A football coach standing behind his quarterback during practice would seem to be on safe ground.

Mentor coach Steve Trivisonno knows that’s not the case when his two four-star, Ohio State-bound linemen go at it. Every day in practice, offensive tackle Ryan Jacoby competes against defensive end Noah Potter. It gets heated.

 

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“It’s fun to watch,” Trivisonno said. “You better get out of the way. Sometimes I’ll be standing behind the quarterback, and all of a sudden they’re pushing and shoving all the way into (me).”

Jacoby and Potter wouldn’t have it any other way.

“It’s hard because he’s a really good defensive end,” Jacoby said. “But it lets both of us get a lot better, because iron sharpens iron.”

Added Potter, “We don’t get into a lot of fights, but we get chippy sometimes. It’s just awesome to go against an Ohio State tackle every day in practice.”

Potter is the brother of Buckeyes basketball player Micah Potter. Noah said he preferred basketball as a kid, too, and was better at that sport. But when it became apparent early in high school that his potential was bigger in football, he devoted his focus to that.

Though Potter said his brother’s presence at Ohio State was a major reason for his decision to become a Buckeye, an even bigger one was having Larry Johnson as his position coach. He said Johnson took an interest in him at an OSU camp when he was a freshman, and they have been close ever since.

Potter described himself as a tenacious pass-rusher.

“I’ve got the best motor in the country, I think,” he said. “I’m always going to play every play my hardest. I think I’ve got really good technique from my coaches at Mentor and from coach J. I’m a better pass-rusher, and the thing I’m trying to do is be a better run-stopper. I think I’m showing that a lot better this year.”

One measure of Potter’s expectations for himself at Ohio State is that he intends to wear the No. 97 made famous by the Bosa brothers.

“I’ll be an honor to wear that number, for sure,” Potter said.

Tenacity also describes Jacoby.

“He plays the game the old-fashioned way,” Trivisonno said. “He plays hard on every play. He blocks to the whistle. He’s a consistent run- and pass-blocker. It’s not like one is better than the other.”

Jacoby and Potter are friends, but they mostly hang out in different social circles. They come from different sides of the community and attended different schools before high school.

Their personalities are different as well.

“Ryan is kind of that goofy, crazy, just kind of fun-loving kid,” Trivisonno said. “Noah can be a little bit more serious at times.”

Before Jacoby and Potter get to Columbus, they have unfinished business at Mentor. The Cardinals (8-1) lost in the Division I state final last year, and they believe they can win it all this year, especially if quarterback Ian Kipp can return from injury.

“If we can get our starting quarterback back in time for the playoffs,” Potter said, “I think we’re the best team in the state.”

Then it will be on to Ohio State, where their practice battles will continue as Buckeyes.

“They’re getting two really good football players and good kids who are going to do things the right way,” Trivisonno said.

brabinowitz@dispatch.com

@brdispatch