Many teams would be satisfied with a defense that recorded three shutouts and helped pave the way to a Rose Bowl Championship.
Ohio State linebacker Ross Homan, however, is only concerned with exceeding the accomplishments of last year’s season.
“We don’t take it for granted,” Homan said. “Every game you obviously hope for a shutout. You always want to up the standards. We always have high expectations.”
This year, Homan enters into his senior season with a wealth of experience under his belt. As a junior, Homan recorded 108 tackles and five interceptions, and he has recorded 215 career tackles.
Homan said he sees himself as a leader for many of the younger players coming in, and has tried to take on more of a vocal role.
“It’s a leadership role the coaches expect. I kind of lend my opinion to them now,” Homan said. “We have a lot of really young guys out there, and they always want to compete. You have to keep them going, sit them down and tell them ‘don’t get frustrated, and it will come to you.'”
Over the years, the linebacker position has changed as the spread offense gained popularity amongst teams. Homan feels the pressure to keep up.
“It’s definitely changed. Teams are coming out with three, four, five wide receivers at a time,” he said. “We’ve been running hard, but it can be a gamble now. We worry about opening up the pass game.”
Heading into spring practice, the Buckeyes have looked at the styles of several other big-time programs to improve their defense.
“Oklahoma, LSU, we’ve kind of incorporated what they do,” Homan said. “We’ve looked at their tempos and scouted some drills from them.”
Homan follows in the footsteps of many other great linebackers, namely Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis. He has taken what they taught him and incorporated it in his own playing techniques.
“I played with some great linebackers, Marcus and James, and tried to learn from them, and teach it to the young guys now,” he said. “At the same time, I try to make my own leadership style. You can’t really copy someone else.”
Despite the Buckeyes’ high preseason rankings, Homan doesn’t buy into any of the hype.
“We don’t believe in any of that,” he said. “Every year, the top teams go down, the bottom teams come up. The coaches do a great job of preparing us for every individual game.”
An emerging leader, the senior takes each game at a time, without getting too caught up in the excitement around him.
“I always go out there on the field, play relaxed, put the crowd out of my mind,” Homan said. “Put me with my 10 other teammates, I’m ready for battle.”