INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – Near the end of Lawrence Central’s 34-23 victory over Indianapolis Pike, Ohio State offensive guard commit Timothy Gardner could be seen on the Bears sideline jumping around enjoying the moment with his teammates.
Losing 30 pounds earned Gardner a scholarship from Ohio State.
Quite a different sight from Gardner’s first two varsity seasons, where one would have instead found him huffing and puffing somewhere on a bench.
“I just committed more to the game,” Gardner said.
Playing at 340 pounds as a sophomore and junior, the 6-foot-5 Gardner is now suiting up at 310.
“You see me jumping around hyping up my team,” Garder said. “Last year I couldn’t, I couldn’t.”
Even when Gardner was carrying a little more weight than his frame could handle, he was still a good athlete, still a good football player. He helped Lawrence Central advance to the state championship game as a sophomore in the largest division. Scholarship offers came in from Indiana, Louisville, Purdue and Toledo. However, it was a June 23rd camp at Ohio State where a deal was made with Urban Meyer that altered Gardner’s life.
“The thing was when I went to the first camp at Ohio State I was 335,” Gardner said. “Coach Meyer made a deal with me. He said if I want to come to Ohio State, I have to lose this weight and come back and kill Friday Night Lights. That’s what I did because I wanted it.”
Gardner knew he was going to do it. He knew before the coaches at Lawrence Central. He knew before his teammates. He knew before Meyer himself. He even declared it on his Twitter page that he was committed to Ohio State. With his destiny set, Gardner went out and accomplished his goal.
First thing was first, Gardner changed his diet. He found out he was able to eat more when eating better. Gone was the grease and fat, in was the healthy stuff.
Gardner back in the winter still at 340-plus. It's easy to notice the difference.
Next, Gardner started running laps on the track after football practice. For a month, he was logging a mile a day leading up to Ohio State’s July 27th Friday Night Lights camp.
“He just put in a lot of extra work,” Lawrence Central coach Jayson West said. “That was the first time he done that or pushed himself past his limit. When he did that, and not many kids do that these days, when a kid does that and sees results it’s really cool.”
The ultimate result came in when Meyer offered a scholarship and Gardner officially became part of the Buckeyes recruiting class the next day.
“It was something I can’t explain,” Gardner said. “It was a goal set for me and it’s something I wanted to prove to my family, and that was the school I wanted to go to. When I set that path I went through it and did it.”
Gardner continues to stay on top of his eating and conditioning and the results are showing on the field.
“He made a tackle last week against Perry Meridian where he ran 70 yards downfield on a fumble and tackled the play on the seven,” West said. “It’s probably the most amazing play I’ve seen a big boy like that have. That’s because of his conditioning and his buying into everything. He’s really evolving into one of the best players I’ve coached in high school.”
Gardner looks forward to getting back to Columbus as much as possible during the fall. He was able to attend the season opener against Miami (Ohio) where he felt at home.
“First the tradition and then Coach Urban Meyer,” Gardner said of what made Ohio State right for him. “He’s a great man, great coach, brings everything to the game, to the table, and doesn’t leave anything out.”
Gardner didn’t leave anything out in terms of earning that Ohio State opportunity.