oel Hale hopes he hasn’t played his final football game, but is prepared nonetheless.
The Center Grove High School graduate enjoyed a five-year career as a player at Ohio State University — four as a defensive lineman and part of a season on the offensive line.
Having earned his degree in family resource management, the 6-foot-4, 300-pound Hale currently spends his time preparing his body in the event he’s selected in the NFL Draft.
“I’ve been focusing a lot on my eating. Just cleaning it up with no more junk food. I’ve added a lot more vegetables to my diet, so while I still weigh 300, it’s a different 300,” Hale said. “I’m trying to make the transition back to offensive line, and feel I’m getting better every day.
“I wanted to switch back because I could see such a future.”
Hale played nose tackle for the Buckeyes from 2011 to 2013. As a junior he played in all 14 games, starting several. He volunteered to play on the offensive line the following season to help a less-experienced group as a senior but sustained a season-ending injury.
Granted a fifth year of eligibility due to a medical redshirt, Hale returned to the defense last season and finished with a career-high 12 tackles.
Being a Buckeye in the coach Urban Meyer era contains its share of plusses and minuses.
On Tuesday, the NFL announced five Ohio State players would be among the 25 college standouts invited to this year’s draft in Chicago.
This ties the five University of Alabama players invited to attend the 2012 NFL Draft.
Three Ohio State players — defensive end Joey Bosa, tailback Ezekiel Elliott and cornerback Eli Apple — likely will be among the first 13 players taken, according to the walter football.com website.
Such a surplus of talent on one college football roster often overshadows one or more teammates possibly worthy of an NFL franchise’s attention.
The flipside to this being that the 125 total NFL representatives attending Ohio State’s Pro Day in March were able to watch Hale work out inside the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.
In combination with an improved diet, Hale attends at least one yoga or pilates class weekly. This has helped his flexibility and strengthened his core.
In the Ohio State weightroom, it’s all about lower weights and higher reps.
Hale has hired Joe Flanagan of BTI Sports Advisors as his agent. Flanagan also represents, among others, New York Jets center and former Buckeye Nick Mangold.
“I was draftable out of my junior year. When I redshirted my senior year I kind of fell off,” Hale said. “I’m just hoping for the best.”
JOEL HALE STATISTICS
Joel Hale’s defensive numbers at Ohio State University: