Mike Nugent – Spring 2006 What is the best advice for first year NFL players?
"The best advice for your first season is kind of like what I would do every year, even at Ohio State. Do what you are told. You have guys who have been to the pro bowl 5, 6, 7 years on your team. Those guys have been through a lot. They've been with a lot of different teams – or with just that one team maybe, but you just have to watch the older guys. Just like in high school and in college – you watch the older guys. They know exactly what they are doing. If you can keep up with them and reflect the things they do I think that is the best thing you can do."
Who looked good today among the kickers?
"They looked great. I was excited to see these guys getting out there. What's good about the kicking scrimmage is that coach Tressel does a good job putting pressure on these guys. Today is like practice, but it is for pride. You don't want to walk home. You know how it is when you lose – you have to walk back to the Woody Hayes. It is one of those things that I think it is good coach puts pressure on these guys. I think they did good today."
How did Pretorius and Pettrey look?
"I really liked how both of them looked, just with the whole transition – the snap, the hold, the kick. That really looks solid. They both have solid legs. They only did about one kickoff each, but they both hit the ball awesome on their kickoffs and hit the ball really well on the field goals too."
How is the NFL going?
"It's going great. It is like college with a few less guys on the team. It is off-season lifting right now and going at it one step at a time."
Difference in the balls?
"It is a little different. You can definitely tell a difference, especially kicking in New York. You have that cold weather. It's not too bad when it is warm out; it all feels the same, but when it gets to be about 30 to 25 degrees outside with that wind chill it starts getting chilly and the ball gets rock solid."
Fans are easy on you when you miss a kick in New York…(laughing)
"Not too much, no. They're not too easy, but they are like Ohio State. They realize guys are going to make mistakes, but they expect you to get back on the next one and do your job."
Did you get furniture?
"I did. I was living in an apartment for about 7 months. I finally ended up buying a condo. I'm in the process of buying furniture and doing the painting and things like that. I had to think about it and make sure I got what I wanted."
Were you aware there was as much talent on OSU before you went to the NFL?
"To be completely honest with you – I really could. I've known A.J. I've played football about since 6th grad with him – on and off. I was a year ahead of him, but someone like A.J., I've always expected to see that kid do great things no matter what he does. It's the same thing with Bobby. They funny thing is they are not lucky kids. They've worked for everything they are going to get in the next few months. I think those guys are going to deserve everything just because they have worked so hard. A.J., Bobby, and Anthony Schlegel those guys were in the weight room at like 5 o'clock every morning working as hard as they can. They really will get what they deserve."
The talent level translates?
"Yeah, you play against great teams and great players. You can tell. You can look at guys coming out and say, ‘I think A.J. is going to be a great player in the NFL.' The same with Bobby and even all the players coming out. Nick Mangold, I'm really excited to see where he goes. I'm almost as anxious as they are to see what happens for them just because I got to play with them. I really hope the best for them."
Bobby Carpenter – Spring 2006
How has your dad being an NFL player helped?
My dad has been pretty hands off, but the biggest thing is just the relationships he has. He knows someone on almost every franchise it seems like. I guess that gives me a little advantage \there knowing this guy knew my dad, respects him, and thinks a lot of him. Hopefully his reputation will precede me and they will look at me in the same light."
Grow up a fan of any team?
"I was a Giants fan growing up because of my dad, and I followed Parcells around where he went and Bill Belnichick as well. Mostly I just kind of rooted for teams my dad played for and knew coaches on because of the relationship there."
Any of what you watched with your dad with the business or pain aspects that rubbed off on you?
"The business aspect is a lot different now. A lot of things are very different on that end. As far as the physical aspect, he talked to me a lot on how to prepare and what to do and what to expect coming in. A lot of guys have an advantage with that if they have parents or uncles or somebody that played (in the NFL)."
He let you call plays sometimes and was a high school coach, how did that impact the relationship?
"Yeah, we had a unique relationship. He knew I wanted to win and worked extremely hard. He was always there to let me in the weight room whenever I wanted and give me the keys. He was there for added advice. That made it nice."
Talk about rebuilding the Buckeye defense in 2006.
"They are losing 9 starters and their whole back seven. That's definitely a tough thing to replace. I've watched the linebackers, and they're not the most experienced crew, but they are definitely talented. I think in time they are going to be a special group of guys. James Laurinaitis is looking good out there, really coming along. Curtis Terry has probably made the biggest improvement of anyone I have seen. Marcus Freeman is getting the chance to live up to some of the hype he had coming in; those are three special guys. Chad Hoobler, Ross Homan, Spitler – they have a lot of guys who are looking good. I'm excited to see them and see where they go with that, but experience is definitely a tough thing to replace."
You mentioned – ‘in time…' – explain that comment.
"I talked to Troy and hopefully the offense will put up 35 for a while and give the defense a little bit of a learning curve. Talent is great but nothing replaces experience. I would take a less talented who had more experience in a game because when the bullets start flying out there it is tough to make calls, checks, and get everyone lined up. I think that is something that really helped our defense this year. We had a lot of three year starters out there who had played together. They had been through the fires of the Big Ten season."
JIM TRESSEL – Spring 2006Talk about replacing the back seven – and Bobby's comment.
"Oh, it's a huge concern, but I haven't lost sleep always about what Bobby has said (laughing), but it is college football. We have to replace a lot of guys. That's part of the deal, and we will keep working at it."
There's a lot of competition. I don't know if Ryan (Pretorius) missed more than one field goal, and Aaron (Pettrey) had one blocked – I know that. They both had a really good kicking day. I thought the punters, both A.J. (Trapasso) and Jonathan Thoma, punted extremely well. I thought Drew Norman's snapping was good. We had some returns – Teddy Ginn had a punt return for a touchdown. I'm betting it was 60 or more. There were some good things plus great conditioning. Guys hopefully up there watching will learn about the kicking game."
Pettrey is no surprise…
He can kick the ball. In fact, we have been talking all spring to our kickoff coverage unit that they are going to have a lot more pressure on you because with the 1" (kicking) tee, you won't have as many touchbacks as you are accustomed to and that type of thing. Aaron hit one ten yards out of the end zone. I think all of the balls got close to being in the end zone by both guys, so I thought the kicking was good. The conditions were good – it was a perfect day for it. They get pumped up and excited for it because this is their day so it was fun."
Do you have a pecking order?
