Life On Edge Good This Spring At Ohio State

A pair of products of suburban Columbus turned in strong performances this spring, and fans hope that is just the beginning of bigger and better things for Mike Adams and Jake Stoneburner. Their performances on the edge of Ohio State's line figures to be crucial this fall.

While veterans returned to familiar spots at quarterback, tailback, fullback, wide receiver and along the interior of the line, uncertainty surrounded the tackle and tight end positions at Ohio State heading into spring practice.

While tight end has long been a spot that lacked production, problems at tackle persisted for much of the 2009 season until veteran Jim Cordle returned to health in the last quarter of the campaign.

He brought stability to the line, teaming with tight end Jake Ballard to solidify the blocking in both the running and passing game.

That duo was named co-winners of the Jim Parker Award as Ohio State's offensive lineman of the year, but both are members of the New York Giants this spring.

The pair signed free agent contracts with the professional team on April 24, the same day their former teammates played the Scarlet and Gray Game, a contest that had Ohio State assistant coach John Peterson smiling in the postgame interview room.

Peterson, who oversees both the tight ends and the tackles, was happy to tell reporters that both his groups took noticeable steps forward in the three weeks of work that preceded the Gray's 17-14 victory at Ohio Stadium.

Perhaps most significant was the progress of Mike Adams, a junior tackle who has been slowed by injuries his first two years in Columbus but did not miss a day this spring.

"All that time and effort that he put in the weight room developing his tall, long body has paid off," Peterson said. "He'll continue to get stronger this summer."

Adams progressed with the mental side of the game as well, helping him come closer to fulfilling the promise that led to make him a five-star recruit.

"Understanding more of what's going on and the ability to answer and fix a problem play after a play, not having to wait until you go back in the film room and say, ‘Oh, that's right,' " Peterson said.

Throughout spring, Adams split first-team repetitions with senior Andy Miller, and Peterson said that will continue this fall.

"Obviously it's a long time before we get back, but now they have a chance to go back and reflect on the spring, to learn and keep going for the fall," the coach said.

Meanwhile, fans anxious to see if the spring game would be the first time the Ohio State tight ends were significant parts of the passing game were probably not overwhelmed by a combined four catches by Jacob Stoneburner and Reid Fragel, but Peterson was happy with the progress the pair made in April nonetheless.

"Jake's done an extremely good job at learning and understanding the blocking schemes," Peterson said. "He's very strong for a receiver, one of the most explosive kids on our team, so Jake has improved along with everyone up front.

"There's a lot of little things that every player needs to continue working on. Adjusting in space and seeing the whole picture in coverages but he's got a lot of time and we'll study that as we move forward."

Fragel's emergence was something of a surprise to program observers because the freshman has yet to spend a full year in Columbus.

"Reid's still a young guy but he's a big young guy," Peterson said. "If you're going to have a guy up front to be on the edge it will be a big guy who can handle the big defensive ends that you face in this conference."

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