By Jim Naveau
COLUMBUS – As the clock winds down on his Ohio State football career, Tommy Schutt thinks it is time to do what he came to Columbus to do.
The senior defensive lineman from suburban Chicago arrived at Ohio State as a highly regarded member of Urban Meyer’s first recruiting class in 2012. Several recruiting services ranked him as a top 100 player nationally.
And then he spent the next three years not playing a lot, injured and having his ability questioned.
There were even times when he had some questions, too.
“Honestly, there were times when I kind of questioned my ability and was down. Being hurt and battling through injuries, not being able to be out on the field with your guys and missing practices and workouts can really lower your confidence. I’m glad I’m healthy and ready to go,” Schutt said earlier this week.
Where Schutt will go when OSU opens its season at Virginia Tech on Monday is into the starting nose guard position, where Adolphus Washington played last season before moving to Michael Bennett’s old position this year.
Ohio State will need him to be productive, maybe even more than usual against Virginia Tech, with All-American defensive end Joey Bosa suspended for the opener.
The 6-foot, 3-inch, 285-pound senior has dropped 10 to 15 pounds this season at the suggestion of defensive line coach Larry Johnson and says it has made him quicker.
“I think the biggest thing for me in my career has just been consistency. I’ve shown flashes that I can make plays and be an effective player. And then there were times when I kind of let down and have not played the way I wanted. I think I’m finally to the point where I can go out and play every game at the same level,” Schutt said.
Schutt was verbally committed to Penn State when Meyer arrived at Ohio State. But there was actually more than one change of direction in his recruitment.
Going all the way back to the beginning, OSU was his first choice. But after Jim Tressel was forced out, he switched to Penn State.
“Ohio State was one of the first visits I took. I was sitting in the hotel, The Blackwell, and I told my dad I wanted to come here and he said I had to take a couple more visits. I think I was a sophomore in high school,” Schutt said.
Ultimately the Jerry Sandusky scandal at Penn State and a meeting with Meyer convinced him Ohio State was where he wanted to be.
“Obviously, the unfortunate stuff that happened at Penn State kind of led me to leave there. And Coach Meyer taking the job here, with the reputation and past success he had, it was an opportunity I couldn’t pass up,” Schutt said.
“He asked me if I wanted to win a championship. I said yes and he said then this was the place I wanted to be. It was a pretty powerful statement. With his track record and where he has been and how he has won at those places, it’s pretty hard to say no.”
He got the championship last year. Now he hopes he can contribute in a big way to another one.
“Coming out of high school, I didn’t really have much of a plan in mind. I just wanted to get here and get to work and earn what I deserved. I think that’s kind of coming around this year,” Schutt said.
“I haven’t produced the way I wanted to the last couple years and this is my opportunity to show what I can really do.”
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.