and played in nine games. He finished the season with zero rushing attempts and had just two receptions for 16 yards.

But a bigger role is expected for Schnittker this season. He and sophomore Dionte Johnson are battling for the starting fullback job and both are sure to receive a lot of playing time.

Schnittker says he definitely feels like one of the old men on the team.

"Absolutely," he said. "We get in and we come into camp and there are guys that are still 17. I can't even remember when I was 17. So, you feel like an old guy, but it's also kind of fun and exciting to be up front of everything and being a guy that everyone is looking to."

Schnittker might see a lot of time this year in one-back sets. He looked good in that role during the spring game.

"It's a role that I've been kind of getting ready for since the spring," Schnittker said. "Talked with (head coach Jim) Tressel early this summer and he told me to get my weight down and stay lean and make sure I stay in shape because I'm going to have to play some of that role. It's something that I'm really excited about. Obviously playing fullback, you don't get to carry the ball too much, so it's kind of fun to have the opportunity to try and make a play. My primary role is still fullback and I understand that, but whatever I can do to help."

Schnittker weighs 240 pounds, down from the 255 he played at last year.

And like most other players on the team, he can already tell a difference in his speed since speed coach Butch Reynolds was hired.

"Definitely," Schnittker said. "I've worked a little bit one-on-one with Coach Reynolds and he fine-tuned some things and really just gave me a lot of confidence. If you just do a couple little things, it can really increase your speed. I feel great. The conditioning test and things like that during camp is the best I've ever had."

Schnittker thinks that Ohio State's offensive line is going to be an outstanding unit this season. The group has talent, experience and depth.

"I'm really excited about our offensive line," he said. "Nick and Robbie obviously provide some serious experience. And the other guys that are coming up are really making strides. And I'm excited to have 10 guys in our offensive line who are ready to go in at any time and get the job done. That's something we haven't had in a while."

As for tailback, Schnittker also thinks the Buckeyes are in good hands.

"I'm impressed with all three of them to be honest with you (Antonio Pittman, Erik Haw, Maurice Wells)," he said. "I think Tony has done a great job of continuing to be more precise and getting ready to take on the role as our starting tailback.

"Erik is also doing a good job. He did well in the spring and he continues to grow.

"And Maurice is impressive as well. He's very athletic and he's picked up the offense well. He's very open to learning and is just a guy that I think is going to be a good player."

And just what does Schnittker think about this new "Shot-Ginn" offense? It probably means even less touches for the fullback, but this team player doesn't seem to mind.

"Well, to me, it's not as much about the role of the fullback, it's about what is going to make our offense good," Schnittker said. "What's going to get points on the board. I think with the receiving corps that we have, any offensive coordinator would be stupid not to exploit that. So, I think it's good that we're going to incorporate those guys a lot more.

"At the same time, I think we're going to win games with that offense, but we're not going to win championships without a running game. And I think that's something that we take personal. We're going to work to develop a running game. So, you just have to ready when they call our number to go out there and make plays. The more we make plays, the more we will have the running game and just be more balanced."

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