Tuesday, November 3, 2009

BUCKEYES KICKING IT WITH BARCLAY

COLUMBUS — If Saturday's game at No. 11 Penn State comes down to a last second field goal try, the big kick for the No. 15 Ohio State Buckeyes will be attempted by the oldest — yet least experienced — player on the roster.

That is, least experienced "football" player.

Ohio State junior kicker, Devin Barclay, never played football as a prep athlete. In fact, the Maryland-native only attended two years at McDonagh High School in Annapolis, before dropping out and pursuing a career in professional soccer at the age of 17.

After banging around in Major League Soccer (MLS) for a few years, including a stint with the Columbus Crew during his final season, the then 22-year old Barclay needed to make a career change.

However, before being cut by the Crew in 2005, Barclay had joined the Athletes in Action Ministry in Columbus, where he was able to form a bond with some of the Ohio State kickers at the time. That's when that "career change" began to take shape.

Ohio State head coach, Jim Tressel, stated that Barclay had come over for a visit with the ministry group and fell in love with what he witnessed. Then it was like boom, boom, boom ... he was on the team as a walk-on.

"Devin was involved in the Athletes in Action Ministry and some of the leaders that minister to the MLS teams and college programs happened to bring him over and he got to know our guys," Tressel said. "I guess, our kickers and he had forged a little bit of a relationship, I think while he was with the Crew.

"One thing led to another and he said he wanted to go to college and I remember there was some time that it took to figure out if he could come and walk on and so forth.

"He may have liked the fact that we were senior citizen friendly," Tressel laughed. "We had (28-year old) Ryan Pretorious and they had opportunities and one thing led to another."

Barclay, who has resided on the depth chart below Pretorious and Aaron Pettrey — as well as red-shirt freshman Ben Buchanan — during his first few seasons in Columbus, had to wait patiently for an opportunity to make his way onto the collegiate gridiron.

However, his long-awaited chance to get on the field became a reality last Saturday during the Buckeyes' 45-0 win over New Mexico State, after Pettrey left the game with a season-ending knee injury. With Pretorious already graduated and Buchanan out sick, Barclay was catapulted into the kicking role.

Barclay's first attempt — an extra point kick following a Brandon Saine touchdown run — went through the uprights with no problem. His second kick, though, missed wide from 47 yards.

Barclay said that it's quite different kicking in a football game than in a soccer match.

"You don't play in front of over a hundred thousand people (in MLS soccer)," Barclay said. "It's a little different kicking because you don't get that many opportunities and you have to make the best of it."

Barclay made the best of his next three attempts — a 29-yard make and two PATs.

Of course, that was against the lowly Aggies at home, not the No. 11 Nittany Lions at Happy Valley. This week, we'll see just how calm and collected Barclay really is.

Ohio State wide receiver, Dana Sanzenbacher, thinks the Buckeyes won't stumble a bit with Barclay manning the kicks.

"I think he has a big leg," Sanzenbacher said. "He is a very capable kicker. If he stays focused this week, I don't think we'll miss a beat. He's handled everything very well, he's one of the older guys in this group. Obviously, he's going to take a very mature approach to everything and I'm sure he'll be great."

Barclay said that his approach will be simple ... just do what he knows he can do — and that's kicking the football.

"I just have to do what I'm comfortable doing every day," Barclay said. "It shouldn't be any different if I just stick to what I know how to do.

"It's definitely going to be a great experience and I'm ready for it."

INJURY UPDATE — OSU defensive tackle, Dexter Larimore, who has been out of commission since suffering a knee injury during the Indiana game back on October 3rd, will be back in action this Saturday at Penn State, according to Tressel.

The junior has 17 tackles this season for the Buckeyes.

Also returning to action this Saturday will be offensive guard, Justin Boren. The junior offensive lineman missed last week's game against New Mexico State with a foot injury.