Summer A Time For Fat-Man Ball

Summer is well-known as a time for skill position players to get together and play seven-on-seven ball, but what becomes of the offensive and defensive linemen who don't have a spot in those games? It turns out they have their own game. Find out what they play and which Buckeyes excel at their summer activity.

It can be tough to be an offensive or defensive lineman. The job requires constant work in the trenches and constant banging against other 300-pound bodies, often for little praise or public acclaim. Then, during summer, while all the other position groups are playing fast-paced seven-on-seven ball, what are the linemen to do?

Well, at Ohio State, they're left to play "fat-man ball."

"The O-line and the D-line go down and they play fat-man ball," said linebacker James Laurinaitis. "They do like a two-hand touch game, the O-linemen and the D-linemen, and they play each other. It's old-school backyard football, one Mississippi, two Mississippi, all that stuff."

Indeed, a check of a couple linemen confirmed what Laurinaitis had to say. After the real work is done during the summer, which mostly includes work on passing drills, the two lines will get together for some touch football.

"During the summer, the receivers and defensive backs can play seven-on-seven and do a lot of things where they can get better," right tackle Ben Person said. "For the O-line and the D-line to go try to run block, it doesn't quite work. We can do one-on-one pass sets, which we always do. We start out working on some technique steps and some other things that we do, and then we do some one-on-one pass rush, things to get better at football, but then there's not a whole lot we can do without helmets and shoulder pads on.

"So we get together and play seven-on-seven."

Or six-on-six, depending on how many players are around. If there is an odd number, that bastion of touch football, the all-time quarterback, is included. Person said that a couple days during the summer, the defensive linemen were off doing their own thing, so the offensive line played each other. In that case, the older members of the line faced off against the younger guys.

While it must be a sight to see what legendary broadcaster Keith Jackson refers to as the "big uglies" running pass routes and tossing the ball around, reports indicate that a number of linemen perform well. Person was quick to point to fellow tackle Steve Rehring as a player renowned for his passing skills.

"Steve Rehring is usually our quarterback," Person said. "He can throw the ball pretty well. It's not a tight spiral or a perfect spiral or anything like that but it gets where it needs to go."

Person also pointed to starting tackles Kirk Barton and Alex Boone as players that stand out for the offense. On the defensive side, redshirt freshman tackle Dexter Larimore pointed to Todd Denlinger as a player who has some talents.

"I'd have to say Todd is pretty good," Larimore said. "Todd usually gets some interceptions and does pretty well."

However, the defense's skills stop a little short of the quarterback position. While Person had Rehring to point to as the offense's prominent signal caller, Larimore was forced to admit that the stop troops struggle a bit at quarterback.

"We have trouble at the quarterback spot," Larimore said. "Lawrence Wilson tries to get in there every once in a while, but sometimes Doug Worthington is the quarterback. We kind of rotate because we're not really sure."

Both Person and Larimore played down their skills – Person said he makes a few plays here and there, while Larimore would say only that he does all right – but both said the summer fat-man ball is a good time.

"It's just a fun time," Larimore said. "It's not like we ever run pass routes and try to cover somebody. It's just a little, fun thing for us to do."

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