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Nov. 11, 2003

TRESSEL: Hello, Coach Walker. Good luck in the NCAAs. Get after them. You’re playing Dayton in Morgantown. Steve said he’s given you all the things he needs to give you. It was a good victory for the Buckeyes against Michigan State. We hadn’t played Michigan State for a couple years. And in watching film over the course of time, I was a Jeff Smoker fan because I thought he was a good player and I appreciate a guy that can handle the adversity that he dealt with and come back and be there for his team. And now having faced him firsthand, I’m even more a Jeff Smoker fan. He put some balls in there that were great throws. I think he had three or four plays of 25 yards or more, which is tough on us. And he took his hits and he got up and he kept going. And our defense played as hard as they could play, and it was a heck of a match-up.

Offensively, I thought we improved over the course of the game, and we need to improve even a great deal more because the Purdue defense is one of the best in the country. The special award winners for the game, Mike Nugent was the special units player of the week. And Mike was four for four in field goals. That was huge both from a point standpoint. But at the time that he made them, we had had some long drives and he knocked in the field goal after the turnover we got. It was awfully important that we not come up with empty hands. And it was just the timing, the crucial moments when he made those field goals, that made all the difference in the world for this team. The offensive player of the game was Lydell Ross. Lydell had gotten banged a little bit against Penn State and didn’t practice quite as much. He practiced a lot, but not quite as much as I’d hoped. And we were a little tenuous as to just how long, how hard he could go. You never really get a feel for those things until you get near the end of the week or into the game. And in the second half, I thought he began feeling a little more comfortable. And I think he rushed for 111 yards or something like that in the second half, which was huge for us. And he was our offensive player of the game, and we needed to keep the ball away from Smoker and company and that was important. Defensively, Darrion Scott probably had his finest game since North Carolina State. If you remember the North Carolina State game, he had big numbers and tackles and tackles for loss and quarterback hurries and those types of things. And he had the same type of game this past weekend. And Darrion is our defensive player of the week.

The offensive lineman of the week was Ben Hartsock. Ben continues to do an extraordinary job blocking. And I keep saying I don’t know if there’s a blocking tight end as good as Ben in the country. I’d like to see him. He does an extraordinary job, and he’s worked very, very hard to learn and become more a part of the passing game and has really worked hard all summer long and all off season to become an even better receiver. He was always very adequate, but he became beyond that in my estimation. And he had three catches for 50-some yards and was our offensive lineman of the week.

The attack force player of the week was Robert Reynolds. Rob played a number of different linebacker positions in our schemes. We had some guys in and out with injuries and Rob was a guy that had to fill in at various spots and had an out outstanding game and came up with a number of tackles. And as Coach Dantonio put it, production points and making plays and Rob was awarded the attack force player of the week.

The scout guys that did a good job getting us ready, on the special teams, Bradley from Upper Arlington High School is on every unit working against our first units other than the units he’s on during game day, he’s working on the scout units constantly and was our scouts units player of the game.

Defensively it was Curt Luken who’s going to be a very good player, works hard at it. Every week you have to have a different scheme and how to read and how they play their coverages and so forth and curt just does an outstanding job taking care of that, leading the defense along with John Kerr and Anthony Schlegel will and that group.

The scout offensive player of the week was Louis Irizarry. He did a great job emulating number four who was an outstanding tight end, receiver, blocker for Michigan State and Louis was very impressive down there working to help our defense get ready for that Michigan State attack.

Purdue, I think we all knew going into the year with 18 or 19 starters back that they were going to be an outstanding group. We all, I think, had a feeling that come November 15th, they were going to be contending for the Big Ten title, which they are. I think offensively, they’ve done a great job of committing themselves to being a balanced team, run and pass. And I think what’s dangerous about them, they can line up and run it maybe 40 times a game and be successful, or they can make a decision to throw it 50 times.

I think they’d like to be somewhere in between. That’s when they’re at their best. And Kyle Orton has done a great job running that attack, and obviously the great receivers and the veteran linemen, a tremendous challenge for our defense.

Their defense, on the other hand, you know, coming into the year, you had to say it was going to be one of the best in the Big Ten and one of the best in the country. And their numbers bear out that they are. I think they’re giving up somewhere in the neighborhood of 80 yards rushing. And I don’t know what their total defense numbers are, but they’re tops in most categories and the top three or four in the league in most categories. Veteran group, great free safety with unbelievable speed, Schweigert. Their defensive end, Shawn Philips, he’s special, and he’s a darn good one. And all the other guys are returning. Their strong safety’s new and I think that’s the only new guy in the lineup from a group that we had our — we had our hands full trying to make yards a year ago.

