Penton Looking To Produce As A Senior

Joel Penton has played sporadically the last three years as a reserve defensive tackle, but could be in position to play a bigger role this season. The fifth-year senior might be the first defensive tackle off the bench behind starters Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson.

Fifth-year senior Joel Penton could be the first defensive tackle off the bench for Ohio State this season. The starters are set with Quinn Pitcock and David Patterson, but Penton (6-5, 295) is looking to be a strong contributor in a reserve role.

"Hopefully I can be that guy that can be called upon at any moment, whether a guy is gassed, or we just need a change-up in there," Penton said. "But really in all honesty, I hope wherever the team needs me to fit in, I can help the team and I can fulfill that role."

If Penton could give Pitcock or Patterson a rest from time to time, it would be a nice luxury for the team. Instead of running a young player out there, it would be a veteran like Penton.

"Right, hopefully that is a luxury," Penton said. "I am going to do the best I can to help the team any way I can and hopefully it will be the type of situation that we won't have a big drop-off when Quinn or David needs to go to the bench, whether it's with me or one of the other guys."

Penton has been impressed with the young defensive tackles that are pushing him for playing time.

"Todd Denlinger inside is performing very well," he said. "Nader Abdallah, Alex Barrow, all these guys are doing very well and I'm very impressed with them."

But Penton is hoping to hold them off and really make an impact in his last go-around. He knows he probably won't have a professional football career, so this is it for him and he wants to go out with a bang.

"Oh, I'm very excited," Penton said. "This is my last year in this program and could be my last year playing football and as a fifth-year senior you really start to put things into perspective. And so, we understand the relationships that you build are so special and the team aspect is so special. And how just being out there on the field is such a privilege and an honor. So, it's easier as a fifth-year senior to savor every day and give it all you've got."

Penton enjoys working with OSU defensive coordinator Jim Heacock. He feels that Heacock has a way of getting the most out of his players.

"He really does," Penton said. "He has great rapport with the players. Each guy has got a special relationship with him. So, when he asks us to do something, we're going to do it. I think he's a great coach and he knows what he's doing out there. We have complete trust in the things he asks us to do, so we're going to do it."

Penton is not going to be a guy that puts up big statistics. He just wants to be a player that comes in and helps control the running game, and improves against the pass as well.

"Yeah, I think I'm definitely more of a run-stopping guy," Penton said. "That's kind of my role. I try and work on the pass and getting a pass rush, but I kind of know my strength is definitely in there. Maybe even short yardage and goal line. That's really my strength."

Penton was Ohio's co-Division III Defensive Player of the Year as a senior in 2001 at Van Wert. And it's hard to believe he was a 230-pound linebacker at that time.

"I was a defensive end in high school through my junior year," Penton said. "And then my senior year just because they wanted me to kind of be able to roam the field, they put me at linebacker. So, I was a defensive end and I came here as a defensive end, but it became clear pretty quickly that I needed to move inside."

Penton worked hard adding weight and muscle for four years under former OSU assistant Al Johnson, and he has really taken to new strength coach Eric Lichter as well.

"Well, Coach Lichter is very exciting guy," Penton said. "He's driven. He's intense. He stresses explosion, so we do the big-type lifts. High-weight and low reps. Hopefully we'll be able to go out there this year and be more explosive because of the summer we've had."

Penton said prior to coming to OSU in 2002 that he wanted to be a minister following graduation. And his plans have not changed.

"Yes, I am certainly going to enter full-time ministry when I'm done with football," he said. "And in exactly what capacity, I'm not sure. Right now I do a lot of speaking, and really evangelism. And if I can continue that, that would be great. And if not, in some capacity I will be in full-time ministry."

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