Oct. 15, 2005

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Ohio State junior T.J. Downing knows all about protection. Protecting the quarterback is what he does. As an offensive lineman Downing is use to the blitzing linebackers and run-stuffing defensive linemen and is never one to shy from contact. It should come as little surprise, then, what Downing plans to do in his life after football. While the playing surface may change, the Canton, Ohio, native will have the same mindset as he does on the football field.

“I want to do undercover work or get a job with a security agency,” Downing said. “Anything with security measures interests me.”

For Downing, security has always been an intrigue, especially given his family’s rich military heritage.

“Both of my grandfathers served in the Korean Wars,” Downing said, “so I’ve always been exposed to stuff from wars and have been really interested in the military.

“My close friends, Jim and Rick, were up in the helicopters in Vietnam. When they came back they started a security agency and did under-cover work.”

For security purposes, Downing and his size fit the bill, but do not expect the family resource management major to stay undercover on the field. The 6-foot-5 inch, 305-pound guard has become a fixture on the offensive line, a catalyst for offensive production. While playing in the National Football League has always been an aspiration for Downing, another possibility also sparks interest.

“My dream job would be as a bodyguard for a rock band,” Downing said. “My buddy, Beau, who played football at Indiana, was the head body guard for Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones. It’s something that I’d have to look into a little further but it’s something I’d definitely like to get into after football.”

It is no secret football is a rough game, especially on the offensive and defensive lines where physical punishment is endless. Downing sees himself succeeding in the security industry because of that physical pounding.

“I think football would definitely help me with the mentality needed to be successful as a bodyguard,” Downing said. “In football you have to be willing to punish the opponent. It’s not a soft game and you can’t have second thoughts. It’s the same in the military and the security industry.”

While football and life as a bodyguard have obvious differences, Downing knows that protection is one binding similarity.

“In football the offensive line is there to protect the quarterback,” Downing said. “In essence he has five bodyguards protecting him from harm’s way. It’s the same way in the security industry.

“Football, especially on the offensive line is hand-to-hand combat,” Downing said. “It takes a certain type of person to be able to deal with it and it is the same with security. In both cases though, I feel like I am that kind of person.”