Hear The Drummer Get Wicked
June 19, 2004
Doss Puts Perspective On Ohio All-Star Classic
BuckeyeSports.com Senior Writer
A year and a half ago Michael Doss was hoisting the national championship trophy and was nearing another ultimate goal -- playing in the National Football League. He, of course, has reached that dream, turning in a stellar rookie year as a starting safety for the Indianapolis Colts.
Friday night, however, Doss was able to look back five years as he spoke to a gathering at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.
"This is something I remember definitely and it's something that was pretty special," Doss said at the Ohio High School All-Star Football and Scholarship Awards Banquet that precedes Saturday night's Ohio All-Star Classic in Columbus Crew Stadium.
Doss played -- and played well -- in the game in 1999 and is yet another success story for the event, whose organizers claim is one of the premier grid all-star games in the country since its inception in 1946.
Weeks ago Doss got a phone call from a former Ohio State teammate, Chris Conwell of the Greater Columbus Sports Commission, and was asked if he would speak at the banquet.
"I told him tell me when it is and where and I'll be there," he said.
Speaking to a filled ballroom that included players, scholarship winners, coaches and their families, Doss was at ease and sentimental about his magical week five years ago. Dressed casually and speaking without any notes, he offered advice that resonated with the all-stars, 10 of whom are Buckeyes-to-be.
Doss' theme in preparing participants for the game and the college experience to follow was simple: enjoy it but do the right things.
"Number one, always keep God first," said the devout Doss. "Number two, listen to your parents. I know when you're 18 you don't want to listen to anybody, but they know what's best for you. Number three, listen to your coaches and the older guys on campus.
"Now is the time when you have to earn your stripes. You'll be carrying the seniors' helmets and singing songs, but it'll be fun. You just have to do the work. You have to go to class. Your parents aren't going to be there to push you out of bed."
Doss also remembered playing in the North-South game with Lee Evans of Bedford and the two of them making a pact to one day hook up again in the NFL.
"I was so happy when he got drafted because that's a dream we both had," said Doss, a product of Canton McKinley. "I'm sure you guys have that same kind of dream and for some of you it will come true. For me, it's been a fun ride. I've been blessed."
Doss, however, said he is just getting started.
"My goal is to win a couple rings, not just one but a couple, and to play for 15 years," he said. "Then, hopefully, I'll go back to Canton, Ohio, and be inducted into the Hall of Fame."
That passage proved inspiring to Erik Haw of Columbus Independence, who is expected to have a shot to see the field for Ohio State as a frosh this fall.
"It was moving," Haw said. "He spoke from the heart and it seemed like he was just speaking off the top of his head. I was just feeling the same way. In four years my dream could be true, too -- to go to the NFL and possibly win a national championship. It's just an honor. It woke me up to hear him say he did that.
"It's special to me that I'm in this game and I possibly could be in the NFL. That's always been a big dream for me."
But Haw promised to play in the North-South game with his feet back on the ground.
"This is a steppingstone. You've just got to go to work," he said. "There's no fun and games on the field. That's how you get hurt. It's going to be, I don't want to say war, but it's going to be a tough battle."
The Ohio All-Star Classic prides itself on being a weeklong experience for the coaches and players. After arriving in town Sunday night the group practiced and went to city hall on Monday, practiced and went to Children's Hospital on Tuesday, took in the movie "Troy" on Wednesday, practiced and a had a raucous swim party on Thursday, and conducted a walkthrough at Crew Stadium and held the banquet on Friday.
"I've made some of the best friendships I'll have the rest of my life," said OSU signee Chad Hoobler of Carrollton. "It's been a lot of fun."
"It's been a great week," added fellow OSU signee Brandon Underwood of Hamilton. "I've really enjoyed all of it and you can say it's building to a real competitive game Saturday."
Underwood suffered an injured shoulder in an all-star game in Cincinnati last week but said he's fine to play in the Ohio All-Star Classic. He's one of seven Buckeyes on the South, joining Haw, Hoobler, Sirjo Welch, Jonathan Skeete, Ben Person and Alex Barrow. The North features three Buckeyes in waiting -- Shaun Lane, Brandon Smith and Curtis Terry.
Ohio State prize recruit Tedd Ginn Jr. of Cleveland Glenville also was invited but currently is in Colorado Springs, Colo., at the United States Olympic training site. Ginn hopes to qualify in the 100 meters for Team USA.
Terry accepted the Art Teynor Award on Ginn's behalf. The award recognizes the top player in Ohio.
Organizers announced at the banquet that the Classic, which is sponsored by Grange Insurance, awarded 117 academic scholarships totaling more than $168,000.