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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

OSU's Storm Klein Hard Work is Paying Off -Cleveland Took One for the Pennant Race - Cleveland Browns First Depth Chart

Patience and Hard Work Finally Paying Off for Klein
By Tony Gerdeman

When he committed to Ohio State back in October of 2007—nearly 16 months before he could even sign a Letter of Intent—Storm Klein knew that it was rare for freshman linebackers to just show up and immediately move to the front of the line.

Playing high school football less than an hour from Ohio Stadium, he was aware of the impact made by Andy Katzenmoyer as a Buckeye freshman back in 1996, but he was also aware that that wasn't an every day occurrence.

Part of the allure of coming to Ohio State as a linebacker is to be a part of the legacy set forth by others, but for a kid who just wants to see the field, choosing Ohio State can also become too much to handle. Playing time is like a closely-guarded secret—it doesn't find its way to just anybody.

A school with a great linebacker legacy like Ohio State builds on that legacy by adding top notch prospects every year. There will always be somebody in a freshman's way, and usually a sophomore's as well..

Patience is a key, but channeling that desire to play in the proper way is even more important. Everybody wants to contribute from day one. Storm Klein was no different, but he took the opportunities he was given and tried to make the most of them.

“Obviously you want to come in and contribute any way you can, and that's what I did on special teams,” he said. “That's a good way to get out there and get your name out there.”

“It's tough. The playbook is the biggest thing. Everybody has the physical ability to be here, but the biggest thing that separates the young guys is the playbook. If they can get in there and listen to what the older guys are saying, the faster they'll pick it up.”

But while a young player is bouncing questions off of a veteran, he's also playing behind him and getting limited reps. When Klein was a freshman in 2009 he ended up being one of Brian Rolle's backups, which meant that he would likely be his backup again in 2010, and he was.

For some players, sitting behind a player for two seasons is too much to ask, but for Klein, it wasn't unexpected. Rolle, his predecessor in the middle, had done the exact same thing while James Laurinaitis started for his final three seasons.

“It's tough sometimes no matter who you are when there are people in front of you and you don’t have a lot of opportunities,” said head coach Luke Fickell.

“That happens to guys here, and the guys who can fight through it—your Austin Spitlers of the world—get better every year, each and every week, and don’t let those things of having a James Laurinaitis or somebody who’s been starting for 2 or 3 years in front of you affect or hamper your growth.”

Aside from playing behind an All-Big Ten performer in Rolle, Klein has also had to deal with injury issues. Most recently he missed much of the spring with a hamstring injury. Now entering his third season, he still hasn't been able to show his coaches everything that he can do.

“The biggest thing once you get hurt is just getting back on the field and taking care of yourself,” he said. “That's the biggest thing, just getting back on the field and showing the coaches what you can do.”

But now he is healthy, and with the promised clean slate from new linebackers coach Mike Vrabel, Klein has obviously impressed his coaches in a short amount of time.

“Guys as freshmen or sophomores when they’re playing behind some really good players, you don’t get to see them on Saturdays to evaluate them,” Fickell said. “I think he has grown.”

Currently sitting atop the depth chart at middle linebacker—a position positively saturated with history at Ohio State—Klein realizes that his surroundings are rarefied air.

“When you commit here to play linebacker, you've got a lot to live up to,” he said. “So right when you sign the paper, you're kind of in it whether you want to be or not.”

Clearly Storm Klein wants to be in it. The question now is will it pay off in playing time?

“I hope so,” he said. “I've been working my butt off.”