Where they’re very successful thus far this year is in the special teams. Their field goal kicker is like 20-23. Their net punt is very good. Their punt returner, Chambers, broke the Penn State game open with a 76 yarder. In fact, I think they had 149 yards in punt returns in that game alone. Kickoff return-wise, they have an outstanding guy that is averaging up near the tops in the conference. They’ve had probably six or seven returns of 35 yards or better. And just do an excellent job. And the interesting thing, as you look at their special units, their top players show up in all their special units. You’ll see Schweigert in all of them. You’ll see Shawn Philips in all of them. You’ll see number 34, the middle linebacker, Niko Koutouvides in all of them. You’ll see they’re very, very good players in all of their special units and that’s why they’re good and their specialists are good. Their snapper’s excellent. So it’s not a surprise to anyone, I’m sure, that here we are in the middle of November and Penn State is contending for the Big Ten championship. We’re excited that we’re in the same situation. And it’s going to be a special day for our guys, because we’ve got a group of seniors, who I think have done a great job. They’ve played well. They’ve played hard. They’ve led well, and for them to have a chance to finish their college home career in a game of this magnitude, I think is special, and we’re looking forward to the challenge.

REPORTER: As you mentioned the credentials of Purdue, it sounds similar to some of the credentials you’ve talked about for your team. Do you see a lot of similarities between the two teams? It seems like one of the clubs that is most similar to you guys.

TRESSEL: I think defensively from a scheme standpoint, we’re very similar. And our numbers, defensively, are pretty similar. Offensively, I don’t know that we would ever be characterized as effective in a spread as they are characterized, but I think they have the same thoughts in mind, and that’s to be a balanced team. And I think — I’d like to think we have that type of commitment in our special teams that they have in their special teams and our specialists are good. And so, again, though, that’s the only way you’re going to be. You have to have those factors if you’re going to be contending in November, and we’re both contending.

REPORTER: Do you think Lydell’s performance Saturday, especially in the second half, has obviously made a huge difference in that game, but whether he’ll make a huge difference the next two games, something that doesn’t seem like it was that power running game as it was established earlier in the season?

TRESSEL: Lydell Ross is a good back. When you have a good back who’s healthy and confident and so forth, it’s huge. So I certainly hope that it makes a big difference. Now, we’re going against a group that’s an outstanding run defense, so it’s not just Lydell that’s got responsibility. It’s everybody that does. And it will be a great challenge.

REPORTER: Coach, can you talk about the improvement of your offensive line, especially the last few weeks?

TRESSEL: I think part of the improvement in the offensive line has got to be attributed to the health at running back was a little better. Early on, we had struggled from a health standpoint, from a missing practice standpoint. When you’re banged up and you don’t have a chance to go out and rep things together, I think that has helped. I think our offensive line has worked extremely hard to get better and better and play lower and play mistake-free and all those kinds of things that you better do if you want to be there when November rolls around. So I’m sure it’s a little bit of everything. I think we’ve thrown the ball fairly well, and I think that helps the running game, as well. And you add all the things in and it gives you a chance to be successful.

REPORTER: How healthy is your team going into this game? Anybody you’re concerned about?

TRESSEL: The guy we’re not going to have is Mike D’Andrea, which is disappointing. Mike got a shoulder banged up and we’ll know a little bit more tomorrow when the MRIs and that type of thing get back, but we certainly won’t have him. Outside of that, Mike Kne might be back. Don’t know that for sure. I think Alex and Darrion, who have been the ongoing guys, will be even healthier. I’m trying to think who else has missed recently. Of course, we won’t have Drew. That’s about it. Game number, whatever it is, 11, in the tough schedule we’ve played, I can’t complain about our health. We’ve not been unfortunate.

REPORTER: Maurice Hall, what’s his health status right now?

TRESSEL: He’s not 100%, but that’s not news. We’ve been saying that and knowing that for quite some time. In fact, if you ask me, Maurice Hall has been a warrior. I think a lesser man might have pulled his reigns in a little bit and said, I don’t know if I can help. And Maurice Hall chomps at the bit to help. He wants to help this team. As the game wound down last weekend, we had to make a decision to put Mo Hall back in or Ira Guilford. My feeling was Mo Hall has been there, done that, knows how to do it. I didn’t know that he needed to get banged around. Ira Guilford hasn’t been there enough. I don’t know when you’re that young if you’ve been banged around enough, so we just felt we’d go with Ira. Part of it was in hopes that that would even make Mo Hall healthier as we head into Purdue. It certainly isn’t because he didn’t want to be in there or didn’t deserve to be in there or any of those things. He has done so many — from a treatment standpoint to strength training, you name it, he has done whatever he can do to have himself as prepared as he can to help us.

REPORTER: Is E.J. Underwood out for the season, or is there any chance you’ll have him back?

TRESSEL: The last thing I heard on E.J. Underwood is he could start practicing football December 5th. That was from his doctors — the latest doctor’s report. I think we’ll have him back this season.

REPORTER: Jim, does Branden Joe become your second option at tailback now, or where does he figure exactly?

TRESSEL: Branden Joe is a guy that, I think, gives you a number of options. Obviously he’s a good fullback and — in the traditional sense that he’ll go there and block. I think he’s a good oneback kind of guy. I think he’s a good receiver. And having Branden Joe back — someone’s earlier question was about the offensive line. I didn’t do a good job, I should have thrown Branden Joe in there. I think Branden Joe helps being back in there and I hope will continue to help. Every capable person you have that can add to the cause helps each other. And I think Branden is important.

REPORTER: Jim, you mentioned that they threw it 50-some times against Wisconsin. That was when Void was injured, I believe, last Saturday against Iowa. That has a pretty comparable run defense to your own, they ran it most of the time, or at least a lot of the time. What do you expect them to do offensively against you?

TRESSEL: You know, the only thing I could expect them to do is what I would do against our defense. And I would try to be balanced, because I’m afraid if you try to be one way or the other against a defense as good as Ohio State’s or Purdue’s, you’re going to have a tough time if they get a beat on a one-pronged attack. I’m guessing they’re going to want to be balanced not wanting us to tee off simply on the run or tee off simply on their passer. And I’m sure they’ll be creative and balanced and pose some problems, perhaps, that we haven’t seen yet this year. But again, that’s where I feel really good about our defensive players and coaches and their patience. When someone comes out and does some things maybe they haven’t seen and maybe gets them once, the second time we play it better. That’s the key in games like this because Purdue is good, they’re creative, and they’re more balanced than ever.

REPORTER: Along those lines, Jim, some of the things we’ve seen out of your offense here in the last couple weeks, throwing to the tight end, throwing to the —

TRESSEL: Last few weeks, the tightends have 40-some catches. Have you been talking to Mrs. Hartsock?

REPORTER: She doesn’t like that offensive lineman of the week.

In any event, has that been in preparation for the last two weeks of the season, or have you been looking for different ways to jump start our offense, different options that maybe we hadn’t seen before?

TRESSEL: I think you like to have in your repertoire the ability to attack across all fronts. Then you have to find out what people are doing against you. I think as last season wound down and this season began, it became very apparent that Michael Jenkins was going to get a lot of attention and that he might not be the guy you could throw it to 80 times unless you wanted to throw it 600 times for the year, and that you better have some other people doing what you have to do to be successful. And that’s where I think the tight ends have done a good job of being where they need to be and making plays when they have chances. I’m encouraged that the last three games we’ve thrown it to the backs a little better.

I think going into Indiana, I don’t know how many balls our backs had caught, but it wasn’t as many as you’d like to have, good balance, and we started catching some balls. And that’s part of, you’ve got to throw them to them to catch them. So we need to be able to attack across those fronts. And especially when you get to play somebody like Purdue, if you line up and do the same thing, they’re going to get a beat on it.

REPORTER: Speaking of Indiana, a lot of players point to that game as the game that sort of gave the offense enough confidence to get itself jump started and keep its momentum going from that game. Do you apply into that? Was that sort of the turning point for your offense?

TRESSEL: I think that was a big plus because there was some proof there. I really felt — and I think I said to all of you, I really felt like the fourth quarter of Iowa was the beginning of a little growth. It wasn’t extraordinary, but we needed to be able to do some things and we needed to be able to provide against a very, very good defense, and we lined up and were able to do it. I think it then grew against Indiana in much larger proportions. Now, that being said, Purdue will be the stiffest test we’ve had in 2003 to see if we can progress there.

REPORTER: Jim, can you talk about Craig’s performance in the game and you’re thinking going into this game of the quarterback position?

