This is going to come as a shock to some fans, but Ohio State and Michigan football players can get along, respect each other and be friends. Good friends.
Ohio State center Pat Elflein and Michigan tight end Jake Butt, both Pickerington North High School graduates, have been friends since junior high school.
Both talked about it at Big Ten football media days last week in Chicago.
“Jake is my buddy up there. We joke around about it,” Elflein said.
“It’s kind of cool coming from the same town in central Ohio and splitting off like that and having this big rivalry. We know a lot of the same people. Obviously it’s the biggest rivalry in all of college football but when we get together we’re friends and buddies,” he said.
Butt said, “Pat is one of my best friends. We went to the same junior high and high school. We played football together. We were both captains. We talk to each other all the time. He’s somebody I respect. Every time I go back home I try to see him.
“Even as a Wolverine you have to respect a guy like that. He has taken the hard way. He was considered undersized by some people and here he is an All-American, highly rated and an NFL draft prospect next year,” he said.
Elflein said he has met several of Michigan’s players through Butt.
And the verdict on those guys?
“Whenever he comes back into town we hang out. He will bring some teammates down. I’ve met them and they’ve met some of my teammates. Off the field, they’re good guys too. On the field it’s obviously go time but off the field they’re good guys,” he said.
A few other notes from Big Ten media days:
MCMILLAN TALKS BIG HIT: Video of Ohio State linebacker Raekwon McMillan was all over the internet when a female fan put a huge hit on him during OSU’s women’s football clinic in June.
“She killed me out there,” McMillan said with a smile in Chicago. “I talked to her afterward and asked her what she had against me.”
RECRUITING TALK: Ohio State’s 2017 recruiting class is currently ranked No. 1 nationally and every player who has committed to the Buckeyes is a 5-star or 4-star player except a kicker and they never get more than three stars.
Also, 4-star quarterback Emory Jones and 4-star running back Brian Snead have committed to OSU for the 2018 class.
So, with all those talented players saying they want to come to Ohio State, will the Buckeyes’ coaches have to stop recruiting some elite players in the future because there will not be room for them?
They already have, OSU coach Urban Meyer said.
“We already have had to back away from – I don’t know if they are 4-or-5-stars – but there are guys that we’ve started to back away from, and that’s awful. Especially if they’re a great kid. But that’s the way it is numbers-wise,” he said
Meyer also said having 12 players, including nine underclassmen, selected in the NFL draft has played a role in so many highly rated recruits committing early to OSU.
“We’re hitting it really good right now,” he said. “I always talk about theory versus testimony. Players want to go to the NFL. We’ve always done well (in the draft), but last year is off the charts. It’s been very instrumental.”
NO RESPECT AGAIN: Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio was asked what he thought about his team not receiving any votes to be Big Ten champion in a poll of writers who cover the league even though MSU has won the championship two of the last three years.
“I didn’t vote for any of those reporters either,” he said.
HARBAUGH AND IOWA: Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh says his memories of Iowa, where his dad Jack was an assistant coach in the early 1970s, are all good except for two things.
The first is the 1985 Michigan team he quarterbacked losing to Iowa when it was No. 1 and Michigan was No. 2. The other involves the U.S. Postal Service.
“I broke my leg in Iowa City, the first day we moved to Iowa City,” Harbaugh said. “I was seven years old chasing my brother across the street after the first day of school and didn’t look both ways, and I got hit by a mail truck.”
Contact Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or follow him on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau