May 10, 2010

Hines ready for new role

COLUMBUS, Ohio - When safety Jermale Hines showed up for winter football workouts this off-season, everything seemed normal for the first few minutes.

He walked toward where the defensive backs were stretching before the commencement of those workouts like he always did, then he sat down in his usual spot and began the early portions of what his typical stretching routine would consist of.

That's where it all changed.

Safeties coach Paul Haynes yelled for Hines to "get in the middle," which is where the leaders of the team sit during team stretching.

"It sort hit me then," Hines said. "We went out there and (the past leaders) weren't around."

There is no question the defense took the biggest hit for the Buckeyes last year after losing five starters, two of which were starting safeties Kurt Coleman and Anderson Russell.

Replacing Coleman - a former All-American - and Russell won't be an easy task, of course, but it is Hines and Orhian Johnson who will be given the shot to help the defense move forward with a seamless transition.

It's a task Hines is looking forward to taking.

"Being a leader, everything falls on you," Hines said. "When you're an underclassman and anything goes wrong, everyone is looking up to the seniors. Now, when you're a senior, anything goes wrong and everybody is looking at you."

There was little doubt Hines would be a starter in the secondary this season, but he earned his solid reputation last year playing the "Star" position.

Hines excelled at the "Star" position - a hybrid position between safety and outside linebacker - because his excellent ability to come up and help stop the run. With the reputation of a big hitter, Hines made those plays and accounted for 57 tackles last year, which was fourth best on the team.

While Hines did have success last year, which included a few starts in place of Russell at safety, replacing the two seniors will be tough, especially from Haynes' standpoint.

"I think it's part of the deal, you lose a lot with those guys and the most thing you lose is a lot of production because Kurt had a lot of production," Haynes said. "You're not just trying to put two guys out there, you're trying to put two guys out there who are productive. We'll always have a guy to put out there, but we need a productive guy."

While Haynes was the one who instructed Hines to move to the middle of the stretching circle, signifying a new role on this defense, the most important thing to the safeties coach is that Hines has the production to match that roe.

Hines has the most experience at safety on the team, but when it comes to the fall, the expectation is that he'll produce the way the seniors before him did.

To Haynes, being a leader has a lot more of an implication than just being an upper-classman.

"I think leadership kind of rises I don't like to make a guy a leader I like to see the leaders come and form by themselves, mostly from respect of what they do," Haynes said. "Teammates and peers (respect) instead of just, 'I'm a senior so I stand up and talk now'… I don't like that."

Through spring practice, Hines' role seems to be progression just the way the coaching staff had hoped. For Hines, he enjoys playing as a full-time safety instead of just the nickel back.

"You get to run around a little bit more, get a bit more action," Hines said. "As a nickel back, if the play goes away you're really not involved. Now, as a safety, if the play goes away I have a chance to burst over and help make a play."

That's what Haynes hopes to see quite a bit of in the fall.

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for He can be reached at [email protected].

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