"You know, the order we have been going in practice is Ryan and then Aaron. In the draft yesterday the first kicker selected was Aaron. This was practice thirteen, and we have two more and 29 in the preseason. We have a little battle on our hands."
Is it 2001 again?
"It could be to see who settles into it. A lot of times when someone graduates from a position that's what happens. The first guy who gets a handle on it, if he doesn't keep it the other people don't give up so it will be interesting."
Saturday it will be a good barometer…
"That is one more thing. You try when you are inexperienced to create as much game like experience as you can. You can't get it like a Saturday in the fall, but the pressure of the kick scrimmage means a lot to the guys in it because they love to compete. It will mean a lot in the spring game because there are so many people there and everyone will be watching. So, another kick scrimmage in the preseason, and maybe we will find out who will get the first shot at it."
What was the penalty for the losers with the WHAC under renovation?
We did a set of slow pushups. What I forgot about that is the coaches and players are part of the penalty, and I might have been close to having some injuries on the coaching side with so many pushups, but it was a little bit of an arm workout."
Did you expect it to be this close?
"We always hope it will be this close because you like to create pressure and see who can handle that pressure. One of our quality control guys said all along ‘don't be surprised at how strong Pettrey's leg is,' but he didn't get that many options last year. We weren't going to spend a year when you have Josh Huston there. So, again, consistency will determine who the kicker is – not who can kick the farthest or that type thing. Who is the most consistent, and today they were both pretty consistent."
How big of a deal is the spring game with position battles?
It is one more chance to show what you have learned. We always say the Spring game is mostly fun because we have been working hard, and now we compete. Any time you keep score you love to see who wins, but one more chance to show what you have learned fundamentally. How you handle just a little bit more game like situations. It is probably a little more impact than a normal spring practice, but they all know we have 29 ahead of us before we line up for real against Northern Illinois."
You see former players come back to watch kick scrimmage here today.
"You know what's neat is (A) they are back in school, and they will be finishing their degrees which is terrific and (B) they know this is an important day. It's not just – if we were out there in shorts just walking through things they are not interested, but when it is an important day they like to come. Schlegel has been out there coaching the whole spring because he has nervous energy. If the draft were this weekend coming up like it has been lately, they would really be bouncing off the walls, but they have a little bit longer to go. The NFL increased the number of kids they can bring to visit their cities so our guys have been so busy visiting cities. Each club used to be able to bring 20. Now they can be 30. Our guys have been all over the place, and it's been exciting. They keep being worked out and talked to, and I think some exciting things are going to happen a week from Saturday."
What do you want out of Saturday's scrimmage?
"You know the answer we always give you – no injuries. That's number one. We want to see the kids have a lot of fun. We want some guys put into situations where they have to make plays and see if they will make them. Then get on with it, get back in the weight room, get back out there running, and get back in the planning. Now we have seen them and (can) say, ‘ok this guy is pretty good at this, maybe we should do more of that.' Then, test those things out in the preseason, but first and foremost – no injuries and have fun – let's end a successful spring."
Any concern naming a kicker before the games in September given the brutal schedule?
"No. It will be brutal, but I don't think you can name anything until they have earned it. Sometimes you don't earn it until you have been out there. The only thing you worry about from the kicker standpoint is – are they getting enough reps from the snapper and holder they are going to be with? Outside of that I don't worry about naming a (kicker)."
Any surprises for you in the spring draft – especially Trapasso?
"It is interesting. That was a little surprising but at various points in the draft I didn't see much discussion going on, so I don't know if each pick was a…
"Yeah, I don't know that it was; I'm not saying that one wasn't – I'm just saying. Who won the spring game three years ago – I don't know. It is interesting."
Have you addressed the ball security on punts and special teams?
"Yeah, we've talked about it a lot. In fact what we are going to do tomorrow is go to step one in the stadium. Every punt is going to be a fair catch so we are emphasizing that all we need is the ball. We did a little bit more fair catching today than we have just because that is step one. It was interesting, one of the rules in today's kick scrimmage was Teddy can only have one return. Whenever it is, I don't care, but you better make the best of it. He did. Touchdown."
Is it refreshing to hear Antonio say the punt is the most important play in football?
"Antonio is an engineering student who has been here for five years. We will get a lie detector test to see if he believes that, but he said it."
Who are the honorary captains?
"LeCharles Bentley will be the Scarlet coach because we want to welcome him back to Ohio. The Gray head coach will be Mike Nugent. We don't get to see enough of Mike. He's out in New York so often."
Mike Vrabel – talk about his recent donation
"At Ohio State they call it paying forward because it was given that label, and it's the truth. There's not much you can give back to the past, but you can certainly build for the future and show you're grateful for what was provided for you while you were here. Mike's that kind of guy and Jen was an athlete here as well. They feel strongly about Ohio State athletics. Plus, Mike spends a lot of time in the Woody Hayes center so being part of that renovation was a natural."
Vacancy on your staff…have you spoken with him about joining you in Columbus?
"Oh, the way they are paying him it's not going to be in the near future. Every year when he comes back I ask him, ‘well, how many years until I can hire you?' It keeps growing. About three years ago it was two. Now it's up to five. He said, ‘That inside backer stuff – I can play a lot longer!'
Hazell on ReturnsOpening comments?
"It was fun. There was a lot of good play out there. I think today was something where you can see how you can gain an advantage with the ball moving up and down the field if you do things right. It was a pretty good day. Everyone stayed healthy. We had a big return from Teddy – about an 80 yard return out of Teddy. We were only allowed to use him on one punt return, and he made good on it. He's back to his old form so it was fun."
This is like a fish story – Tressel said 60…
"No it was 80, we just watched it."
What was it like?
"They kicked him into his left corner, he split two snipers and then broke it off to the right side."
Who is the number two punt returner right now?
"It's probably Gonzalez and then Malcolm Jenkins. We have some guys who can catch it pretty well back there, which is good, but we'll have to see."
The number two kick returner?
"Well, not giving too much away - the way we think we are going to have to line up next year because we think we are going to get a lot of pooches and crazy kicks because of the success we have had. We probably will have to flank him like we did last year."
Two punt returners back there as well?
"We'd like to. We will probably mix it up a little bit depending on if we are rushing or returning."
Is that a net plus or minus?
"You can't rush as many guys obviously, but I think you can handle a lot more kicks. If they are trying to kick away from Teddy you can cover a lot more field."
What is it like being a special teams coach trying to pick a kicker right now?
