Unity The Goal For Rowdy Offensive Line

The Ohio State offensive line is home to some of the more interesting characters on the team, and the group seems to have found a way to mesh those strong personalities. The goal for the unit is to match that off-field rapport with on-field cohesion in order to build a great line.

If Thursday afternoon's media session with the three senior starters on the Ohio State offensive line, as well as line coach Jim Bollman, is any indication, the unit's meeting room must resemble something along the lines of a frat house.

There seems to be little denying that the offensive linemen are outwardly the rowdiest position group on the team, led by ringleader Alex Boone. The 6-8 senior has developed quite the reputation as a jokester to the media during the past year and a half, and his linemates prove to be perfect foils when they're in the same room with one another.

Boone said the closeness between the members of the offensive line is something that hopefully will translate to better results on the field.

"Last year, we were together and everyone was like, ‘Oh man, we're there. We're a unit,' " he said. "But we really just weren't in synch. Sometimes there would be times when you would see a bad play and you'd be like, ‘Man, what's going on?'

"This year since all of the guys on the offensive line are older, except for Bryant Browning, we all kind of know what's going on. We know when someone messes up, and we get together and we talk about it. We just need to come together more."

If the way the players interact with one another is any sign, it's hard to imagine a group that's any more together. Boone kicked off the hijinks, entering the media room sporting a new haircut that included three parallel lines and what he called a lightning bolt shaved into the side. Think Vanilla Ice, circa 1990.

Soon came the revelation that he was part of a four-person group, nicknamed "Storm Team 4" – an homage to the weather crew at the local NBC affiliate, and yes, Boone name-dropped Columbus icon in longtime forecaster Jym Ganahl – that had undergone the hair alterations from freshman Mike Adams.

The other members of said group remained anonymous until staid center Jim Cordle entered the room sporting a similar cut.

"I just wanted to have fun, mix things up," Cordle said. "I've never done it before. A lot of people were surprised. I don't know. What do you think? Is it a good look?"

He paused a second.

"Probably not," he admitted.

Perhaps more damaging to Cordle's cause was the nicknames Boone revealed for the group, which also includes backup guard Kyle Mitchum and Michigan transfer Justin Boren. Mitchum checked in as "Flash," while Boren was "White Lightning." As for Cordle?

"That's ‘Purple Rain,' " Boone said as Cordle walked into the room. "Everyone's name fits them. He's more of a girl thing going on over there."

After left guard Steve Rehring informed reporters that he had checked in at a fit 337 pounds at a weigh-in earlier in the day, the message was relayed to Boone. Soon, the senior tackle was calling out incredulously across the room.

"337? Jimmy, he said he's 337."

"I just got off the scale," Rehring replied.

"I'm staying out of this," Cordle sighed.

Later, a reporter asked Cordle if Rehring, seated about 10 feet away talking to a reporter, looked good.

"He does look good," Cordle said. "Steve, stand up."

Rehring obliged.

"See, he looks good," Cordle added. "He's just big boned."

"I feel like I have a male model over here," the reporter called back as the offensive lineman continued to mug.

In the midst of all of this controlled craziness is Bollman, a man whose look screams old-school football. And even while the analytical Bollman has a reputation as one of the more engaging coaches on the squad, it's still hard to imagine him fitting in with his jovial bunch.

Yet the 30-year coaching veteran is on board with the antics of his senior members.

"I don't like it to be the army," he said. "We don't all walk alike and talk alike and dress alike. But when those silver helmets go on, we all have to be of the same heart and the same mind and the same thought."

If there ever was an Ohio State offensive line to be of a similar mind, this would be it. Boone has started since his freshman year of 2005 and seems to be able to communicate almost telepathically with Rehring, who started a game at tackle in 2004 and has been the No. 1 left guard since early in 2006.

Cordle and senior right guard Ben Person each have been in the program for more than three years even though both started for the first time a season ago. On the right side is Browning, who joined the squad in 2006 and seems to fit right in on the field.

The result is a group that is together both on and off the field.

"I know we just picked up from where we left off. When you have five guys like that, you have a unit," Cordle said. "We're always hanging out. We're all buddy buddy. It carries over on the field and off the field."


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