COLUMBUS – Football is a game where plays are executed time after time after time and repetition allows players to act instinctually rather than having to stop and think every step out before acting.
It has been hard to get that repetition on the defensive side of the ball for players who have been in the program for several years like linebacker Reid Carrico going through more than one defensive scheme and seeing coaches come and go during the course of their Ohio State careers.
Sure, football is football to a certain extent, but the Buckeyes have made some significant changes through the years going from a single-high system under Kerry Coombs to a 4-2-5 under Jim Knowles as coaches and assistants have made their way and out of the program.
Reid is aware that there has been a bit of a revolving door during his short career at Ohio State but that also creates an opportunity to learn under several football minds and use all of that as he tries to better himself as a player and work his way on to the field, something that has been proven to be difficult for any linebacker not named Tommy Eichenberg or Steele Chambers as of late.
“You take a piece from all of them, even back when I had coach (Al Washington), and Joe Bolden,” Carrico said last week during a media availability during the opening week of Ohio State’s spring practice period. “Last year I had Koy McFarland and Coach (Jim) Knowles, this year I got James Laurinaitis and Sam McGrath, those are all great football minds.”
Carrico has taken the glass half-full approach here and knows that everyone has imparted valuable wisdom and lessons along the way, opportunities that others may not have the chance to take in.
“I’ve just tried to take a piece from all of them,” Carrico continued. “And then through all that information, try and find what works for me, then take it and run with it.”
All those lessons have not been able to get the former four-star linebacker out of Ironton (Ohio) a role in the Ohio State defense as of yet. The class of 2021 star has been caught in a logjam at linebacker with upperclassmen holding a lock on the vast majority of the snaps. It is a heavy dose of reality for a player who made it look so easy in high school football, especially one from a small town who was certainly a big fish in a small pond.
“You definitely have to figure out the definition of patience,” Carrico said. “You don’t really find that out until you till you come here. You come out of high school… everybody needs to get humbled a little bit and there isn’t a better place to do it than right here in Columbus, Ohio.”
Knowles stated at the start of spring practice that the hope will be to rotate more at linebacker, but snaps will not just be handed out because of career longevity within the program. Players like Carrico and others will need to show the coaches that there will not be a drop-off by bringing a second teamer in to give a first teamer a rest.
There are no guarantees about anything, but Carrico would not have it any other way.
“Just keep your head down and work,” Carrico said. “You just kind of have blind faith that it’s going to work out in the end and it’s sometimes it’s kind of a gamble. I’m willing to take my chances.”
It took Eichenberg several years to find his way onto the field. Chambers started his career on offense and then moved to linebacker and even then, had to fight to earn his place. Cade Stover has been on both sides of the ball as well and even though he is no longer on defense, he is another player that Carrico looks to when it comes to staying the course and keeping up the right.
“All those guys, it took them a couple of years to get their get their feet in the ground,” Carrico said. “So those guys are all like big brothers to me here.”
Eichenberg in particular has been close with Carrico during the process.
“Tommy’s first two years everybody was like, ‘well, I mean can this guy really play?’ and then the guy’s an All-American now.” Carrico added.
In this day of recruiting fans looking to who is going to help the team immediately and forgetting about anyone else, there certainly has been speculation about Carrico’s future with the team with a big Transfer Portal out there and Carrico being good enough to play at a lot of schools.
But don’t look for Carrico to be noodling with that decision, he is committed to making it work at his current home.
And when people say they think he should move on?
“I just block it out, really, because people don’t know me, you know?” Carrico said. “They’re going to say whatever on Twitter. “To an extent it does get on my nerves, because I take pride in being a great teammate who’s 100-percent all-in, all cards are on the table.”