"I think they are all doing a nice job really right now. I thought they had a good day today. We will have to take inventory after we watch the film and see where they are. They did a good job today."
What are you reinforcing with regard to ball security in special teams?
"I think the big thing – we dropped two in the Michigan game which was really – we could have put ourselves in a lot worse situation than we did. We were able to recover the ball, but if you watch the first one he picks his head up from following the ball, and the second one moved on him real late. It is tracking the ball. Those are tough. Those are really tough, but you can't drop the ball though. You cannot drop the ball. You have to take care of the football."
The value of just catching it.
"That's the most important thing – handling the football. You can't turn it over. You can't put it on the ground."
Devon Lyons at WR or DB?
"Devon Lyons will be playing wide receiver on Saturday. That's where he is back over on offense full time now. We think we can use him there and utilize him a little bit more on offense. I think they have done a good job over at the safety spot. Hopefully we can get him on the field on offense."
Is this something where more guys have stepped up than anticipated or he is needed on offense again?
"Probably a combination of both. We need some numbers on offense. It is hard not to have legs at receiver. We need a lot of legs in camp and those types of things, and he is a guy who has played for us. He played as a true freshman. He knows the system. He is not as sharp as he should be right now but give him a couple of weeks and maybe we can get him back.
Who are your top four? Ginn, Gonzales, Hall, Hartline, Robiskie?
"Yeah, you are close. That's about right."
Hartline or Robiskie – is that a battle for #4 or a battle to be on the field?
"I think they are battling to be on the field right now. Both of those guys have had excellent springs – both of them. I think they are going to help us win some football games next year. Roy has had a tremendous spring. He has been very consistent which was the thing I was looking for from him. Gonzo has gotten better. Teddy has gotten a lot better. We have a chance, we have a chance."
Where is Dukes?
"He's still coming. He was a little hampered at the beginning of spring with the groin problem, but he got better toward the end of the spring and hopefully he can continue to get better over the summer. He needs to have a great summer to help us."
Robiskie and Hartline in returns?
"Both of them catch punts, and both of them are very sure handed back there. If we need to put another guy back there to catch a ball, those guys are pretty good at that. In terms of kickoff return, I'm not sure yet. I'm not sure they are the right guys for that."
Hazell coaches Kickoff returns and I coach the punt returns.
"Coach Fickell handles the punt team. Coach Beckman handles the punt return team. Coach Haynes handles the kickoff team, and I handle the kickoff…"
Who do you have flanking Ginn?
"Right now we have Roy (Hall) and Gonzo (Gonzalez) flanking him right now as the number one guys. Hopefully we can get another guy who can take it the distance. If Teddy is not in the game, we need another guy who can take it the distance."Marcel Frost – January 2006
Switch from DE to TE, can you talk about that?
"Originally, (except for) Ohio State and a few other schools, I was being recruited for tight end. Ohio State and a few other schools were recruiting me for defensive end. I committed to Iowa to play tight end, and then some things happened at home, and I wanted to stay close to home. Ohio State was my best choice. Coming out of high school I really didn't have a preference for what I wanted to play – defense or offense. I came in and started at defense. Some things happened, and they asked me to move to tight end, and I was happy to (move). I mean, I think I like catching the ball more than I like taking on 300 pounders."
Difference between TE and DE?
"Offense is a lot harder. It's more mental. The defense, if you see the ball you go get it. Offense you have to read a lot more. It's more difficult. I think it is easier on the body. Trying to get off their blocks is harder than blocking the defensive end who is 260, 270."
What happened specifically to switch you back to offense?"The situation with Louis Irizarry. He got into some trouble, and we were short on tight ends so they asked me to move. I was more than happy to move."
Is it instructive to look at the guys who are no longer here?
"Louis came in with me. We were in the same year. I was close to Louis; we were all close. To see him not here anymore makes me think, you don't want to make that same mistake. You are here. I think it helps, I'm not saying it is a good thing, but it helps me as a person as a wake up call."What kept you off the field?
"My freshman year I needed to get a little bigger, a little stronger. I was only about 230. In the Big Ten that isn't big to go against these guys (offensive linemen). Last year I was hurt toward the end of the year.
Were you in the dog house?
Is that true?
"I believe it is. I definitely was in the dog house, probably in the last dog house, but you have to keep working hard and keep fighting. Things happen like Ryan Hamby getting hurt, and I was there to step up."
Did you deserve to be in the dog house?
"Yeah, I think I did. It's my fault."
Where was the maturity issue?
"It wasn't classes. It was just mental things (like) missing meetings. Or, not even missing but just being late to meetings and all that stuff adds up. One thing after another, and it's hard to get out of it."
As a redshirt Junior – the starting position is going to be open. What has to happen for you to claim that job?
"I have to get in the weight room, work hard, and keep my head on straight."What are your aspirations at Ohio State? What do you want out of your time here?
"I really want to be a first team All American and all Big Ten."What happened at home to keep you in Ohio?
"My grandmother was going through cancer, and eventually she passed away. It hit me Iowa is 8 hours from Cleveland, and it's hard to get home when things happen. Ohio State is just 2 hours away."
Were you close?
"Yeah. She pretty much raised me when my mother was at work she used to watch me. It was real hard."
When did she pass away?
"My freshman year. My freshman year of college."
You had enough on your plate – how did you deal with it?
"It was hard. It was really hard. Through prayer and my mother and my family and friends. They consoled me and told me to keep my head up."Siblings?
"I have three sisters."
Are you close to them?
"Yeah, real close to them. I'm the middle child. I have two older twin sisters and a younger sister."
Still the big brother huh?
"Yeah. I'm bigger than all my sisters. My little sister is getting big though. She's 13 but is about 5'9", 5'10" now. She is definitely going to be a basketball player. She would like to go to the next level (college). She is young; she's working on her skills a little more."
Will she be a Buckeye?
"Whatever she wants to do. I'm not forcing her."
You won't hint?
"(Smiling) I mean, when it gets closer to the time I might push a little harder, but I'm going with her decision. I'm happy for her."
"I'm a game fanatic. I'm an X-Box guy. Madden, college, NBA Live.
Have you managed to buy your 360?
"Not yet. I'm hoping to get it when I get back. I couldn't get it before Christmas. I went to Best Buy the day before it was supposed to come out. They were lined up and had tents to camp out. I thought, I'll wait. It was cold. I was not sitting outside waiting for a game. I already had my Xbox. I can work with that for a while."Marcel's High School Coach Eric Mitchell in February:
Eric, talk about Marcel Frost
He is probably the most gifted athlete I have ever coached. For his size, the things he does without coaching are phenomenal. He is a great character kid. He is a very family oriented kid. He calls both his parents, mom and dad and little sister. I can't find enough good things to say about him."
What is his ceiling? Does he have NFL talent to you?"No question about it. I think that old adage that he is like an iceberg. All the good stuff is still underneath the surface but waiting to emerge and burst through the water. I think now that he has playing time under his belt, and now he believes they have the confidence in him that he has always had in himself, I think you will see a guy who will burst through the ceiling. Let's make no mistake about it, athletically he is gifted for his size. He does things that people shouldn't be able to do at 6'5", 260. Don't sell him short on his athleticism. I think in a couple of years you will see him playing on Sundays as long as he stays focused."
What are you to him – mentor, father figure?
"All that you can think of I am to my kids. We talk about everything. I am a sounding board to talk things through. Anything that you can think of we talk about and discuss. I believe I have to be involved in his life and not only his but Roy Hall as well until they have finished with their careers both academically and athletically at Ohio State. Once that happens he will understand the importance of our relationship, and I'm sure it will continue for a very, very long time."
Any specific memories of things he did?
"Here in High school in our offense, a lot of times he played split end by himself, and teams knew where he was and where we were going to throw the ball. One time he was triple teamed, went up got the ball, came down, broke three tackles, and scored a touchdown. Unreal."
How did the passing of his grandmother impact him for his freshman season.
"In that regard, Marcel is a private person. He tries really hard not to show his emotions outwardly when it comes to his private matters."
Where has he made the most progress and where does he need to make more?
"I think the biggest thing he needs to continue to work on is his conditioning. I think for him – he needs to stay in the best possible shape he can all year round. He has a frame to be a huge man, but that might be detrimental to him because he is fast enough and good enough to stretch defenses horizontally and vertically. He needs to stay focused on his conditioning."
When did that transition come? It looked like it happened around the second half of the season…
"It kind of went off before that. You mentioned the little bits of trouble he had been in – in the beginning of this season he was out, as in doghouse, for the first two games. Just watching the first two games… I think watching those two games he looked on the field and finally saw he belonged out there. He finally saw there is no reason he should not be out there. After those two games, I think he said, ‘You know what? I will do what the staff asks me to do so I can be out there to contribute and help our team win."
Talk about the maturing process for Marcel…
"For him, you have to understand and realize how much of a kid he was mentally. Marcel is a bundle of joy. He likes to have fun, he likes to play practical jokes. He has always been the life of the party. For someone to come in and have that attention taken away or not have it focused on him anymore is a shock. For them it's like, ‘Whoa! I'm not ‘the guy' anymore. Someone else has my spotlight.' It is a huge adjustment. Just because he is a man physically doesn't mean he is a man mentally. He needed to catch up with his body. Everybody knew it would happen, but they just had to have some patience. I give thumbs up to the [Ohio State coaching] staff because the staff had great patience. Marcel was the one who probably pushed himself to where he wasn't quite ready. He thought he was ready and he was physically, but he wasn't mentally. He wasn't ready mentally, and it is obvious by the minor infractions he kept encountering."
A jokester… Any stories
"We're practicing his senior year for our big game, our rivalry – Mayfield. We had in a special package for him. The quarterback throws a hitch and go. Marcel goes but then tells the quarterback that's not how you throw the ball. He tells him, ‘Let me show you how to throw the ball.' He comes back, and we have the quarterback run the hitch and go. Marcel waits until the kid gets 50 or 60 yards downfield and just heaves it. This kid throws the ball about 65 yards in the air down the field. We are just looking at each other. He comes back and says, ‘See, now you'll let me play quarterback.' I told him, ‘You know what? You might be right.' My starting quarterback got hurt and Marcel came in and played the second half. We were down 28-7 but ended up losing only 35-28 on his shoulders at quarterback."
Anything that stands out about Marcel?
Like I said before, I think the kid is so naturally gifted. Now he finally understands, ‘with all the talent I have been blessed with if I put the work in behind it I can be a great player.'
Is he keeping to his schedule of lifting he was proposing in January?"Yea. As a matter of fact, he and Roy Hall made a commitment to each other to work out together and push each other. I think that is tremendous and Marcel is definitely going to benefit from it because Roy is a workaholic. I'm excited about this upcoming year. I know he is ready to compete and looking forward to competing and helping the Buckeyes possibly get back to that national championship." What is keeping Hall from the big expectations? "Mike Jenkins, Santonio Holmes…You know what - I think you are going to be pleasantly surprised this year. I think the kid is going to have a breakout season for the simple fact most defenses are going to try to take Ted away and make Tony Gonzalez and Roy beat them. For whatever reason, it hasn't come to fruition like we thought it would, but it's not over and he has saved the best for last. You play behind two all Americans… It's not all bad. You've still been out on the field. You've still caught a few balls and contributed in other ways. He is physically is gifted. That kid is – at 6'3", 238 lbs, and runs a 4.4 forty. All he needs to do is get on the field and be consistent."
LARRY GRANT – February 2006
What are you up to lately?
"I've been watching that lately. I like basketball. I'm not the biggest fan, but I try to keep up with my school's team the best way I can."
What led you to be at city college of San Francisco?
"I wasn't academically qualified out of high school, and my brother asked me if I wanted to play with the best players. After hearing that, the only way I can get better is to play with the best players every day.
What caused you to be ineligible?
"It was an SAT. I had an 840 and couldn't get in with that. There was even a whole big mix-up. I was actually already there for a month and doing the fall workouts, practicing and everything. They told me I would be eligible, and then after school started when I went to get my classes they said I wasn't enrolled in the school. I had to wait. I tried to get an appeal to enroll, but they said it was too late to get an appeal so they sent me home."
"I went there to play running back."Talk about your switch to defense once you started JUCO- What was your initial reaction?
"I wasn't feeling the best when I left. I hadn't lived the best life, and I wasn't feeling the best for having to leave the university and go to junior college. I was just like, ‘I am going to do whatever it takes to be the best.Fairly successful freshman season in JUCO?
"Yeah. I didn't get any all state or all American honors, but I did make first team all conference."
