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April 22, 2002

Making the big transition from high school to college can be hard enough academically, but if you throw in the everyday workouts required for a member of the Ohio State baseball team, you know it’s not going to get any easier.

When freshman catcher Brooks Graff came to Columbus in the fall, he noticed the pace of the game of baseball was much faster than he was used to.

“I pretty much starting learning everything all over again,” said Graff. “I learned a new way to catch the ball and how to frame the ball coming from a pitcher. Coming into fall ball, it was a whole new game for me. I would just flat-out drop balls and miss balls because they would move so much.”

The college game consists of many new aspects to learn as far as a player’s mentality is concerned, but Graff has learned to look for help in his teammates whenever he has questions.

“Joe (Wilkins) and Derek (Kinnear) have really helped me with my catching, but really everybody has helped me adjust.”

At Notre Dame Academy in Green Bay, Wis., Graff was a two-time All-Wisconsin selection and led the Fox River Valley Conference in stolen bases and batting as a junior and senior. Graff has always seen himself as more of an offensive threat than a defensive specialist.

“I have always looked up to major league hitters more than catchers, and I want to establish my game at the plate,” said Graff.

Graff has seen limited action at the plate for the Buckeyes this season and has been incredibly effective in those at bats. He is 7-for-13 (.538) with a double and three RBI and has scored five times.

Graff couldn’t remember a specific reason why he always enjoyed putting on a mask, chest protector and shin guards as a youngster, but he knew that he loved to be where the action was.

“I wanted to be in the game all the time,” said Graff. “As I got older, I started to play more positions but I just didn’t like them as much as catching. I was always complaining to my coach if I wasn’t catching. Catching is just a fun position. You are always in on the play and you’re in control of everything on the field.”

This season, Graff has set a major goal for himself that is pretty simple: to help the team anyway he can.

“I know I’m not going to come in and play all the time, but I will always be ready. I have to be prepared to come into the game off the bench and hit that first pitch. I just want to help the team win and get the job done.”