Three and Out with Mike Lucas: Ohio State

Kohout

Nov. 16, 2012

BY MIKE LUCAS
UWBadgers.com

MADISON, Wis. -- Jordan Kohout anticipates that his exit will be similar to his entrance.

“It will probably be otherworldly,’’ he suggested.

On Saturday, the former Wisconsin defensive tackle will be among the seniors introduced prior to the opening kickoff against Ohio State at Camp Randall Stadium.

“It will be kind of reminiscent of the first time I actually ran out on to the field (as a redshirt freshman in 2010),’’ Kohout said. “It will be very similar in that emotional aspect.’’

He paused briefly -- maybe to collect his thoughts.

“I think it will probably be more emotional,’’ he said softly.

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That’s understandable since Kohout was forced to give up football after experiencing two micro strokes last spring which were linked to migraine headaches brought about from football collisions.

Kohout would have been going into his redshirt junior season as a valuable contributor in the tackle rotation with Ethan Hemer and Beau Allen. He played in all 14 games last year and had 22 tackles.

The last time Ohio State played in Madison, Kohout was one of UW’s starting defensive tackles in a 31-18 win over the No. 1-ranked Buckeyes; it was one of seven starts that he made in 2010.

Looking ahead to Saturday’s pregame ceremony, Kohout conceded, “Even though my career was cut short, it will remind me of all the good times I had here and maybe bring a little bit of closure.’’

Kohout, a student assistant coach this season, will be sporting his No. 91 home jersey and greeted at midfield by his mom and dad, his girlfriend, his brother and his brother’s girlfriend.

“It will be a nice way to close out my involvement as a player,’’ said Kohout, a Waupun, Wis., native. “Having my family and loved ones there will definitely be great. They’ve supported me so much.’’

He needed their support, too, especially when he was going through withdrawal.

“The beginning of the season was a little tumultuous,’’ he said. “I was still coming to terms with not playing. I was still thinking about last year and what I could have done better.

“I was also still thinking about what I was going to do this year and how much better I was going to be. I had all of those thoughts running through my head.

“The fourth or fifth week of the season, I finally came to terms with it -- I finally understood you can’t keep dwelling on it. Football was over for me as a player.

“I finally had the closure that I wanted, and maybe almost avoided from the beginning. But, finally, I now realized that closure was a good thing.’’

Kohout, who will graduate in December with a degree in sociology, has applied to graduate school. Although he appreciated the opportunity to get a taste of coaching, he’s heading in another direction.

“I really enjoyed it, I really love coaching,’’ he said. “But, at least, for now, my calling is more towards the academic facet of a student-athlete’s life.

“I think being an academic advisor for athletes is a very valuable position. I’d like to help students who don’t necessarily have the wonderful grades and test scores when they come here.

“For a lot of students who come to the university if they still have a good work ethic, they have a chance to get a degree and make something out of themselves.’’

Quarterback Curt Phillips will be among those seniors who will be sharing Saturday’s pregame stage with Kohout. In all probability, Phillips will be granted a sixth year. But he still wanted to take part.

Over the years, Kohout has gotten to know Phillips and he couldn’t be happier for him. “He’s a guy who never gave up,’’ he said, “and he never let the naysayers tell him what he could or couldn’t do.’’

Joining Phillips and Kohout on the field will be Zach Davison, a former tight end from Waukee, Iowa. Davison had to give up football because of back injuries. He also is a student assistant.

“Jordan and Zach came here with lofty goals and dreams and aspirations,’’ said UW coach Bret Bielema. “The good news is that both of them are healthy and have long lives in front of them.’’

Kohout and Davison walked back from class together the other day.

“And we both kind of talked about Saturday,’’ Kohout said.

It would prompt Kohout to have a flashback to the first time he ran onto the field.

“I remember feeling like a weight had been lifted off me,’’ he said. “Since high school, I had the goal to play at a high level in college.

“Running on to the field gave me the sense that I had finally made it. I guess it will be a little bit different when I run out there Saturday.’’

Particularly since he fully expected to be in pads for senior day.

“That was the original plan,’’ he said with no remorse. “But life changes.’’


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Costigan
Kyle Costigan

Before his morning classes, Wisconsin’s starting right guard, Kyle Costigan, will report to the training room for rehab. He will do likewise following practice.

“It adds up every day,’’ he said. “It’s kind of annoying, but it’s stuff that you have to do.’’

Rehabbing has become part of his daily routine since he dislocated his knee cap on Sept. 29 at Nebraska. He played through the pain in that game -- the Big Ten opener -- and has done so ever since.

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Rehabbing has become part of his daily routine since he dislocated his knee cap on Sept. 29 at Nebraska. He played through the pain in that game -- the Big Ten opener -- and has done so ever since.

“I feel like I could be playing at much higher level if I hadn’t gotten hurt,’’ said Costigan, a 6-foot-4, 305-pound redshirt sophomore from Wind Lake, Wis., 20 miles outside of Milwaukee.

“It has slowed me down, but I kind of grind through it.’’

Nobody is more appreciative of his commitment than Bielema.

“I can’t even imagine how much pain that he’s in,’’ he said. “I would say that he’s about 75 percent on that one leg. But he continues to play and play with a relentless attitude.