How much defense did you play in high school
"I didn't play too much. I played both ways, but my main focus was on offense. I started both ways; I never came off the field."
Where did you go to high school?
"I went to three different high schools, but I spent my senior year at Norcross High School."
Why three high schools?
"Unstable times in my family. I went to foothill high school in Sacramento as a freshman. I wasn't living the best way possible so my oldest brother who lived in Georgia wanted me to move out there so I could actually do something. I moved out there and went to Meadowcreek for two years. I left Meadowcreek because it wasn't the best program in Georgia, and my brother wanted me to be in a better program."
How much older is he than you?
"I have three sisters and three brothers. He is the oldest of all of us, and I am the youngest of all of us. I'm the last one – the last of the Mohicans."
Are you physically the smallest or are you now the biggest but youngest brother?
"I'm the biggest now."
Did they pick on you?
"Yeah they did. They still try to but I don't take it anymore."
What was going on with your life?
I never had a steady home until I moved in with my brother where I had someone like a mentor and a father figure taking care of me and making sure I am on the right path to get where I need to go."
Was it just really difficult or a troubled youth?
"It was just really difficult. I've lived around bad neighborhoods, but I have three brothers and three sisters, and my parents when they were around – they tried their best to separate me from the life they had lived, the bad situations, and the knuckle-head kids."
What was a big lesson from all that?
"Don't take anything for granted. Nothing is going to come easy. My motto is, ‘Ain't nothing worth coming is going to come without hard work and sacrifice."
Does the full ride to OSU mean more to you than a kid whose life has been ‘normal'?
"Yeah. It is a real blessing. I know there are not too many kids in the world that get an opportunity like I am getting. I am going to use it as a blessing from God and take it from there. I just feel like I have my foot in the door now, and they are giving me the opportunity I have been waiting for all my life. I can't let it slip away."
What specifically happened with Florida?
"I had already graduated Junior college, but in my last month of junior college, when I first got in touch with Florida, they told me I had to take an extra college level algebra class."
So, you ended up landing on your feet however, with Ohio State.
"Ohio State called me the weekend before signing day. They called me the Friday before Junior College Signing Day. They wanted me to take a visit out there to be there in January, but I had already verbally committed to Florida so I didn't want to get it all mixed up. I told them I couldn't."So how did this all work itself out with the Florida situation and what was the OSU tie?
"Actually, my high school coach was a coach at Ohio State many years back. His name was Dick Walker. He called them up and told them about me. I know they normally don't recruit junior college players, (but) they recruited me from there.
Where will you be competing – for what linebacker slot?
"I'm going to be for the SAM."
Did the depth chart play a role in this?
"The depth chart – not really. If it was about a depth chart, I would have gone to Oregon because they lost more players. Ohio State lost their starting lineup, but they also signed a bunch of players and had others coming back. The depth chart didn't play a role at all. I believe if everything goes right, the best players play. Just like my situation going to San Francisco City, I thought I was one of the best out there so I thought I was going to play."Why Oregon and Ohio State?
I had a friend going to Oregon, and I heard they might do well in the Pac Ten. They will start off ranked high, probably in the top 12 or top 10.
What about Ohio State?
"It is a linebacker's university. I saw the success of the linebackers that came through this year."
Still planning on being there for Spring Practice?
"I leave for Ohio March 24. I'm going to live off campus with the guy who hosted me on me. He plays tight end. He was cool.
What are your expectations for this season?
"My expectation is to come up there and work hard. Work hard and come first game of the season I want to compete and be in the starting lineup for the defense."
What made OSU the best for you?
"The coaches. It seemed like with all the stuff they were doing if I could have come earlier (for a visit), it would have been way different. I would have had a better experience of everything. I was looking at that for the future and seeing it that way."
What set their coaches apart?
"Everybody seemed – they were straightforward. Everybody was keeping it real with me. They didn't try to sell me wolf tickets (giving him a line). It seemed like some other coaches were just telling me what I wanted to hear. Then when I looked at their situation it didn't go together."
What are you doing right now – are you in classes or waiting to enroll at OSU?
"I'm working out and I'm working. I'm working at night club as a bouncer with my brother. It's kind of fun. I work late nights. I'm working out with a personal trainer out here in Arizona by the name of Keith Poole. He went to Arizona State out here. He was a wide receiver."
You said you liked wrestling in another interview – why?
"When I was younger – I don't watch it as much anymore. There's too many skits. When I was younger it was more about the fighting. It seemed like everyone was aggressive and mean. That's what I used to like when I was younger. I used to whup up on my brothers when I was younger too (LeSean laughed in the background).
Was your dad not around?
"When I was younger he was around, but as I got older he kind of faded away. My mom has always been in my life, but she hasn't always been around. I talk to her all the time, but with me moving around so much I wasn't around her 100% of the time."
How does that impact you?
"It just makes me stronger. All the hardships I went through, I take those as lessons, and they make me stronger."
What does it mean to have your brother looking after you like this?
All my brothers looked after me, but he is the one who is the most stable right now. It has been a blessing that know that there are people out that are trying to help me succeed. There is stuff I need to learn. That's what I am out here doing – learning stuff from my brother."
Lesean is in Arizona now and not Georgia?
"I think he has been there almost a year now.
LaSean Woods; Grant's older brother
So LeSean, what was the situation for Larry growing up? Was he in a foster home but not somewhere that he was away from contact in the family?
"He was in foster care but it was inside of our family. He stayed in a foster care, but we as a family did not like to see it split apart. My mom was going from job to job and had older children as well. They stayed with either my grandmother or another relative until my mom was able to get stable. That's why he wasn't with my mom at the time."
What happened with you influencing him to go to JUCO at San Francisco City College?
"Coming from California, San Francisco has always been the number one junior college throughout the nation. Unfortunately, I didn't go there but I played against them. At that time it seemed how coach Rush and had all these kids from other states and then going on to NFL players or going to colleges and getting degrees – I knew there was only one junior college he should go to and that was San Francisco City College. I called coach Rush to remind him on who I was and let him know my brother was coming out there. I sent them tape of Larry and the story is still to be written here."
What position did you play?
"I played linebacker and running back. My stats were a little better than Larry's (laughing). My first year I had an All American award and the second year I played defense – linebacker and free safety, but I blew out my left knee, and that stopped me. I figured God had a place for everybody. He put me in that right place in Georgia where Larry could stay with me at that time so he could be where he is. I feel that was just my blessing. My time was up, and I needed to help those in my family. I was able to have Larry at that time. Things worked out to help him to get to where he is at right now."
Has this been a blessing to take care of Larry?
"It's a blessing because I've been through a lot of things as far as with football and school – to show him not to make the mistakes I have seen people make – so he doesn't make the same mistakes. Also from the things I have learned since becoming an adult and helping him the right steps and not the wrong turns. Him being here with me and seeing first hand and understanding that everyone looks at, "I'll make it to the NFL. Everyone had high hopes for me to make it, and I was stopped with the injury. The main thing was to fall back on my degree. What is life after football? What are you going to do? Are you going to own your own business or work for someone? I own my own business and also have a part time job that helps my business grow. Him seeing it first hand helps him understand if something happens that he doesn't make it after Ohio State (in the NFL), at least he knows he can fall back on his education."
What have you seen in him that makes you proud now that he is growing up?
"There is a lot. Seeing him interact with his friends and hearing him say some of the things I said to him when he was growing up – being a role model and also letting his buddies know that you have to stick your head in the books and work hard because nothing is going to come for free. Seeing him say some of those type of things has actually felt - I see he has taken grasp on some of the things I have taught him. Now he is teaching others. That part is saying any person who grows up or developing into their ownselves, they have learned from things they have gone through. For him to say that helps me know he is now reaching out and helping others as well. He is learning. He's learning."
Hopes for him at OSU?
My hope for him at Ohio State is that he gets his degree. That's one of the main things. That he gets his degree and that the Ohio fans see him not just as a football player but as a kid who has gone through many trials and tribulations and is doing something with his life. Once he gets there, and the people actually see him and how he interacts, people will take a grasp of him like everyone else has at the other colleges and other places throughout the United States. Once they see Larry and see he is a good kid with a head on his shoulders, and he doesn't take anything for granted."
Anything you would like to add?
"Looking at the situation he has gone through, I just ask once they see young man – he's bigger than me! (laughing) that people would surround him with those right people. The main thing is if they see people trying to take advantage of others that they keep him out of their path."
That's pretty challenging. How is he prepared for that?
"I've prepared him. He's been around people who are actually doing something with their lives. They say if you want to be a millionaire surround yourself with people who are millionaires. If you want to be successful, then surround yourself with people who are already successful. Right now Larry has surrounded himself with people who are actually becoming entrepreneurs or people who are already millionaires and a lot of NFL players. So, he is able to prepare himself and see those things. He has surrounded himself and taken in that."
Will you be giving him any last minute advice?
"Oh yeah. We will sit down for dinner and pull out old pictures. I'll pull out my old stats (laughing). No, I will sit down with him and figure things out and just make sure he is in the right place.
You going to make any games?
"I've scheduled some things to make sure I can make it. I know I'm going to make it there for a scrimmage, to the Texas game, and the Michigan game. I'm going to try and make it for homecoming, but those are the three big ones I'll make it for sure."
Probably never seen an OSU-UM game?
"No, and my buddies are buckeye fans, they keep telling me I've never played in or seen anything like it. That's one game I am preparing myself for."
"I'm pretty sure once Larry puts on pads and they see what kind of junior college player they have brought in the people in the city of Columbus will be very happy.
Andrew (Andy) Miller
"I prefer Andrew. That's what my coach calls me, along with other things (laughing). I think he listed me as that when he put me out there as a prospect, and it went from there."
I think number one OSU because of the kind of people and feeling of the community that I got when around all the people at Ohio State. When I talk about people I am talking about coaches, players, and academic support staff – the community."
The kind of guys I am going to be around the next four years for sure was number one."
How do you handle all of the attention? This means not only good but also bad stuff is on the news too…
"On my official visit I saw that in action. I went out to eat with my host Jon Skinner. I was with [Buckeye Tight Ends] coach [John] Peterson and Rob Sims was there. I had no idea who this guy was. Like I said, I didn't know a whole lot about Ohio State football. Sims came over and started talking to me and sort of selling it to me, but it wasn't used car salesman but they had real feelings for the place. Rob Sims comes over and is sitting down and talking, but on his way to me, he gets 10 pictures taken and gives 10 autographs. This is a 21 or 22 year old guy, and he has had a lot of success obviously, but a guy like A.J. Hawk probably can't even walk the street. I think what I can say about that is I want to have the greatest success I can at Ohio State. Obviously it would be great to be remembered as one of the best and with that comes a lot of responsibility. You are under the microscope more. There is so much focus on the players, and I think I'm a very responsible guy. I don't think I will ever get myself in the kind of trouble with ‘Oh I hope the press doesn't find out about this.' I think the way on a small scale that I handled the recruiting process - I am a humble guy and always think that I can do better. If someone comes up to me and says how great I am doing I get past that and think to myself, ‘What would that person say if I could do this much more?'
I think for someone who is feels like Ohio State is the end of the road for them and they just want that celebrity status – they are there for the wrong reasons. I want to play football, but I think I'll handle it like anything else, be polite to the people. Give them what they want; what I mean is I'll never turn a little kid away if they come up to me. I just think the best way to handle it is for me to just be myself."
When did they start really showing an interest?
"I got a load of letters in the summer of last year, the media guide, and all of those types of things. I was getting 7-10 letters a day for about a week, different things about athletics, things about school, etc. These were generalized, sort of to ‘keep our name out there.' I understood that."
When did it pick up?
"I can't even really think of an exact time. It was during my senior season.What happened?
"I think I had 17 or 18 plays in a row where I destroyed the guy in front of me against another prospective Division I-A player. After that [I thought] if I can do that to this guy I can do it to any other guy too."
The final straw – what made them offer?
"I started to feel a certain way about myself in my own head. I would never boast or brag to anyone about that; I just think you have to carry a certain confidence in yourself that you believe you can do it. From then on, I would say the last five games of the season I started to get a lot of interest from Ohio State. Every game coach Dalton would send the game film. Eventually what happened was my recruiting coach, Coach Daniels, said, ‘If we get one more game film like this I can't see us not offering a scholarship.' He then got another game film like that, and I never thought about that on the field. It was all about football, and I guess eventually coach Daniels said we were going to offer a scholarship."
Talk about your high School Coach…
"My high school coach… I couldn't even say. He has done an awesome job preparing me for this whole process. I honestly think if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have had the opportunity to play at a place like Ohio State. I think he has given me that push and guided me. I just have so much respect for that. He really has helped me in that way. I didn't even have to ask him to get films out. I almost felt bad because he has a job. This isn't part of his job, but he took it upon himself to do it."
