Just a couple of weeks before he’ll begin his football career at Ohio State, Carson Hinzman was helping his family clean up trees on their farm after a tornado touched down in northwestern Wisconsin.
I know Im biased but this guy today made it happen! Cleaning up trees from a tornado and not battling an eye into it was done. Life will be different with him @OhioStateFB but @HinzmanCarson you are one of a kind! Keep being you! @STIHLUSA pic.twitter.com/ugYD7EzBWI— Jon Hinzman (@jon_hinzman) May 21, 2022
That speaks to the way Hinzman has been raised throughout his childhood, and what he’ll soon bring to the Buckeyes’ offensive line.
Hinzman prides himself on his blue-collar mentality, which he says comes from his grandmother, who has worked on the farm throughout her life and who he still eats dinner with every night. And Hinzman has tried to emulate her work ethic as he’s grown up, leading him to the opportunity he’ll soon have to play at Ohio State.
“She works harder than anyone I've ever known,” Hinzman told Eleven Warriors. “She's the one who instilled that in me, and obviously now I can bring that down to Columbus.”
Hinzman will arrive at Ohio State during the first weekend of June as one of 10 midyear enrollees in the Buckeyes’ recruiting class of 2022, and he’s ready to get to work. While he knows everything won’t come easily for him as an incoming freshman, he says he’s prepared to embrace the grind that will be required to eventually become a starting offensive lineman at OSU.
“You just gotta go,” Hinzman said this week. “You don't really have anything to hold back on. I mean, it's kind of a mindset you have to get into which I'm still learning and trying to figure out a little bit, but you gotta kind of realize that you belong there.”
Hinzman says his excitement to start his Ohio State career is “through the roof right now,” and he acknowledges that he’s been “really jealous” as 11 other members of the 2022 class went through winter workouts and spring practices as early enrollees while he completed his final semester at St. Croix Central High School in Hammond, Wisconsin.
“Those guys look like they’re having a blast,” Hinzman said. “I wish I could get down there sooner. They’re having a lot of fun. Obviously going through football, going through the college experience and meeting new people and stuff like that. So I'm really excited to go hang out with those guys and go get a more tight-knit class and stuff like that. I really, really love those guys. And I really think we can do something special.”
Hinzman is starting his Ohio State career with humble expectations for his first season as a Buckeye. The door could be open for a true freshman to earn a spot on the two-deep after Ryan Day raised concerns about the Buckeyes’ offensive line depth this spring, but Hinzman knows he has a lot to learn. He also has to gain weight, as he currently weighs only 276 pounds and is looking to eventually get up to 305 pounds.
Although he has already gained 18 pounds since the end of his final basketball season, Hinzman is trying to be careful not to put on bad weight. While he’s currently eating 5,500 calories a day, he’s also working hard at his conditioning, knowing he’ll be in for a challenge when he arrives at Ohio State for summer workouts.
“Obviously you don't just want to like just throw on a bunch of like fat or whatever, but they’ll build it on me right. Kaila (Olson), the nutritionist, she's terrifying but she does a really, really great job,” Hinzman said. “A lot of guys are like, ‘Hey man, you don't want to put on as much weight because they're gonna run you to the ground.’ I’m a little worried about that, but I think we’ll get recovered.”
Hinzman knows it will likely be a year or two before he has a real chance of playing significant snaps for the Buckeyes. But he plans to put his best foot forward nonetheless with hopes of helping the team in any way he can.
“I got a lot to build on, a lot to work with, but I’m going to compete every day,” Hinzman said. “That doesn't mean obviously I'm going to get a starting spot as soon as I get there or that I'm gonna be on the second team right away. But I'm gonna do everything I can to help out the team and help out the program and earn my way up.”
In the long term, Hinzman has high hopes about what he and the rest of Ohio State’s 2022 class – ranked fourth nationally in 247Sports’ team composite rankings – will accomplish.
“You can just tell this is a group that wants to work together and wants to go do something special,” Hinzman said. “I mean, we're gonna win a championship, it just depends on how many we're gonna win. And that's gonna just depend on what kind of a brotherhood we got. And I think with what we got cooking right now, it could be something really good.”
By leaving his home state to play for the Buckeyes, Hinzman is taking an unusual path for a top prospect from Wisconsin. The vast majority of top prospects from the Badger State stay in Wisconsin to play for the Badgers, so much so that he will be only the third Wisconsin native to ever play for Ohio State.
Hinzman heavily considered staying close to home, so much so that he delayed his college decision until January to give himself more time to choose between Ohio State and Wisconsin. But he ultimately decided Ohio State would give him the best opportunity to both achieve his goal of playing in the NFL and to make connections off the field through the Real Life Wednesdays program.
“I don’t think I've ever had more pressure than that so far (in his life),” Hinzman said of choosing between Ohio State and Wisconsin. “But with Real Life Wednesdays and their opportunities outside of football, and looking back on the past 10-11 years, they've had more linemen go to the NFL than Wisconsin. Not bashing Wisconsin, I absolutely loved them as well. But I just felt like it just felt more like home down there (at Ohio State). They have the best defensive line and to be the best offensive lineman, you got to beat the best defensive linemen. So that’s the guys you kind of want to go against and that's what I want to be a part of.”
“We're gonna win a championship, it just depends on how many we're gonna win.”– Carson Hinzman on Ohio State’s 2022 class
While living in Columbus will be an adjustment after growing up in rural Wisconsin, Hinzman says he takes pride in having the opportunity to blaze his own trail.
“I’m still a Midwest kid,” Hinzman said. “But I'm really excited to bring that kind of Midwest mentality down there a little bit into the big city.”
Whenever Hinzman earns his way into the lineup, he wants Ohio State fans to see a tenacious, gritty offensive lineman who’s “not gonna stop until the play’s over, until the echo of the whistle.” He considers his athleticism to be his greatest strength, knowing he still needs to get bigger, along with his coachable attitude.
He expects to cross-train at both guard and center as he begins his Ohio State career, and says he’s willing to play wherever the Buckeyes want him to line up. He knows learning Ohio State’s offense will be an adjustment, as he played in a run-heavy offense in high school and doesn’t have much experience with shotgun snaps, but he’s ready to soak in everything Justin Frye and the rest of the Buckeyes’ coaching staff will teach him.
“I went into spring football a little bit, and when we first sat down, I mean, he literally could have been speaking Mandarin and I wouldn't even have known. It’s a completely different language compared to what I'm used to,” Hinzman said. “But I really, really love Coach Frye, and I'm really grateful and excited to get down and work with him.”
Hinzman also wants to make an impact off the field during his years at Ohio State. He says he’s already looking into ways to get involved in the community once he gets to Columbus.
“That's the most important thing honestly, besides football,” Hinzman said. “I've always wanted to do it, I haven’t been old enough, but now I finally am to do stuff with like the children at children's hospitals and stuff like that and different organizations down there like we got to do up here, like giving out food on holidays and stuff like that and doing clothing drives in Minneapolis. We've been able to do a little bit up here, but now I actually can get a platform and stuff so I can really make a big change.”
Hinzman says the person Ohio State fans will see on the field, though, will look a little different than the one they’ll see off the field.
“Obviously off the field, I want to be a really great, caring guy,” Hinzman said. “I want to do a lot of really, really great things in Columbus. But on the field, I just got to be that kind of nasty guy, which is what you need in a player.”