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Zeitgeist: Ryan Johansen to play running back for Ohio State Saturday against Cincinnati

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Without an NHL contract, the free agent forward will try the gridiron as an NCAA student-athlete.

Eleven warriors, brave and bold (and one waiting to be paid)
Eleven warriors, brave and bold (and one waiting to be paid)

Unsigned Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johansen has found a new way to bide his time before agreeing to terms on a contract extension. And this one is a lot closer than Russia.

Johansen will suit up at running back for One Of The Ohio State(s) this Saturday in the Buckeyes' game against Cincinnati, head coach Urban Meyer announced today. This particular Ohio State, ranked No. 22 in the nation, is seventh in the Big 10 in rushing with 195 yards per game and can use Johansen's size and quickness immediately.

"Ryan is an exceptional athlete," Meyer said. "Our ground game isn't where we want it to be and we think this young man can really help us in that area. The Blue Jackets might not want him, but we sure as hell do."

Meyer said sets have already been designed with Johansen in mind, including option and gadget plays that will take advantage of his 6-foot-3 frame and smooth stride.

"Skipping class, flirting, drinking heavily, pranking nerds and eating burgers at 'The Dube'. He's definitely one of them." - Agent Kurt Overhardt on unsigned Blue Jackets forward Ryan Johanson, who will play for Ohio State this weekend.

"He can skate, so I'm assuming he can run," Meyer said. "We're gonna put a helmet and some pads on him and hope he can score the football for us."

A 22-year-old native of Vancouver, Johansen is eligible to join any Ohio State thanks to an obscure NCAA rule that allows professional athletes without active contracts to play for schools at which they have enrolled, even part-time. Johansen had signed up for a handful of courses at the school since his arrival in Columbus in 2011, including Cooking, Intro to Sports Law and Nude Figure Sculpting, which is the only class he attended according to school records.

He has also been known to arrive unannounced at fraternity and sorority parties around campus, making him an official unofficial student.

"Ryan is a true Buckeye, even though he's only been to a couple of classes,"  said Kurt Overhardt, Johansen's agent. "He really feels like a part of the community there, doing all the stuff the kids love to do - skipping class, flirting, drinking heavily, pranking nerds and eating burgers at 'The Dube.' He's definitely one of them."

Johansen, a restricted free agent, is at a contract impasse with Columbus that has recently boiled over. He and Overhardt are now seeking a two year "bridge" contract worth $9 million, or $4.7 million a year. The Blue Jackets have countered with offers of $3 million a year for two years or over $5 million for six or eight years, but Johansen's camp is balking.

Rumors are swirling that Johansen could sign with a team in Russia's Kontinental Hockey League any day now and play there until Columbus meets his demands. In the meantime, this particular Ohio State is willing to reward Johansen handsomely, so long as the "payment" remains in the spirit of amateurism.

"Certainly, an NCAA program cannot under any circumstances compensate a player in monetary gains," Overhardt said. "That would be against the rules. But The Ohio State University is not just any NCAA program. The Buckeyes have made a very competitive offer to Ryan that includes only an education and an enriching personal experience.

"But if you see Ryan on a Caribbean vacation, driving a Maserati and sporting new tattoos, remember - he paid for them by himself."

Johansen could not be reached for comment, but Overhardt said his client is looking forward to playing for An Ohio State and being recognized by the people of Columbus for the first time.

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THIS IS FAKE. IT IS NOT REAL. The NCAA is the most crooked organization since the mafia, but even they're not this crooked.