Why are you competitive?
I don't focus or worry on failure or on not doing it. I
think what you have learned from history and great athletes in the past – one of
my greatest role models is Michael Jordan. He is the only man who I can think
can say he was the best in his sport – ever. I actually have a poster of him
that is a big picture and a silhouette of his face. It talks about all of his
failures, and you think ‘Wow! This guy is really bad.' Then it says, ‘I failed
over and over and over again, and this is why I succeed.'
I also had a division I tight end in the class before me. I saw significant times and started. My first start was as a sophomore, but I wasn't ‘the guy' until my senior year. Obviously we had a lot of talent, and we had a division I tight end in the class in front of me. I was playing against great competition too. I was up for that. There is another guy who is a great kid, and he is a tight end as well. We have been going at it. There is only going to be one spot for the both of us. Every year it was a competition to see who would get that one spot. I think it's that extra bit of competition that puts you over the top."
How did Coach Daniels sell you on Ohio State?
"My first impression of him is that he was a really nice guy, and he really cared about Ohio State and really cared about the guys he was talking to. I almost forgot I was there for football. He did a really good job recruiting me because he got in at a base level and developed a friendship and trust. A recruiter's job is to sell the school, and I understand there is a game in the whole thing, but I think Coach Daniels is a guy you can't help but like. He was a guy that caught me and my parents right away and the same with coach Tressel and Coach Pete (Peterson). It is really important to have a great recruiting coach and just as important to know the guy who will be coaching you. Coach Daniels told me there they had had some injuries and possible early playing time, but he told me where they were at with the tight end. I knew they had already brought another one in; he told me the opportunity would be there. It was a place where they had struggled a little bit. That added in, but coach came to school, talked to me on a simple level. Even after I signed, obviously we still keep in contact. They really have their priorities in order and really know how to run a football team – an Ohio State football team. They are led by coach Tressel and all of his coaches follow. He projects a certain thing about himself, the rest of the coaches project it as well and that is his priorities being straight. He does everything the right way and knows what everyone should be doing. They are great at recruiting, great at coaching. I don't think they have a weak spot. There was just so much security at Ohio State. Numerous people told me that I would go to a place and it would shoot out at me and be the place I wanted to be. I think the truth is the first official visit – [you think] it can't be better place than this. It's the first experience. Then you go to the next one and think there can't be a better place than this, but Ohio State really left me with sort of a question mark, like mystery. Maybe that was a sign. I just continued to come back to Ohio State and compare things to it because there was a great head coach there, a great tradition, my recruiting coaches were great…I consider coach Peterson a sub-recruiter because he did a lot of work with me. He is the kind of guy I want to play for and I'll be working with coach Bollman a lot. I could continue to go on and on about the positives."
You said you weren't going to a school because of a position – explain that.
"I guess what I can preface that with – the first time I met coach Daniels, it was in the office with me coach Daniels and Coach Dalton. Pitt and West Virginia were recruiting me as a tackle. Indiana and Ohio State were recruiting me as a tight end. He said we will recruit you as a tight end. For me, I was like, ‘How do you know that?' Coach Dalton brought up a great point; Ohio State doesn't have to recruit tight ends to be tackles. They recruit tackles to be tackles and tight ends to be tight ends. I watched the press conference with Coach Peterson where he said they had recruited two tight ends and that they would play tight end. That's the position I want to play. I can't lie and say that position had nothing to do with it, but it wasn't the reason I chose Ohio State. It wasn't just position. If one school had wanted me to be tight end and all the rest wanted me to be tackle or defensive end or something else I wouldn't have gone to that school if I wasn't comfortable there just because of the position. When I say that, all of it weighs in. Obviously, you can't fight nature. You can't fight the way my body will develop. I feel I have had a little speed training, but I the way I have seen myself grow strength-wise, I think I could grow just as well speed wise. I have confidence in that. As far as some of the fans saying he is a definite tackle, a lot of people don't realize the switch between high school and college football.
You mentioned in an off hand comment about the stability of the staff and that they were committed for the long haul – how much of a role did this play in your decision?
"That's very important. I don't know that it is extremely important because in the end it is about proving yourself to whoever it is, but you are recruited by a certain staff. They saw something in you. You develop a relationship with this staff, and you don't want to be part of a program where they want to leave. I think coach Tressel is in it for the long haul. I don't think he has any other plans. Do I believe he is a good enough coach to go to the NFL? Absolutely. I think he could do that and make more money, but I don't think those are his motives. I think he truly loves Ohio State football. None of those coaches want to leave either. There is such a security about those guys. They don't want to be anywhere else. With Coach Tressel being a little bit of an older guy, I don't think he has any more stops along his coaching road. I hope he is at Ohio State as long as Joe Paterno is at Penn State. I know that's probably not possible, but I hope he is there as long as he can be there. I think he is going to be a true figurehead for Ohio State football. He has already left such a mark on them. I can't see why anyone would want to leave. That's important because you want to be around the guys who wanted to be around you in the first place. You can understand a new coach would bring in new players and his kind of guys. Hopefully you would fit the mold, but if you don't then you are out of luck. You would have to prove yourself again. Having that security to know those guys were going to stick around. I think coach Tressel is going to be there as long as he wants to be there."
You were overlooked by the PSU, UM, ND of the world – why did this happen?
"Some guys get into that, but I was just real happy Ohio State came forth. Why not Penn State? They showed interest and Tom Bradley came to the school. There was interest there, but I just think Coach Daniels got a sense of the kind of guy I am. Me performing at my peak late sort of hurt me because a lot of these guys they had been following. I think on places like Rivals and Scout – my rankings aren't so high because I didn't have that past success. Me performing at my peak late in the game they were sort of past looking and that stage of recruiting. Luckily coach got a film out to Ohio State and Coach Peterson decided this was a player he didn't want to pass up. They had one tight end, and he told me they weren't planning on recruiting another one but after he saw my game film they didn't want to lose the opportunity. One thing led to another. Things were more concentrated with Ohio State. They were interested so we continued to send them things and they continued to be more and more interested."
What is your speed and size? I've seen it listed several different numbers.
6-7, just got on scale 255
What was your family's reaction?
