Pleasants enjoying senior season with Ohio
ATHENS — In five years at Ohio University, Austen Pleasants has done yeoman-like work for the Bobcats football team.
And before the season began, he was rewarded with a pleasant surprise by being named one of the team’s five captains.
“I was excited, happy, kind of overwhelmed a little bit by the fact that all my teammates thought that I was one of the guys on the team that they wanted to lead them. I was proud, too,” said Pleasants.
But the 6-foot-7, 312-pound red-shirt senior offensive tackle didn’t dwell on the honor for very long. There was an important season — his senior season — to prepare for in earnest.
A lot of predictions have Ohio as one of the favorites to win the Mid-America
“We’ve got a lot of young talent, but we’re not really as young as people think. We have a lot of guys who have had a lot of experience, not necessarily as starters but they’ve had a lot of snaps, especially on the O-line. They’ve had a lot of reps even though they might not have started,” said Pleasants who was a two-time All-Ohio lineman for the Coal Grove Hornets.
“We’ve had a lot of young guys step up and help us out on offense. We’ve just going to keep getting better and better each week. I think we have a really tough offense and I think we’re going to be gashing some people.”
One of the teams Pleasants and his Ohio teammates would like to gash is the rival Marshall Thundering Herd. The two teams meet at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday in the “Battle for the Bell” at Joan Edwards Stadium in Huntington, W.Va.
Being from Coal Grove, there is a contingency of fans who plan to attend Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. game at Marshall and Pleasants said to forget about the gashing and just settle for a win against a Marshall team that is one of the favorites to win the Conference USA title.
“I’m excited to come and play in the Tri-State and be close to home. There’s going to be a lot of people at the game, so it’s going to be a good time,” said Pleasants.
“For me growing up so close to Marshall and being so involved in this area with both teams, for me it’s a huge rivalry. That’s kind of how I’m looking at it,” said Pleasants.
“Knowing the history behind the game is huge. I’ve had a couple of people hit me up on facebook and stuff, Marshall fans or whatever, but it’s all in good fun. They’re friends. They’re saying ‘don’t hurt my team too bad’ and stuff like that and wishing me good luck. I’m really excited to be a part of this game.”
The Bobcats are coming off a 21-10 loss at Pittsburgh last week. Pleasants was disappointed in the loss but said Ohio’s schedule over recent years have helped prepare the team and make it better.
“Our schedule last year was super tough. We had our bye week in week two and then we went to Cincinnati and had a tough loss and a tough game. Even in the MAC conference there’s a lot of good talent,” said Pleasants.
“It’s helped me a lot to be to start each week and get into kind of a rhythm and the timing of the game. There’s a lot of good competition at Pitt — a power five school — and in the MAC we had a lot of good D-tackles and D-ends.”
Pleasants hasn’t really looked beyond this season. He said his focus is on the team winning and getting a good bowl game. But, he knows there is a chance that he could get an opportunity at the next level.
“I’ve had a few agents text me and give me their information and saying they’ll get in touch with me. But as far as that goes, I’m focused on beating Marshall this week. I’m trying to take them one game at a time. The rest will come with that,” said Pleasants.
A two-time captain for the Coal Grove Hornets, Pleasants joins a group of five players as captains for the Bobcats.
During his Ohio career, Pleasants has played in 28 games including 20 as a starter. Last season he started all 13 games including a 27-0 win over San Diego State in the DXL Frisco Bowl.
“The Frisco Bowl was my favorite. The week leading up to it was my best experience of all of them. And then the game we just dominated San Diego State. It was a pretty physical game and a lot of fun,” said Pleasants.
Pleasants played in 11 games and started the final seven at right tackle in 2017. His first career start came in a 48-30 win over Bowling Green on Oct. 14. He started in a 41-6 rout of Alabaman-Birmingham in the 2017 Bahamas Bowl.
As a freshman in 2016, Pleasants made his collegiate debut in a 37-21 win over Gardner-Webb on Sept. 24.
“This is the best time of my life. There’s no other place like (Ohio University) in the world or any other place I’ve experienced,” said Pleasants. “The camaraderie with the guys and then the fans and the town and the surrounding area, they’re just so bought in. They’re supporting us. We’ve got all kinds of good people around us.
“Coach (Frank) Solich has brought in a great staff and transitioned high school super easy. Our support staff all help us out. And just the family atmosphere is unlike anything else I’ve experienced. Even the people who don’t have anything to do with football on the campus. Everybody just wants to help everybody out and have the best time possible in the four to five years we’re here.”
Pleasants was a four-year letterman for the Hornets and was a key player in three Ohio Valley Conference championships and the 2012 postseason playoff appearance.
He was a three-time first team All-OVC selection and was a Southeast Ohio All-District first team selection as a junior and senior, earning All-Ohio honors each season.
In 2014, he had 15 solo tackles, 25 assists, five tackles for a loss, five sacks and one fumble recovery.
He also lettered four times in both track and basketball.
Pleasants is a member of the National Honor Society and is majoring in physical activity and sport coaching.