“If you ask him to sit out a play, it’s like you’re running over his dog. He’s very upset and doesn’t want to come out of the game. The other guys around him take notice and probably play a little harder.

“A year from now, he’s a guy who will be a game-changer at that position.’’

Costigan took over for one in All-American right guard Kevin Zeitler, a first-round draft choice of Cincinnati. Zeitler has been a starter for the Bengals since the opening of training camp.

“There was a play in the Indiana game,’’ Bielema said, “where Kyle took their defensive tackle, Adam Replogle, and drove him eight yards backwards on a base block. It was just really impressive.’’

The quality and depth of defensive tackles in the Big Ten has been truly impressive this season, and the list of honor candidates includes Wisconsin’s tandem of Ethan Hemer and Beau Allen.

Ohio State has two of the best in John Simon and Jonathan Hankins.

Costigan has nothing but respect for both players after viewing them on film.

“Simon has ridiculous work ethic,’’ he said. “It seems like he never ever takes a play off; he’s doing everything he can do on every play.

“No. 52 (the 322-pound Hankins) is a big, huge body. You wouldn’t expect him to move the way he does, but he has a lot of flexibility for his size.’’

In game-planning, Costigan feels like he can think like a defensive tackle. He played the position last year before an injury sidelined him. In the spring, he moved to the O-line.

“It definitely helps when watching film,’’ he said, “just knowing  it from the D-line perspective and knowing what that player is thinking in that situation and what I should be thinking to get an edge.’’

Since moving into the starting lineup in week four, Costigan has missed only one start this season: Oct. 6 against Illinois. Otherwise, he has exhibited a remarkably high pain tolerance.

Maybe that shouldn’t be surprising since Cositgan lettered as a wrestler at Muskego High School. He also broke the school’s bench press record when he was a freshman.

“I’d see other people get hurt,’’ said Costigan, a captain and MVP his senior year, “and I always thought I wouldn’t want to be a guy who stays down or has a hard time playing through pain.

“That has guided me. This year with the knee injury, I’m just trying to do everything that I possibly can (to stay on the field). I don’t really think about the pain tolerance thing.

“As long as you can physically walk or jog,’’ Costigan emphasized, “I feel like you can practice and play if you really want to.’’


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Smith
Devin Smith

Devin Smith only wishes that he could have done something to stop Devin Smith.

There was one catch.

While Devin Smith was in Madison during last season’s Wisconsin-Ohio State game, Devin Smith was in Columbus and catching the game-winning touchdown pass in the final 20 seconds.

“I watched it on TV with some friends,’’ Smith said, “and it was devastating.’’

That Devin Smith would be UW cornerback Devin Smith, a fifth-year senior from Coppell, Texas. He suffered a season-ending injury in early September and obviously didn’t travel to Ohio State.

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The other Devin Smith would be OSU wide receiver Devin Smith, a sophomore from Massillon, Ohio.  As a true freshman, he had more yards receiving and touchdowns (4) than any other receiver.

Wisconsin’s Devin Smith wears No. 10. He’s 5-11, 186 pounds. Smith is not only the Badgers’ fourth-leading tackler, but he’s among the Big Ten interception leaders with three this season.

Ohio State’s Devin Smith wears No. 15. He’s 6-1, 200 pounds. Smith is the Buckeyes’ second-leading receiver with 24 receptions for 514 yards and six touchdowns, tops among the receivers.

In Ohio State’s season opener against Miami (Ohio), Smith had just two catches, but one was worthy of framing, an ESPN SportsCenter highlight catch.

Smith made a spectacular one-handed stab of a Braxton Miller pass for a touchdown. Devin Smith heard about it, too. The other Devin Smith, that is. Call it a case of mistaken identity.

“People were tweeting  me thinking that I was the one who made that one-handed catch,’’ Smith said. “I’ve gotten mistaken a lot for him from my people back home. It’s pretty funny.’’

Wisconsin’s Devin Smith doesn’t personally know Ohio State’s Devin Smith.

“But he’s a good player,’’ the DB said of the WR.

The QB makes everyone better, he could have added.

“Braxton Miller has the ability to make plays,’’ Smith said. “He’s kind of likeTerrelle Pryor but a little shiftier and he has better accuracy throwing the ball.’’

UW tailback Jeff Lewis (6-2, 210) simulated Miller on the scout team for the Badgers’ No. 1 defense. “The one thing we have to do is contain him and make sure that he doesn’t break loose,’’ Smith said.

Smith is one of three seniors in the Wisconsin secondary. Along with cornerback Marcus Cromartie and safety Shelton Johnson, Smith has enjoyed one of the better seasons of his career.

During his Monday news conference, Bielema pointed to the growth of each of his defensive backs and said, “The same NFL scouts that ask about Montee (Ball) are asking about those three guys.’’

Cromartie relocated to Mansfield, Texas, after Hurricane Katrina displaced his family from New Orleans. Johnson is from Carrolton, Texas. So the Longhorn State is well represented by this trio.

“Being from the same area we’ve definitely grown and bonded over the past few years,’’ Smith said. “We came in together as three DBs from Texas and we’re now leaving together.

“A lot is going through my head right now. It’s going to be crazy to think that it will be the last time I run out on to the field before a game; my last time playing in front of 80,000 at Camp Randall.

“It’s going to be a very emotional day -- and a very special day as well.’’

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