Rush is on for OSU tickets

Michael Dougherty

While the Ohio State Buckeyes are celebrating homecoming this weekend with their game against the Gophers, many of the friends and family of three Minnesota players will be welcoming their heroes home.
Sophomore defensive end Curtese Poole, senior free safety Keith Dimmy and junior running back Thomas Hamner are all returning to the state where they grew up.
Dimmy and Poole actually grew up in Columbus, and Hamner was raised in nearby Hamilton. All three said Saturday’s game will be a little extra special.
As if going up against the No. 1 team in the nation wasn’t enough, Minnesota will be playing the Buckeyes on their homecoming, as well as the 30th anniversary of their 1968 national championship.
Gophers coach Glen Mason was a freshman linebacker on the 1968 team, and played under legendary Ohio State coach Woody Hayes.
But while Mason has spent the beginning of the week preparing his team for its toughest test of the year, players like Dimmy, Poole and Hamner are scrounging for tickets for their friends and family.
“I’m telling you we got more people who need tickets than any other game,” Hamner said. “The coaches are even asking me for tickets, but I’m doing all right. I think I’ve got 36 right now, even though I probably need 50.”
Poole, who was recruited by the Buckeyes and intended to sign with them until they withdrew their offer, said he needs to round up six or seven more tickets.
Poole said every football player who grows up in Ohio wants to play for the Buckeyes.
“Ohio State is like a dream for everybody in Ohio,” Poole said. “Even guys at the smaller schools like Bowling Green and Ohio University want to go there because it’s a dream come true.
“My mother, my principal and my coaches all wanted me to go to Ohio State. I think I could have played at Ohio State for sure, but I guess they had their eyes someplace else.”
Hamner said he was an exception to Poole’s rule, because his father was a big fan of Alabama and wanted his son to go there.
Hamner ended up at Minnesota, however, and the Gophers leading rusher said he can’t wait for the game.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “That’s why we came to Minnesota and the Big Ten conference. We have nothing to lose and everything to gain. The atmosphere is going to be great.”
Hamner said Dimmy only has 12 tickets and has been asking him for more. He also said he was proud of the fact he beat those other guys out of the gate in pursuit of tickets.
Gophers strong safety Tryone Carter said he expects to see a big game from Dimmy, who is gaining a reputation as a big hitter — especially after knocking Penn State receiver Joe Nastasi out of last week’s game when he delivered a big hit that broke Nastasi’s wrist.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that with Keith going back to his hometown, he wants to show Ohio State that he’s a top safety,” Carter said. “We know that he’s going to give everything he’s got pound-for-pound.”
Poole, who was a quarterback in high school, said he’s looking forward to playing against some of the guys he played with in high school, who are now playing for the Buckeyes. He also said the spurning by Ohio State will add extra incentive to the game.
“I think about that a lot, but I also think about all of the trouble I might have gotten into if I’d have stayed at home,” Poole said. “Coming to Minnesota has helped me grow up a little bit I guess.”
With all of the pressure of playing the No. 1 team in the nation and playing in front of all of those friends and family, Poole was asked if his nerves will be rattled on Saturday.
“Ever since I got to Minnesota and I found out when we were going to play against Ohio State I’ve been waiting for this game,” he said. “Right now I’ve got a lot of adrenaline pumping, but I’m sure that when Saturday comes there will be a lot of butterflies.”