Since the beginning of the Jim Tressel era in 2001, Ohio State football has stressed special teams.
The kicking game has become a lynchpin in “Tresselball” and is responsible for much of the Buckeyes’ success over the past decade.
During Tressel’s tenure at OSU, many great kickers have suited up for the Scarlet and Gray. The Buckeyes’ newest kicker, Drew Basil, might be the next name in that great line.
Although Basil might not be the Buckeyes’ most highly touted recruit, he might be the first to make an impact on the field.
“You are one injury away from having someone pushed in,” said Kevin Noon, managing editor at BuckeyeGrove.com.
He believes an injury could lead to Basil seeing time as soon as this fall, similar to Ben Buchanan seeing time last season when punter Jon Thoma missed time.
For Basil, an Ohio native, playing for Ohio State has been a lifelong dream, and he is anxiously awaiting his chance to take the field. Basil is a combo kicker, meaning he both punts and places kicks, and will be working at both positions for OSU.
“You bring someone like that in and you see where he’s able to make a bigger impact,” Noon said.
Although Noon acknowledges that Basil has great potential, he also thinks it is too early to tell if Basil will be able to transition smoothly to the college game.
“Sometimes it’s really hard to judge these young kickers when they come in because it’s so different. There are variables that they just are not prepared for at that point,” Noon said, citing the speed of the game and kicking off an artificial surface.
But so far Basil is transitioning well, said Tim Williams, a former kicker at Ohio State. Williams worked with Basil and numerous other kickers at a kicking camp this past year, which was hosted by Chillicothe High School, where Basil attended.
Williams reported on his blog that Basil made a nearly seamless transition to kicking off the ground, versus off a tee, when it typically takes kickers almost a full year to make that transition.
Basil’s ability to make the transition came as no surprise to Bill Davidson, the football coach at Chillicothe. Davidson has always been impressed by the four-year letterwinner and team captain, saying that Basil is easily the best kicker he has ever coached.
“Tim Williams said Drew is better than [Williams] was, at the same point in their careers,” Davidson said.
Those words hold real weight when coming from a player who led the Buckeyes in scoring for three seasons from 1990-1992. And Davidson is convinced Basil will compete for playing time early in his career.
“They tell all the players that they’re going to have a chance to come in and compete for a spot,” Davidson said of Ohio State. “Drew is a guy who truly will have that opportunity because of his work ethic and his intelligence.”
Basil’s intelligence extends to the classroom, as he was an honor roll student with a 3.9 cumulative grade point average in high school. It was the combination of his intelligence and great work ethic that led Basil to graduate high school early. He is enrolling at OSU in the spring, which gives him the opportunity to participate in spring practice and get acquainted with the program.
Whether or not Basil sees time on the field this year, the Buckeyes certainly have another high character player on the roster who can, if nothing else, push other players around him.
“At any position you want to have competition because competition forces players to get better,” Noon said.
Basil brings a competitive attitude that will make the kicking game even stronger in the years to come, which is ever-important in Tressel’s system.