By Paul M. Banks
Last season Penn State University’s defensive line unit came out of nowhere to have an All-World season, one of the main contributors to that dominance was Jared Odrick, a 6’5” 306 pound tackle now entering his senior season. Odrick has been quoted talking about playing the game “violently” and doing everything he does “more violent overall.” And at times his play can indeed be more violent than a “Die-Hard” movie. That violence has made him a star, as Odrick enters 2009 as a preseason All-American after finishing with All-Big Ten honors last season. I had a sit-down with him at Big Ten Media Day.
I asked him about people understanding the complexity of playing the defensive end position, which Odrick has occasionally played in practice, and maybe called upon if injuries hurt Penn State’s depth. “There’s a lot of responsibility that goes into being a defensive tackle. People that do understand the game know that the tackle is going to complement what the end does…It works the same way if the Ends are bringing a lot of pressure, then people will have to pay more attention and that helps everybody,” Odrick said.
And Odrick is certainly a guy who generates a lot of pressure on opposing offensive backfields with his disruptive inside push. But this year, he’ll have less help as PSU lost three defensive ends to the NFL this past spring; Including the All-Everything Aaron Maybin, the 11th overall pick of the Buffalo Bills.
“He was blessed athletically and made some big time plays, and it’s something we’ll definitely miss, but at the same time it’s an opportunity for the people we have to step forward. For some of our younger defensive ends coming up, they can watch film and see some of the things he did,” Odrick said about Maybin’s impact on the program. Regarding the talents and abilities of Odrick himself, I asked him about the best part of his game, “I hate this question. I let people decide that for me. I just try to be a smart player. If you’re a smart player than you can play faster, more efficient and that’s really what I want to try and do,” Odrick said. The gridiron isn’t the only place where Jared focuses on being smart. He’ll graduate a semester early this December with a degree in telecomm. So who’s game does Odrick analogize with? “When I was being recruited, I heard from the Georgia coach the next Richard Seymour, but really no one other than that,” Seymour said. That’s pretty good company.Follow paulmbanks