Underwood Ready To 'Pull' His Own Weight

Antonio Underwood was largely an unknown when he joined Ohio State's class of 2011, but the offensive lineman from Shaker Heights, Ohio, is excited to be a Buckeye. In this article, Underwood and his head coach discuss his strengths and how an OSU offer came to be accepted.

Upon their arrival at Ohio State, most offensive linemen can only climb the depth chart as quickly as they can master the team's pass-blocking concepts.

In his own estimation, Antonio Underwood will be ready for the challenge when he gets to campus next summer.

"I would say that one of my best attributes is my pass blocking," he told BuckeyeSports.com. "It's just something in my game that I was always good at. Run blocking too really, but I have a good base and balance."

For that, Underwood has his stature to thank. Listed by his head coach at 6-3½, 295 pounds, Shaker Heights, Ohio, head man Anthony Watkins said he was worried that the lineman would never land an offer from the Buckeyes.

"I thought Antonio was a little bit too short," he said.

A two-way lineman in high school, Underwood likely projects as an offensive guard in college. He primarily lines up at right tackle for the Raiders but has also spent time at left tackle.

Scout.com lists Underwood as an unranked offensive guard prospect but also as the preseason No. 20 prospect from Ohio. Asked if he feels like he has been an under-the-radar type of player, Underwood said, "Yeah, most definitely. I'm not one of those guys that right now you'll find in (the) top 150. I don't think I'm out there as much as somebody else.

"It motivates you, but at the same time it's really not a worry because if you have certain schools looking at you that you actually like it doesn't become much of a concern."

On the field, Underwood said his favorite thing to do is pull while blocking.

"I do like it because when you're pulling, you actually get to see the play develop," he said. "You can usually see if something is going wrong. I think pulling is really fun and interesting."

Said Watkins, "He's a tough kid and his fundamentals and techniques are good. He's a big kid who plays basketball from an early age. He's big but he's not sloppy. That led to him being able to do some things really well. If you've got good feet and good hands and you're a big kid, the sky is the limit. That is what allows him to be a good lineman. He has good feet and good hands and he's a powerful young man."

Underwood issued a verbal commitment March 15 to the Buckeyes. His was one of five commitments to take place in less than 48 hours, but he was no newbie to OSU's eyes.

The Buckeyes began recruiting Underwood during his sophomore year, he said, when they extended him an invitation to attend their spring game. The interest continued as Underwood was at Ohio Stadium to see OSU host Iowa. Still, he did not hold an offer from the Buckeyes until the day he accepted one.

Instead, Underwood held offers from Mid-American schools such as Kent State, Toledo and Miami (Ohio).

"Before they offered me, there was some doubt in the back of my mind," he said. "I didn't think I really had a real good chance of going there until I got feedback from the coaches about my film. It's always something that's in the back of your mind. At the same time, it did come as a surprise."

The offer came while he was seated with his grandfather inside head coach Jim Tressel's office. Underwood was prepared to think it over, but his grandfather had other ideas.

"He said, ‘If this is the school that you want to go to, then walk in there and shake Coach Tressel's hand,' " Underwood said. "I was really excited. It was mind-blowing. It really didn't dawn on me until later that day, but it was really exciting."

Watkins said the Buckeyes are getting a quality player on and off the field.

"Some people are just a natural at what they do," the coach said. "He's just a natural offensive lineman because he enjoys it and he's learned to love it. When you learn to love something, you have fun doing it and that's what he exudes. He has fun doing it and he knows that he's a lineman."

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