Buchanan Fine With Triple Duty

It's clear that the central Ohio product Ben Buchanan has plenty of talent. Through the early days of spring ball, the redshirt freshman has taken kickoffs and field goals and also punted in an effort to showcase his skills, which are good enough that the Buckeyes are having a hard time choosing a role for him. That may change soon.

Ben Buchanan is no normal specialist in the sport of football.

He was so good in high school that he was offered a scholarship by Ohio State nearly a year before signing day. He became the first commitment in a star-studded class of 20 that included the nation's No. 1 overall prospect in Terrelle Pryor.

His prep exploits that included a 54-yard field goal as a junior at Westerville (Ohio) Central and a region-best 41-yard punt average as a senior allowed him to become a U.S. Army All-American Game and Big 33 participant.

Now the redshirt freshman finds himself in an unusual position for a kicker. During Ohio State's spring practice, the 6-0, 200-pounder is working as the second-team kicker and punter and is taking on kickoffs for the Buckeyes.

"I think it's difficult, and he's doing a great job with it," OSU assistant Chad Rogosheske said. "His practices are different than all of these other guys. He's jumping from one thing to another to another to get himself ready. I think that's challenging, and he's really handled the situation real well."

Don't expect the perpetually upbeat Buchanan to complain about his triple duty. He repeatedly called the situation "fun" while talking to the media after Ohio State's kick scrimmage on April 10, an event his Gray squad lost by the close margin of 30-27.

"That's all I've really ever known," he said of taking on all three tasks. "I think showing that you're versatile gives you a better chance to get on the field so that's what I'm trying to do."

However, his days of doing all three could be numbered. The team is attempting to work out the best way to take advantage of Buchanan's talents while also letting him compete with Aaron Pettrey and Devin Barclay at kicker and Jon Thoma at punter.

If the Buckeyes can figure out a place to utilize Buchanan, he might find himself down to a single pursuit on the field.

"We're trying to learn what he does best," Rogosheske said. "At some point we're going to try to get him focused in on one area as opposed to trying to do everything. It's going to be a function of what he does best, and the team's needs are going to factor into that as well."

Of course, don't expect Buchanan to complain at that point, either.

"I don't know if they're going to let me do all three," he said. "That's what I want to do. But if they're going to steer me in a direction, I want to do what's best for the team and I'm going to work 100 percent, as hard as I can for it."

Wherever he ends up, Buchanan figures to provide plenty of competence and perhaps even excellence. Rated the No. 4 kicker in the country by Scout at the conclusion of his senior year, Buchanan looked solid in the kick scrimmage, making 4 of 5 field goals – the only miss was blocked – with a long of 40 while taking nine punts. His average of 36.6 yards there was lowered by another block.

Pettrey, Barclay and Thoma also performed well in the scrimmage, proving that the competition is fierce for the limited reps on the field that go to the specialists.

"It's fun," Buchanan said. "That's why you come here. You come to Ohio State and you know you're going to compete with great players. It's a lot of fun for me to have the privilege to compete against guys of that caliber."

The other kickers have taken notice of Buchanan's skills as well.

"He's very versatile," Barclay said. "He works very hard. He worked really hard in the offseason and I think it shows in the way he's punting and the way he's kicking."

Buchanan said he knows that seniors Pettrey and Thoma have the experience edge, and Barclay – a walk-on and former member of the local MLS side Columbus Crew – is also a junior.

With that in mind, his role as a second-teamer suits him well.

"We have two seniors coming back," he said. "I'm the redshirt freshman. But it's my hope to learn from them and to compete with them. I had a good redshirt year being here and I'm ready to get out there and show what I can do."

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