Cleveland Browns First Depth Chart
August 10, 2011

Tight End
B. Watson
E. Moore
A. Smith
Left Tackle
J. Thomas
P. Trautwein
Left Guard
E. Steinbach
B. Yates
P. Murray
J. Shaw
A. Mack
S. Vallos
Right Guard
S. Lauvao
J. Greco
Right Tackle
T. Pashos
Wide Receiver
M. Massaquoi
D. Williams
J. Norwood
R. Windsor
C. McCoy
S. Wallace
J. Brown
Wide Receiver
J. Cribbs
B. Robiskie
C. Mitchell
Running Back
P. Hillis
B. Jackson
M. Hardesty
Q. Porter
T. Clutts
Left Defensive End
M. Benard
J. Mitchell
Nose Tackle
Right Defensive End
B. Sanford
Left Outside Linebacker
S. Fujita
T. Brown
S. Octavien
Left Inside Linebacker
Right Inside Linebacker
Right Outside Linebacker
C. Gocong
A. English
Left Cornerback
J. Haden
C. Francies
Free Safety
U. Young
M. Adams
R. Ventrone
Strong Safety
T. Ward
D. Smith
Right Cornerback
S. Brown
D. Patterson
R. Robinson
C. Gettis
Special Teams
R. McGee
Kick Returner
J. Cribbs
Punt Returner
J. Cribbs
Long Snapper
R. Pontbriand
P. Dawson
R. McGee

The reality, of course, is different. The Indians entered Tuesday’s game against Detroit trailing the Tigers by four games. Justin Verlander starts in the series finale on Thursday. They Indians know they need to start making up ground on Detroit … now.

Psychologically, the Indians entered the game with a 54-54 record. A loss would knock them under .500 for the first time since they opened the season with two defeats.

Must win? Maybe not. But as Nuke LaLoosh might say, the Indians needed to play this game with fear and ignorance -- the fear of

But for the Cleveland Indians, it sure felt like one.

Now, the players aren’t trained to think like that. In baseball, players are simultaneously taught to take ‘em one game at a time, but to understand that one game doesn’t mean that much in the big picture. That’s how you shake off last night’s defeat, why there is no momentum in baseball, why there isn’t necessarily a sense of desperation until the calendar hits September.

The bad news for Cleveland: A two-hour rain delay meant Masterson and Detroit starter Doug Fister both left after two innings, with the game tied at 2-2.

The game would become a battle of the bullpens. I would say tense, except it wasn’t tense. It was soft grounder followed by routine fly ball followed by strikeout. From the third through the 13th innings, the teams combined for only four baserunners to reach second base. Cleveland had the best opportunity, when Jason Donald pinch-hit for Lonnie Chisenhall leading off the bottom of the eighth and just missed a home run, doubling high off the wall in center field. A groundout moved him to third base and Manny Acta called for the suicide squeeze with Michael Brantley batting. Daniel Schlereth threw a big swooping curve way off the plate. Brantley missed (it was a very tough pitch to bunt) and Donald was out. Calling for a straight squeeze against a pitcher averaging 6.3 walks per innings wasn’t the wisest decision Acta has made in 2011.

Finally, in the 14th, Cleveland threatened again. David Pauley, who had pitched just 1 1/3 innings since July 25, walked Asdrubal Cabrera with one out and Travis Hafner’s hot smash bounced off the glove of Carlos Guillen. It was ruled a hit, but Guillen has to make that play. Jim Leyland questionably elected to walk Carlos Santana to pitch to Kosuke Fukudome ("I'm never a fan of the IBB to load the bases"); Pauley hit Fukudome on a 1-2 pitch. As the New York Times' Tyler Kepner tweeted, the Indians win on the Homer Simpson Special. The few diehards left in the stands are rewarded with a victory and that sense of relief that rises in the blood this time of year of avoiding the pain of defeat.

And the Indians are back over .500. They won a game in which they were held scoreless for 12 innings. They’re three games behind the Tigers and Ubaldo Jimenez starts Wednesday night. Maybe this is the game that sends Cleveland on a winning streak. Maybe Indians fans will someday recall that heroic effort of veteran reliever Chad Durbin, who entered with a 6.28 ERA and pitched three scoreless innings in that marathon game. Or that diving catch in the 14th inning by Jason Kipnis or the will of Kosuke Fukudome to coax the ball off his forearm.

A pennant race. One game at a time. There’s nothing better in sports.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I thought Klein was involved in the tat palor stuff?
I think they have a good frosh lb too
Is he from liking valley