TRESSEL: I thought going into the game, because we were a little bit uncertain as to just how much Lydell would bring, because we didn’t see it in practice quite to the magnitude that we had the last couple weeks, you know, that he made — that Craig might need to help us a little bit from a run standpoint early, until we got a feel for how Lydell was coming along. And so, A, I thought he provided that. B, I thought he did a good job. We went after him with some things. We had a couple near misses, but I thought he was on top of what we were doing. And then in the second half, when it became a little bit more of a traditional quarterback play, which was basically he was a decision-maker and a passer and run-if-you-need-to-type guy. I thought he had a real good second half. There were times in the game that we talked about, would it be a good time to give Scott a little bit of playing time. And it wasn’t until we put him in that we obviously felt that that was the case. I would go into the Purdue game with similar feelings that I went into with last week’s game, and that’s that I feel real good about the fact that Craig Krenzel is our starting quarterback. I feel good about the fact that Scott McMullen has demonstrated that he can do a lot of good things as well, and that I know it’s November of both of their senior years. And that comes into your thinking, never at the expense of what the group needs, but I suppose that’s the way — which is exactly the way we went into it a week ago.

REPORTER: You had a commitment last week, though, you kind of were firm in your commitment last week to playing Scott. Are you as firm on that this week or is it more of a wait and see what happens, no guarantees type thing?

TRESSEL: I’m firm on the commitment that he, in my mind, has earned some playing time, but, you know, I’m never going to say that we’re going to do this, because I really don’t know what is going to transpire. But, no, Scott went in and played 14 plays and had what could have been a touchdown pass. So it wasn’t like his stock’s gone down.

REPORTER: Would you change anything at all — you’ve talked about how important November is. You have a lot of seniors on this team who obviously had a tremendous year last year, have been through a lot this year. Given these last two games, not to go too much into January, what your potential bowl could be, do you do anything different in the next two weeks given the magnitude of these games from a coaching, from a pep talk, do you bring anybody in to talk to the guys at any point, or is it exactly the same as it’s been all season?

TRESSEL: Well, we bring people in a lot to talk to our people, you know, on a weekly basis. So we won’t do more of it than we ever have. We’ll attack Purdue like we attacked every other team from a standpoint of, here are the things you better to do to win, and if we don’t do these things, we won’t win. It’s that simple. But really, there will be no different approach. There aren’t that many hours in the day. There is so much — really, there are less hours in the day in November than there are the rest of the year because you have more film. Right now we’ve got — Purdue is, what, 9-2 or 8-2 or something? We’ve got 10 films, plus the last two years we played Purdue. So we’ve got 12 films, and so do the players. They have access to all of that. So we want to make sure that we have time to be prepared, so we won’t do anything extremely different.

REPORTER: This will be the final home game for several seniors, your response to that?

TRESSEL: That makes it even more special. Like I said at the outset, because they’ve been so extraordinary in my mind, both on the field and in the locker room, and the reality is, this is their last time in their stadium, which they have a little feeling for in August, and today, it’s real. And I feel as if it’s our responsibility, those of us that may have more opportunities in the stadium, to make sure we do everything we can do to make their last journey there a good one.

REPORTER: Tyler Everett’s interception show anything about his growth as a player?

TRESSEL: Tyler’s been coming on all along. And he’s a smart player. He’s where he’s supposed to be. It was in our dime package, and we used that, I don’t know, I can’t remember exactly, 40 plays maybe. And they were getting tested. And Tyler graded a winning performance, I’m pretty sure. I’m sure he did. And he’s been a very good soldier on the special teams. He’s been excellent on the kickoff coverage and the punt coverage and those types of things. He’s a true sophomore that’s contributing a lot.

REPORTER: He was the nickel back on that play, though.

TRESSEL: Well, nickel and dime. I think we might have even had — I’m not that much of an expert on that side, not that I’m an expert on the other, but I think we might have had 6 DBs in at that time.

REPORTER: But just because of because of his celebration —

TRESSEL: I took him out?

REPORTER: Well, somebody took him out.

TRESSEL: You know what, I’d have to defer that, I don’t know.

REPORTER: Well, I mean, is Whitner still the nickel back?

TRESSEL: Yeah, absolutely. Dante had 50-some plays and graded a winning performance.

REPORTER: Getting back to Mike D’Andrea, can you tell how he got hurt and what that means to your linebacking corps without him?

