December 30, 2009

Washington, Thomas prepare for playing time

LOS ANGELES - Ohio State wide receivers Taurian Washington and Lamaar Thomas have quite a bit in common, and most of those things seemingly centered around being underutilized and unhappy in Ohio State's offense this season.

And, of course, there was even the possibility that both were considering a transfer to another football program in order to find a way onto the field.

Looks like they will have at least one more game at Ohio State in which both are seemingly fitting big into what the Buckeyes will try and accomplish offensively.

After the suspension of both senior Ray Small for violating team rules and freshman Duron Carter for academic ineligibility, both Washington and Thomas will emerge out of the shadows of Ohio State's bench and figure into the Buckeyes' wide receiver rotation Jan. 1 against Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

"I am not happy our two receivers aren't here. We miss them dearly," Washington said Wednesday at Rose Bowl media day. "But, it kind of fell into a good situation for me and I am just taking it as it is right now. It feels great to be in the rotation and be the third receiver. I see this as a big opportunity as a chance to show people what I can do."

Thomas agreed with the sentiment that he would never want to see any of his teammates disciplined or hurt, but also is appreciative to have the opportunity to get out on the field and try and make some plays.

As of now, Thomas and Washington combine for eight career receptions at Ohio State.

"I am not excited about my reason for having a lot of playing time is because of two other players' mistakes, but I am happy that I may get the opportunity to play," Thomas said. "I am excited about that."

Washington and Thomas were two guys that figured to be a large part of Ohio State's offense heading into the season, but both have been left out of the plans for various reasons.

Thomas was expected to be a player that was the recipient of some chances with the football to make things happen with his speed, while Washington entered the season as the No. 3 receiver against Navy.

Naturally, the lack of playing time cause both players to second guess their role on the team and thoughts of transferring has been something that both have at least thought about. However, with the new opportunity those thoughts aren't anything that either player is thinking about right now.

"I am not really thinking about that right now. I haven't been thinking about it since bowl practice or anything like that," Thomas said. "I feel as a college athlete that everyone has times where they are upset with what is going on and they all think about things like that. I wouldn't necessarily say that I am thinking about transferring and thinking about leaving.

"Frustration makes you think about things and makes you want to do things different from plans," Thomas added. "Frustration builds up to a certain points and you're just upset and you start speaking out of frustration."

Added Washington: "I am really not sure (about transferring), to be honest. I am just focusing on this game right now. I am not even thinking about all that. I am just trying to focus on this game."

Washington has been a player that has put together some big spring practices, which led to big performances in the spring game. Coming into the year as the No. 3 receiver, though, Washington dropped two passes and was immediately dropped out of the rotation in favor of Carter.

"I started as the third receiver in the Navy game, and it is just a good experience right now," Washington said. "I was kind of surprised (on my demotion after the Navy game). I kind of knew what I did and the reason why I wasn't playing, but I continued to work hard in practice and stayed focused. It was the passes and they basically said I didn't play as hard as I should have and my energy level just wasn't up like it should have been."

Regardless of how the season went, both players are seemingly in a position heading into the game against the Ducks where they can make a big impact. Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel is looking forward to seeing how those two will play on New Year's Day.

"Taurian and Lamaar have been the ones getting most of the reps," coach Jim Tressel said soon after Ohio State landed in Los Angeles. "And they've felt all along they should be playing anyway, so we'll find out."

Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at Ari@BuckeyeGrove.com.


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