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Recruiting News - 02/03/05


Administrator Emeritus
<font color="#b90000">Thursday, February 3, 2005</font> Recruiting News - 02/03/05

The Scout.com All-American Teams - Scout

The Scout.com All-American Teams
By Jamie Newberg National Recruiting Analyst
Date: Feb 1, 2005

Scout.com is proud to present our first and second All-American teams led by quarterback Mark Sanchez, running back Antone Smith and defensive tackle Demarcus Granger.

Scout.com 1st Team All-American

Mark Sanchez (QB) Mission Viejo (Calif.) USC commitment
Antone Smith (RB) Pahokee (Fla.) Miami, Florida, FSU, or Auburn
Marlon Lucky (RB) North Hollywood (Calif.) Nebraska commitment
Patrick Turner (WR) Madison (Tenn.) USC Commitment
Fred Rouse (WR) Tallahassee (Fla.) FSU, Texas, Miami, or Alabama
Tony Moeaki (TE) Wheaton (Ill.) Iowa commitment
Derrick Williams (ATH) Greenbelt (Md.) Penn State commitment
Eugene Monroe (OL) Plainfield (N.J.) Virginia commitment
Alex Boone (OL) Lakewood (Ohio) Ohio State commitment
Reggie Youngblood (OL) Houston (Texas) Miami commitment
Dace Richardson (OL) Wheaton (Ill.) Iowa commitment
Michael Oher (OL) Memphis (Tenn.) Ole Miss commitment

Travis Beckum (DE) Oak Creek (Wisc.) Wisconsin commitment
Averell Spicer (DE) Rancho Cucamonga (Calif.) USC commitment
Demarcus Granger (DT) Dallas (Texas) Oklahoma commitment
Callahan Bright (DT) Bryn Mawr (Pa.) FSU or Texas A&M
Tray Blackmon (LB) LaGrange (Ga.) Auburn commitment
Rey Maualuga (LB) Eureka (Calif.) USC commitment
Brian Cushing (LB) Oradell (N.J.) USC, Miami, Florida, Boston College
Kenneth Phillips (S)Miami (Fla.) Miami or Tennessee
Reggie Smith (S) Edmund (Ok.) Oklahoma, Nebraska, or USC
Demetrice Morley (CB) Miami (Fla.) Tennessee commitment
Justin King (CB) Monroeville (Pa.) Penn State commitment
Patrick McAfee (K) Pittsburgh (Pa.) West Virginia commitment
Scott Kozlowski (P) Royal Palm Beach (Fla.) West Virginia commitment

Scout.com 2nd Team All-Americans

Ryan Perrilloux (QB) LaPlace (La.) Texas, LSU, or Mississippi State
Jonathan Stewart (RB) Lacey (Wa.) Oregon commitment
Toney Baker (RB) Jamestown (N.C.) N.C. State commitment
DeSean Jackson (WR) Long Beach (Calif.) USC or Cal.
Selwyn Lymon (WR) Fort Wayne (Ind.) Purdue commitment
Martellus Bennett (TE) Houston (Texas) Texas A&M commitment
Dan Doering (OL) Barrington (Ill.) Iowa commitment
Matt Reynolds (OL) Provo (Utah) BYU commitment
Chris Scott (OL) Lovejoy (Ga.) Tennessee commitment
Josh McNeil (OL) Collins (Miss.) Tennessee commitment
Matt Hardrick (OL) Orlando (Fla.) FSU or Florida

Raymond Henderson (DE) Oak Creek (Wisc.) Tennessee commitment
J.B. Paxson (DE) Greenwood (Ind.) Purdue commitment
Kade Weston (DT) Little Silver (N.J.) Georgia commitment
Jerrell Powe (DT) Wayneboro (Miss.) LSU or Ole Miss
Luthur Brown (LB) Lakewood (Calif.) USC or Arizona
Darius Dewberry (LB) Fort Valley (Ga.) Georgia commitment
Eugene Hayes (LB) Madison (Fla.) Clemson, Florida State or Tennessee
C.J. Byrd (S) North Augusta (S.C.) Georgia commitment
Keenan Clayton (S) Sulphur Springs (Texas) Oklahoma commitment
Jamario O’Neal (CB) Cleveland (Ohio) Ohio State commitment
Avery Atkins (CB) Daytona Beach (Fla.) Florida commitment

For Gwaltney, Loyalty Wins Out - Rivals PREMIUM

February 3, 2005
For Gwaltney, Loyalty Wins Out

Jim Laise
WVSports.com *
NORTH BABYLON, N.Y. ó Jason Gwaltney is nothing if not loyal and in the end, that is the reason he is coming to West Virginia ó because the Mountaineers remained loyal to him. In an exclusive interview, Gwaltney and his prep coach talk about why loyalty won out.

Recruiting Report - Detroit News

Recruiting Report

By Tom Markowski / The Detroit News
Big Ten excels

Michigan, Iowa and Ohio State all finished in the top 10-to-15 nationally making it a banner recruiting season for the Big 10. The Big 12, with Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Texas A&M all finishing in the top 10-to-15, is the only conference that had more teams ranked that high.

U-M, with its strong finish signing defensive linemen James McKinney of Louisville, Ky., and Eugene Germany of Pomona, Calif., finished in the top six, according to Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report, Rivals.com and Scout.com.

OSU landed a top recruit Wednesday as the Buckeyes signed defensive end Lawrence Wilson of Akron (Ohio) St. Vincent-St. Mary. Rivals.com rated Wilson No. 9 on its list of Ohio recruits.

Bill Kurelic of Midwest Football Recruiting News, who also contributes to Rivals.com, said the Big Ten has enjoyed a tremendous recruiting season.
"With that many schools in the top 10, and in the top 30 (a Rivals.com list that includes Purdue and Penn State), the Big Ten has done extremely well," Kurelic said. "Add to that Wisconsin, which both did awfully well, overall it's been a very good year."
Kurelic rounded out his Big 10 list with Wisconsin No. 6, Michigan State No.7 followed by Illinois, Northwestern and Illinois.

Ranking the Big Ten's recruiting classes - Chicago Tribune

Ranking the Big Ten's recruiting classes
By Teddy Greenstein
February 3, 2005

1. Michigan Wolverines
Best name is Mister Simpson, a 5-10 RB from Cincinnati. Also signed Zoltan Mesko, a 6-4, 230-pound kicker from Twinsburg, Ohio.

2. Iowa Hawkeyes
Ventured to Florida to nab state's best fullback, Kalvin Bailey, and to Minnesota for state's best OL, Rafael Eubanks.

3. Ohio State Buckeyes
Looming NCAA investigation barely hurt Buckeyes, who snagged RB Maurice Wells, a 5-9 burner from Jacksonville. All-American OT Alex Boone will block for him

4. Penn State Nittany Lions
Top-heavy class features speed, speed and more speed. WR Derrick Williams, CB Justin King and LB Jerome Hayes will try to lead Nittany Lions back to prominence.

5. Purdue Boilermakers
One of Boilermakers' best classes features Ft. Wayne WR Selwyn Lymon and Ohio WR Greg--no relation to Kyle--Orton. Both will vie to replace Taylor Stubblefield.

6. Wisconsin Badgers
Milwaukee LB Travis Beckum highlights 24-man class. Badgers, who always land a top RB from Chicago, signed Dion Foster, a 5-8, 195-pound speedster from Oak Lawn.

7. Michigan St. Spartans
Spartans went to Princeton, N.J., to sign top-notch pro-style QB Domenic Natale. Junior-college DE Bobby Jones could bolster next year's line.

8. Northwestern Wildcats
NU's best class in years features Joliet Catholic LB Chris Jeske and Akron RB Tyrell Sutton, whom Lemming calls "the most underrated guy in the Midwest."

9. Illinois Fighting Illini
Ron Zook kept top RB Rashard Mendenhall from fleeing after early oral commitment. He also signed athletic WR Derrick McPhearson from Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.

10. Minnesota Gophers
Seven of Glen Mason's 18 players are from Minnesota. He also signed three from Brookhaven High School in Columbus, Ohio, including highly rated LB Alex Daniels.

11. Indiana Hoosiers
Terry Hoeppner's first class wasn't exactly a gem. Best players are Florida RB Demetrius McCray and RB Bryan Payton from Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy.

Worthington picks Ohio State - Buffalo News

Worthington picks Ohio State
Parade Magazine All-American Doug Worthington of St. Francis made his college football decision official Wednesday by signing with Ohio State.

Worthington, a 6-foot-7, 256-pound defensive lineman who verbally committed to the Buckeyes last September, visited Boston College, Florida, Alabama and Wisconsin as well as Ohio State in the past month.

Also signing was Depew offensive lineman Adam Rosner. The 6-5, 308-pounder signed with Syracuse.

Meanwhile, Tennessee traveled far and wide to assemble one of the nation's best recruiting classes, according to Scout.com/Super Preps editor Allen Wallace and Max Emfinger, two of the leading recruiting analysts. Tom Lemming of ESPN.com and College Sports Television had the Vols behind only Nebraska.

The Volunteers signed 27 players and went into Pennsylvania, Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida and Washington D.C. for top-flight prospects.

Rivals.com was expecting a late surge by defending champion Southern California to put the Trojans in the top spot by the time final announcements were made, just ahead of Oklahoma and Tennessee.

OSU signee Hartline healing, hoping - Toledo Blade

OSU signee Hartline healing, hoping

Last fall, Brian Hartline couldn't wait for his senior year to begin at GlenOak High School in suburban Canton.

The Ohio State recruit was considered one of the state's quickest and most productive receivers.

And he expected to snag a bushel-full of passes from his younger brother, Mike, the GlenOak quarterback.

But in the second quarter of his first game last August, Hartline's season was shattered.

He broke the tibia and fibula in his left leg while returning a punt.

As Hartline lay on the field, he pounded his fist into the ground, partly in disgust and partly because of the excruciating pain he was feeling.

"It didn't really hit me right away," he said. "There was a delay of about 10 seconds or so. I wanted to get up and go back to the huddle, but my body wouldn't let me.

"I felt severe pain in my lower left leg. When I looked down at it, it was at a 45-degree angle. It was an odd sight."

Hartline knew his once-promising season was finished, even before he was carried off the field. Once at the hospital, he had two screws and a foot-long rod placed in his leg to help the healing process.

Doctors reiterated to Hartline and his family that the injury was not career-threatening.

A few days later, Ohio State informed Hartline - who had given an oral commitment to the Buckeyes last June - that his scholarship offer would stand, regardless of the injury.

"That definitely made me feel good and kept me motivated," he said.

Hartline was among 18 players to sign a national letter of intent with the Buckeyes yesterday, and he is one of 11 recruits from the Buckeye State. Most experts rank Ohio State's recruiting class third-best in the Big Ten, behind Michigan and Iowa.

Hartline, a 6-3, 175-pounder who runs a 4.4 in the 40-yard dash and carries a 3.8 grade-point average, is rated the third-best receiver in Ohio and the 12th prospect overall by Rivals.com.

However, he isn't sure if Ohio State coach Jim Tressel will use him at receiver or defensive back. Hartline started at both positions for GlenOak, the same school that sent former cornerback Dustin Fox to the Buckeyes, along with guard T.J. Downing.

In addition to Hartline, the Buckeyes signed four other receivers/defensive backs - Jamario O'Neal, Andre Amos, Donald Washington and Malcolm Jenkins. A fifth recruit, Brian Robiskie, is the only one listed exclusively as a receiver.

You may recall that ultra-talented freshman Ted Ginn Jr. began last season as a defensive back before shifting to receiver midway through the season.

"In my mind, I'm going to Ohio State as an offensive player, as a receiver," Hartline said. "But if the coaches think I might be a better defensive player, then I'll move. It'll be no problem. I just want to do whatever I can to help the team win."

Hartline, who has begun light running after having the two screws and rod removed from his leg the week before Christmas, knows there is a better-than-average chance he might redshirt as a freshman, especially since Ohio State's receiving corps is one of its positions of strength.

Junior Santonio Holmes was a deep threat who led the Buckeyes in receptions, yards and touchdown catches last season. Ginn, despite his late start on offense, finished as the second-leading receiver.

And Anthony Gonzalez, a redshirt freshman, also came up big at the end, helping the Buckeyes win five of their last six games for an 8-4 finish.

"Coach Tressel said he can't even give me an answer now as to whether I will redshirt or not next year," said Hartline, who chose Ohio State over Michigan State, Notre Dame, Michigan and Purdue. "He said he wants to see how I heal, and how I'm doing, before he makes any final decision on that."

Hartline, who estimates his injured leg is 80 percent healed, plans to run track for GlenOak this spring. He finished second in the state in 300-meter hurdles last year and fourth in the 110 hurdles.

He also intends to attend some meetings and practices at Ohio State, and then take part in the Buckeyes' summer practices after participating in the prestigious Big 33 game.

"I have good hands," Hartline said. "I just need my leg to be strong, and I'll be OK."

With any luck at all, Hartline may eventually get a chance to catch a pass for the Buckeyes from his brother.

Mike Hartline, who just completed his junior season at GlenOak, is considered the top quarterback prospect in the state. He is being courted by Ohio State, Michigan, Florida State and Purdue.

"I'm really happy to be a Buckeye," Brian said. "It's a dream come true. Hopefully, I'll be able to talk my brother into joining me next year."

Contact Ron Musselman at:
[email protected]
or 419-724-6474

Stepping into the future - Middletown Journal

Stepping into the future

FAIRFIELD — Middletown football coach Dick Martin had coached one Division I signee during his 20-year career.

Yesterday that number quadrupled.

Middletown’s Andre Amos signed with Ohio State, and Cordelle Thompson and Chris Wright signed with Bowling Green on National Signing Day, the first day high school recruits can sign letters of intent.

“The tremendous talent they have was just awesome for me as a head coach,” Martin said. “It’s been a great honor.”

The Greater Miami Conference recognized the trio, along with other GMC signees, yesterday at the Fairfield Banquet and Convention Center at Tori’s Station.

“It’s a blessing to be here,” Amos said. “I’m ready for the future.” ...

... Amos, the second-ranked wide receiver prospect in the state according to Rivals.com, was recruited by the Buckeyes to play corner as well.

Martin says that the versatility of Wright and Amos made them attractive prospects.

“The possibilities will be endless if (Wright and Amos) can play on the defensive side of the ball and if they can be shut-down cornerbacks,” Martin said. “The key factor is their speed and athleticism.” ...

... Although the three may be great college players, Martin said the people they are off the field is what makes them special.

“They’re three super kids,” Martin said. “I’ve been so impressed with the politeness and the manners.

“It’s the whole package with these kids, not just as football players, but as people.”

Headed for the big time - NN of Central Ohio (Lancaster Eagle Gazette)

Headed for the big time

By Dave Purpura, [email protected], E-G Assistant Sports Editor

LANCASTER -- Wednesday night was, in a sense, anticlimactic for Jim Cordle and Tommy Stuck.

There were no surprises at a signing ceremony at Lancaster High School. Cordle made official the verbal commitment he made 10 months ago to play football at Ohio State, and Stuck signed his letter of intent to play for Ohio University four weeks after his verbal.

But that didn't minimize the occasion or its importance for two of the cogs of Lancaster's dominant offensive line.

"It's like the day you get married," Golden Gales coach Rob Carpenter said. "You know it's coming, but then when it gets here it's still huge beyond belief."

More than 100 people, mostly coaches and family members of the players, gathered in the Lancaster High School cafeteria for the joint signing.

A third Lancaster offensive lineman, Shawn Fosnaugh, announced he will attend Ohio University as a preferred walk-on.

Cordle (6-foot-5, 285 pounds), Stuck (6-2, 290) and Fosnaugh (6-5, 285), who anchored a line that led backs to gain nearly 6,000 yards rushing the past two years combined, headline a list of six Fairfield County football players to sign this week.

Cordle is ranked the No. 7 guard in the nation by rivals.com and scout.com, the No. 4 overall prospect in Ohio and the No. 2 offensive lineman in the state by rivals.com. No. 1 is another Ohio State recruit, Alex Boone of Lakewood St. Edward.

Because Cordle graduated from Lancaster on Jan. 20 and is enrolling at Ohio State for spring quarter, he signed a letter to play spring ball rather than a national letter of intent. That will be signed at a later date, of which Cordle was not certain Wednesday night.

Cordle took a correspondence English course from the University of Kentucky and double-blocked all his classes during fall semester in order to graduate early. Like most of the Buckeyes' 18 commitments, Cordle verballed early. He made his decision in April 2004.

"It was a good feeling just to mark my name down," said Cordle, who introduced 14 coaches from both Lancaster and Fisher Catholic, which he attended his first two years of high school. "I'm already comfortable up there. I've spent a lot of time with (Nick) Mangold, Bobby (Carpenter), A.J. (Hawk), and they're teaching me a lot."

Carpenter, a 2002 Lancaster graduate who saw time at linebacker his freshman year, was present Wednesday night, as was 1996 Lancaster grad and former Buckeye lineman Ben Gilbert.

"It's a great group to be in, going all the way back to Rex Kern," Cordle said. "I hadn't really thought about it, but at Lancaster we're all family."

Kern quarterbacked the Buckeyes to the 1968 national championship.

Fosnaugh, a tackle whose top choices included Louisville, Cincinnati, Northwestern and Kentucky, had the chance to walk on at Ohio State but instead chose Ohio after an official visit last weekend.

He'll have a chance to earn a scholarship after the 2005 season. To do so, Fosnaugh will have to brush up on pass protection skills. Whereas Lancaster passed 25 percent of the time at most, new Ohio coach Frank Solich is hoping for a 50-50 balance between the run and pass.

"When (former coach Brian) Knorr was there they wanted smaller, quicker guys, but coach Solich wants size on his line," Fosnaugh said. "I've gone to a lot of camps working on my pass skills but I'm eager to go and learn more."

Stuck, one of 12 Ohioans in the Bobcats' 27-man class, also will be a thrower on Ohio's track and field team. He was second in Ohio in the shot put in 2004.

Many of the Bobcats' recruits signed on in the last several weeks, since former Nebraska coach Solich was hired in mid-December.

Carpenter believed Stuck and Fosnaugh were the first Lancaster products to play football for the Bobcats in at least 35 years.

"This program is on the rise. It's not going to do anything but get better," Stuck said of Lancaster. "It all starts with the weight room and the coaches. They know what they're talking about. They know how to win."

Cordle signs on with Buckeyes; Stuck, Fosnaugh to become Bobcats


O'Neal headlines OSU class - NN of Central Ohio (Mansfield News Journal)

O'Neal headlines OSU class
News Journal
Jason J. Molyet

Ohio State recruits

Andre Amos
* WR/CB, 6-1, 180, Middletown
* Caught 35 passes for 500 yards and scored seven touchdowns as a senior ... picked off seven passes from his defensive back position as a senior ... totaled 30 catches and four touchdowns as a junior and added three interceptions.

Alex Boone
* OT, 6-8, 315, Lakewood St. Edwards
* Will already be one of Ohio State's biggest offensive linemen and has terrific footwork and a frame capable of carrying more muscle ... 2003 and 2004 first-team All-Ohio ... is an aggressive blocker that enjoys driving defenders away from the line of scrimmage ... 50 knockdowns as a senior.

Jim Cordle
* OL, 6-5, 275, Lancaster
* Will enroll at Ohio State for spring quarter classes and participate in spring practice, therefore is not signing a national letter of intent at the present time ... bench presses nearly 350 pounds ... was a devastating pulling blocker on stretch and counter plays.

Todd Denlinger
* TE/DL, 6-3, 265, Troy
* Collected 60 tackles, including 13 behind the line of scrimmage and seven sacks, as a senior ... started at defensive tackle as a freshman and sophomore but moved to middle linebacker as a junior, totaling 125 tackles, including 17 stops behind the line of scrimmage, six sacks and an interception.

Brian Hartline
* WR/CB, 6-3, 180, Canton GlenOak
* As a senior, suffered a season-ending leg injury during the second quarter of the first game of the season ... as a junior, passed for 300 yards in the first four games before switching to receiver, where he caught 41 passes for 411 yards from his younger brother, Mike.

Malcolm Jenkins
* WR/CB, 6-1, 180, Piscataway (N.J.) HS
* Totaled more than 300 yards receiving and scored seven touchdowns on offense as a senior ... has been timed at 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash ... had 65 tackles, eight interceptions and four pass break-ups as a junior and also had 178 yards receiving.

James Laurinaitis
* LB, 6-3, 235, Wayzata HS, Hamel, Minn.
* Name Minnesota's Defensive Mr. Football as a senior ... collected 193 tackles, including 28 for loss, as a senior after totaling more than 160 tackles as a junior ... led Wayzata to the Minnesota 5A state championship game as a senior.

Freddie Lennix
* RB/LB, 6-0, 193, Cle. Glenville
* Totaled 85 tackles and two interceptions as a senior ... led Glenville in tackles in 2004 with 143, including 12 sacks, and returned two interceptions for touchdowns ... scored three defensive touchdowns as a senior.

Jamario O'Neal
* WR/CB, 6-1, 180, Cle. Glenville
* Collected 65 tackles, three interceptions and three quarterback sacks as a senior ... 2004 first-team All-Ohio defensive back ... helped led Glenville to the Ohio Div. I state semifinals in 2004.

Brian Robiskie
* WR, 6-3, 190, Chagrin Falls
* Set Chagrin Falls career receiving records with 118 catches for 1,885 yards and 34 touchdowns ... caught 47 passes as a senior for 754 yards and 12 touchdowns ... led Chagrin Falls to a 9-3 overall record in 2004 and the conference championship.

Anderson Russell
* RB/DB, 6-1, 190, Marist HS, Atlanta, Ga.
* Averaged 8.4 yards per carry as a senior on 90 attempts ... rushed for 758 yards and scored 14 touchdowns as a senior in Marist's wishbone offense ... was Marist's leading receiver with seven catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns.

Rob Schoenhoft
* QB, 6-6, 225, Cin. St. Xavier
* As a senior completed 72-of-139 passes in eight games for 1,159 yards and 13 touchdowns with just three interceptions ... passed for 1,100 yards as a junior with 12 touchdowns and just four interceptions ... as a senior, helped lead St. Xavier to a 10-0 regular season record.

Austin Spitler
* LB/TE, 6-3, 228, Bellbrook
* As a senior totaled 132 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, seven quarterback sacks and two interceptions ... was named the conference linebacker of the year ... collected 120 tackles as a junior.

Donald Washington
* DB/WR, 6-1, 185, Franklin Central HS, Indianapolis, Ind.
* Caught 45 passes as a senior and scored 10 touchdowns ... averaged better than 17 yards per catch on 47 receptions with eight touchdowns as a junior.

Maurice Wells
* TB, 5-10, 185, Sandalwood HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
* Rushed for career totals of 5,955 yards and 55 touchdowns ... Led Florida in rushing as a junior with 3,076 yards and scored 31 touchdowns ... in nine games as a senior, rushed for 1,908 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Ryan Williams
* DE, 6-6, 245, Mission Viejo (Calif.) HS
* ... was Ohio State's first commitment to its 2005 recruiting class from outside the state.

Lawrence Wilson
* DE, 6-5, 240, Akr. SVSM
* Had 15 sacks as a junior and 10 as a senior ... also caught seven passes for three touchdowns as a senior ... has a 3.6 GPA ... averaged 15 points per game in basketball as a junior.

Doug Worthington
* DE, 6-7, 250, St. Francis HS, Athol Spring, N.Y.
* Collected 67 tackles and five quarterback sacks as a junior ... totaled 74 tackles and seven sacks as a senior ... also a standout basketball player.

The Associated Press

Recruiting Data
Three Parade All-Americans: O'Neal, Boone, Wells
Consensus Top 100 prospects: Boone, O'Neal, Worthington
SuperPrep National Elite 50: O'Neal, Boone, Wells
SuperPrep Midwest National Defensive MVP: O'Neal
SuperPrep All-Americans: Wells, Boone, Worthington, Denlinger, Lenix, O'Neal

Here's how Rivals.com ranked some of OSU recruits nationally, by position:
Quarterback: Schoenhoft, No. 6
All-purpose back: Wells, No. 4
Wide receiver: Amos, No. 25; Hartline, No. 36, Robiskie, No. 61
Offensive tackle: Boone, No. 3
Offensive guard: Cordle, No. 7
Defensive end: Worthington, No. 5, Williams, No. 12
Defensive tackle: Denlinger, No. 14
Inside linebacker: Laurinatis, No. 28, Spitler, No. 48
Cornerback: O'Neal, No. 3; Jenkins, No. 61
Athlete: Lenix, No. 22

COLUMBUS -- Jamario O'Neal has been described as a lock-down cornerback and special teams sensation, but persuasive recruiter?

Yep, recruiter.

In unveiling his 2005 recruiting class Wednesday, Ohio State football coach Jim Tressel said the Mansfield native paved the way for what is viewed by some analysts as a top 10 haul by verbally committing to the Buckeyes two years ago.

"A lot of times we talk about that last, midnight-hour guy to commit, but we can't lose sight of those guys who set the foundation for that class," Tressel said. "Jamario O'Neal and Alex Boone (a 6-foot-8, 315-pound lineman from Lakewood St. Edward who committed midway through his junior year) are marquee guys.

"The rest of the guys who are looking around to where they would like to have good teammates, they look at Jamario and Alex and say, 'Gosh, I would love to be on their team.' "

A lot has happened to O'Neal in the two years since he pledged his allegiance to OSU soon after his sophomore season at Mansfield Senior.

An off-field incident led to a two-game suspension at the start of the 2003 season and his transfer to Cleveland Glenville. O'Neal lost most of his junior season waiting for clearance from the Ohio High School Athletic Association to play for the Tarblooders, but he complemented Ted Ginn Jr. as Glenville won a state track championship the following spring.

Last fall, O'Neal had 65 tackles, three interceptions and three sacks to help Glenville reach the state semifinals. He was a Parade All-American and competed with Boone and fellow OSU signee, running back Maurice Wells, in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl last month in San Antonio.

"It is finally here and I feel good about it," said O'Neal, who along with Tarblooder linebacker Freddie Lenix will join Glenville alums Ginn, quarterback Troy Smith, safety Donte Whitner and linebacker Curtis Terry at Ohio State.

"I'll come in and try and stay focused. I've talked to them a couple of times about playing some on offense. We'll see how it goes. I just want to get on the field."

O'Neal could be another kick return threat for a team that already has a dazzling duo in Ginn and Santonio Holmes.

"After Jamario's 92-yarder against Canton McKinley (in the playoffs), I told Santonio, 'You'd better watch it,' " Tressel joked. "I know Jamario is going to be a great one. I told him (Wednesday morning) I could see him smiling on the phone ... and it wasn't a camera phone."

O'Neal never wavered in his decision, even though some potential Buckeyes were scared off by the on-going NCAA investigation of the football program and improprieties alleged by former tailback Maurice Clarett.

"I think Ohio State is going to be OK," O'Neal said about the probe. "I was always solidly a Buckeye. I grew up watching them."

O'Neal will be reunited at Ohio State with Stan Jefferson, the associate director of football operations. Jefferson was O'Neal's head coach at Mansfield Senior for two years and the high school principal when O'Neal was suspended.

A meeting to clear the air was held at OSU last summer involving O'Neal, Jefferson, Glenville coach Ted Ginn Sr. (O'Neal's legal guardian) and Tressel.

"Ted told me that Jamario has matured a lot since being in Cleveland," Jefferson said. "He's going to have a great career here. That kid can do such much. After seeing what (wide receiver) Troy Brown did for the New England Patriots as a nickel back, coaches are looking at what they can do with their personnel. Jamario has the athleticism, the genetics ... and he's fast enough, too."

Ohio State scored a major victory late Wednesday afternoon when Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary defensive end Lawrence Wilson picked the Buckeyes over Notre Dame and Florida. Bagging Wilson helped soften the blow of losing New York running back Jason Gwaltney to West Virginia and Minnesota defensive end Walker Ashley to USC.

"If you don't get a guy at the end, that tends to overshadow the guys you got at the beginning," Tressel said. "We always talk about finishing plays, finishing games and finishing bowls, so (signing Wilson) was huge for us."

Rob Schoenhoft of Cincinnati St. Xavier, the only quarterback signed by OSU, didn't put up big numbers, but Tressel said the 6-6, 225-pounder has tremendous upside.

"I think he could be special," Tressel said. "He's big, strong, competitive and has a rocket arm. He moves better than some might anticipate and I like the way he managed his team."

