Jon Skinner sat in a corner of the Mount Carmel Area football office with a smile on his face.
Because while his high school coach was looking for a chair to sit in because Skinner had taken his, the offensive lineman was on the phone with his new coach — Jim Tressel.
Skinner, a 6-foot-5, 285-pound offensive linemen, became an Ohio State Buckeye officially Wednesday on national signing day.
The signing ceremony at the Mount Carmel Area High School library was not a one-man show.
Skinner’s teammate, Rick Greco, also put his name on the dotted line as he decided to spend the next four years at Cornell University.
As for Skinner, the Mount Carmel Area senior had verbally committed to Ohio State in the summer, and with his coach and parents looking on made it official.
So did the call to Tressel.
“It is a great feeling that it is all over,” said Skinner. “I am ready to go to Columbus. High school is winding down and I am ready to start college.”
Skinner started his freshman year for the Red Tornadoes and continued to improve as one of the top lineman ever to put on the red and white.
In his four years, Skinner won two state championships while anchoring an offensive line that blocked for running back Jon Veach and protected quarterback Dave Shinskie. Skinner was also a two-time All News-Item selection on the offensive line.
“Jon just got better and better since his freshman year,” said Mount Carmel Area high school football coach Mike Brennan. “Jon brings more to the table than just his raw physical skills and his size. His presence on the field and his mentality have been something that has been very important to our program over the years.”For Skinner, he got a lot of Division I offers — verbal and written — but it came down to two.
“It came down to Ohio State and Pittsburgh, and I choose Ohio State back in July,” said Skinner. “Ohio State has a lot of tradition and is a good academic school. Plus, when I went out there the coaches were great.
“The football team has been getting better over the last couple of years also.”The Buckeyes won the National Championship in 2002-03 and is in the top 10 nationally year after year. Skinner is undecided of a major at Ohio State.
Ohio State’s recruiting class this year is ranked ninth nationally by the website Rivals.com, which has Skinner ranked 40th among offensive lineman.
As Skinner and Greco head off to college to continue the long tradition of Mount Carmel Area football players who go on to the next level to make a name for themselves, one thing is certain.
“We are going to miss those two,” said Brennan. “They leave two very large holes that we are going to have to fill next year — on and off the field.”
As for a chance of seeing the two Mount Carmel Area standouts in a new uniform this upcoming season, the best bet will be Greco as he and his Big Red teammates start the 2004 season at Lewisburg against Bucknell, which features Greco’s former teammate Steve Matzura. That game will be played Sept. 18 at 7 p.m.
Skinner and his Ohio State Buckeyes will not travel East at all this season and will play Penn State at home in Columbus on Oct. 30.