The easiest part of Carson Hinzman’s day is the early start.
As a redshirt freshman offensive lineman, Hinzman is currently in the middle of a battle to be the Buckeyes’ new starting center. It’s a position that requires athleticism, smarts, and the ability to outwork everybody.
Ohio State is now four practices into spring camp. The pads are on. Saturday will be the first scrimmage. It will be the first good look for offensive line coach Justin Frye as he searches for two new starting tackles and a new starting center.
Some consider center more of a “lunch pail” type of position, but for Hinzman, maybe call it a “milk pail.”
Hinzman grew up working on a dairy farm. By the time the sun hits snooze a second time, the work on the farm has already been going on for a couple of hours.
Hard work is the norm, but neither of those words are really used for those who are elbow deep in it. It’s just life. Life on the farm. Or life in a position battle on a college football team.
None of it is easy, which is why neither is for everybody.
“Coach Frye says it the best: nothing’s extra work if it’s just work that it takes to get to where you want to be,” Hinzman said on Thursday. “And I feel like being a dairy farmer and waking up every morning, we didn’t think of it as work. We’re just doing it because that’s what needs to be done. Like I had to run down to my grandparents when I was like eight at 3:30 in the morning to go help my grandma get out and start milking the cows. And I never looked at that as work. I never looked at it as chores. We just looked at it as this is what we’ve got to do today.”
Man At Work
Today, Hinzman’s job is making the most of every rep he gets. He is currently running with the ones at center, but the Buckeyes also went into the transfer portal looking for a possible center. They signed Vic Cutler out of Louisiana-Monroe, who is still learning the offense, but is an experienced offensive lineman. Ohio State is also without fourth-year junior Jakob James, who is injured but will likely battle for this spot in the fall.
Every day is a new opportunity to grow.
“Coach Frye was just talking about how every practice since the start of bowl prep is gonna be vital to what I want to do here,” Hinzman said. “And looking at what I want to do here and trying to be a starter and doing everything I can to get that part, obviously spring is gonna be vital for that. We have a really, really good competition. We have a lot of really good guys in our room. I think personally that spring is where most of the growth will happen at, and I think to have the opportunity to play among the best two guards…I don’t want to waste that opportunity. I feel like that’s something I really, really want to capitalize on.”
The Buckeyes are wrapping up their second week of spring ball, so they are barely out of the starting gates. Things will gradually pick up before camp comes to a close April 15 at OSU’s annual spring game. The installation of the offense is in its early stages, but so far, so good for Carson Hinzman.
“We’re learning new [plays] every day, so I would say I’m never comfortable, because you can never be comfortable because our defense is always scheming and stuff like that, but I guess I would say I’m comfortable in the fact that I know my job,” he said. “And I’m confident in the fact that I know our guys know their job. So I’m completely comfortable being the center with four humans that I’d gladly go to war with, because I know they’ve got my back and I got theirs.”
The Growing Season
Carson Hinzman is just a redshirt freshman. He didn’t enroll early. He showed up last summer and got to work, but he never saw a single snap on offense last year. That’s not atypical for freshmen, even though there were times when he did some things that were atypical of a freshman.
“You saw flashes to where he was doing things that maybe true freshmen shouldn’t do all the time or normally don’t do,” said Justin Frye. “You’d watch some clips and like ‘oh, this was… damn that was good. Who is… oh that’s Carson. All right, here we go.’ But I think that’s the natural progression for guys.”
The progression from not playing at all one year and then battling for a starting spot the next year is a sizable jump, but it’s a jump that Hinzman has been preparing to make.
The only requirements are early mornings, late nights, and hard work. Each of which were instilled in him very early on in life, back on the farm.
“I feel like taking that culture and those values into this – I may not be here as long as [wide receiver Marvin Harrison], because he sleeps here, or he lives here somewhere, I don’t know where – but I try to come in every day, get as much work as I can in,” Hinzman said. “I’ve only been here nine months, so I have a long way to go, obviously. So just trying to continue that work, continue that work ethic that my grandparents, my parents have passed on to me. But yeah, that’s probably the whole key to my success.”