"I think my family's overall reaction…my family revolves around the Big Ten. We have some Pitt fans but a lot of Penn State fans. You follow the Big Ten. That's what is on for Saturday afternoons. That's what we know. My family was extremely excited. Every single person said that was where they would have chosen. I don't know if they were just saying that for support, but I don't think so. My parent's didn't want to influence me or pressure me at all to a certain school. They wanted me to go where I was most comfortable and the place I wanted to be at. No matter which of the four schools I would have picked they would have been excited about it. Your family is definitely not a good critic of you, but I think they were very happy about it just because of Ohio State's prestige. Academically, they are up there at the top with those four schools. They are in the Big Ten and [my family] can come to the games or watch it on television. My grandma, who calls herself my agent, she loves football and when this whole thing happened – she was excited. I could tell her favorite was Ohio State. I have an uncle and an aunt in the area who are big Penn State fans. I have an aunt and uncle in Minnesota who are Minnesota fans but are real excited. I have family in Wisconsin – I have a lot of family in the Big Ten. They are just excited to see me go to Ohio State and all of the fun that goes along with it through little rivalries and that kind of stuff.
Ed Dalton – Andrew Miller's Coach
Tell me about Andrew Miller"He really developed over his career and just became an unbelievable blocker. Obviously at Ohio State there are not many kids who play as freshman, but I think he will be an impact player because he is just the kind of tight end everyone has come to expect at Ohio State. He's a very good athlete; a 12-15 point a game basketball player and a three year starter. He blends a real big body frame with all kinds of athletic ability. The sky is the limit for him. He's just really started to grow into his body in the last year. He is just going to get big now.
He seems to really want to compete
"He's driven. He's a very intelligent kid so he has done a lot of research and really understands the traditions at Ohio State. He and I talked about the combines and he watched those things and the kind of player that moves on to the next level. I think he now understands the opportunity in front of him. Normally if you get to be a senior with Ohio State you are practically an NFL caliber player."
How high was the percentage of the running plays for the team that were designed to go behind him? I saw one figure that said 88%?
We run an awful lot to the tight end. We ran an awful lot to him. It just didn't matter.
How are his hands?
He has good hands. He is a post player in basketball and used to catching the ball in traffic with people swatting around. The thing he doesn't have as a tight end is that he is not going to stretch the field vertical. He is like a 4.9 forty, but he is good at finding spaces. He is good at holing up. He is good at catching the ball in traffic. He is a bad match-up for a linebacker with his size. I would be surprised by the time he is a true freshman that he is not 6'7" or 6'8" and 285 or 290. To me, it appears he has grown another half inch or so and is now slightly over 6'7". He weighed 217 as a junior and was 6'5", 6'6". His body is just started to develop the other way. At Nike last year he weighed 230 but was able to 21 reps at 185. His body was starting to catch up. Now he is probably a 350, 370 bench and coming on and on."
He seems to strive for excellence.
"He is a big character kid. It's not a pretend thing. Today he is reading at Trinity West Elementary School to elementary kids. Obviously when you have that kind of size and are going to Ohio State you gather attention from the younger kids. He eats all of that stuff up too, but he is the kind of kid you want to parade around. He is a 3.99 and a 1060 SAT. He is on a lot of our student government things. He is a great personality. You don't have to worry about the things he is going to say to embarrass you or the way he is going to act. The one thing whether you offered him or not – when you sat down and talked to him you left impressed you talked to a really good kid."
Andrew likes to compete.
I think that is where he wanted to cross the bridge. When he went to Metro Index last year, they did some physical things. They weren't live because they weren't in pads, but sometimes when you are matching up good kids against good kids they wind up being live. He came out and was very physical with some of the kids who were ‘the' recruits. From that point on…when you are a big kid you are either thought of as really good or really bad – you know how that goes. I think he really has used that chip on his shoulder approach to show everyone he is a good player. I know the Big 33 thing is causing him to…"
He wasn't a starter until his senior season?
"He played a lot as a junior, but we had a division I tight end who went to Army that was ahead of him. He would play a lot in two tight end sets which were maybe 30-40% of our game anyway."
You've sent other tight ends to D-IA before – what stands out about Andy?
"The blocking on the edge. In what we want to do which is run the power play, run off tackle, throw play action pass, and run the edge, our offensive line starts at tight end. We start our O-front at the tight end because if we have a tight end who can do everything we want to do then everything else will fall into place in our offense. We can find a big tackle and guards and center, but the tight end is a guy where we want a real physical presence. He was obviously the center point of our line and where everything starts."
Where does he need to develop?
"Obviously there will be a giant learning curve. There is a lot of technique work for an offensive lineman. I think tight end is actually simpler than tackle because you might be down to just a couple blocking techniques. Then it is just identifying who you block, but pass receiving and being able to escape – people don't just let you off the line in the collegiate game. All those are skills he will have to work on and developing himself physically. The other side of it is that he is so smart, he will learn. He won't be set backwards by an inability to learn. If anything that is where he will be ahead of some of the younger kids. He will get it."
What will you miss?
"Just he is a great kid to be around. He is an infectious kid. I don't know of an adult or student who does not like him. He is a great kid to be around and have around every day."
"He is just a people person. If he wants to be a senator or governor he has all the qualifications to do that. Or he is going to sell you something you don't want, and he will drive a beamer and live in a house on the hill. He just has that personality."
People joke about Tressel being a senator…
"They have very similar personalities."
Lynne Miller, Andrew's Mom
How many siblings did he have?
"Two. He had a sister who is three years younger and brother who is three years older. He is exactly in the middle."
Did he compete with his older brother?
"Not really. They are very different. The only thing they really have in common is that they play basketball. He admired his brother playing ball, but they didn't compete because they never really played together or competed for the same spot."
Talk about Jim Tressel
He is something. [We went on a trip this summer to see Illinois and Indiana]. On the way we were going to stop at Ohio State. That's really pushing it [we thought]. They will laugh at us for stopping there. We had gotten mail from them but not interest. There was mail that came talking about the school. We thought we will stop by and see if someone can show us around. We thought that they would think we were pushing it. Now, here we are! It was a good last minute thing. When we went to visit I couldn't believe we were there. My husband and I were – you can't not be impressed with the facilities. The coaches – all of them – are a special group of guys. They showed you a whole side of them you don't see other places. Our chat with coach Tressel and his philosophy and the big picture and seeing their whole development…it was neat to hear as a parent that someone cared for them other than being a chunk of meat. That's nice to hear as a parent.