Lost amid all the Eric Page hype at UT these days is another local product making an impact in his freshman season with the Rockets. Perrysburg grad T.J. Fatinikun has done a superb job of spelling junior starter Douglas Westbrook at defensive end. Fatinikun has four tackles in four games, including two stops for a loss in his collegiate debut against Purdue. He also picked up his first career sack in the second quarter against Ball State on Saturday.
UT coach Tim Beckman brought up an interesting tidbit in his weekly news conference on Monday. Several times this season, including the Ball State contest, he looked out and saw the Rockets playing with four freshmen on the right half of their defensive set-up. Fatinikun was one of those freshmen, along with linebacker Danny Molls, cornerback Daxton Swanson, and free safety Jermaine Robinson. Normally, that much inexperience on the field at one time would send any coach into a conniption. As Beckman rightfully points out, Fatinikun was playing for Perrysburg at this time last year against Northern Lakes League opponents. Now he's going against Ohio State, Colorado, and Purdue.
But Fatinikun, along with his other UT classmates, has grown up quickly. And as Beckman has shown through five games this season, he's going to play whom he feels are his best players, no matter their age or experience level.