COLUMBUS - Take a look at the depth charts from the spring and gander over at the placement of junior outside linebacker Brian Rolle. Entering fall camp, which begins on Sunday, Rolle is sitting in the 2-deep behind Ross Homan.
The depth chart may as well be written in Japanese.
Regardless of where things stood after spring ball, Rolle is looking at himself as a starter. He is such confidence in his ability and the intensity he is capable of bringing to the game that there is just no way the Ohio State coaching staff can keep him off the field.
Sporting an enthusiasm for the game and his own potential that is surely rare to see, Rolle is looking forward to turning his patented big hits on special teams to a mainstay in the Buckeye defense.
"I think I will be," Rolle said when asked if he would be a starter.
Rolle has sat behind some amazing linebackers during his time at Ohio Sate, and he couldn't say enough about departing seniors Marcus Freeman and James Laurinaitis, but at the same time feels he can bring a different element to the linebackers starting this fall.
He knows those two were great, but Rolle said he wants to be great doing his own thing, and that means incorporating his speed and unforgettable hits on every play.
"I bring a different type of LB to this team," Rolle said. "Marcus Freeman and the James Laurinaitis, those guys were great. I just want to be a more nasty looking linebacker. I play fast, I play hard. Those guys did an awesome job and I loved for them how they kind of slowed everything down, but at the same time using my speed and everything, that is something that I think I bring to this LB corps that has been missing for a while."
The standards of intensity Rolle has set for himself are rather high, but making plays consistently is something that he expects from himself. Anything less wont be tolerated.
"For me personally, I just tell myself that if I am in the game for 25 plays I am going to make 17 of the 25 tackles. That is what I expect from myself because that's the type of player that I am," Rolle said. "The defense we have kind of enables me to do what I want to do, and that's make plays, and I think this season people are going to be awed by my performances."
Standing just 5-foot-11, Rolle enjoys the fact that the opposition may look down at him and not expect the kind of punch he packs. All they would have to do to believe it is look Rolle's highlights and they may think again.
Fortunately for Rolle, most of the time they have to find out the hard way.
"Sometimes when I go out on kickoff and they look at me they don't think anything, and that's how I want everybody to feel when they look at me. Not to expect a lot, but when they get hit, their eyes open," Rolle said. "It is awesome. We have a code that says, 'Everybody has a plan until they get hit,' so you have a guy who looks at me and thinks I am little and then they get hit and they are thinking, 'Wow, what do I do now?'
"I want the guy across me to say, 'Man, I don't want to have to block him again,'" Rolle added. "I can hit and they will all find that out eventually."
Rolle understands that he isn't going to walk into camp and just be handed a position, especially because the linebacking corps sports a dynamic mixture of youth and veteran leadership.
The junior linebacker does feel he has an advantage because he knows the defense incredibly well, but he is excited for the big competition waiting for him at camp and the youngsters ready to come in and try and make an immediate impact.
"If we didn't sign any linebackers I still think it would be competitive," Rolle said of the depth of the Buckeye linebackers. "But we have some young guys like Dorian Bell, Storm Klein, and Jordan Whiting and those guys are coming in and they want to learn. This camp is going to be the most fun for me, being an older guy having to really fight for my position."
Bell, who was one of the most highly touted recruits in the 2009 class, is coming in with the expectations to play or at least contribute right away, but has said he looks toward Rolle as a leader and a player he would like to become one day.
"Brian Rolle is helping me out," Bell said. "That's my big brother - we have a big brother program - and he has been teaching me a lot and I have been learning a lot from him."
The bottom line for Rolle isn't the fact that he wants to be on the field. Sure, that's part of it, but being good isn't good enough for the junior linebacker. The size isn't an obstacle, the heart isn't an obstacle, and neither is his attitude.
"People tell me that I am good now, but I tell people I want to be great," Rolle said. "Good is never good enough. If you are good, then OK, people will know your name and that's it. I want to be a guy when people say my name, their eyes light up, they are happy, and they get a smile on their faces."
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