COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The enthusiasm before practice even started was infectious, bursting out of Kosta Karageorge two words at a time at the highest possible volume.
During practice, there was no rep that the walk-on defensive lineman would turn down, doing everything he could to maximize the look the starting offense would see up front while working on his own skills after years focusing solely on the wrestling mat.
And after the workout was over, when Karageorge wasn’t looking for extra coaching with the assistants, he would show off his appetite and rave about all the free food members of the football team get at the training table.
Those obviously weren’t the only hours where Karageorge made an impact around Ohio State. But his time around the Woody Hayes Athletic Center and the energy he brought to the practice field after joining the No. 6 Buckeyes in August after his wrestling career came to an end revealed plenty about his character.
His teammates left no doubt that he’ll be missed. Karageorge was tragically found dead in a dumpster Sunday from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.
“Right before we’d go out before practice, he’d just start yelling, ‘Yeah, baby!’” senior defensive tackle Michael Bennett said. “He’d be pumped up, and it would make everybody else excited for practice, even when you just thought, you know, ‘I could be doing something better.’
“He made every day enjoyable. I haven’t met a lot of people who go to football practice every single day and are just thankful for the grind. He loved the grind, he loved to work, he loved any extra thing we had to do. If we had to run an extra sprint, he was the guy who was like, ‘Man, I needed that extra sprint.’ If we had to do an extra rep, he’d be so excited to do it because he knew it would make him better, knew it would make him stronger.”
In turn, it helped sharpen up the Buckeyes as well, perhaps most notably a young offensive line that almost certainly benefited from the presence of a 6-foot-3, 273-pounder with heavyweight wrestling experience and a deep understanding of how to use his leverage.
Ohio State couldn’t take those reps for granted against a player who was widely praised for his work ethic, strength and willingness to do some thankless work on the practice field. It never ultimately allowed Karageorge to get on the field to play in a game this season for the Buckeyes. But in a small way, his contributions might still be showing up for a team in the College Football Playoff chase thanks to an offensive line that has overcome a slow start and developed into one of the best in the conference ahead of Saturday’s Big Ten championship game.
“He was a good player -- big, strong, had leverage from his wrestling background and knew how to control his body, control other people,” right guard Pat Elflein said. “He gave a great look [at nose guard], getting me ready to go against guys from different teams. The kid was a grinder.
“He was just so passionate about what he did for this team, for this university. It’s just amazing. What he put into everything, it was just kind of the model of what we want. Effort, toughness, being passionate and loyal, that’s who he was. That’s what everyone tries to be.”
Karageorge only needed three months to leave that impression on the Buckeyes, and it’s clear that it won’t be forgotten.
He may not be around to do battle in the trenches against the starting offensive line anymore. There might be a little more food left over at the training table. And somebody else may be needed to bark out "Yeah, baby" when Ohio State hits the field.
But the Buckeyes are rallying together as a family, and they will be no doubt be carrying on with their fallen brother in mind this week.
“We get closer, we lean on each other in hard times like this,” Elflein said. “We’re really going to come together, you know, and win this one for him.”