August 19, 2009

Wilson: I'm ready to go

COLUMBUS - Two years ago when defensive lineman Lawrence Wilson went down with a broken right leg in the season opener, it was a devastating loss to the Ohio State defense.

Last year when Wilson suffered a season-ending injury for the second consecutive year- this time an ACL tear in his left leg - it wasn't only devastating to Ohio State and his teammates, it was also a big blow to his career as a whole.

This season, his teammates are just hoping he can stay healthy - for his sake.

"It was really tough not having him around last year, really tough," said junior defensive end Thad Gibson. "We just pray every night now that he can stay healthy and just have a good season. We know he is capable, it is just a matter of him staying healthy this year."

This season is a different story for Wilson, though, who's return is looked at more as a luxury for the defense rather than a need like it has been in the past. Because Ohio State's defensive line is perhaps the deepest it has been in years, Wilson's return to the Buckeyes can be taken a little slower.

Wilson, now a senior, admitted to having some soreness heading into fall camp, but will be ready once the season commences to provide some solid depth and continue to be the playmaker many have been waiting for.

"I have a little soreness here and there, but other than that it feels great. My knee feels great and I am just ready to go," Wilson said. "My conditioning is great. I passed the conditioning tests pretty easily and I feel good running."

The defensive ends boast a seemingly never-ending list of capable players, which provides for the best depth in years at the position. Names like Gibson, Cameron Heyward, Nathan Williams, Solomon Thomas, and Keith Wells are enough reason for Wilson to take it slow.

While Wilson's exact role this year has yet to be defined, not relying on him to be in there on the majority of plays cannot only help the senior fully recover, but also help keep the defensive line fresh.

"We are extremely deep at defensive end and we can throw a lot of guys in there," Wilson said. "We are going to wear a lot of teams out this year by having so many different guys on the field… It is really going to be fun.

"And I fit into that mix really good," Wilson added. "I am ready. I am ready."
Dealing with what Wilson has had to deal with over the course of the last few years isn't something anybody could handle, which is precisely the reason the senior has earned so much respect from his teammates despite not being much of a factor on the field during that time.

Despite having major injuries to both legs, Wilson is still standing heading into this year ready to be there for his teammates whenever they need him.

It's simple - Wilson's toughness and resiliency has made him one of the more respected players on the Ohio State defense.

"The injuries have made me look at the game differently," Wilson said. "I know I cant take anything for granted. I got hurt twice, but I am back from the injuries and I feel good. I am just going to give it all I got this year and prove everybody wrong that I can still play.

"It was extremely tough, but I am a mentally strong person," Wilson added. "I am not going to get broken down by injuries. I am a strong personal mentally and I have a good support system with my family. I am ready to go… I could go 100 percent now. If the game was tomorrow, I'd be ready to play."

Whether Wilson's role will solely be to provide depth or to add a fresh body onto the field on certain plays, his teammates are surely happy to have him back.

Gibson, the leader of the defensive ends, is particularly excited about having Wilson back on the field next to him.

"It is going to be amazing to have him back. Lawrence is all set, ready, and we all want him to have a great year," Gibson said. "Now that he is back, it only gets worse for the opposing teams."

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