Local Buckeyes visit Eastwood

NILES – Before George Makridis walked into the Everything Buckeyes store at Eastwood Mall on Saturday evening for a signing event with several other former Ohio State football players, the Warren G. Harding graduate expected just one person to come for his autograph – a friend who contacted him on Facebook in advance.

Therefore, when the long snapper, who graduated from Ohio State with a Bachelor’s degree in political science in December 2013, saw the line waiting for him, Carlos Hyde, Kenny Guiton and Corey Linsley, Makridis assumed many of those people didn’t know who he was, but he wasn’t going to let that keep him from enjoying the event.

“I’m here with Carlos (Hyde), Kenny (Guiton) and Corey (Linsley) – they’re all starters,” Makridis said. “Well, Kenny’s just a big name, but these guys are starters for two, three years and I’m a long snapper. Who here is really going to know who I am? But it is really cool.”

Makridis wasn’t the only local OSU player to believe he wasn’t the main attraction. Linsley, a Boardman native, said he felt the same way. The 6-foot-3, 296-pound center was a two-year starter for the Buckeyes and earned first-team All-Big Ten Conference honors in his last season as a Buckeye.

Still, Linsley said he had no qualms about joining the event.

“It always great coming back to this area because Youngstown has a lot of great people,” Linsley said. “I love coming home for that reason – just to be around my high school friends and be around the people I grew up with.”

Although the two locals out of the four ex-Buckeyes seemed to be overshadowed, the quarterback Guiton heaped praise on the two of them, especially the one who protected him whenever he stepped under center.

“That whole o-line, they moved together as one,” Guiton said. “To be a guy standing behind those guys and know that they know their job, it makes it a lot easier for me as a quarterback. That trust and communication between me and Corey was always there from Day 1 when we stepped on campus, and I think it showed when we hit the field with the cohesiveness our offense played with.”

Guiton had a few of his admirers waiting as well, despite being the backup quarterback for much of his career. Mathews junior Cobie Pratt was waiting outside the store for the Houston, Texas native, looking for his autograph to add to the one he got from starting quarterback Braxton Miller last year.

Being a quarterback for the Mustangs, Pratt said he admires Guiton.

“He’s kind of a cool role model,” Pratt said. “I’ve always liked him. I thought he was better than Braxton (Miller). (Guiton’s) one of my favorite guys on the team.”

While Guiton admitted his goal when he first joined OSU was to be the starter, he pointed to the times he stepped in for Miller and was successful as the reason why he became a fan favorite with people like Pratt. The 6-3 quarterback threw for 14 touchdown passes and 749 yards in seven games during his senior season in which he started in two.

“Everyone comes in with a plan, and when that plan doesn’t work out, you still have to keep your head up,” Guiton said. “I played some pretty good football when I got a chance to, and I think the fans really appreciated that out of me. I was able to be a leader and maybe not have the playing time other leaders had.”

Although many came for Guiton, the main attraction was Hyde, the first-team All-Big Ten honoree who totaled 1,521 yards on 208 carries and scored 15 touchdowns in his senior season. Hyde said he’s hoping his success at the collegiate level leads to a high draft pick, and as of right now, CBSsports.com Line ranks him as the second-best running back in this year’s class and project him as a second-round pick.

“It would be real special if I get drafted on the first night,” Hyde said. “If not the first night, then the next day also. I’m hoping for the first day, though – we’ll see.”