DL Notebook: Goebel Leads Youngsters' Charge

Interviews with Ohio State's defensive line were so bountiful that some notes had slipped through the cracks only to fall into this spring Notebook. Find out which OSU youngster is earning praise, whether there are any curses on the line and which returning contributor is earning the praise of position coach Jim Heacock.

In the days after the Ohio State football team's beat media's session with the team's defensive linemen and line coach Jim Heacock, much of the talk was about the experienced starters returning to anchor the position.

With that in mind, one might think it would be hard for a young player to make a name for himself with players like Doug Worthington, Dexter Larimore, Todd Denlinger, Cameron Heyward and Thaddeus Gibson taking part in full reps.

But a few younger Buckeyes have been able to work their way into the two-deep through the early days of spring practice. Leading the charge in that way is redshirt freshman Garrett Goebel.

The tackle from the Chicago suburbs was a coveted four-star prospect when he signed with Ohio State before undergoing a redshirt campaign a season ago.

Apparently, he made good use of that time.

"He really did a good job redshirting last year," Heacock said. "You can redshirt and get better or you can redshirt and stay the same or you can redshirt and get worse, and he got better."

Goebel developed a reputation as a hard worker during his high school years at Montini Catholic High School in Lombard, Ill., where he was a standout wrestler in addition to his football accolades. So far, the 6-5, 280-pounder hasn't done anything to stop that talk.

"He worked hard in the weight room and when he was on the scout team he really worked hard against our offensive line last year, and that translates into improvement and getting better. When he went through the year, he got better. He's out there competing right now."

Up to this point, Worthington and Larimore have been the first-string tackles in spring practice with Denlinger working alongside of Goebel on the No. 2 unit. The senior has noticed some good qualities out of his younger position-mate.

"He's had a great spring," Denlinger said. "I know the coaches think highly of him because he works hard and he's always doing the right thing. This spring he's made a lot of plays, and he's going to be exciting to watch and play with."

That's not to say that Goebel is the only younger player along the line who has impressed. When asked about that, end Lawrence Wilson had an answer more specific to his spot on the line.

"As far as young guys, I think Willie Mobley and Solomon (Thomas) are doing really good," Wilson said.

Thomas, a sophomore, and Mobley, a redshirt freshman, were a part of the two-deep on Tuesday when Robert Rose went down with a leg injury during a practice session open to the media (Wilson and Nathan Williams continued to rest injuries as well). Mobley, who is coming off of a season lost to injury, had a few rough moments in practice while getting used to playing end.

Another young end, sophomore Keith Wells, was pulling a 45-pound weight during practice as he continues to rehab from a labrum injury.

No Curses Here: One young reporter on Tuesday was moving from player to player asking if Lawrence Wilson, who has suffered season-ending leg injuries during the past two seasons, was the victim of some sort of curse.

Not many of the players, fresh off of a practice in 40-degree weather complete with blustering winds, were ready to bite.

"Lawrence is a blessed individual," Worthington said. "I think Lawrence is so focused, so ready for this season that that's not really going to bother him. He's doing his rehab, doing more than he should. I had the same injury and he's been working so hard in the training room trying to get ready and get back."

Denlinger pushed aside a similar query when the reporter asked if his repeated injuries, grouped with Wilson's, were part of a similar curse.

"It's a fluke thing," he said. "Luckily mine weren't as bad as his. God bless him, but he's struggled through a lot and he's a fighter. He'll be back and he's going to have a great season this year, as will I."

Dexter Is Ready: It might have been a bit of a surprise to some when the spring depth chart debuted with Larimore at the top. The junior from Merrillville, Ind., has been hyped for his understanding of leverage in the pile earned from his high school wrestling days, but injuries have helped limit him to 16 tackles as a freshman in 2007 and 15 last season.

Now Larimore appears to be fully healthy and flashing his strength and skill on a regular basis.

"Dex has had probably his most consistent spring," Heacock said. "He never has a bad play, never has a bad day. He just goes hard every time. He's about 305 (pounds) right now and he does a good job holding up in the middle. He's a steady player. He's working on his productivity, trying to get more productive, but he's a good force for us inside and gives us a guy down there that can take on a couple of guys."

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