Name: Marcus Freeman
Hometown: Huber Heights, Ohio
High School: Wayne
Position: Linebacker
Year: Senior
Last Season: Second-team All-Big Ten; second on the team with 109 tackles; 66 solo tackles led the team; Academic All-Big Ten
This Season: Third-straight year as a starter at linebacker; 23 career starts to his credit

Linebacker Marcus Freeman recently took the time to tell us about why he passed up the NFL to come back for his senior season. So stop asking him about it.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — If Marcus Freeman had a dollar for every time someone asked him why he chose to postpone entering the NFL and stay at Ohio State one more season he would never need the money playing football will someday bring him. It may be a question that he’ll get tired of hearing soon, but it is not a hard one for him to answer. There is no doubt in Freeman’s mind that Ohio State is where the senior linebacker wanted to be in the upcoming year as a result of the bond he has formed with this university and his team.

“It is all about the tradition at Ohio State, the atmosphere in Columbus and the friendships I have made,” Freeman said. “I wanted to experience that for one more year. It is something you do not get in the NFL.”

One of the close friendships he has formed is with a fellow classmate who was faced with the same decision this offseason. All-American James Laurinaitis echoed Freeman’s words on his decision to come back.

“Marcus is a tremendous athlete and he’s constantly making me work hard,” Laurinaitis said. “I’m forever grateful to have the opportunity to play with him. There’s trust amongst each other, which helps myself and the team play better. And he’s a huge wrestling fan, which helps.”

It is not hard for anyone close to Ohio State to understand how Freeman feels about the university and the traditions he is a part of. However, his role as a student-athlete is not always glamorous; it is early mornings, long hours and a lot of hard work. So after the first week of spring practice, is Freeman as happy with his decision as he was when he first announced his tenure as a Buckeye would continue? There was not even the slightest bit of hesitation in the conversation before he answered yes.

“I am definitely glad I am still here,” Freeman said. “A lot of times when you are running at 6 a.m. you wonder why you are here, but when you get back on the field and put the equipment on it is easy to realize why you came back. Just being in the locker room with all of these guys makes you glad you stayed; it is a fun thing to do.”

There has been much speculation that Freeman and other teammates, such as Laurinaitis, chose to return in hopes of leaving a legacy that did not end with two national championship losses. However, Freeman, like Laurinaitis, gave no sign that a third trip to the national championship was on his list of reasons for returning. For now, the senior linebacker is concerning himself only with improving at his position and taking in all that is Ohio State football for one more season.

“The thing I look forward to the most is just playing another year for Ohio State,” he added. “It is another year to make myself better and to go out and try to win every game I play in. It is such an exciting feeling to run out in front of those 105,000 fans and be a part of this tradition. We all want to go to the national championship. But more important than that is elevating our games and being the best linebackers we can be. We want to be the best friends we can be and grow as men.”

~ Katie Patton, Ohio State Athletics Communications