Bad Timing Derailed Buchanan's Season

Last season, Devin Barclay seized the opportunity when senior kicker Aaron Pettrey went down with an injury against New Mexico State. Unable to put his hat in the ring was Ben Buchanan, then a redshirt freshman who had suffered a minor injury during practice the week prior. Now Buchanan is looking to make an impact this season without dwelling on last year's disappointment.

Ohio State was in the midst of administering a thrashing to visiting New Mexico State when senior kicker Aaron Pettrey fell victim to a low block on a kickoff and was helped off the field.

After making his way to a cart, the senior kicker sat there knowing the injury to his left knee was likely serious. At one point, he was consoled by redshirt freshman Ben Buchanan, who was not in uniform for the game.

Standing there on the sidelines, Buchanan said he had two thoughts go through his head. One was a feeling of sadness for his friend and teammate in Pettrey. The second thought?

"In the back of my head I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, I can't believe what's happening before me right now,' " Buchanan said Saturday.

The central Ohio native had reason to feel that way. Three days prior to the game against the Aggies, Buchanan had suffered a minor injury of his own that kept him from dressing for the game. Entering the week, Buchanan was listed as the backup punter behind senior Jon Thoma but had also been battling Devin Barclay for the right to serve as Pettrey's primary backup.

Had Buchanan been healthy, he could have had a shot at replacing Pettrey. After all, it is Buchanan who was a three-star prospect and the No. 4 kicker in the class of 2008. Barclay joined the team after a career with the Columbus Crew of the MLS and does not boast the same powerful leg as Buchanan.

But it became Barclay's job to lose and he would go on to hold it down for the rest of the season. Buchanan returned to the lineup the following week.

"We were pooch-punting and I had an unfortunate ankle roll," Buchanan said. "Devin did a great job of coming in and taking over after that, but it was hard for me because I was right there too.

"It really was tough. That's where my faith comes in. You really have to believe that things happen for a reason. I believe that God has a plan for me at this great university."

This season, that plan appears to be serving as the team's first-team punter. Buchanan has displayed a strong leg by routinely booming punts throughout spring practice, but he has also battled Barclay for the kicking job.

"To be able to kick and punt at a great university like this one would be a thrill," he said. "I just want to be out there doing one of them, competing and helping this team hopefully win a national championship. For an individual goal, I'd love to be out there doing both."

Reflecting back on Pettrey's injury, Barclay said he felt Buchanan handled the situation well.

"It's just a reality of being an athlete," the senior-to-be said. "There's injuries. Some people capitalize on injuries. You never actually hope that somebody goes down, but you also have to be aware that that's the reality."

Barclay added that he felt both lucky and blessed to have remained the healthy kicker through the situation. Two weeks later, Barclay booted the game-winning field goal against Iowa in overtime that handed the Buckeyes the Big Ten title.

"I was happy for Devin," Buchanan said. "He was here too. He's paid his dues. He earned his spot. He went in there and did a great job. I never look back."

Buchanan said he only allows himself to look back on the situation when he is trying to help motivate himself for the upcoming season.

"When I'm training I'll maybe have that motivate me, but I think that's a good thing," he said. "(Head coach Jim) Tressel encourages that. It's all about competition and getting better. That's why I'm looking forward to 2010."

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