March 4, 2010

Gant gets one more crack at final season

COLUMBUS, Ohio - Ohio State senior safety Aaron Gant would be lying to you if he said his career has gone the way he has hoped so far.

A seemingly never-ending list of injuries slowed Gant's trek toward being a mainstay in the starting lineup for years at Ohio State and kept him as primarily a special teams player for the Buckeyes during the course of the past four seasons.

Despite building off a freshman season where Gant had quite a bit of time playing in the defensive backfield - including one start - the safety has spent the majority of his career trying to overcome injuries.

Last year, in his true senior season, Gant missed the entire year with a serious injury to his left knee. Gant has since undergone two surgeries in the past year, one to repair a torn meniscus (the week before the USC game Sept. 12) and the second was to clear out some loose cartilage that still remained in his knee.

"It was difficult because it was my true senior year," Gant said Sunday at a team-supported fundraiser.

Though last season looked as if it would be his final season in Columbus, Gant was rewarded a medical redshirt and will be back next season to provide some veteran leadership in the defensive backfield.

Gant has one more chance to be the difference maker he always thought he could be.

"It's a blessing," Gant said of his ability to return to the Buckeyes next year. "It is an opportunity for me to come back and help the team in any way possible next year."

Despite the fact that Gant missed the entire season, he was recovered enough from the injuries to partake in Ohio State's bowl practice when the Buckeyes were preparing for the Rose Bowl game against Oregon.

With two vacant safety spots open now after the departure of seniors Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russel, Gant sees the final opportunity to make a name for himself while with the Buckeyes.

"My goal is to play safety, to move one of the safety spots and help out any way I can whether it be on special teams or at a safety spot," Gant said. "It is just competition and making sure Jermale Hines and Orhian Johnson and all the other safeties compete with each other so we all can be the best. May the best person get the position and do what they can do."

Though Gant has been cleared to play and will be ready to go for spring ball, which kicks off April 1, the senior has arthritis in his knee from all the damage sustained from playing football.

Gant joked that arthritis seems to be something older people tend to have, but said it was nothing that he couldn't overcome on the football field. He said there was pain in his knee, but he will play through it for one more season.

"It feels good now and I am able to run again and move as I want," Gant said of his knee. "It feels pretty good. With arthritis you can always feel that. It is definitely something you feel as far as bending and stuff, but it is something you need to get used to.

"I say (I am too young to have arthritis) because I am only 21," Gant joked. "They say it comes with the territory. Playing sports, we do a lot of running and we are demanding on our bodies and our joints. It comes with the territory."

With spring football looming just about a month away, Gant is looking forward to partaking in the drills one more time around with his team.

This time, he hopes to avoid injury and be a steady contributor.

"I'm about 90 percent now, but going into the spring I'll be full go, running around competing for a position in the secondary," Gant said.

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.


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