Bank Talks With Ex-Bucks: Brian Hartline

Miami Dolphin rookie Brian Hartline is enjoying life as an NFL football player, and the former Ohio State wide receiver is making the most of his opportunity. Hartline, a third-round draft choice, left Ohio State a year early for the NFL. Bill Greene caught up with Hartline in south Florida and filed this report.

Former Ohio State wide receiver Brian Hartline is off to a good start to his NFL career with the Miami Dolphins. Hartline was drafted in the third round by the Dolphins and is a part of the rotation at wide receiver.

Greene: Tell me how life is with the Dolphins in the NFL.

Hartline: "It's pretty remarkable so far, to be honest with you. I've wanted to play in the NFL since I started playing football, so this is a dream come true. At the same time, this is a job, and I can't get caught up in being in the NFL, because this can go away real quickly. I need to stay grounded and work every day to get better."

: Describe your career at Ohio State, both the highs and the lows.

Hartline: "I would say it was a mixture of both positive and negative memories. The only negative was losing in the two national championship games, and that definitely hurts so much, even to this day. It remains two missed opportunities for greatness in my life that didn't end up the way we wanted. The positive memory is playing for great coaches, with great teammates, and in front of great fans. My biggest frustration for my time at Ohio State is not being able to win the national championship. Getting there was great, but not being able to win at least one of them is tragic. Things happen in life for a reason, and maybe that memory is what drives me to win a championship with the Dolphins."

: Was it hard to leave Ohio State with one year of eligibility remaining?

Hartline: "Yes, it was a very hard tough decision to make. I always tell people that playing football at Ohio State is a magical experience. The situation at Ohio State is second to none in college football, but I felt it was time to try the next challenge. Having already graduated made the decision a little easier because there's no way I was leaving college without my degree. The things the university can offer an athlete, from the on-field experience to the academic support, is amazing. Leaving my friends was difficult, and I was taking off in an adventure that guaranteed me nothing, but I had done my research and felt good about my decision. In the end, I trusted myself and the people around me, and I took my shot. Like I said, playing in the NFL was a dream, and I left to pursue my dream, not because I was unhappy in Columbus playing for Ohio State. I read stuff on the internet that I left because I was unhappy with the offense, or unhappy with Terrelle Pryor, and that is just not true at all."

Greene: Tell me about your thoughts on Jim Tressel.

Hartline: "My thoughts on Coach Tressel are nothing but positive. He has provided me with a lot of opportunities and I thank him for that. Without him and his staff, especially Darrell Hazell, I wouldn't be where I am today. I owe a lot to Jim Tressel and the university, and I will never be able to repay them. I would tell any high school football player that Jim Tressel isn't just a football coach, because Jim Tressel is a life coach, and a very good one."

Greene: You mentioned your position coach at Ohio State, Darrell Hazell. How would you describe him as a coach, and as a person?

Hartline: "Coach Hazell is second to none, both as a coach and as a man. He's the best wide receiver coach in college football today. You can ask Teddy [Ginn], Robo [Brian Robiskie], or Gonzo [Anthony Gonzalez], and they will say the same thing. I loved playing for him and I respect him so much as a father and a husband, and he is an important part of my life today, and always will be. Coach Hazell has the ability to be a college head coach or even an NFL coordinator some day. I think he likes living in Columbus and raising his family there, so I'm not sure he would ever leave, but he has the talent to go far in the coaching profession if he chooses to do so."

Greene: What is it like playing for Tony Sparano in Miami?

Hartline: "Coach Sparano is an amazing coach and all the players on this team love playing for the guy. Coach respects the hard working players more than the super-talented guys who might be underachievers. He loves the game, wished he could still be playing the game, and it's a great opportunity for me to play for him. It's an honor for me that football men like Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells want me to be a part of what they're building here in Miami. Every day I try to prove those guys correct in their evaluation of me.

Greene: What's the biggest difference between playing in college and playing in the NFL?

Hartline: "The biggest difference is in the speed at which the game is played, but the players aren't necessarily faster. I think the players are so much smarter than what I saw in college, that these athletes play with almost zero hesitation in their game. Everything is so much reaction speed, from recognizing where you need to be in a split second, that it's clear to see this an All-Star league. Intelligence makes it seem like they're faster players, but they aren't running faster forty times than when they were in college, it's just the reaction time is so much faster. Everything is so crisp and so sharp, that it's hard to find flaws to take advantage of. I love that, because I love the mental part of football, and it's amazing to see it first-hand."

Greene: What about being on a team with experienced NFL guys, as opposed to having teammates close in age, like at Ohio State?

Hartline: "It was really great to get here and see that these are all great guys, and that's a reflection on Tony Sparano and Bill Parcells, and the type of people they want on their team. They only want high-character, team-oriented individuals on their team. A guy like Joey Porter seems intimidating when you watch him play, but he has the reputation of a guy who takes care of the rookies, and I've seen it. I didn't know what to expect coming in, but I've learned that Tony Sparano wants the right kind of player, and they won't put up with a talented player that isn't disciplined and here to win football games. Once I met Coach Sparano, and saw the type of person he is, I knew things would be great in the locker room at Miami."

Greene: You've always been a player that has needed to be someone that out-worked people and got ahead based on a strong work ethic. What are the things that you need to work on to be a better player for the Dolphins?

Hartline: "I just need to make sure I continue to work hard every single day, trying to improve every single part of my game. I can't take days off, even with this week being a bye week, I'm in there every day working on something. This is an on-going process to make yourself a better player and every player in this league does that every day, or they should be doing that every day. You always have to fight the temptation to take it easy one day, and you can find a million excuses to do so, but I need to be able to play faster. To get on the field more, and contribute more, I need to be able to play as fast as the veterans do. I need to keep learning the game, and be able to lower the hesitation factor, and that only comes through time and hard work. I've been able to take advantage of some opportunities so far this year, and I need to continue to do that to stick in this league."

Greene: What's the bigger adjustment, going from high school to Ohio State, or from Ohio State to the Miami Dolphins?

Hartline: "I would actually say the adjustment was a little bit tougher going from high school to Ohio State. I had that year off due to redshirting as a true freshman, and that was huge to me. There was no way I could have contributed to Ohio State as a true freshman, but I think I am able to contribute as a rookie in the NFL. Once again, I credit Darrell Hazell for preparing me for this step in my career. The demands placed on me at Ohio State prepared me for the NFL, no doubt about it. Ohio State holds us to high standards and that makes us ready to play in this league, and that's a great testament to Ohio State University."

Greene: How will you feel if you see Ohio State win the national championship in the next few years: happy for the program or sad that you couldn't experience it as a player?

Hartline: "It will be both feelings at once, I would imagine. It does kill me that we didn't win one. I mean I can watch any team win the national title, even a rival of Ohio State, and think how sad it is that we couldn't feel that feeling of being the best. It's not necessarily jealousy, it's a realization that you didn't accomplish that goal, combined with the fact that I can't ever go back to try it again. When we talk about missed opportunities, not winning a championship is one that over one hundred guys missed out on. But without a doubt I will be thrilled to see my university win the national championship. I want to see the Ohio State football tradition held high, and there's no way I wouldn't have tears in my eyes seeing Ohio State win another national championship. It would be even sweeter to see guys I played with, and men that coached me, win that title, and I hope it happens this year."


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