The one downside, Tressel admitted, was signing only one running back. They had hoped to mesh Wells and Gwaltney with the only two tailbacks already on scholarship -- freshmen Antonio Pittman and Eric Haw.

Wells is listed at 5-10, 185 pounds, and built along the lines of Michigan's Michael Hart. Wells had an injury-marred senior year, but still ran for over 1,908 yards and 18 touchdowns after rushing for 3,076 yards and 31 touchdowns at the highest level in Florida.

"I'm sure (the recruits) heard a lot of things," Tressel said, downplaying the cloud cast by the NCAA probe. "That stuff didn't override where they wanted to be. So we do feel a sense of accomplishment."

By the numbers

Quarterback: 1
Running back:1
Wide receiver: 2
Tight end: 0
Offensive line: 2
Defensive line: 4
Linebacker: 3
Defensive back: 5

Ohio: 11
New Jersey: 1
New York: 1
California: 1
Florida: 1
Indiana: 1
Minnesota: 1
Georgia: 1

National signing day: Tough sell for Tressel - Lorain Morning Journal

National signing day: Tough sell for Tressel

JASON LLOYD, Morning Journal Writer 02/03/2005

COLUMBUS -- In 31 years of doing this, coach Jim Tressel said yesterday this coaching staff worked harder in recruiting than any other staff he's had.

Perhaps that's because this group had to recruit during one of the most difficult seasons in Ohio State history. In a year filled with the continuing Maurice Clarett scandal and the admittance that Troy Smith took cash from a booster, Ohio State still managed to pull in a top-15 class, according to most recruiting experts.

Led by five-star offensive lineman Alex Boone from St. Ed's and cornerback Jamario O'Neal from Glenville, the Buckeyes signed 18 to letters of intent yesterday. The last to sign was St. Vincent-St. Mary defensive lineman Lawrence Wilson, who renounced his verbal commitment to Notre Dame after Ty Willingham was fired and late yesterday afternoon faxed his letter of intent to Ohio State.

Scout.com rated Ohio State's class seventh in the nation, behind Michigan (second) and just ahead of Iowa (eighth). ESPN's Tom Lemming ranked Ohio State 12th behind both Michigan (fourth) and Iowa (fifth). Rivals100.com rated the Buckeyes 11th, again behind Michigan (sixth) and Iowa (10th).

''We're excited about this class,'' Tressel said. ''We think it's a competitive group. They seem to be special guys who, no question in their mind, they want to be Ohio State Buckeyes.''

That was the key this year. Recruiting alone tends to bring out the worst in college coaches. Add to that evidence of wrongdoing, as there is at Ohio State, and suddenly the rumors can get juicier and recruits' fears become greater.

That's why Tressel relied on recruits that truly wanted to play at Ohio State, while doing his best to calm any fears they had about future NCAA sanctions.

''The first thing you have to talk about is just what is the NCAA?'' Tressel said. ''The NCAA is us. We make up the NCAA. The NCAA is not an ogre out there that is opposed to us as member institutions É We feel good about our relationship with that governing body. We feel good about what we do within that governance of that body. We will be treated fairly, as everyone is. We feel good about who we are and what we do.''

Among the more notable recruits are Brian Robiskie, a receiver from Chagrin Falls and the son of Browns interim coach Terry Robiskie, and Minnesota native James Laurinaitis, a 6-foot-3, 230-pound linebacker whose father was ''Animal'' in the popular wrestling tag team Legion of Doom.

In all, Ohio State took 11 recruits from Ohio, all rated among the top 24 in the state by Rivals. Quarterback Rob Schoenhoft (Cincinnati St. Xavier) is the sixth-rated quarterback in the country, tailback Maurice Wells (Jacksonville, Fla.) is the fourth-rated all-purpose running back and Boone is ranked as the third-best offensive lineman.

The Buckeyes were also hot after five-star recruit Jason Gwaltney from New York, but he committed to West Virginia late Tuesday night, leaving the Buckeyes with just three scholarship backs next year -- Wells, sophomore Antonio Pittman and redshirt freshman Erik Haw.
''Running back will be a top priority next year, that's for sure,'' Tressel said. ''We wanted to bring in two and we tried to be efficient. We were not going to offer three or four and then not be able to bring them in.''

Recruiting in general remains an inexact science. For all the hoopla it creates on signing day, the truth is coaches don't know what they really have until practice begins in August.

In the recruiting class of 2002, A.J. Hawk was listed as a three-star prospect by Rivals and is now an All-American linebacker, while Mike D'Andrea was a five-star linebacker and one of the hottest recruits in the country. Meanwhile, injuries and bad luck have stripped away most of his first three years.

Asked if there was a freshman in this class who can contribute immediately, Tressel mentioned how last year he thought Ginn would help immediately at corner, a position he ultimately didn't play at all.

''You just never know how guys come in and where your needs are,'' Tressel said. ''If there's 17 or 18 guys that step on the field in August É I'll bet ya half of them help in the 2005 year. I wouldn't even pretend to know which half. I would say there's a Ted Ginn in there, but I don't know what his name is or what position it's going to be at.''


2005 Ohio State recruiting class - Lima News

2005 Ohio State recruiting class
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***Andre Amos (Middletown) 6-1, 182. Wide receiver. Caught 35 passes for 500 yards and seven touchdowns as a senior and intercepted seven passes as a defensive back. Rated the 25th best receiver in the country by one scouting service.
***Alex Boone (Lakewood St. Edward) 6-8, 310. Offensive lineman. First-team high school All-American, according to Parade Magazine and USA Today. Rated the No. 3 offensive tackle in the country by two scouting services.
***Jim Cordle (Lancaster) 6-5, 290, Offensive lineman. Rated the second-best high school offensive lineman in Ohio by one scouting service. Former high school teammate of OSU linebacker Bobby Carpenter.
***Todd Denlinger (Troy) 6-3, 285. Defensive lineman. Had seven quarterback sacks as a senior and had 125 total tackles. Played middle linebacker last season. Timed in 4.71 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
***Brian Hartline (Canton Glen Oak) 6-2, 180. Wide receiver. Missed his senior season because of an injury. Caught 41 passes as a junior. Finished second in the high hurdles and fourth in the low hurdles at last spring’s state track meet.
***Malcolm Jenkins (Piscataway, N.J.) 6-0, 185. Defensive back. Played on back-to-back state champions as a junior and senior in high school. Excellent man-to-man pass defender. Had eight interceptions as a junior.
***James Laurinaitis (Wayzata, Minn.) 6-3, 235. Linebacker. Named Minnesota’s Defensive Mr. Football last fall. Rated the top linebacker prospect in Minnesota by one scouting service. His father was “The Animal” from the Legion of Doom in professional wrestling.
***Freddie Lenix (Cleveland Glenville) 5-11, 200. Linebacker. Had 12 quarterback sacks and returned two interceptions for touchdowns as a senior. Placed third in the state in the Division I 100-meter dash last spring. Could be changed to running back or defensive back.
***Jamario O’Neal (Cleveland Glenville) 6-1, 190. Defensive back. He is, along with Boone, one of the top two recruits in this class. Parade All-American. Committed to Ohio State before his junior season. Began his high school career at Mansfield Senior.
***Brian Robiskie (Chagrin Falls) 6-4, 190. Wide receiver. Caught 47 passes for 754 yards and 12 touchdowns as a senior. Son of interim Cleveland Browns coach Terry Robiskie.
***Anderson Russell (Atlanta) 6-0, 197. Defensive back. Averaged 8.4 yards per carry as a running back last season. His father Kevin played for the Philadelphia Eagles.
***Rob Schoenhoft (Cincinnati St. Xavier), 6-5, 230. Quarterback. Rated the No. 7 quarterback in the country by one recruiting service. Passed for 1,159 yards and 13 touchdowns with three interceptions as a senior.
***Austin Spitler (Bellbrook) 6-2, 225. Linebacker. Rated the No. 2 linebacker prospect in Ohio by one recruiting service. Had seven sacks as a senior.
***Donald Washington (Indianapolis) 6-1, 185. Wide receiver. Recruited as a defensive back, he caught 45 passes and scored 10 touchdowns as a senior. Indiana state champion in long jump as a senior and sophomore.
***Maurice Wells (Jacksonville, Fla.) 5-10, 180. Running back. Parade All-American. Limited to 1,908 yards rushing after gaining 3,076 yards as a junior. Set a Florida single-game record with 429 yards in 2 ½ quarters as a junior.
***Ryan Williams (Mission Viejo, Calif.) 6-5, 245. Defensive lineman. Rated the No. 27 overall prospect in California by one recruiting service.
***Lawrence Wilson (Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary) 6-6, 235. Defensive lineman. Picked Ohio State over Notre Dame and Florida. Originally committed to Notre Dame but changed his mind after Tyrone Willingham was fired as coach.
***Doug Worthington (Athol Springs, N.Y.) 6-7, 255. Defensive lineman. Rated the No. 21 defensive end in the country by one scouting service. Had seven quarterback sacks as a senior.

