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Buchanan bonus buy for Buckeyes

COLUMBUS — Ben Buchanan is looking like the best value on the Ohio State football team.

He only takes up one scholarship, yet may end up holding down two jobs.

“I enjoy being on the field,” said the third-year sophomore from suburban Columbus. “The more I can be on the field the more I can contribute to the team. I’m willing to do both if I’m allowed to, but if they want me to specialize in just one I’m willing to do that too.”

Buchanan has had a strong spring and is almost a lock to take over for the graduated Jon Thoma as punter for the Buckeyes, who are about two-thirds of the way through their 15 spring workouts.

He’s also in the thick of the battle for the place-kicking job with Devin Barclay. It was Barclay who stepped in a year ago when Aaron Pettrey sustained a knee injury late in the season. All Barclay did was kick the game-winner in overtime against Iowa to clinch the Big Ten title, then boot three more field goals to provide the winning margin in a 26-17 win over Oregon in the Rose Bowl.

Barclay, who finished last year 7 of 10 on field goals and also handled the kickoffs, is the latest in a long line of elder-statesman kickers for the Buckeyes. A former pro soccer player, he turned 27 last week.

But in the team kick scrimmage on Saturday in Ohio Stadium, he hit just 8 of 15 field-goal attempts.

“It was just a bad day,” the senior from Annapolis, Md., said. “Sometimes you go out there and hit some great balls and other times you have a rough day. Today was not one of my best days.”

It was Buchanan who converted the winning kick in the scrimmage, a 39-yarder that gave the Gray a 27-24 victory.

“It’s awesome. That’s something you dream about as a kid,” he said. “I’ve been coming to games here (at Ohio Stadium) since I was 5 years old and looking up at that stadium.”

Buchanan’s ability to do more than one job is a big benefit.

“Last year in camp I started on both field goals and punts and then I moved to (just) punts after camp, working with Jon,” he said. “Then I started kicking again, so I’ve just been going back and forth. They think I’m versatile, so I’m excited for this year because I definitely think I can contribute.”