TRESSEL: It means you’ll have to be a little more flexible. We feel as if Fred Pagac and Robert Reynolds can both play Mike and Jason Bond is an emergency guy at Sam, Mike, and Will. He knows them all. A.J. and Bobby and Thomas Matthews can play the will and Jason is the emergency guy there. Rob, Bobby and Jason can all play the Sam. So we’re just one less in the depth. But, again, as I mentioned, where I think you really lose Michael is on the special teams, which we don’t discount the importance of that. Just look at when we were — if we would be missing three or four starters on offense or defense, it would be talked about constantly. We missed three or four starters on the kickoff coverage and in one play the game is changed. That’s how important special teams are.

REPORTER: Do you know where your team is ranked in the BCS?

TRESSEL: Third. I did my homework. I knew you’d ask that.

REPORTER: Any take on that, or one spot out of being —

TRESSEL: Well, the take is this: There’s no way we can go up if we don’t win. And if we don’t win, it’s the way it is.

REPORTER: Everybody’s saying who should be the national championship. Do you think kind of the uncertainty of who should be in and the uncertainty of the whole thing kind of is intriguing and makes it more exciting?

TRESSEL: Well, no question. I think any time you talk about who’s going to make the playoffs, who’s going to be the wildcard, who’s going to be this and that, that’s interest in your game. I think that’s fine to be talked about, as long as it’s not us talking about it. If we’re talking about anything other than Purdue, then we’ll join that throng of people next week that all they have to do is talk about it.

REPORTER: Along those lines, a month ago, the popular opinion was, there’s no way Ohio State is going to get back to the national championship game, now given the upsets of last weekend and your move up the polls and that kind of thing and your improved play offensively, it’s kind of become more popular nationally, and certainly here in town, to talk about, hey, if they do this, this happens, blah, blah, blah, Ohio State can get back. Has that added any sense of electricity around the facility? Have you sensed it in the players, the way fans are starting to pick up on it now where they weren’t probably a month ago?

TRESSEL: You know, someone asked me that question yesterday. And as I think about it, they asked me what have I heard our players talking about, because the coaches are — we’re just watching film. Someone asked me have I heard the players talking about it. And I said, you know, I have to be honest with you, the think I’ve heard the players talk about in the little bit you can kind of sneak a listen here or there is the fact that we have not been the outright Big Ten champions since 1984. I haven’t heard any of them talk about where we are in the BCS or any of that type of thing. But, again, they may be. I don’t know. But I don’t mind the fact that people are talking about it outside of our locker room, because that means we still have a chance.

REPORTER: Jim, do you know what the numbers are on that stuff or anything, do you?

TRESSEL: Crunch the numbers, no. I try to figure out what we do on third and fourth on the left hash rather than those other things.

REPORTER: Do you have a hard time getting a top 10 or a top 15?

TRESSEL: You know, I have some help on that, to be honest with you. So, no, I haven’t had any trouble. My help’s done a great job.

REPORTER: What is your top ten?

TRESSEL: Don’t know.

REPORTER: Where do you have your own team?

TRESSEL: Don’t know.

REPORTER: Really, you don’t know where you have your own team ranked?

TRESSEL: Are you going to get me fired off the ESPN poll? I can’t remember. Maybe I should say I can’t remember.

REPORTER: Can you say who your help is?

TRESSEL: My staff. Those guys watch that stuff more than I do.

REPORTER: When you were at YSU, there were 16 teams to make one AA playoffs, that was what you build to.

TRESSEL: Oh, yeah.

REPORTER: Did you watch it carefully then?

TRESSEL: I’m sure our players did. Come November, you had to find out if you were going to be in the top 16 and have a chance to make a run at it. And I know our fans did, and it was fun to — again, someone asked the question, is it a good thing that it’s talked about. Absolutely. It’s just not a good thing if our players are talking about it. They need to be talking about, here’s what Purdue does on third down, here’s what we’re doing blitzing. They need to leave that for someone else just like the coaches do. But is it a good thing? Absolutely. I’ve said to you folks many times, if no one was talking about football, it wouldn’t be as fun.

REPORTER: Coach, Purdue kind of suffered a demoralizing loss to your team last year in the West Lafayette. Does the team have kind of a collective memory of that, and would you expect that to play into the way they play this weekend?

TRESSEL: Well, Purdue has looked very good on film. And we have said, and I think been right in every game thus far this season, that the team we will meet, you haven’t seen on film yet. They’ll play better. And Purdue will play better than we’ve ever seen them. Now, will it be because of last year’s game? Will it be because they’re playing the defending champions? Will it be because of what they can seize from the moment? I don’t know, but they’ll play better than we’ve ever seen them. I hope we play better than you’ve ever seen us.

