Cordle Getting Most Out Of Senior Year

One of the most memorable moments of Saturday's Rose Bowl celebration was Jim Cordle's eruption on the postgame dais. It might have seemed out of character for the reserved senior, but Cordle has been becoming more and more of an emotional leader as the year has gone on while still playing solid football along a jelling offensive line.

For most of the past five years, Jim Cordle has been the calm, cool, collected guy among a group of jokers on the Ohio State offensive line.

While Kirk Barton sometimes drew the ire of head coach Jim Tressel for his actions and Alex Boone was more than willing to show the public his jocular side, Cordle was always friendly, witty and talkative to reporters but showed a reserved personality compared to his bombastic cohorts.

So imagine the surprise when Cordle, seated at the postgame dais after Ohio State clinched a Rose Bowl berth Saturday with a dramatic 27-24 overtime win against Iowa, suddenly poured a cup of water over his head and leapt to his feet when it became his turn to talk about what the win meant to him.

"We did it, baby! We won! These guys up here, we've got five rings now. We did it! We won!" Cordle yelled while moving to the center of the dais and outstretching his arms toward his teammates.

Wait, where did that come from, and what did he do with the Jim Cordle we all know?

"I was just sitting there listening to the guys say what they did and I was excited so I just showed it a little bit. I don't know," Cordle told reporters Monday at Ohio State's bowl media day. "I can't remember (doing) anything like that. Especially around here, you get so brainwashed by all the Tresselisms that you just kind of have things planned out. It was off the wall."

The senior added that all reaction he'd received since then was positive – and why not? If there's any player on the roster who should have a license to show how he feels in such a manner, it should be Cordle.

He's been shuffled around the offensive line, starting games at four positions during the past three years. He's had his share of injuries, including ankle surgery that kept him out of four games earlier this year. And he was passed over as a captain during his senior year as the offense was denied a full-time selection in team voting.

However, Cordle has done what he could to rectify that last part, showing that increased emotion as the season has gone on.

"I've been seeing it more and more this past year," defensive lineman Lawrence Wilson said. "Jimmy is an excited guy. He wants to win so bad and he wants our team to do well. Jimmy has become an emotional leader for us."

That emotion has seemed more prevalent the past two weeks as Ohio State has gone through its toughest stretch of the year with wins against top-15 teams Penn State and Iowa just as his senior year is winding to a close. In addition to his postgame celebration against Iowa, Cordle looked like that cat that got the canary after the Buckeyes grinded out a physical 24-7 win the week before against Penn State.

"Being a senior, it's been an emotional couple of weeks here," he said. "It was a great day obviously on Senior Day (beating Iowa), and I don't know, it had just been a long time coming, just having an emotional outburst there. I was definitely happy after Penn State just because I'm a senior on this team and we had our backs against the wall there and we fought back. I couldn't be more proud of the guys."

That Cordle has even had the chance to be a spokesman for the offensive line the past two weeks is a testament to how hard he's worked to rehab from that ankle injury. Cordle spent fall camp dealing with a sore ankle while continuing his education on how to play right tackle, his third starting spot in as many years after earlier stints at center and left guard.

"I thought it was just because it was a rough camp and I'm old and things like that," he said. "I thought it was normal wear and tear. It kind of just kept getting worse and didn't go away."

Still, the Lancaster, Ohio, native thought he could play through it, but Cordle rolled the ankle in the second game of the year against USC, resulting in more pain. X-rays followed by an MRI showed scar tissue, bone fragments and bone spurs that necessitated surgery.

Cordle said the ankle still is swollen and he probably should have stayed out of the lineup for more games, but he came back for the Purdue game Oct. 17 when it appeared center Michael Brewster would be out after rolling an ankle during practice that week.

"We didn't think he'd be able to play so I just hopped right in," he said. "I wasn't expecting to practice that week. I was going to practice the next week. We maybe pushed it a little bit, but that's what I had to do. I don't regret it at all because it hurts right now, but oh well. It's going to hurt. Even if I had waited another week, it would probably still hurt."

Cordle played only one series at left tackle against Purdue – "I didn't look so swell, so they were like, ‘All right, you're not ready,' " he said – but has started the past four games once Mike Adams went out with a knee injury of his own. Twice during that four-game span, Cordle has earned Ohio State's Jim Parker offensive lineman of the week honors.

"I probably wouldn't have imagined that coming into the year that I'd be at left tackle, but that's what we needed and that's where I fit in when I came back," he said. "Left tackle is definitely not the best spot maybe that I can play at, but like Coach Tressel said, I'm out there fighting. That's what you have to do as an offensive lineman. It doesn't mater where you line up as long as you play hard and use technique."

The home portion of his Ohio State career now over, Cordle will get one final crack at Michigan. Though he won't be eager to remember one portion of last year's game – when U-M linebacker Jonas Mouton delivered a hard hit that resulted in Cordle blacking out and twisting his knee on the way down, tearing his MCL and giving him tendinitis to this day – Cordle will try to earn a fifth pair of gold pants.

"It's another crazy feeling," he said. "It's been crazy the last three weeks here, but I mean, back in '07 when we were running out on the field coming out of the tunnel, you could see all the maize and blue and I thought to myself, ‘This is what I imagined watching it on TV back when I was a little kid.' Just the Big House and the atmosphere and being able to run out there and get another chance to do it this year, it'll be very special. I won't take it for granted."

And if the offense needs a little shot in the arm at any point, perhaps Cordle will be the one to pour some water on his head and get the troops moving.

"He's done a great job of leading the offensive line, leading the offense and stepping up into that role if someone needs to be vocal," safety and captain Kurt Coleman said. "I think you could see at the press conference on Saturday, he's an emotional guy. He's someone that people look up to for that extra motivation, that extra motivation we need.

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