As much as parents might hate to admit it, it’s not exactly rare on a college campus for an underage student to drink alcohol.
Ohio State then-freshman tight end Marcus Baugh did, and was cited for underage consumption twice — once in July and once in January.
But life isn’t about the mistakes you make, it’s about the way you learn from them, and Baugh has since done just that.
“I’ve grown a lot,” Baugh said Saturday at the team’s Student Appreciation Day. “I have seen what I can do and coaches have told me what I can do. I am just trying to believe what they are teaching me.”
Tight ends coach Tim Hinton said April 3 that Baugh might have started off his career poorly, but since making those mistakes, he has done everything he can to improve.
“It’s certainly a challenge,” Hinton said. “I’m not going to deny the challenge that it put upon a young kid and Ohio State’s one of those places that … just look around right now. There’s a lot of microphones and TVs, there’s a lot of interest and we’re very happy with that … And that’s part of the expectations at Ohio State. You gotta learn to act like an Ohio State football player, live under coach (Urban) Meyer’s rules. And I gotta tell you, he’s really trying to get that done. I’m very proud of him.”
Meyer said Wednesday that in practice this spring Baugh has worked hard, but that he has yet to “earn the right” to talk to the media.
“Marcus had some issues, he’s one foot in, one foot out right now,” Meyer said. “His effort’s been really good, he’s been trying to do things the right way, but to say he’s out of the woods, no … You gotta earn the right to talk to you guys (the media), and he hasn’t earned that right.”
Now a redshirt-freshman, after sitting out the entirety of last season because of the off-the-field issues, Baugh’s been a part of spring practice with the rest of the team.
Much like his time so far at OSU, spring practice hasn’t gone perfectly, Baugh said, but he is doing what he can to grow as a player.
“I have messed up on some stuff,” Baugh said. “I just try to go out there and just go hard.”
Coming into school, Baugh was rated as the sixth best tight end prospect by Rivals.com, but even without his off-the-field troubles, was unlikely to see much of the field early in his career.
With senior Jeff Heuerman and redshirt-junior Nick Vannett on the squad, snaps will be hard to come by for Baugh. But Hinton said Baugh does bring a lot to the table for the Buckeyes.
“He’s very athletic. There’s no doubt about it. He’s (a) very athletic, young tight end and he’s gotta learn to block better at the point of attack,” Hinton said. “And that’ll come with strength, it’ll come with physical maturity. It’ll come with just learning and having confidence in yourself … Every day you go out and it’s another learning opportunity, it’s another opportunity to get better and we very seldom back off of them here. We’re going to push them to be a little better every day.”
But now, with Heuerman set to miss the remainder of spring practice following foot surgery, Baugh is getting extra repetitions in practice. This increase in time on the practice field is helping Baugh focus on the aspects of his game that were lacking.
“It is definitely helping me working on my blocking,” Baugh said. “That was one thing I really wanted to work on in the spring and with him (Heuerman) being out, coach (Hinton) is really giving me a lot of reps on the harder blocks that last year I wasn’t too good at. I am getting a lot of opportunities to fix that.”
The redshirt-freshman has grown since his legal issues earlier in his career, and Hinton said he has confidence Baugh will continue to move forward as a player and person.
“You know, the nice thing is Marcus knows, he clearly has a clear understanding that there’s expectations in this program,” Hinton said. “He knows what’s expected of him. He knows how to handle his life. Just every day we work to improve who he is as a person and make sure that he lives up to the expectations at Ohio State University.”
Baugh will likely get a chance to impress the coaching staff, and the Buckeye faithful, Saturday in the Spring Game. Without Heuerman, and the team playing two-deep in the game, Baugh is the second tight end behind Vannett and should see the field.
Kick off for the game is set for approximately 1:30 p.m. at Ohio Stadium.