On growing up theson of Joe, better known as WWE wrestler Road Warrior Animal (below, right)
It was a thrill.Seeing guys like Hulk Hogan and The Rock on a regular basis was awesome. We'dhave pay-per-view parties and watch Dad wrestle on TV with all my buddiescheering. We'd try to mimic what he did and act out matches. It was hardwatching him sometimes, though. The matches are scripted, but the bruises arereal. Once in a cage match he got hit over the head with a steel chair. Heneeded 10 stitches.
On talkingwrestling with Buckeyes teammates
The main thingthey want to know is if the moves really hurt. I tell them to go into a ringand fall on your back five times without the support of your hands, then tellme how you feel.
On what his namewould be if he were a WWE wrestler
I don't know.That's up to the boss, Vince McMahon. Vince has told my dad that if footballdoesn't work [I should] call him.
On being in thering with Stone Cold Steve Austin
When I was ineighth grade my dad brought me and my friends to the ring before the showstarted, and we were running around faking like we were having a match andgoing crazy. Next thing you know Austin's music came on, and he charged down tothe ring. Everyone got out but me. He grabbed me, and he knew I knew what I wasdoing a little, so he threw me off the ropes. As I ran from the ropes backtoward him he yelled, "Duck!" and threw a clothesline. I ducked just intime. Then he gave me a Stone Cold Stunner [knee in groin, face lock, etc.]. Isold it and just lay there. My friends ran in and were like, "I can'tbelieve you're not dead!" It was a great experience. People dream ofgetting the opportunity to do that.
On his mom,Julie
She used to be abodybuilder. She was 120 pounds and could deadlift 315 pounds. She's hard core,no doubt.
On being afinalist for the Butkus Award this year, as a sophomore
It's a completehonor. My dad is all excited. But all the success I've had is thanks to ourD-line and our coaching. I wish they could share in any awards.
On seeing hisfirst extended NCAA action in the Michigan game last year
It was anadrenaline rush and a little scary. My teammates kept telling me to relax, thatI would do fine. I kept thinking, Do your job and don't screw up!
On what thebusiness major does when he's not playing football
Homework,homework and homework. I watch a lot of football, though. It could be aThursday-night game between some MAC schools or a high school game here inOhio. I'm always watching.
On sports as akid in Minnesota
I played hockey.I was a right defenseman. Minnesota is the state of hockey, and if you playedit you were cool. But I always had a passion for football, I loved that it wasa team game where everyone pitched in.
On his dad's bestadvice
Have a shortmemory on the field. No matter what happens don't dwell on the last play.
THE 6'3",244-POUND LAURINAITIS, 19, HAS 91 TACKLES AND FIVE PICKS. NO. 1 OHIO STATEHOSTS NO. 2 MICHIGAN ON SATURDAY
THOMAS E. WITTE
Photograph by Jamie Sabau