REPORTER: Coach, clearly you’ve looked at the Michigan film against Purdue. What happened to Purdue in that game? Is there anything Ohio State can glean from that to try to beat Purdue?

TRESSEL: From an offensive standpoint, Michigan did an excellent job hitting some big plays. From a defensive standpoint, they created turnovers. Now, those are two wonderful things to do. That’s what you set out to do, and that’s what we set out to do each — but big plays hurt them and turnovers really hurt them. I think they might have turned it over four times maybe, so like that.

REPORTER: Coach Bruce used to say there was only a certain number of times every year that you could get up and really —

TRESSEL: You never worked for him. He got up every morning and got up after us.

REPORTER: You’re two games into a three-game stretch against two teams that are highly ranked, and obviously they’re tied for league lead. Is it difficult at all to maintain an emotional level in the players?

TRESSEL: I think we all have an emotional fuel tank, if you will. As I look at this football team, I don’t sense at all that we’re running low on emotional fuel. It’s pretty obvious what’s out there, and that certainly helps. I read one time goals create energy, and the goals are still out there. Now, is that the accurate answer to the question? I don’t know. We’ll find out. But I don’t sense that. I think that our guys are excited like any other time, I think you have to have a good balance of what you’re asking of them and how much you do this or that, and we want to be at the top of our game when we need to be at the top of our game which was the end of the year, but that’s hopefully what we’re moving toward.

REPORTER: Can you go back to your seniors for a second? Can you characterize them as this crop of seniors compared to last year’s?

TRESSEL: It’s a much larger group. Very talented. I think they’ve been anxious to take the action that a leader needs to take, which I thought last year’s group did, too. And I’m not saying that they’re more talented than last year’s or anything like that. I think they are talented. I think they’re very eager to be leaders, to take leadership action. I think they’ve done an excellent job, but like anything else, until it’s over, I don’t think you really should characterize until the task is completed.

REPORTER: Coach, you’ve been with this group now obviously three years. As you’ve gotten to know some of your seniors really well, Craig and Will and Ben Hartsock and some of the other guys, do you at all get nostalgic? This is your last time coaching them in Ohio Stadium. Do you kind of take pause and not get teary-eyed, but get a little emotional with these guys you’ve had a relationship with?

TRESSEL: The longer you’ve had a relationship, the deeper it is if you’ve been working at it. You think back to when you first got to know someone and now you’ve been through, I don’t know how many a games we’ve played here, but it seems like a million in the last three years. We’ve been through a lot of ups and downs and tough battles and highs and lows and that type of thing. When you’re with good people in a common cause, there’s nothing better than that. And you certain hate to see it come to an end, because the fun of it all is the process. That’s the fun of coaching. Once the year is over, if you had a great year, you don’t like going to all the banquets. If you had a bad year, you don’t like answering all the questions, so you like being involved. And the involvement is coming to an end, but we’ve got a lot of ahead of us yet.

REPORTER: Is there a player or two in that group, Jim, that maybe three years ago when you arrived, you thought, I don’t know if this guy’s going to fulfill his potential, and now looking back you say, here’s a guy who’s really made great strides?

TRESSEL: I’d kind of go the flip side of that. There was one guy that no one talked anything about when we got here that has been extraordinary, and that’s Michael Jenkins. No one mentioned anything about Michael. People say, oh, so and so is going to be good, or this guy’s going to be good. No one mentioned Michael Jenkins, and every day coming off the field in spring practice that first spring, Joe Daniels and I would be walking along — I always walk with a guy shorter than me, it’s an ego thing — we’d be walking along and say, man, that 12’s good. 12 is good. So that’s one guy that I don’t know what his billing was, I just don’t remember many people talking about him in January, February, and March. He’s one of the most extraordinary kids and obviously a great player. That’s one that jumps in my mind.

REPORTER: Has he ever demanded the ball?

TRESSEL: Has he ever demanded it?

REPORTER: There are other receivers around the country who — you know what I’m talking about.

TRESSEL: Oh, no. Mike won’t be afraid to tell you, hey, I think I can get this guy or whatever, but Mike is the ultimate team guy. He just — whatever you want Mike to do, he’ll do. Whoever gets him at the next level, they’re going to have a guy for 10 years that’s going to be a joy in their community and a guy on their team that produces.

REPORTER: Would you classify him also, is he clutch?

TRESSEL: Absolutely. Just want to see how dumb I really am? Is he clutch? Mike Jenkins makes plays. If you give him a chance, he makes plays. Last question, Marla. That’s it? Okay. We have an early practice. You get our guys afterwards.