In this series of profiles, we are taking a look at some of the under the radar Buckeye players who play a vital role in a championship run. Everyone knows the importance of players like Pryor, Saine, Posey, Brewster, Boren, Heyward, Homan, and Rolle. This series is not about those big names players, rather the indispensable guys that get looked over. Check out No. 6, Jermale Hines...
Why he is important:
With Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell now gone, it's pretty obvious why Jermale Hines is important. He is the only player on the depth chart at safety that has any experience, and you better believe the staff is counting on him for leadership. Coleman was a leader on and off the field, which will be missed, especially in the secondary. Torrence and Chekwa don't have the leadership swagger, so Hines stepping into that role could be vital. There is no doubt that the staff is pushing this too. Check out Hines' words this spring:
"It actually hit me the first day after winter workouts when we had to gather up and stretch," Hines said. He took what had been his regular position in the circle the past three years when he said safeties coach Paul Haynes yelled, "'Get in the middle.'"
Hines will also play a huge role in how good the Buckeye defense really is. Last year he was quietly fourth on the team in tackles with 57, while also recording 3.5 tackles for loss and two interceptions. Look for Hines to build on those numbers this season, and quite frankly, the team needs him to. Safety play was a huge part of the success of the Buckeyes in '09, especially in the turnover department, so don't underestimate how important Hines will be to this year's squad.
What he did this spring:
The first thing the spring exposed was where Hines would be starting. Hines had previously played at the Star position and also took over for Anderson Russell at free safety, yet many assumed he would move over and take Kurt Coleman's vacant strong safety role . It seems like a natural fit for Hines, who is literally as big as MLB Brian Rolle and is a very solid tackler. However, the spring depth chart has Hines listed as the starting free safety, with Orhian Johnsonas the starting strong safety, which makes sense since he played there last season.
Outside of that, Hines had a rather quiet spring. You literally can't find anything giving positive or negative reviews to his play. This surprised me because I really thought this spring would be his coming out party with the media. The guy is always around the ball, is huge for a safety, and has every chance to be a First Team All-Big Ten performer. Yet in typical Hines fashion, he is staying quiet and under the radar. I honestly would like to have seen a stronger campaign from Hines this spring, both in play and leadership, but maybe the lack headlines will be a good thing.
Looking ahead to 2010:
I fully expect Hines to once again be one of the top tacklers on the team, and be one of the most recognizable names in the Big Ten. Outside of Tyler Sash at Iowa there is not a better safety in the conference, and if he has the season I expect, he will be one of the best handful of safeties in the country.
I was a huge Kurt Coleman fan, and I think the Buckeyes will miss his timely plays, but get ready to watch the season Hines will have. He has physical gifts that Coleman will never have, and I think Coleman's memory may fade pretty fast in '10.