"That's everyone's dream to go on to the next level. Some guys it's the right time for them now, or later. I felt like it wasn't my right time to do it."
When he announced in December that he would be returning for his senior season, Pat Elflein was probably hoping he would set the tone for some of his teammates that were considering entering the NFL Draft to return next year as well. Little did the offensive lineman know that the rest of the Buckeyes who followed in making their decision would choose the NFL over Ohio State. Even though Elflein was surprised he was the only one to stay, he doesn't regret his decision to return to the Buckeyes as a fifth-year senior.
The decision of Elflein to stay not only benefits himself, but also benefits Ohio State. With the graduation of Jacoby Boren, Elflein will shift over to center, where he is projected to play in the NFL. Along with being able to develop his skills at his new position to ready himself for playing in the NFL, Elflein will also be the elder statesman on an Ohio State offensive line that will be very young this year. The task of being a leader for the first time in his Ohio State career is something that is intriguing to Elflein. While some of his friends and teammates may now be gone, Elflein knows bigger things are on the horizon for him, even if they have to wait a year.
"The strongest in the weight room? It's not even close -- Billy Price. You can ask any player, he's a whole other level, strength-wise."
Even though Ohio State may be short on experience, returning just six starters from last year's squad, the Buckeyes know they have plenty of strength and speed to fall back on. Even though the start of the college football season is still just over six months away, the Ohio State offseason conditioning workouts are trying to instill hunger in those players that are returning and vying for increased playing time. With so many spots for the upcoming season up for grabs, players are pushing each other to try and make a name for themselves.
To go along with the strength that they possess, Ohio State also has a lot of untapped speed on their roster. After losing their top-four wide receivers from last year's squad, the Buckeyes will be hoping that some new faces step it up this season. One of those receivers who could provide a boost this year is James Clark, who is also a part-time track athlete. Strength coach Mickey Marotti is excited by all the speed this Buckeye team has. In an offseason where hunger is being championed by the coaching staff, Ohio State certainly has the physical tools to make sure they eat well this season.
"It's all about giving back -- basketball, that's what God wants me to do. I'm a big kid, too. If I can help a kid get better, that's great. So many people worked with me when I was coming up."
It may have been 25 years since former Ohio State basketball player last donned the scarlet and gray, but the Buckeye forward has found his calling as a referee for girls high school basketball games and youth games. Now 48 years old, Lee refs games not only in Columbus, but also all over Ohio. Lee isn't your typical referee though, as he has been know to not only explain his foul calls when questioned about them, as well as giving advice to players when he thinks it can help them. While his name might not be familiar to the players in the games he refs, Lee not only played for Ohio State for three years, but he followed that up by playing nine seasons overseas.
Along with being a certified referee for 13 years, Lee also runs the General Lee Sports basketball instruction school, which operates out of a number of recreation centers and high schools in both Columbus and Cleveland. Lee also hopes to help people learn from some of the mistakes he made. After being suspended from the Continental Basketball Association in 1992 for drug violations, Lee has been sober since 2006 and tells his story to kids and parents, hoping it will help to prevent them from making some of the mistakes he did. The work Lee is doing now is his way of giving back, since as he was growing as a player there were plenty of people who did the same for him.
"Everybody wants to take the person that's on top out. Every night we need to come prepared."
With only one loss so far in conference play, Ohio State has done a great job at taking their opponent's best shot this year. After two straight road games, now Ohio State will close up the home portion of their conference schedule this weekend. Ohio State was able to navigate trips to Iowa and Penn State last week, and now they'll host Nebraska tonight at the Schottenstein Center. The Buckeyes have won nine games in a row, and currently sit half a game in front of Maryland in the Big Ten standings. Ohio State knows they'll be getting Nebraska's best shot tonight, especially after the Cornhuskers upset Michigan State on Sunday.
Ohio State will honor senior guards Ameryst Alston and Cait Craft on Sunday afternoon in a pregame ceremony before taking on Illinois. Alston and Craft have started every game for Ohio State the past three years, and have been a cornerstone of the Buckeyes since head coach Kevin McGuff arrived. Alston is averaging 18.8 points per game this year, and recently passed the 2,000 point mark for her career. While Craft is only averaging 4.9 points per game, she has crucial to this Ohio State with the lockdown defense she is often called upon to play against the opposition's top offensive player. Next week Ohio State will close up their regular season schedule with road contests against Minnesota and Michigan State.
STICK TO SPORTS
- Headed downtown? Be sure to check out this new burrito joint.
- A new restaurant will open near Ohio State's campus by the end of the month.
- Garth Brooks to perform in Columbus for the first time in 19 years.
- Today is National Drink Wine Day.
- One woman won quite an expensive car earlier this week on The Price Is Right.