Name: Ross Homan
Hometown: Coldwater, Ohio
High School: Coldwater
Last season: Recorded 67 tackles, including six tackles for loss in first season as a starter
This season: Will be leader of linebacker group that lost James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman to graduation
by Kyle Rowland, OhioStateBuckeyes.com
Ross Homan has been delivering bone-crushing hits and making offenses weary since his days at powerhouse Coldwater High School in Western Ohio.
He was a three-time first-team All-Ohio selection and led Coldwater to the Division IV state championship, a season in which he was also named the defensive player of the year.
Entering his junior season in 2009, Homan is the lone starting linebacker returning to a corps that saw the departure of James Laurinaitis and Marcus Freeman following the season. Now, he will be asked to lead what has been one of the best units in the country for a decade.
Ohio State’s linebacker lineage includes a smorgasbord of All-Americans the past 10 years. Names like Andy Katzenmoyer, Na’il Diggs, Matt Wilhelm, A.J. Hawk, and Laurinaitis litter the walls at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Ross Homan hopes to add his name to that list of legends.
When healthy, he has provided a spark to the silver bullet defense. Homan enrolled early his freshman season of 2006 and got his feet wet before playing in all 13 games for a team that would play for a national championship. Homan was third among linebackers in tackles for the season.
The 2007 season, though, was awash because of a turf toe injury. Homan took a medical redshirt and came back in 2008 hungry to prove that his freshman season was an indicator of what he could do over his four seasons with the Buckeyes. He proved it with 67 tackles, including six behind the line of scrimmage and a key fumble recovery at Wisconsin.
This spring, Homan has once again battled an injury, but recently returned to the field.
“It has been kind of frustrating, kind of depressing to be on the sideline for most of the spring watching my teammates fly around out there,” Homan said. “But it felt real good to get back out there.”
In the meantime, Homan has been helping mentor the younger players with senior Austin Spitler.
“You really can’t take a leadership role if you’re not out there on the field with your teammates,” Homan said. “From that standpoint, it has kind of been frustrating, too.
“Austin Spitler has done great from a leadership standpoint,” Homan added. “He has also been real physical and a force out there.”
With only one returning starter at the linebacker position and a total of five starters total lost on the defensive side of the ball, you can expect the competition to be heavy from now all the way through January.
“It’s been very competitive,” Homan said. “Coach Fickell has challenged the guys every practice to come out and be fast and physical. Everyone has been flying around and they’re constantly trying to get better.”
Another added dimension to the season for Homan is having younger brother, Adam, on the team. Adam Homan, a freshman fullback, enrolled in January so he could take part in spring drills.
“It’s crazy,” the elder Homan said. “It’s the first time I’ve tackled him since high school, so it is weird.”
He added, though, that it is a good feeling to rough up his younger sibling.
“I haven’t said anything (trash talk) to him yet,” Ross said. “He’s been doing great and set some good goals for himself.”
For Ross, his goals remain on that All-American wall.