Ohio State's returning starter at right guard is spending spring practice watching from the sidelines as he recovers from surgery on his right leg. As such, he's had a pretty good view of the team's young offensive linemen fighting for playing time.
That list of linemen looking to prove themselves apparently was thinned by one last week when Mike Adams, an early enrollee out of nearby Dublin (Ohio) Coffman, suffered what could potentially be a season-ending shoulder injury. Offensive line coach Jim Bollman declined to speculate on how long Adams might be out of the picture, but it appears he will be out for at least part of the season.
A 6-8, 310-pound tackle prospect, Adams was being viewed as a contender for playing time at the right tackle spot vacated by Kirk Barton. While his loss might appear to be a critical blow to the team's hopes along the offensive line, it was Person who related the situation to a lesson from one of his economics courses.
"I remember in economics class we talked about ‘opportunity lost,' " he said. "We haven't necessarily lost anything because we didn't know what he had to offer yet. It was all potential and he's looked good this spring, but he'll get a year to learn."
The Buckeyes will certainly lose plenty of potential should Adams be lost for the season. A five-star prospect as ranked by Scout.com, Adams was tabbed as the No. 2 offensive tackle prospect in the country. He was the first five-star prospect to issue a verbal commitment to the Buckeyes, helping them get their class of 2008 off to a bang.
Although he had been able to just take part in a handful of practices before being injured, Adams was apparently already making an impression.
"First of all he's huge," center Jimmy Cordle said. "He's a big kid. He impressed me with his lifting. He was strong right away. A lot of guys come in here and – I know I was – you're not ready and don't have the strength to compete right away. He definitely has the strength."
Adams' chances of landing the starting right tackle spot were not downplayed by head coach Jim Tressel when he spoke with reporters prior to the team's first practice. There, Tressel said it would all depend on how quickly he would be able to learn the team's systems.
However, he added that Adams had been part of Coffman teams that had made playoff runs and that the extra experience on a bigger stage could only help him.
Helping to stem the impact of Adams' injury is OSU's overall depth along the offensive line. The Buckeyes figure to have sophomore Bryant Browning as the starter at right tackle, and he is entering his third season with the program. In addition, players such as Kyle Mitchum (fifth-year senior) and Connor Smith (sophomore) fit into the picture.
While he was slated to work in at right tackle this season, many view Adams as the heir apparent to Alex Boone, the team's starter at left tackle. Boone is entering his fourth season as a starter but ironically got his start at right tackle when he took over for an injured Barton during the 2005 season.
The following year he switched to his natural spot of left tackle. Boone said that he could see Adams growing into his spot after this season, but added one thing he needs to work on.
He needs to further develop the mentality of a left tackle.
"I think the mentality is you've got to be a little nuts," Boone said. "You've got to be wild out there and not be afraid to take some risks. I'm trying to help them that it's OK to take a risk out there and be wild, let your hair down and just be tough. That's one of those things that you can't teach someone. They've just got to be like that. They've got to be excited to hit something or somebody."
In addition, Cordle said players of Adams' stature have to adjust to getting low enough to effectively run block while in college. The coaches have spent time working with both Adams and classmate J.B. Shugarts on the correct form, while Michael Brewster has watched from the sidelines as he continues to recover from offseason shoulder surgery.
Still, Boone said he has been impressed with what he has seen out of Adams thus far.
"We've seen that he's a great player," he said. "He's tough, he's agile, he can move. From what I hear he's a little dinged up. He's a good player and we hope he's alright."
He is one of three five-star offensive line prospects already in camp – a fact that means little to left tackle Steve Rehring, entering his third season as the starter.
"I don't care," he said. "Whatever. You're not in high school anymore. Let's go play football. It's college now, so let's see how good you are now."
Prior to the injury, though, it appears Adams was showing how good he can be. For that reason, the team's upperclassmen are looking forward to his return to action – whenever that might be.
"There's nothing you can do about it," Person said. "You can't go blaming people for not being able to practice or play because they got hurt unless it's something they did from their own stupidity. They're all football injuries."
Spoken like a true scholar.