Jard Work: Homan, Defense Held Strong

What counted for more in spring practice than the jersey scrimmage? Has Ross Homan ever told the talkative Brian Rolle to shut up? Why didn't Jim Tressel play in the Ohio North-South All-Star Classic? The answers to these questions are in this edition of "Jard Work."

This spring, Ohio State's jersey scrimmage was not the be-all and end-all it has been in the past.

The annual intra-squad scrimmage that pits the offense against the defense with a modified scoring system takes place during fall camp and spring football, and this year the defense posted the most lopsided victory head coach Jim Tressel said he could recall seeing.

Victory in a jersey scrimmage means the winning side is allowed to wear the scarlet jerseys in practice until the next scrimmage. But this season, that was not the case.

This spring, the Buckeyes counted a few periods from each practice as part of a larger scrimmage that produced a weekly winner. The final one ended April 20 with a victory for the offense, deadlocking the two teams and forcing one final play with the fate of the jerseys hanging in the balance.

"We had to have one play for all the marbles: fourth and goal on the 4 to see who truly gets to keep the jerseys," Tressel said one day later. "The defense broke up a pass play in the end zone and they get to keep the red jerseys."

Wide receiver Dane Sanzenbacher said he thought the pass attempt from quarterback Terrelle Pryor either sailed out of the end zone or was batted down at the line of scrimmage. Either way, he said, the defense's reaction to losing the scarlet jerseys would not have been a pleasant one.

"The defense would've been pissed because they were all about the jersey scrimmage," he said.

Opposites – Ohio State's two returning starters at linebacker could not be much more different.

In Ross Homan, you have a 6-0, 227-pound bruiser who has been a defensive stalwart since his freshman season. Then in the other corner stands Brian Rolle, who is generously listed at 5-11, 218 pounds. Homan uses his size and strength to make plays, while Rolle uses his speed and aggression to overcome a lack of size.

It does not stop there. Rolle is one of the most outgoing players on the team, Tressel joked with reporters last season that they would have a hard time writing stories with Homan as the primary source.

Not only is Rolle a talker, but he has grown as one during his OSU tenure.

"My first couple years I tried to talk and guys were like, ‘Shut up man, you're not old enough,' " he said. "Now I feel like I'm obligated to talk and it's my time to do that."

Asked if he ever wanted to tell Rolle to shut up, Homan laughed and said, "Sometimes it could be a frustrating situation, but he tries to keep it mellow. You've got to like him for that."

Both will be seniors this season, although Homan took a medical redshirt during his second year in the program. This season, Homan said he is hoping to be a little more like Rolle when it comes to being vocal.

"Being a senior leader, you've really got to tell the young guys what they're doing well and what they're doing wrong," he said. "You have to be more vocal. It's being a senior. The coaches expect it out of you so you do it."

Rolle said he is trying to follow in the footsteps of James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman, both of whom were on the roster during his first two seasons. To do that, the Florida native said he is trying to be choosy with his words.

"I'm not really one of those guys that just talks to talk," he said. "I like to talk about things that are important. Guys can talk in here all day and you don't remember but two or three words. I tell the young guys something that's going to help them."

Missing The Cut – A proponent of bringing Ohio's state playoffs to Columbus, Tressel was understandably excited about taking in this year's Ohio North-South All-Star Classic on April 23 in Ohio Stadium.

It also brought him back to his own prep career and a missed opportunity to play in the game. As a quarterback at Berea, Ohio, Tressel was initially named as a participant in the game but instead found himself watching from the sidelines.

For that, he could thank Massillon (Ohio) Washington head coach Bob Commings.

"I was picked on the original (version of the) roster of the North-South game and then they named the head coach and they named Bob Commings," he said. "Bob Commings dropped me off and put Dennis Franklin on."

Franklin, a quarterback who went on to play for Michigan, played for Commings in high school.

"I still can't understand that," the OSU coach joked. "I went and watched the game and Dennis got hurt the first play of the game. He separated his shoulder on the first play of the game and I'm sitting there in the stands.

"I should've Tweeted (Commings) and told him I was in the stands."

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