Carson Hinzman’s commitment to Ohio State was barely two days old when it was first tested.
While participating at the All-American Bowl in January in San Antonio, Hinzman learned of the firing of his primary recruiter, former Ohio State offensive line coach Greg Studrawa. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound offensive lineman was disappointed by the news, but reaffirmed he’d committed to OSU because of the school, not any one particular coach.
Three months later, Hinzman’s commitment to Ohio State is stronger than ever. Hinzman, who will be only the third Wisconsin-born player ever to suit up for the Buckeyes when he arrives on campus on June 6, spent three days on campus last week. On his visit, he built upon his relationship with offensive line coach Justin Frye, spoke with several of OSU’s current players and received advice from Ohio State’s nutritionist to apply to his diet before June.
“It was really good,” Hinzman told Eleven Warriors of his Columbus trip. “I got to sit in on a few meetings and stuff like that. I got a few workouts in and saw how the guys interacted and worked. I talked to coach Frye and the strength staff, I’m just getting more and more comfortable with the campus and how everything works.”
Hinzman watched his future team practice on Tuesday and again Thursday before he and his father left Ohio to start the 11-hour trek back to his hometown of Hammond, Wisconsin.
“It was awesome, the intensity was really good, obviously it’s a lot more intense than what you’re used to in high school,” Hinzman said of watching the Buckeyes practice both days. “You’re seeing the guys work as hard as they can every day, and I love how they communicate with each other. I liked all the drills that coach Frye did and how he explained it and how he goes through all those drills.”
While playing for Saint Croix Central High School, Hinzman was utilized in an offense that primarily ran the veer and triple-option. At this stage as a prospect, Hinzman’s run blocking is much more advanced than his pass protection, for obvious reasons. When Hinzman saw the Buckeyes go through pass protection skills, it wasn’t something he’s seen much of in his prep days.
“We literally did none of those drills that I saw in high school, so it was pretty cool to see that difference,” Hinzman said. “We never did pass protection, so honestly the drills there are a little different. It was pretty cool to see how differently coach Frye does it compared to different colleges we’ve visited and stuff like that. It was cool to pick up on some of those drills and take them back home and use them for the next couple months leading up to summer camp.”
Frye made quite the impression on Hinzman, who said the former UCLA offensive coordinator/offensive line coach’s teaching style is different from most collegiate offensive line coaches he’s seen on other visits.
“In his room, he’s so passionate about it, he’ll like get up and show you how to do it while he’s trying to teach you how to do it,” Hinzman said. “He’ll run the drill and he’ll be knocking over stuff because he’s so into it. He wants to make sure every single person on the field knows how to do this drill. I’m really glad to be able to be coached by him.”
Frye stressed to Hinzman that bulking up prior to his arrival on campus is essential. At only 265 pounds right now, Hinzman hopes to get up to 275 before starting summer workouts with OSU in June.
Over the next couple of months, Hinzman said he’ll be doing each of the pass protection drills he saw over his time in Columbus. He had already gotten some feedback on his technique from Frye prior to his visit, as Frye requested Hinzman send in videos of his workouts every couple of weeks so Frye could view what specific position drills Hinzman was working on.
“He’s a great guy and I’m excited to learn from him,” Hinzman said of Frye. “He was talking about how I need to get a little bit bigger, I’m 265 pounds right now, I need to be a little bigger coming down. He told me to watch and take note of those drills because it’ll be the same type of drills we do when I come down. I just want to get in the mindset of ‘This is how practice is ran.’”
While on his visit, Hinzman spoke with Luke Wypler, Dawand Jones and George Fitzpatrick. The connection with Fitzpatrick was easy, seeing as the two are in the same recruiting class and spent a week together on the same team at the All-American Bowl in January. But Wypler’s command of the offensive line team room left a powerful impression on Hinzman.
“He’s one of the smartest guys I’ve ever witnessed in a room before,” Hinzman said of Wypler. “When I first got there on Tuesday, obviously I didn't know any of the calls or anything like that. So, I’m sitting in the room, and he could have been speaking Spanish or something, I couldn’t really tell. But Luke just picked that stuff up right away. Obviously he’s been there longer than I have, but it was just immediate.”
Hinzman wasn’t told what position he’ll be playing when he arrives at Ohio State, but knows it will either be center or guard. Guard is his most comfortable position, as it’s where Hinzman played primarily in high school. He didn’t even make his first shotgun snaps until All-American Bowl practices in January, so snapping will be another aspect of Hinzman’s game he stresses to improve over the next few months.
If Hinzman ends up at center collegiately, he’d relish the opportunity to learn from Wypler.
“I’d gladly play both,” Hinzman said of playing either guard or center for OSU.
While Hinzman still has to wait two months before he begins workouts with his new team, he doesn’t plan on being complacent until then.
“I just want to grow in every aspect, really,” Hinzman said. “My speed has to get up, obviously I want to get bigger. It’s hard to take on a guy who is 315 when you’re only 265. That’s a big factor as well. And technique too, because if you play center you have to be the second-smartest person on the field, if not the first. Just trying to learn everything and take it all in.
“Obviously I’m not perfect and I have a lot to work on when I get down there, but I’m just doing my best until I can get down there and get coached by someone who really knows what they’re doing.”