Person, Cordle Reflect On 2007

Going into last season, one of the major questions facing Ohio State was whether it could replace offensive line starters Doug Datish and T.J. Downing. For the most part, first-year starters Jimmy Cordle and Ben Person answered that in the affirmative. Now the two look back on their first years and talk about how they can get better in 2008.

Jim Cordle and Ben Person would seem to have a lot in common.

Both interior linemen were first-year starters on the Ohio State offensive line in 2007. Both are soft-spoken yet engaging youngsters who hail from locales in the southern half of the Buckeye State. Both have three letters in their first name and six in their last name. Even their numbers – Nos. 63 for Person and 64 for Cordle – are just one apart.

And, after their initial year as starters, both said the game slowed down tremendously for them as the campaign continued.

"Definitely the first couple of games, I was just being nervous, not looking for things, just worrying about blocking the guy," said Cordle, a center. "As the season goes you can pick things up and then I'm working on technique and stuff."

"The first game, it's all just happening so fast," right guard Person said. "It slows down and you see more and you learn more. You can't replace experience. The only way you can get it is going through it."

With that behind them – and two other starters returning in left tackle Alex Boone and left tackle Steve Rehring – both they and the Ohio State coaching staff expect the two to be bedrocks on the line in 2008. Each feels like they had a solid year on which to build in 2007.

Person's quest to become a starting lineman lasted a little while longer than Cordle's. The Xenia native was a four-star recruit according to Scout and the No. 17 lineman in the nation according when he committed to Ohio State as part of the 2004 class. After a redshirted year, Person worked into a special teams player in '05, was a member of the vaunted second-team line in '06 and got his first starting assignment in '07 after the graduation of T.J. Downing.

Person started every game and was part of a line that excelled at run blocking, paving the way for Chris Wells' record-breaking sophomore season.

"I think I played all right," he said. "There's some things I did well, some things I could have done better, some things I improved on throughout the year. My favorite thing to do is pull and I got a chance to do that last year. As the year went on you get to learn more when things are actually going to happen."

Cordle's path to the center spot was a little bit more direct considering he was able to start in just his sophomore season after the graduation of Doug Datish. The Lancaster native was another four-star recruit and the No. 30 OL in the country when he committed to Ohio State and then enrolled in time for 2005's spring practice. He redshirted that fall before passing Tyler Whaley for the No. 2 center spot in '06, at times playing on the second-string line.

The 6-4, 297-pounder had an eventful first year as a starter, making all of the line calls while dealing with a broken bone in his snapping hand midway through the year that led to him playing with a cast and learning on the fly how to snap with his left hand.

"It definitely got better as I went," Cordle said. "I kind of got set back with the hand because I ended up snapping with my left hand and I got a cast on the right hand. I had to adjust to that."

Of the two, it would figure that Person will be the one with the biggest adjustment to make in 2008. A year ago, his right guard spot sandwiched him between Cordle, a player next to whom he had lined up as a reserve in the past, and Kirk Barton, an All-Big Ten selection during his senior year. Person, who will have a new partner to his right now that Barton has graduated, said it took some getting used to playing beside both guys.

"The more I played next to Jimmy and Kirk, the more I got used to what Jimmy is doing and what Kirk is doing," he said. "I hadn't really played a whole lot next to Kirk the whole time I'd been here, and I'd played some with Jimmy. Getting used to playing between those two, it's just cohesiveness for the line."

Person also will be coming off of an injury that is keeping him out for the spring. During Ohio State's November loss to Illinois, he tore some tendons in his foot, necessitating offseason surgery. Person is in a cast and walking with the aid of crutches at the moment, and he does not expect to be healed until June.

By the time August rolls around, both he and Cordle hope to be at full strength and build on what was a successful first season as starters in the scarlet and gray.

"If you put the Michigan game on, just the way we used our technique was pretty amazing," Cordle said. "Hopefully we can carry that on and get these guys back from injury and go into the fall ready to go."

"It was fun," Person added. "We had a lot of fun playing. You can definitely say as a group we got a lot better as the year went on. As the year got on we got a lot better. That's the big thing. We're excited about this year."

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