Bucks bypass controversy to sign 18 players - Lima News

Bucks bypass controversy to sign 18 players
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***COLUMBUS — The controversies surrounding Ohio State’s football program lately appear to have made about as much impact on recruiting as a blitz by a 125-pound linebacker would have in a Big Ten game.
***The Buckeyes signed 18 high school players to national letters of intent Wednesday on the first day colleges could lock up their verbally committed players.
***OSU’s recruiting class included three Parade Magazine All-Americans, three consensus top 100 prospects and 10 of the 24 top-rated players in Ohio.
***Offensive lineman Alex Boone (6-8, 315), of Lakewood St. Edward; cornerback Jamario O’Neal (6-1, 190), of Cleveland Glenville; and running back Maurice Wells (5-10, 185), of Jacksonville, Fla., are the biggest names in the recruiting class.
***Recruiting expert Tom Lemming ranked the Buckeyes’ recruiting class No. 12 in the country. Nebraska led his rankings. Iowa (No. 4) and Michigan (No. 5) were the top-rated Big Ten teams.
***Only one player, offensive lineman Kevin Bemoll, of Mission Viejo, Calif., backed away from a verbal commitment to Ohio State because of the controversies involving Maurice Clarett and Troy Smith’s suspension.
***Ohio State coach Jim Tressel claimed he found little skepticism about Ohio State on the recruiting trail.
***“The guys you end up with are the guys who truly want to be here. I don’t know that it hurt,” Tressel said. “That stuff didn’t override with these kids that, ‘Hey, this is where we want to be.’”
***Ohio State struck recruiting gold last year when it signed Ted Ginn Jr., who made a huge contribution as a kick returner and receiver as a freshman.
***The hope at OSU is that it will happen again. But can it?
***Tressel thinks the incoming recruits have talent. But he admits recruiting is an inexact science.
***“If there are 17 or 18 guys who step on the field in preseason in August that weren’t there last year, I’ll bet you about half of them will help. But I wouldn’t even pretend to know which half,” he said. “I would say there is a Ted Ginn in there but I don’t know his name and what position it’s going to be at.
***“I was mentioning to you a year ago I thought Ted Ginn would come in and really help at corner. And he did everything but play corner.”
***Next fall’s freshman class includes one player regarded as a sleeper and another who has some familiarity with the sleeper hold.
***Linebacker James Laurinaitis, of Wayzata, Minn., is the son of Joe Laurinaitis, better known as “The Animal” in professional wrestling’s Legion of Doom.
***The sleeper pick might be quarterback Rob Schoenhoft, of Cincinnati St. Xavier. The 6-6, 225-pound QB never threw for more than 1,159 yards in a season in his high school career, but he was recruited heavily by other big schools, including Michigan.
***“Everyone you talk to says he has that special arm and great command of the quarterback position,” Tressel said. “He moves better than some people think. And I liked the way he managed their team.”
***Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary defensive lineman Lawrence Wilson was the final player to send in his letter of intent.
***The 6-6, 235-pound Wilson, who originally committed to Notre Dame, told Ohio State at 3:49 p.m. he would sign and faxed in his letter of intent at 4:55 p.m.
***Maybe the biggest disappointment for OSU was that it signed only one running back when New York high school starter Jason Gwaltney went to West Virginia instead of signing with the Buckeyes.
***OSU signed 11 players from Ohio and seven from out of state. Eleven of the 18 recruits were defensive players.

Younger Hartline watching closely - Canton Repository

Younger Hartline watching closely
Thursday, February 3, 2005
By TODD PORTER Repository sports writer

Wednesday was his older brother’s day. Actually, Mike Hartline has taken a back seat to his older brother Brian as he watched him go through the recruiting process.

Mike, the GlenOak junior quarterback, paid attention to what some of the country’s other top college football programs did Wednesday, noting which schools of those he is interested in signed quarterbacks.

Next year, it will be the 6-foot-6, 185-pound quarterback signing a scholarship offer.

“When colleges talk to me, I always ask them what their quarterback situation is,” Hartline said. “That plays a big role in where you go. To be honest with you, I’ve mostly paid attention to who Ohio State has signed since that is where Brian is going.”

While college coaches play a numbers game in recruiting, so do the players. Especially quarterbacks.

No one wants to sign with a school that has five or six quarterbacks on its roster at a position where just one can play. At this time next year, the Buckeyes will have two redshirt senior QBs, Justin Zwick and Troy Smith. Todd Boeckman will be a redshirt sophomore. Cincinnati St. Xavier quarterback Rob Schoenhoft is in this year’s class.

If Hartline opts to go to Ohio State, he would be the fifth QB on the roster, but Zwick and Smith will graduate a year after his true freshman season. That means he would have a 1-in-3 chance of starting as a redshirt freshman.

But Ohio State fans shouldn’t assume Mike Hartline will follow Brian to Columbus.

Another school at the top of his list, if not the very top, is Michigan.

“No one should be surprised by Michigan,” Hartline said.

The Wolverines have six quarterbacks on their roster. They didn’t sign one this year. They are, however, going after Hartline.

Michigan QB coach Scott Loeffler, who also recruits Stark County for Michigan, told Hartline not to worry about the other QBs.

“He said other than (Chad Henne), one guy might not be able to come back from rotator cuff surgery, another might be transferring. The others are real competitive. Coach Loeffler is going to recruit me, and I’m going to take his word for it.”

Recruiting for the younger Hartline is picking up. Before this he received form letters from colleges. Recently, he’s started to get hand-written letters from coaches.

Virginia, Michigan, Ohio State and Purdue have sent hand-written letters.

“When the hand-written letters start to come, that’s a sign they’re really interested,” Hartline said.

Until the process picks up — Ohio State will a have junior recruiting day in two weeks — Hartline will consider his options. The only offer he has received is from Kent State. That came his sophomore year, a rarity in college football recruiting.

Between now and the summer, he’ll do his homework ... and dispel rumors. Like the one that cropped up following the high school season that he was transferring to McKinley.

“I heard that at the end of the season and ... I can tell everyone that is completely untrue,” Hartline said. “That’s not going to happen whatsoever. They can keep wishing.”

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT: OSU deserves credit for tighter standards - Canton Repository

SPORTS SPOTLIGHT: OSU deserves credit for tighter standards
Thursday, February 3, 2005
Todd Porter Repository sports writer

COLUMBUS —— On Signing Day, every Division I coach in the country is pleased with his recruiting class.

No coach gets in front of the cameras on Digning Day to announce, “I’m really disappointed with this group of kids.”

Hope springs eternal.

Ohio State fans do have something to be proud of today. After two months of enduring an NCAA violation by quarterback Troy Smith and negative publicity fueled by former player Maurice Clarett (speaking of Signing Day busts), Buckeye fans can rest assured that Jim Tressel gets it.

He doesn’t have to receive exceptions to Ohio State’s increasingly lofty admission standards. This isn’t Michigan State or West Virginia, where a football player who doesn’t meet the same academic requirements of a chemistry major can skate in.

Yes, admission standards at OSU are changing. Football players have to pass through the same academic scrutiny as everyone else.

It’s about time.

But, is that what fans want? Do they want players who win football games, who win championships, but provide only a warm body in the classroom? Or do they want 3.0 choir boys who win — barely — more games than they lose every year?

They want both.

Tressel is being challenged by Ohio State academics to recruit players who are ready for the college work. That means a great football player whose test scores and grade-point average wouldn’t get him admitted to Ohio State as a regular student isn’t going to be offered a scholarship. The state is littered with those players. When you scratch your head and wonder why OSU didn’t offer so-and-so, you need to ask yourself if the kid could get admitted to Ohio State first.

Let’s not get carried away here. Ohio State isn’t trying to become the Yale of the Big Ten. It won’t even be the Northwestern of the Big Ten. It does want to be a respected institution of higher education and not a football factory.

Sure, there are players on the team who just meet the academic standards. But this isn’t 10 years ago, when a high school diploma and a minimal college-entrance exam score was good enough to get into a state university.

If the NCAA is about creating a level playing field for all Division I football school, why aren’t the academic standards the same? Of course, the NCAA can’t tell a school how to run its admissions office.

However, just last month the NCAA passed new legislation that will begin to level that playing field.

Tressel’s program is ahead of the curve.

Football teams with a graduation rate below 50 percent will begin to be penalized by having scholarships stripped away. That could go into place as soon as next season. Athletes have a six-year window in which to earn a degree.

In 2004, Tressel’s graduation rate was 53 percent. His motto isn’t about getting kids in school. He can’t afford to go out on a limb for a kid who isn’t getting the job done academically in high school.

“I want to keep them in school,” he said.

There is a dark side of major college sports. On one hand, the NCAA presides over a $1 billion-a-year industry. Athletes sell tickets. Athletes sell sponsorship. Athletes bring in the dough.

Tressel is being asked to walk along a tight rope. On one side, his job is to win games. He can no longer do it with guys stacking their class schedules with golf and AIDS awareness.

Instead, Tressel has to find the Dustin Foxes of the world and win with them. Fox was a three-time Academic All-Big Ten player. He’ll be an NFL draft pick in April. Those guys are out there, but they’re tougher to find. Tressel landed GlenOak’s Brian Hartline, who has a 4.4 40-yard time and a better GPA (3.79).

“Something that we are especially proud of is that we feel we got the type of young men who want to be Ohio State Buckeyes,” Tressel said. “They want to achieve great things on the field. They want to achieve great things off the field, and get a meaningful degree at Ohio State.”

Next season, the Buckeyes are expected to contend for a national title. There is no Clarett on the team, at least not one anyone watched on Saturday afternoons last fall.

Could there be a Clarett in the classroom?


But the chances of that happening again are less with each recruiting class like this one.

“At Ohio State, admissions are done as an institution,” Tressel said. “Go and talk to guidance counselors. When we were an open enrollment school, if you had a diploma, you could pretty much get in. Now we have third- and fourth-generation families who have gone here and kids are finding they can’t go to Ohio State.”

Tressel doesn’t seem to mind the loftier goals. He’s always been the kind of guy who wants to know the rules, and will then try to win within those.

It took a while for the football staff and the admissions office to get on the same page.

Tressel knows what’s expected.

Is it a problem?

“It’s real,” he said. “It’s pretty clear to us what the mission is, and what we need to shoot for.”

The stars.

And the ones who shine only on the field aren’t good enough any longer.

