Ohio State football: Defensive linemen don’t act like freshmen

By The Columbus Dispatch  • 
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Adam Cairns | DISPATCH
The summer conditioning program helped freshman Joey Bosa show up at fall camp in tiptop shape.

Michael Hill, Billy Price and Joey Bosa didn’t just stroll onto the Ohio State practice field this preseason. They showed up in shape.

Like the other players in OSU’s 2013 recruiting class, they were on campus by mid-June taking part in the summer conditioning program. But they showed up for that phase in shape and with “their motor running,” junior defensive lineman Michael Bennett said.

“Ridiculous,” Bennett added about their preparedness, and he meant that in a good way. “Like Michael Hill, we see stuff from him that you don’t see out of a lot of athletes. He brings a lot to the table. It will be exciting to see what he can do for us.”

At 6 feet 2, 310 pounds, Hill, from Pendleton, S.C., could add immediate depth to the interior defensive line, as could the 6-4, 305-pound Price, from Austintown, Ohio, and the 6-5, 280-pound Bosa, from Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

They know that they have to prove themselves to get in the mix with Bennett, Joel Hale, Tommy Schutt, Adolphus Washington and Steve Miller.

“I’m just going to keep working hard, and what happens happens,” Bosa said.

Their position coach is watching intently.

“We’d certainly like to play them,” said defensive line coach Mike Vrabel, a former 14-year NFL player and three-time Super Bowl winner with New England. “They are young kids that are big and strong.”

They apparently made a good impression as the rigors of preseason camp ensued this month.

“That’s the thing you don’t see a lot of times at this level,” Vrabel said, “kids who come in as freshmen who can play inside (on the defensive line) and that are willing to take the pounding, willing to take the double teams they are going to get play in, play out.”

One of the keys, Hill said, is paying attention to every word and action of Vrabel.

“He’s teaching me a lot,” Hill said. “He always tells us to be a pro about everything, since he was a pro. He tells us the pros make the hard look easy. So right now I’m just trying to make all the hard stuff look easy.”

Hill, Bosa and Price appeared to have been going by that motto even before they showed up at Ohio State.

“Work hard, don’t have that mindset of ‘just get through it,’ ” Bosa said of his approach. “You’ve got to look at every opportunity as a chance to get better.”

Hill expounded on that thought.

“Extra work,” Hill said. “Not just extra work in football, but also during the offseason so you won’t get out of shape, because the offseason is like your main season (for training). It’s supposed to be your most important season; that’s where all the work goes in.”

The three big men have made an early impression, as have other freshmen — running backs Ezekiel Elliott and Dontre Wilson; linebackers Mike Mitchell, Trey Johnson and Darron Lee; cornerbacks Eli Apple, Cam Burrows and Gareon Conley; and safety Vonn Bell.

Bosa expected as much.

“It’s an awesome class,” he said. “They’re just trying to get on the field, trying to improve the team, I think.”

tmay@dispatch.com

@TIM_MAYsports

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