Offensive linemen that are buried on the depth chart often see most of their playing time in either “garbage time,” or on special teams, guarding the kickers and punters. This is certainly the case for Eric Kramer, the third year player out of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati. Kramer enrolled at Ohio State in 2010, but did not join the football team that year, instead waiting until 2011.
In 2011, he redshirted and did not play in any games save for the game against in state opponent Akron, where his would-be Head Coach, Jim Tressel, has taken up an administration position. The 6’4”, 295 economics major then saw the field in all 12 games in 2012 on special teams and earned his first Varsity O letter.
Given the lack of depth on the offensive line going into 2013, there is a chance that Kramer will see some trench action (he is currently projected as the backup left guard behind Senior Andrew Norwell and ahead of incoming Freshman Timothy Gardner), but look for him to contribute the most where he excelled last season, on the special teams line, protecting the likes of Drew Basil and Cameron Johnston. That impact should not be diminished in any way. Special teams are crucial to the outcome of a game and none more so than protecting the kicker and preventing a blocked kick such as the one that happened in 2012 against Penn State.
Blocked kicks are almost always a product of a breakdown in blocking scheme by the line, and Ohio State had three in 2012, the most in a season since 2000. Only in 1950 did the Buckeyes have more punts blocked in a season, something that Head Coach Urban Meyer and Special Teams Coordinator Kerry Coombs will have to work on, especially with a brand spanking new punter from down under. Kramer, assuming that he pulls down the same role as in 2012, will have a lot to do with that protection scheme.
Also, he’s got a beard that, if done correctly, might just rival another Ohio State lineman’s chin fury. Anytime you can emulate Nick Mangold, you just might be doing something right.