Buckle Your Chinstrap

By Kyle Rowland on August 29, 2012 at 10:00a

“Buckle your chinstrap.”

The apex of the offense. 

That’s the message that has stuck with Corey Linsley for nine months and proved to be prophetic. It came from his high school coach, D.J. Ogilvie, in the form of a text message when he found out Ohio State hired Urban Meyer.

Ogilvie, the former head coach at Youngstown Boardman and current coach at Lemon Bay High School in Englewood, Fla., played at Bowling Green in the 1980s and observed Meyer’s two seasons at his alma mater.

After attending practices, Ogilvie knew Meyer – and the Falcons – was on to something. Eight wins in the first season, then nine in the second marked the best two-year stretch Bowling Green had achieved in a decade.

But the wins followed because of an intensity in Meyer that came out in practices and workouts, prompting his roster to toughen up and bring the “juice.”

After a sporadic three years, including a redshirt season, Linsley’s career was at a crossroads when Meyer came into the picture. The previous year he had been suspended, though he did appear in 10 games. Still, Linsley was out of shape and closer to the doghouse than the penthouse.

What a difference nine months makes. Linsley will start the 2012 opener Saturday as the starting center. But not just that, he will do so as the prototype Meyer offensive lineman.

“I would have to say Corey Linsley is the most improved on offense,” Meyer said. “He’s the guy that’s made the biggest jump, gone from nobody to the apex of our offense. That's the center, which in any offense, but particularly this one, the way we do things, that center's got to be a grown man.

“I love Corey. I love who he is. I love the seriousness. I love the fact that he was honest about his (faults). It wasn't a blame game. He didn't come and blame the previous coaching staff. He blamed himself for his lack of production. So he's without question, in my mind, the number one most improved guy.”

The new Corey Linsley began taking shape during the unseasonably warm Central Ohio winter. That’s when life as they knew it changed for the Buckeyes. In came strength coach Mickey Marotti and a culture was changed.

Linsley is part of a unit that shed more than 450 pounds of fat while putting on 500 pounds of muscle.

"At first, those were the hardest things I've ever done," Linsley said of Marotti's strenuous workouts. "I was like, 'Am I really going to quit through this?' And the answer was absolutely not. I'd be constantly telling myself I wasn't going to quit. It was layer upon layer of building confidence."

Warinner has overhauled the Ohio State offensive line.

Used primarily as a right guard last season, Linsley’s career at Ohio State could be described as being a vagabond. He’s played up and down the line. Entering the spring, however, Meyer and Warinner plugged Linsley into the center position.

A starter, though? That part was not expected. When Brian Bobek committed to Ohio State in 2011, many believed he was the heir to Mike Brewster’s four-year reign at center.

"Coach pegged him as the center from day one," left tackle Jack Mewhort said of Linsley. "He accepted that role and he's more confident than I've ever seen him."

During spring practice, the offensive skill positions weren’t the only group to draw the ire of Meyer. The line was also insulted. It wasn’t a unit Ohio State could win with, Meyer reasoned. 

"He told us we didn't look like an offensive line he'd want to play with," Linsley said.

Ohio State has to replace three starters, but only one of the two returnees is playing the same position as last year. Performing well at the apex, as Meyer referred to it, has greatly enhanced the line. It isn’t looked upon with skepticism now.

"I really feel like right now I'm 10 times a better player than last year," Linsley said. “I feel like we can be one of the best offensive lines in America.”

Whether a coach is mild-mannered like Jim Tressel or to the point like Meyer, players usually take on their personality and demeanor. It was the case with Tressel, it happened at Miami in the 1980s and 90s with Howard Schnellenberger, Jimmy Johnson and Dennis Erickson and it has occurred at Ohio State under Meyer.

With an opportunity to be seized, Linsley beat out Bobek and incoming freshman Jacoby Boren to win the starting center position, and he did it with old-fashioned hard work.

"That's the mentality I took into (the coaching change)," Linsley said. "Obviously, the Xs and Os have a lot to do with Coach Meyer's success, but the biggest part is how hard we work and how much emphasis he puts on outworking everybody."

The coaching staff took notice and that hard-working gene in Linsley is a quality that has won over the staff’s admiration. He also exhibits selflessness, looking only for team success and not personal satisfaction.

“He's a very hard worker,” offensive line coach Ed Warinner said. “He's totally committed to turnaround in his life and so forth, in terms of the past and moving forward.  He’s a very blue collar guy that just trains hard in the weight room and practices hard.  Very physical.

O-Line: 450 pounds of fat lost, 500 pounds of muscle gained. 

“You just like a guy who comes in and says, Hey, whatever you want me to do, whatever I need to do, whatever changes are made, there's no looking back.  So we’re pretty pleased with that.”