Ohio State football signees - Dayton Daily News

Ohio State football signees

By Doug Harris
Dayton Daily News

Andre Amos WR 6-2 177 Middletown
Rated No.*9 prospect in state by Ohio High School Magazine. Had offers from Michigan, Notre Dame and Purdue.

Alex Boone OL 6-8 310 Lakewood
Mammoth tackle was ranked nation&apos;s 15th-best overall prospect by Scout.com and could contribute immediately.

Jim Cordle OL 6-5 285 Lancaster
Solid run-blocker was ranked sixth in state by Ohio High School Magazine. Turned down West Virginia, Notre Dame.

Todd Denlinger DL 6-3 275 Troy
Stats not overwhelming but has shown promise

Brian Hartline WR 6-3 175 Canton
Has 4.4 speed in 40 but fractured leg senior year.

Malcolm Jenkins DB 6-1 190 Piscataway, N.J.
Jenkins is good fit for team that seeks big cornerbacks.

Jim Laurinaitis LB 6-2 230 Plymouth, Minn.
Minnesota&apos;s Mr. Football is son of pro wrestler Road Warrior Animal.

Freddie Lenix LB 5-11 200 Cleveland
Glenville High product could make seamless transition to safety because of wicked speed.

Jamario O&apos;Neal DB 6-1 205 Cleveland
Glenville pipeline continues with perhaps best corner prospect in Ohio since Charles Woodson.

Brian Robiskie WR 6-4 195 Chagrin Falls
Son of Cleveland Browns interim coach Terry Robiskie picked Buckeyes over Miami (Fla.).

Anderson Russell DB 6-0 205 Atlanta
Marginal prospect with Duke as only other serious suitor.

Rob Schoenhoft QB 6-5 235 Cincinnati
Impressed coaches at prestigious Elite 11 quarterback camp before senior year at St. Xavier. Has great upside.

Austin Spitler LB 6-3 235 Bellbrook
Late bloomer has 4.6 speed and is weight-room fanatic.

Donald Washington III WR 6-2 185 Indianapolis
Only Indiana, Illinois made offers before Bucks moved in.

Maurice Wells RB 5-9 185 Jacksonville, Fla.
Limited to nine games due to hip-pointer but still rushed for 1,836 yards after tallying state-best 3,076 as junior.

Ryan Williams DE 6-5 245 Mission Viejo, Calif.
Helped high school team to 14-0 record. Picked Buckeyes over Oklahoma and Colorado.

Lawrence Wilson DE 6-5 240 Akron
Skilled athlete has 4.6 speed, can also play tight end. Picked OSU over Notre Dame, Florida, Michigan and Pittsburgh.

Doug Worthington DE 6-7 257 Athol Springs, N.Y.
A consensus top-100 player nationally and rated third-best defensive end by Scout.com.

Buckeyes get past scandals - Dayton Daily News

Buckeyes get past scandals

By Doug Harris
Dayton Daily News

COLUMBUS | If Ohio State's adversaries wanted to engage in a little negative recruiting, they weren't required to do much digging.

The Buckeyes have managed to sully their public image through a steady stream of off-field troubles — including an ongoing NCAA investigation — and opponents have been quick to pile on.

"You always get some of that," OSU coach Jim Tressel said. "It's disappointing that it goes on in the recruiting business. But you remind yourself that it doesn't usually get kids, and this year is as good an example of that as any.

"I don't know if any negative thing that was prognosticated helped anyone who recruited against us."

Judging by OSU's impressive haul on national signing day, the controversy sure didn't appear to hurt.

The Buckeyes picked up 18 commitments Wednesday, keeping all but two Ohioans from leaving the state and landing four consensus top-100 players: running back Maurice Wells, offensive lineman Alex Boone, cornerback Jamario O'Neal and defensive end Doug Worthington.

Although the final week of the recruiting season brought some disappointment, OSU landed a big catch on the final day in Akron defensive end Lawrence Wilson, who reneged on a verbal commitment to Notre Dame.

"It's an absolutely great class," said recruiting analyst Duane Long of Scout.com, which rated the Buckeyes seventh nationally.

Other recruiting sites ranked the Buckeyes only slightly lower. Rivals.com put them 11th, and ESPN's Tom Lemming placed them 12th, although the final tallies won't be determined until today.

The Buckeyes intentionally targeted fewer prospects with only 27 making official visits. And although there may not be an impact player in the bunch like freshman Ted Ginn Jr., Tressel expects some immediate aid.

"Of the 17 or 18 guys who step on the field in August, I bet half of them will help," Tressel said. "I don't pretend to know which half. But what I like is that they can run, they're smart, they're physical and, most importantly, they have a passion to be Buckeyes."

The class, as usual, has no shortage of burners.

"I always say we want to bring in speed," Tressel said. "You could take the guys from our national letters-of-intent and make a pretty good track team."

OSU signed 10 players from Ohio, getting jilted only by Warren receiver Mario Manningham (Michigan) and Columbus linebacker Alex Daniels (Minnesota). And Long commended Tressel for his work within the borders.

"Really, again, with one or two exceptions, he locked down the state," Long said. "If Ohio State keeps the best in Ohio home, they'll be in the national championship hunt every year. And nobody recognizes that more than Jim Tressel."

The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Wilson also visited Florida and had become such a hot property that his decision was broadcast live on ESPN News.

"Basically, there's no place like home, so it's going to be the Buckeyes," he said. "I like coach (Tressel). I love the coaching staff. That's pretty much why I chose them."

But Wilson kept the Buckeyes waiting. Coaches aren't allowed to speak about recruits until letters-of-intent are in hand, and Tressel asked repeatedly during his hour-long press conference, "Is it here yet?"

The document finally arrived as the interviews ended, and Tressel couldn't hide his glee.

"Lawrence Wilson's a Buckeye," he shouted.

Wilson became available only because ND fired coach Ty Willingham.

"We really felt Ohio State was a very natural place for Lawrence," Tressel said. "It was a good fit. It was close to home. His brother is at Ohio State (as a student). He really enjoyed our players.

"We didn't call him after his original decision. But when he said he'd rethink that, our eyes lit up."

Underwood disciplined

Cornerback E.J. Underwood, who began the season as a starter, has been suspended indefinitely from the team for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, Tressel said.

The Hamilton product didn't dress for the Alamo Bowl after missing a curfew during the trip.

Future Buckeyes already bonding - Dayton Daily News

Future Buckeyes already bonding

By Kyle Nagel
Dayton Daily News

MIDDLETOWN | After months of scrutiny about every aspect of his football ability, Todd Denlinger proved Wednesday he is a top-notch performer in at least one area: One-liners.

Denlinger, a Troy High School defensive lineman, met with fellow Ohio State signees Austin Spitler (Bellbrook linebacker) and Robby Schoenhoft (Cincinnati St. Xavier quarterback) at Lone Star Steakhouse with their families to celebrate the end of the recruiting process. It was a night meant for reflection and relaxation — no phone calls, no coaches. Denlinger kept the mood light.

A sampling of jokes at his friends' expense:

• When asked for an appetizer order, Denlinger pointed to Schoenhoft and said: "I'll eat anything. You're the pretty boy, aren't you on a diet?"

• When Schoenhoft was asked why he made an effort to contact other Ohio State prospects

to talk about the school during the recruiting process, Denlinger said: "Because he needed friends."

Laughs all around, and that was the point of the night. It was the recruiting process itself that made these players friends. They met on an official visit to Columbus and exchanged phone calls throughout the fall.

But, as beneficial as it has been, the process can also wear on players. Schoenhoft's father, Rob Sr., said he wouldn't miss the 11 p.m. phone calls.

That's over now. They're officially Buckeyes, as anyone in the steakhouse would've known by the large banner from Denlinger's mother, Teri, who also wore a bright red Ohio State sweater and Buckeyes beads.

A fourth player, wide receiver/cornerback Andre Amos from Middletown, was supposed to join the group, but a prior engagement kept him from attending.

"This is a great class, we're bonding very easily," Spitler said. "I can't believe the day's finally here. It's such a relief. It's a long process and a lot of stress, but it's good stress."

Said Denlinger: "We all have something in common, we're all going to play football for Ohio State. We're all similar in that way."

And they all hope to have similar success. In fact, that was basically the thought they shared while separately signing their National Letters of Intent on Wednesday morning. Although, once they get to Columbus, Schoenhoft will be different.

As a quarterback, he will wear a separate jersey which dictates he can't be hit, a fact that didn't escape Denlinger. His message for Schoenhoft?

"You're lucky."

Buckeyes land Irish standout - Akron Beacon Journal

Buckeyes land Irish standout

After long night, Wilson picks OSU over Notre Dame, Florida
By Tom Reed
Beacon Journal staff writer

Lawrence Wilson kept everyone, including himself, in suspense the last few days by wrestling with the decision as to where to play college football.

The St. Vincent-St. Mary senior spent much of Tuesday night staring at his bedroom clock. There was no need to set the alarm. The question of ``Ohio State or Notre Dame?'' resounded in his head.

When Wilson finally arrived at his verdict -- to stay close to home and attend Ohio State -- he said the overwhelming feeling was one of relief. Buckeyes coach Jim Tressel and his staff no doubt second that emotion.

Wilson's decision supplied a happy ending to a stressful 48-hour stretch that saw the Buckeyes lose two of the three prospects they had targeted for National Signing Day. The 6-foot-5, 240-pound Wilson was one of the most coveted players yet to commit.

He made his announcement Wednesday afternoon live on ESPNews, donning a scarlet Buckeyes cap to punctuate his decision. Wilson, a defensive end-tight end, chose Ohio State over Notre Dame and Florida. He became the 18th and final commitment to a 2005 Class ranked seventh nationally on the Scout.com Web site as of late Wednesday night.

