- Brad Bournival, RecruitingNation
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Time and Change is a series at BuckeyeNation where we chat with former Ohio State athletes.
Anthony Schlegel, 31, was undoubtedly a character during his time at Ohio State.
A linebacker with a motor that didn't stop, the transfer from the United States Air Force Academy played in every game in 2004 for Ohio State and started seven of them.
He recorded 84 tackles, 10½ of them for loss, and had 3½ sacks despite suffering a torn medial collateral ligament midway through the season. As a senior in 2005, his 82 tackles ranked second on the team for the nation's top-ranked rushing defense.
A third-round draft pick by the New York Jets in the 2006 NFL draft, Schlegel played at the highest level until 2008 – he also played with the Cincinnati Bengals – before ending his professional career as a member of the Florida Tuskers in the United Football League.
He is married with two sons and a daughter and lives in Worthington, Ohio. Schlegel is an assistant strength and conditioning coach for Ohio State's football team.
BuckeyeNation caught up with Schlegel and talked to him about the pull of the game, what it's like to be a coach and the new regime's relationship with the team's alumni.
BN: After a few years as a professional, you're back at Ohio State. Why the pull to come back to Columbus?
Schlegel: That's where I played. I've known the coaches for a long time. Guys that I played with are there. I love the community. If I wasn't living in Texas [where he went to high schoo], I'd want to be living in central Ohio.
BN: What lessons did Jim Tressel teach you that you use in your everyday life?
Schlegel: It's all about relationships. That's what made him so great. It's stuck with us all the time. It's all about good relationships with the kids on the team. It's to be a mentor and somebody they can talk to, but also it's also about getting in their face and being a coach. Those are the relationships they'll take with them forever. That's what it's all about. You want to give back to the kids.
BN: What's it like to see football from the other side at Ohio State?
Schlegel: It's a little weird because it's like, 'Man, this is how meetings were? I wonder what they said about me?' But it's good because you get to see the entire aspect of things.
As a player, you think coaches' reasoning make absolutely no sense to you, but now being a coach you understand the grand scheme of things. It's not always going to be the way a player thinks it's going to be, but there's a plan in everything they do. It's kind of interesting.
BN: Is there any drive to play football again?
Schlegel: Oh my goodness, yeah. There always will be. That's why I still train extremely hard. When all the NFL guys come back that played at Ohio State, I work out with them as if I was their strength coach. We have a blast doing it. It keeps you young and keeps you in shape. There's always going to be that edge. It's the nature of the beast. It's why we're able to play at a high level.
BN: What's the buzz like in Columbus with the new era about to kick off at Ohio State?
Schlegel: I think it's a good buzz. It's a lot of anticipation. I think everybody that has come in has done a great job of making everybody still feel like they're a Buckeye. It's an open-door policy for guys from the past. The program is transparent. The kids know what is going on. The coaches know what is going on. There's great communication.
Change is inevitable. The change that has occurred though has been a positive change. The last thing you want is change to happen and things not to go the way you want, but I think the guys have really responded. I think it's a buzz that we're ready to go. We're ready to see what we can put on the field. All this hard work, all this anticipation, it's about what's going to show up on the first Saturday. That's a good thing.
BN: What are your future plans?
Schlegel: The future first and foremost is to share the gospel in Central Ohio and doing things for the community and being a good father and husband. After that, it's being the best coach I can possibly be, whether that's in the weight room or out of the weight room. It's trying to do the best for our kids and knowing we have the best strength program in the country at Ohio State. That's what the future holds for me right now.