Linsley and Boren’s emergence put the wheels in motion for Bobek to transfer, which he did, to Big Ten foe Minnesota. The unexpected rise in Linsley’s game came when he was nearing rock bottom.

"Corey's a fine player," Meyer said. "And he'd be the first to tell you he wasn't a fine player a year ago. His complete commitment to Ohio State wasn't there. It is now."

Said Linsley: "I really think I made a 180 in my life, on and off the field. I feel rejuvenated. I had to make a decision to make myself a better player and better person or continue down the path I was going down."

As the Miami game approaches, the demanding regimen that Marotti put the offensive linemen through is now looked upon as a savior. That’s because it helped slim their oversized frames and condition them.

In fall camp, the fast-paced offense has continued to mold the now active linemen. 

"We still get tired,” Linsley said. “But now when we get tired, everybody is able to think clear. In an up-tempo offense, everybody knows what they're doing, everybody is on the same page. We're not hunched over trying to catch our breath. We're still tired, but we're able to fight through it."

The realization came to Linsley in the spring that a well-conditioned offense can greatly impact a game.

"Second spring scrimmage, we're running up-tempo and I noticed after seven or eight plays, the defense trying to get the call from the sidelines,” he said. “Some of them were hunched over trying to catch their breath.

“I thought, ‘Wow, this is the profound effect this offense can have on a defense.’"


Comments Show All Comments

Buckeyebrowny919's picture

"O-LINE: 450 pounds of fat lost, 500 pounds of muscle gained." ..that's all the reading i needed to do. wow

To give anything less than your best, is to sacrifice the gift - Steve Prefontaine

buckeye76BHop's picture

My thoughts exactly...this will prove to be an intrical part to OSU's football team (all but RT Tackle anyhow...we'll see on that).  Not to mention helping protect #5 from getting sacked 54 times...meh

"There's nothing that cleanses your soul like getting the hell kicked out of you."

"I love football. I think it is most wonderful game in world and I despise to lose."

Woody Hayes 1913 - 1987 

OSUBias's picture

I think he just called John Simon out of shape:

"Second spring scrimmage, we're running up-tempo and I noticed after seven or eight plays, the defense trying to get the call from the sidelines,” he said. “Some of them were hunched over trying to catch their breath."

7 yards and a cloud of dust is a beautiful thing

rdubs's picture

He did say "some" so it's possible that Simon was doing push ups in between downs while Hankins lumbered up to the line of scrimmage...

3technique's picture

Corey "Ugly as hell" Linsley! Love it! Sometimes it's not just recruiting, but reclaiming players who have lost their way. (Marcus Hall) Man I can't wait til saturday..

Buckeyejason's picture

Did they bring the "juice" to lose fat  and gain muscle?  I kid I kid.


Maestro's picture

Nice article.  Hope the talk is backed up by production.  Look forward to watching him dominate.

vacuuming sucks

CC's picture

How are the 450 and 500 measured?  So the linemen are bigger this year?
I thought earlier we heard how they all slimmed down.
I don't doubt their effor or turn-around just curious to me.
I have to say we are building this team up to a point where anything less than 10 wins seems like a failure.  I hope they live up to it.

bassplayer7770's picture

To my understanding, they lost 450 pounds of fat but gained 500 pounds of muscle.  Also, I think this number may have been released before Chris Carter moved to the D Line.

Buckeyejason's picture

They've must have really followed some strict detailed diets to achieve those results..hard thing to do for young college kids.


Buckeyejason's picture

Yeah I remember reading about that..I just think its tough to tell a kid in college to eat chicken and rice 4-6 times a day(just an example) and expect them to do it.


Buckeye06's picture

you measure body fat % before and turn that into a # of pounds.  Like 30% of 300 is 90 LBS
Then you do it after and subtract the difference. Like 15% of 300 is 45 so that is 45 pounds of fat lost and 45 pounds of muscle gained.
If a lineman was 300 before and is now 305 with a lower fat content, that is how the number could be higher...in my head at least

Buckeyejason's picture

These guys apparently make bodybuilders look obsolete.


Rapping Bum's picture

Nice to see some of the big uglies getting some articles.

Help is on the way.

Alhan's picture

Isn't muscle more dense anyway, so you could look smaller and be physically smaller but still weigh more?

"Nom nom nom" - Brady Hoke

Buckeyejason's picture

Yes that's true. Some guys can weigh 175...ad if they're ripped to shreds they could look 190.


JJB's picture

Muscle is about 18% more dense.

cinserious's picture

You can look 'leaner' even with more weight. One things for certain, the hogs up front will move alot faster now and won't wear down.

One day I will valiantly become a political prisoner of 11W jail.

