Aug. 13, 2014
By Christian Hoppens
OhioBobcats.com - Staff Writer
The month of August marks the ongoing period of "watch list season" and one member of Ohio's defense has become a hot commodity among the preseason prognosticators.
Sophomore Tarell Basham was named to the Ted Hendricks Award watch list last week with 31 other players across the nation.
The award honors the most outstanding defensive end in the country, and with a team-high 7.5 sacks to pair with 9.5 tackles for loss in the 2013 campaign, Basham's resume fits what the watch list is looking for.
On top of that, Basham was named to the All Mid-American Conference first teams in multiple publications.
But all the preseason honors and accolades don't matter to the Rocky Mount, Va. native. He does his best to block out all of the hype.
"Every guy has to come out here and play football," Basham said. "I've got a lot of guys out here on the team that I rely on and a lot of guys who rely on me. All those lists and stuff that come out in the preseason, I didn't even know anything about being on another list."
His focus is something that is no surprise to coach Frank Solich, who thinks Basham is more than prepared to deal with increased expectations.
"He just wants to keep getting better," Solich said. "He obviously has tremendous talent to really be the kind of player to where he can keep progressing year after year."
And while Basham does his best to ignore the watch lists and the preseason notoriety, defensive line coach Jesse Williams welcomes them as it breeds a friendly competition among the players in his unit.
He cautioned that those lists don't guarantee anything once he steps onto the field.
"I think the great thing about it is the competition in the room," Williams said. "Because all those watch lists won't get him a starting position. We've really got five capable ends that deserve a spot, so each guy is going to have to work it."
One of Basham's compatriots on the front four, senior defensive tackle Antwan Crutcher, admires the way his teammate consistently leaves every bit of energy on the field.
Crutcher said the sophomore's constant effort is what put him in a national spotlight.
"He works," Crutcher said. "He works until he's gassed and even when he's gassed, he tries. And that sets him apart and that's what makes him who he is. That's what helps him with his athleticism and his ability to rush the passer."
Redshirt sophomore offensive tackle Troy Watson, who often lines up against Basham in practice, compared him to a Major League pitcher in that he constant throws different looks at offensive lineman.
"He doesn't just throw a fastball all the time," Watson said. "He'll throw a curveball, changeup or slider. He'll come inside, go outside. It's tough to react to that. It's his strong point is being unpredictable, catching everybody off guard."