Another member of the vaunted Ohio State Buckeyes defensive line has found a home in the professional football ranks. This time, it’s the Elyria, Ohio, native Tracy Sprinkle. The Carolina Panthers signed Sprinkle as an undrafted free agent just after the seventh round finished up.
So, why should you be excited the Panthers signed Sprinkle? Well, we have you covered.
1. A strong ending to his Buckeye career
Progression—not regression—is what you want when drafting guys, as well picking them up after the draft in free agency. His sophomore season included action in 12 games, but only yielded four tackles. Fast forward to his senior season, and Sprinkle put together his most success campaign in the Scarlet and Gray: playing in 13 games, with 10 of those being starts. On top of seeing more time in a starting role, Sprinkle tallied 16 tackles, 3.0 tackles-for-loss and a pass deflection.
At Ohio State’s pro day, he drew the attention of the New England Patriots own Bill Belichick, who ran some drills with Sprinkle. When a team as successful as the Pats come looking, you know you have to be doing something right.
Now in the NFL, expect Sprinkle to keep working hard. It was a necessary trait at Ohio State, as on any given day the backups could become the starter through hard work.
2. A proven leader
Things weren’t perfect for Sprinkle at OSU. In July 2014, he was arrested in a bar brawl that led to a suspension and eventual dismissal from the team. However, after the more serious charges from that brawl fight (possession of cocaine) were dropped, he worked his way back into the good graces of the football program.
When the 2017 season began, Sprinkle was named one of the captains of the football team. If you would’ve said in August 2014 that Sprinkle would become a captain of the OSU football team, the odds would’ve been astronomical. But, every now and then, change takes place.
Sprinkle has matured after that incident, culminating with him being elected as a leader. Missteps happen, but when you’re a football player, those missteps are amplified. Sprinkle has had his missteps and learned from them—which is the important thing.
3. He overcame adversity
After getting back to the team after the brawl incident, Sprinkle saw occasional moments on the field as a sophomore. Things started to look up as a junior, as he got the start. However, things would go downhill quickly.
Sprinkle suffered a knee injury, which would sideline him for the rest of his junior season. He bounced back, though, and ended his Buckeye career on a high-note. In the third game of the 2017 season, he set a career-high with five tackles against Army—proving that he was back for good.
Any concerns about Sprinkle?
Only one solid year of data points creates an unfinished picture of what Sprinkle can/can’t do. Sprinkle wasn’t invited to the NFL Scouting Combine, which hurt his chances to prove doubters wrong.
The season-ending knee injury from 2016 may also be a cause for concern, as there is always a chance a re-injuring could occur.