O-H Kee Pa's picture

I could be wrong, but wasn't the 450/500 for the entire team?
The more and more we read about how the program has revitalized itself in ONE OFFSEASON, the more fascinating it will be when the eventual JT tell-all interview comes out detailing just how the program stagnated (and his reasoning/logic behind retaining guys like Siciliano, Bollman, etc.).

cbusbuckeye's picture

As interesting as that would be, can you really see JT doing a "tell-all" interview? I cant

O-H Kee Pa's picture

No, but if he ever wants to be involved with OSU again (because, let's face it, within the next ten years, it's happening), people will want answers.

Buckeyejason's picture

How did the program stagnate? They only lost one game in 2010 and two in 2009 beating the all mighty Oregon ducks in the rosebowl. We sucked last year because of all the distractions..shit storm..inexperience, injuries, new coach, you name it!
Why did Florida stagnate in 2010? They had Urban and Mickey there to make the team angry and pissed off?


O-H Kee Pa's picture

We weren't stagnant from a W's and L's perspective, but in terms of quality of coaching (JT aside) and running an efficient, 21st century college football program that can compete for national championships on a yearly basis, that wasn't OSU.

Buckeyejason's picture

We weren't stagnant from a W's and  L's perspective 

Thats all that matters. 


O-H Kee Pa's picture

You're right, but how come the fan base grew so frustrated over the past 2-3 seasons? Yes, we have impossibly high standards. But, if you can honestly say that you were satisfied with the product (compared to the level of ball being played at a Bama), then we look at things very differently.

Buckeyejason's picture

For one, we have a spoiled fan base who thinks it should go undefeated every year because we bring in a few 5 stars and our name is OHIO STATE. 
Two- Tressels coaching was in a word "boring" and old school. Bollman was part of that and the o-line looking half asleep in some games also contribute to that.
By the way Bama basically plays Tressel ball. They just have elite skill position players and a big physical, great coached o-line and elite defenses year after year. 


O-H Kee Pa's picture

1. I know we're spoiled, and I think it's ridiculous that people annually think we'll go undefeated (considering that it's happened once since '73).
2. I know Bama plays Tressel-ball, but my main point was this: Bama (over the past couple of seasons) has won because of their coaches, not in spite of them. JT gave us some incredible games/seasons, but more than once on 11W over the past couple of seasons was the phrase "snatching defeat from the jaws" of victory thrown around.

Buckeyejason's picture

Can't say I disagree. There's times were I wanted to choke slam Tressel. I think lack of execution in key moments are also to blame.


O-H Kee Pa's picture

The past regime's finest (note sarcasm) work: 2007 @ USC, Boeckman running the option.

Buckeyejason's picture

Oh Goddd I remember that! That was priceless!


klfeck's picture

So 5 guys lost 90 pounds of fat and gained 100 pounds of muscle each or 7 guys lost 64 pounds of fat and gained 71 pounds of muscle, in less than 9 months. They must really be bringing the "juice". If those numbers represent the team I fully believe them, otherwise, hogwash.



Proud parent of a Senior at The Ohio State University

Crimson's picture

Oops.  Next comment says it.

BuckinBama's picture

I think their counting every member of the OL, not just the starters. 9 months is a very long time, you could lose 72lbs in a healthy way which is 2-3lbs per week, through diet, and training. They basically have a top-notch personal trainer, and a nutritionist. So I think the numbers are legit. I agree it was probably difficult in the beginning to keep them eating right, so that's why they were charting everything. That way its easy to tell who is doing right, or wrong. Not to mention I'm sure they made it some type of competiton.

SPreston2001's picture

If I recall I think the fat/muscle ratio applies to the whole team not just the lineman. I remember them talking about it when Karen the nutritionist was hired.

Buckeye06's picture

I mean LSU/Bama play Ohio State football from 2001-2012 honestly.  Bama's QB is just a Craig Krenzel type player...they run the ball and play great D

zbd's picture

The more I read, the more I realize just how bad the previous OL coach Jim Bollman was.

Maestro's picture

Based on what?  Let's see some game film before we totally discount everything that Bollman did.  
While I agree that the new coaching staff is an upgrade, I think the offseason and the excitement about the new regime has caused us all to believe that we are going to see something like we have never witnessed before.
Corey Linsley is still Corey Linsley.  He was one of the best OLineman on the team last season.  Marcus Hall is still a big question mark in my eyes.  Like I said, let's see some game film first and then proclaim all of the "ills" of the past remedied.

vacuuming sucks

SPreston2001's picture

Game film: Jan 08, 2007 Ohio State vs Florida NC.....

Boxley's picture

Maybe Chris Carter was the 400+ pounds of fat they lost, since he went to the D line?
I kid, I kid.

"...the man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be done." President T. Roosevelt

Buckeyejason's picture

He's probably responsible for a large % of the weight loss.


bassplayer7770's picture

Which is exactly why I mentioned it above.