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First Person

James Laurinaitis, Ohio State Linebacker

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James Laurinaitis, Ohio State Linebacker
James Laurinaitis, Ohio State Linebacker
Jamie Sabau
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As told to Elizabeth Newman

On growing up the son of Joe, better known as WWE wrestler Road Warrior Animal

It was a thrill. Seeing guys like Hulk Hogan and The Rock on a regular basis was awesome. We'd have pay-per-view parties and watch Dad wrestle on TV with all my buddies cheering. We'd try to mimic what he did and act out matches. It was hard watching him sometimes, though. The matches are scripted, but the bruises are real. Once in a cage match he got hit over the head with a steel chair. He needed 10 stitches.

On talking wrestling with Buckeyes teammates

The main thing they want to know is if the moves really hurt. I tell them to go into a ring and fall on your back five times without the support of your hands, then tell me how you feel.

On what his name would 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 football doesn't work [I should] call him.

On being in the ring with Stone Cold Steve Austin

When I was in eighth grade my dad brought me and my friends to the ring before the show started, and we were running around faking like we were having a match and going crazy. Next thing you know Austin's music came on, and he charged down to the ring. Everyone got out but me. He grabbed me, and he knew I knew what I was doing a little, so he threw me off the ropes. As I ran from the ropes back toward him he yelled, "Duck!" and threw a clothesline. I ducked just in time. Then he gave me a Stone Cold Stunner [knee in groin, face lock, etc.]. I sold it and just lay there. My friends ran in and were like, "I can't believe you're not dead!" It was a great experience. People dream of getting the opportunity to do that.

On his mom, Julie

She used to be a bodybuilder. She was 120 pounds and could deadlift 315 pounds. She's hard core, no doubt.

On being a finalist for the Butkus Award this year, as a sophomore

It's a complete honor. My dad is all excited. But all the success I've had is thanks to our D-line and our coaching. I wish they could share in any awards.

On seeing his first extended NCAA action in the Michigan game last year

It was an adrenaline rush and a little scary. My teammates kept telling me to relax, that I would do fine. I kept thinking, Do your job and don't screw up!

On what the business major does when he's not playing football

Homework, homework and homework. I watch a lot of football, though. It could be a Thursday-night game between some MAC schools or a high school game here in Ohio. I'm always watching.

On sports as a kid in Minnesota

I played hockey. I was a right defenseman. Minnesota is the state of hockey, and if you played it you were cool. But I always had a passion for football, I loved that it was a team game where everyone pitched in.

On his dad's best advice

Have a short memory 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 STATE HOSTS NO. 2 MICHIGAN ON SATURDAY

Issue date: November 20, 2006

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