``Truly, we did not know until 3:49 (p.m.) where Lawrence Wilson was going, and we're ecstatic,'' Tressel said.

Wilson said he did not make his decision until around 2 p.m., although he was leaning toward the Buckeyes as he climbed into bed Tuesday night. Recognized among the country's top-20 prep defensive ends, Wilson described the recruiting process as overwhelming. He orally committed to Notre Dame in the fall, but withdrew it after the Irish fired coach Tyrone Willingham.

That decision touched off a flurry of rabid recruiting. Tressel, Michigan's Lloyd Carr, Florida's Urban Meyer and new Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis all visited Wilson. The Irish sent seven assistants to his home several weeks ago. The Buckeyes did the same Friday night.

But after endless sales pitches, the deciding factor might have been proximity to family. In Columbus, he will be two hours from his parents and two minutes from his brother, Eugene Wilson III, a sophomore at Ohio State. His mother, Sarah, liked the idea of an older brother watching over him.

``Basically, I feel at home there,'' said Wilson, who will major in business. ``My brother will be there and it will be easy for me to make an adjustment.''

Wilson concedes that Notre Dame and Florida recruiters used the Buckeyes' troubles with the NCAA against them. Eugene Wilson II, who hoped his son would select Notre Dame, said Florida recruiters were particularly negative and that soured the family on the Gators.

The NCAA is investigating the OSU football program for the second time in two years after former tailback Maurice Clarett accused it of giving improper benefits to players.

National recruiting expert Jamie Newberg of Scout.com said Ohio State's recruiting class was not adversely affected by the controversy. The Buckeyes landed six of Ohio's top 10 recruits. They missed out on two prized prospects: running back Jason Gwaltney, of Long Island, N.Y., and defensive lineman Walker Ashley, of Eden Prairie, Minn., who went to West Virginia and USC, respectively.

``They moved up by getting Lawrence and that was a big get for them,'' Newberg said. ``Where they finish in (the recruiting rankings) is not as important as fulfilling needs and I think Ohio State did that. They wanted Gwaltney in the worst way, but this is another good Jim Tressel recruiting class.''

The Buckeyes' top recruits were early commitments. The class is led by a pair of Parade All Americans -- Lakewood St Edward's Alex Boone, a 6-8, 315-pound offensive lineman, and Cleveland Glenville's Jamario ONeal, a 6-1, 180-pound defensive back.

Wilson applauded the Buckeyes' recruiting approach.

``When I originally committed to Notre Dame, coach Tressel had nothing bad to say and he said, `You made your decision, now stick with it,' '' he said. ``After they fired Ty, Ohio State was the first one to come back at me.''

Cornerback suspended

Ohio State cornerback E.J. Underwood, who began last season as a starter, has been suspended indefinitely from the team for undisclosed disciplinary reasons, coach Jim Tressel told the Dayton Daily News. Underwood didn't dress for the Alamo Bowl after missing a curfew during the trip.


Ohio State's 2005 Football Signing Class - Cleveland Plain Dealer

Ohio State's 2005 Football Signing Class
Thursday, February 03, 2005

OFFENSE: 7. DEFENSE: 11. National rankings of class: ESPN (12), Rivals.com (12), Scout.com (9). Big Ten rankings of class: Third, behind Michigan and Iowa.

Maurice Wells RB 5-9 185 Sandalwood (Fla.) HS
Comment: Pure need at the position makes Wells' immediate use a likelihood. Rushed for more than 3,000 yards as a junior and 1,908 as a senior. Totaled 5,955 yards and 55 touchdowns in his career. A scat-back who excels in space. Rushed for 429 yards in three quarters of one game.

Jamario O'Neal CB 6-1 205 Glenville (Ohio)
Comment: No. 1 cornerback in Ohio; among top 10 nationally at his position. Will get a look at Dustin Fox's vacated position. History suggests he'll have to work his way into the lineup by playing nickel back. Neither Shawn Springs, Antoine Winfield, Nate Clements or Ahmed Plummer started as true freshmen. Rivals.com and Scout.com rate him as the No. 3 cornerback in country.

Doug Worthington DE 6-7 257 St. Francis (N.Y.)
Comment: Top 10 at his position. Could play at defensive tackle if he adds weight. Had 74 tackles and seven sacks as a senior. No. 2 prospect in New York state by Rivals.com

Alex Boone OL 6-8 300 St. Edward (Ohio)
Comment: One of the bedrocks of the class. Top 10 at his position nationally. Must beat out either Rob Sims or Kirk Barton to start as a true freshman. Orlando Pace is the last, and only, true freshman to start OSU's season-opener at that position. USA Today and Parade All-American.

Andre Amos WR 6-2 175 Middletown (Ohio)
Comment: 35 catches for 500 yards and 7 TDs last season

Jim Cordle OL 6-5 280 Lancaster (Ohio)
Comment: Will enroll in the spring, count toward 2004 class.

Todd Denlinger DT 6-3 275 Troy (Ohio)
Comment: 60 tackles, including 13 for a loss, in 2004.

Brian Hartline WR 6-3 175 Canton GlenOak (Ohio)
Comment: Injured in first game of his senior year.

Malcolm Jenkins S 6-0 180 Piscataway (N.J.)
Comment: Rated No. 28 at safety by Scout.com

James Laurinaitis LB 6-2 230 Wayzata (Minn.)
Comment: Father is retired professional wrestler, The Animal.

Freddie Lenix LB 5-11 195 Glenville (Ohio)
Comment: 143 tackles, including 12 sacks, last season.

Brian Robiskie WR 6-3 190 Chagrin Falls (Ohio)
Comment: 47 catches for 754 yards and 12 TDs in 2004.

Anderson Russell DB 6-0 205 Marist (Ga.)
Comment: Played RB in high school, but projects as DB

Rob Schoenhoft QB 6-5 235 Cin. St. Xavier (Ohio)
Comment: Threw for 1,200 yards in eight games in 2004.

Austin Spitler LB 6-3 235 Bellbrook (Ohio)
Comment: 132 tackles, including 11 for a loss, with 7 sacks.

Donald Washington DB 6-1 185 Indianapolis (Ind.)
Comment: State long-jump champ as sophomore and junior.

Ryan Williams DE 6-5 230 Mission Viejo (Calif.)
Comment: First out-of-state commitment for OSU in '05 class.

Lawrence Wilson DE 6-5 240 Akron (Ohio)
Comment: Chose OSU over Notre Dame on final day

Freddie Lenix. Although just 5-11, some would say too short for a linebacker, Lenix's speed will likely get him on the field as a freshman, perhaps as a special teams factor.

Ohio State was hot and heavy after tailback Jason Gwaltney of Long Island, N.Y., and defensive tackle Walker Ashley of Eden Prairie, Minn. Both disappointed the Buckeyes at the 11th hour, with Gwaltney going to West Virginia and Ashley to USC.

Gators beg, Irish plead, but Wilson picks OSU - Cleveland Plain Dealer

Gators beg, Irish plead, but Wilson picks OSU

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Tim Rogers
Plain Dealer Reporter

Lawrence Wilson must be the most powerful person in high school sports.

Who else prompted Florida coach Urban Meyer to board a plane at midnight in Gainesville in order to reach Akron and greet Wilson with a Gators helmet and jersey when he walked into St. Vincent-St. Mary the next morning?

Who else spurred Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis to dispatch practically his entire staff to the Wilson home for a nice faces-to- faces chat? What was next, the Irish marching band, high-stepping down Morely Avenue to serenade the family with the Notre Dame Victory March?

Who else could lure Ohio State's Jim Tressel to Akron for two visits -- on one occasion accompanied by a handful of assistants -- in the dead of winter? Wasn't there a prized running back in Siesta Key or a barefooted kicker in Montego Bay worthy of that attention?

Who else had local, state and national media -- not to mention those relentless dot-com recruiting services -- tripping over one another during the last eight weeks, trying to learn the skinny on Wilson's feelings?

After two months of speculation, investigation and aggravation, Wilson announced at approximately 3:50 p.m. Wednesday that he would attend Ohio State. Notre Dame, he said, finished a close second with Florida a distant third.

Wilson's father, Eugene II, said his son was so perplexed by the task that he did not reach a decision until 2:10 p.m., just 90 minutes before he was scheduled to make his announcement on ESPNews.

Sporting a fresh haircut and clad in a black suit with matching silver tie and shirt, a nervous Wilson made his announcement in front of family, friends, teammates, coaches and the ESPNews audience of digital cable subscribers. A large cheer went up when Wilson said, "Basically, there's no place like home, so I'm going to be a Buckeye."

With that, he pulled on an Ohio State cap and discarded those belonging to Notre Dame and Florida.

"Yeah, I was nervous," Wilson said of his television debut, after sharing a hug with his older brother, Eugene III.

Eugene III, a sophomore at OSU, had secretly hoped his brother would join him in Columbus. "I never said a word either way," the older brother said.

Before Dec. 1, Wilson was just another 6-5, 240-pound high school kid who had made an oral commitment to attend Notre Dame. Then came the firing of Tyrone Willingham and a change of heart for Wilson. That's when the feeding frenzy began. Wilson said OSU was his original second choice.

"We never thought it would get this big," Wilson's father, Eugene II, said of the recruiting storm that swallowed Wilson, his family and some of his friends since early December. "Things were nice and quiet until Ty got fired. That's when this whole thing kind of exploded. We just want to do what is right for our son."

As Wilson's mother, Sarah, said last week, the recruitment of her son took on more than a mind of its own. It took on a whole generation of its own.

"It's crazy," SVSM coach Keith Wakefield said. "I mean, it became a circus."

Wilson's final choices each had pluses and minuses. Florida was too far away, but Lawrence told his parents Meyer was the coach who made him feel the most comfortable. To a kid from Northeast Ohio, Florida in December is close to paradise.

"We get off the plane and we've got on our winter coats and can't wait to get rid of them," Eugene II recalled of the family's visit in mid-December.

"We get to the campus and the first thing Lawrence sees is three nice-looking young women in shorts, T-shirts and flip-flops. Lawrence said, If this school wasn't so far away, I'd commit right now.' Hey, he's 17 years old. I wasn't about to let him make a decision like this while he was on a recruiting visit."

The Wilsons were impressed with the way Tressel seemed to fit into any situation. After watching Lawrence and his basketball teammates defeat St. Edward, the OSU coach accompanied the family to Rockne's on Merriman Road.

"Coach Tressel is nothing but class," said Wilson's father, who said he unplugged the home phone at 11 p.m. Tuesday and left his cell phone at home Wednesday. "He must have signed 100 autographs and posed for 50 pictures while we were at St. V and the restaurant. Anyone who asked, he obliged. I was impressed by that. He said he would have picked up the check, but, you know how the NCAA is."

While Meyer was visiting Lawrence at school, he took time to dash across the street to St. Vincent Elementary and meet Lawrence's younger sister, Elizabeth. The style points that effort created were wiped out when the Florida coaches began trashing the OSU and Notre Dame programs during phone calls on Tuesday, Wilson's father said.

"The thing that struck me is that all of them are good at what they do," he said. "I mean, really good. They know their business, inside and out. They talk to you and they make you feel like you want to rush out and become part of their program."

Still, it's easy to get the impression that dad wanted to see his son pick Notre Dame.

"Notre Dame is a special place," he said. "We have visited many colleges over the years, from Washington, D.C. to Los Angeles, and no campus is like Notre Dame. Let's face it, we didn't choose Notre Dame originally because of football. There were academics involved. And, I like the religious influence."

There are people in Ohio who consider football a religion, too.

Wilson tops off '05 OSU class - Cleveland Plain Dealer

Wilson tops off '05 OSU class
Players undaunted by NCAA investigation
Thursday, February 03, 2005

Bruce Hooley
Plain Dealer Reporter


-- Ohio State found 18 recruits more consumed by their desire to play for the Buckeyes than they were concerned by the on-going NCAA investigation of the OSU football program.

"It's not like they didn't hear a lot of different things, whether it be investigative things [or] NCAA things," head coach Jim Tressel said. ". . . That stuff didn't override to these kids, Hey, this is where want to be.'

"To me, that is a sense of accomplishment that we found guys who felt that way."

The last-day decision of defensive end Lawrence Wilson of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary High School to attend Ohio State kept the Buckeyes from being shut out for a third straight year by players who waited to make their choice until National Signing Day.

Wilson chose OSU over Notre Dame, after defensive end Walker Ashley of Eden Prairie, Minn., picked USC over the Buckeyes.

Wilson's signing bumped Ohio State to No. 7 on Scout.com's early-evening rankings.

OSU was a consensus third in the Big Ten. Iowa was No. 8 on Scout.com's list, with Michigan No. 2.

Rivals.com had OSU 11th, with Iowa 10th and Michigan sixth.

Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report and ESPN ranked Michigan fourth, Iowa fifth and Ohio State 12th.

OSU's class includes 11 in-state players and seven others, each from a different state.

The Ohio headliners are offensive tackle Alex Boone of St. Edward and cornerback Jamario O'Neal of Glenville.

O'Neal was Ohio State's first verbal commitment in the class of 2005, announcing that decision before his junior season.

Boone was OSU's second commitment before last season, giving the Buckeyes two of the state's top players to give Tressel and his coaches immediate cachet with the undecided.

"That was obviously a great boost to help establish a great class," Tressel said.

OSU signed only one tailback, Maurice Wells of Jacksonville, Fla., and will start the 2005 season with just three players on scholarship at that position.

The Buckeyes hoped to attract Jason Gwaltney of Long Island, N.Y., but he chose West Virginia over OSU and USC on Tuesday.

The top three running backs in Ohio - Javon Ringer of Dayton (Michigan State), Tyrell Sutton of Akron (Northwestern) and Mister Simpson of Cincinnati (Michigan) - chose other Big Ten schools.

"It's going to be a top priority for next year, for sure," Tressel said of signing running backs.

So will shedding the fallout from quarterback Troy Smith's suspension for taking cash from a booster, and the investigative cloud that hangs over OSU courtesy of allegations made by former tailback Maurice Clarett.

Tressel said no decision has been made on whether to seek immediate reinstatement for Smith or bend to NCAA precedent, which suggests a two-game suspension that would make him unavailable for the Sept. 4 opener against Miami (Ohio).

"Whatever it is, we'll abide by," Tressel said. "Do I anticipate him being available for the opener? I really don't know."

Nor would Tressel make any guarantees about what the NCAA investigation might unearth.

"No school can say, 'Hey, Johnny, I promise you in the next four years there won't be any problems at my school,' " Tressel said. "You can't make that promise."

North/South Game Introductions - Photo Gallery - Bucknuts

North/South Game Introductions - Photo Gallery
By Steve Helwagen
Date: Feb 3, 2005

There was no rest for a few of the newest Buckeye football players today as they were in Columbus for the introduction ceremony of the players in this year's North/South football game. Check out a few photos of the OSU players at the event.

Alex Boone talks with the press

Boone and wide receiver Andre Amos

Amos and Lawrence Wilson

The Glenville group arrived in style -- Fred Lenix, coach Ted Ginn and Jamario O'Neal

Austin Spitler, Andre Amos, and Rob Schoenhoft

Spitler and Schoenhoft

Lawrence Wilson

Coaching Staff Likes Result of Recruiting Effort - Part I - The Defense - The Ozone

Coaching Staff Likes Result of Recruiting Effort - Part I - The Defense
By John Porentas

The ink is dry on the letters of intent, and, if you're into that sort of thing, the ratings are in.

While we remain staunchly in the "Lets wait a couple of years to see just how good they are" crowd, we did have a chance to talk to the OSU coaching staff about their new players and how they felt about this year's recruiting effort. Here's what they had to say.

In General

Head Coach Jim Tressel: "First and foremost they want to be Ohio State Buckeyes and that they want to achieve great things on the field, but also they want to achieve a meaningful degree from Ohio State," said Tressel trying to sum up his general impressions of his newest players.

"We feel tremendous about the academic integrity of this group and the passion to get things done on and off the field."

Throughout his talk with the media yesterday, Tressel reiterated that theme, that the players signed yesterday are players who want to be at Ohio State.

"They seem to be special guys who will be very competitive on the field and in the classroom, and no question in their mind, want to be Ohio State Buckeyes.

"What I admire most about them and I admire most about this recruiting class is what is most important is that all in their opinions, Ohio State is a great place to be."

Though Tressel declined to single out any newly signed player as one that could emerge as Ted Ginn Jr. did last year, he didn't rule out the possibility that a player could do so in this class.

"I mentioned to you last year that I thought Ted Ginn would come in and play at corner, and he did everything but play corner," said Tressel

"You just never know how guys come in and what your needs are.

"I bet you half of them help in the 2005 year. I wouldn't even pretend to know which half," Tressel said.

For the Defense

Defensive Backs Coach Mel Tucker: Tucker lost two players to graduation last year (Dustin Fox and Harlan Jacobs), but the Buckeyes signed four DBs in this class, bringing a smile to Tucker's face.

"Anytime you lose two and get four, you're ahead of the game," said Tucker.

Tucker commented on his four new players.

Anderson Russell - "He's a big-time steal," said Tucker.

"The reason why he's a steal is because he plays in a wishbone option offense. It was kind of like Michael Jordan at North Carolina. Dean Smith held him to 18 points a game. That's how Anderson is. He doesn't touch the ball that much, but he averages like 9 yards a carry. He's part of a system. If he was an I-formation back, he'd have two or three thousand yards," said Tucker.

"He's about 6-1, almost 6-2, 200 pound kid that runs in the low 4.4's. He's an excellent character kid. I don't know if we've had a safety here since I've been here that's had the height, weight, speed that he has. I just don't know if we've had that guy here. He's special.

Malcolm Jenkins - "Malcolm is outstanding. He's about 6-1, 190 pounds, he runs, he was here in camp for three or four days and I got a chance to work with him closely at that time," Tucker said.

"He's a really hard worker. He's a great student, a competitor, and has a great feel for the game. I really like the guy. He reminded me of Youboty when he came to camp a couple of years ago, so we offered him."

Jamario O'Neal - " He's got great speed and he's also a six foot kid, a 190 pound kid," said Tucker.

"He's a competitor that can make plays on both sides of the ball, just like Malcolm. He's got some Chris Gamble type ability and some Derrick Ross type ability. He's big and has some explosion. He can hit, he's a hitter. In the Fitch game, he knocked a kid's helmet off. He's a physical kid. He's just a player. There's no other way to describe it."

Donald Washington - "Donald is a guy who is about six feet, 185, 190 pounds, he's got a 39-inch vertical leap, he's a got a 23 foot long jump. He's very explosive. He's got long arms, wide shouldered guy, and a really smart kid that is excellent in the class room. He's very, very serious and a winner. An excellent athlete that can play corner or safety. He reminds me of a young Youboty type kid."

"What I like about this group is that they're all six foot and over and they all can play multiple positions. Anderson, I don't foresee him playing corner, but the rest of those guys can play corner of safety."

Linebackers Coach Luke Fickell: The Buckeyes signed three linebackers who Fickell will coach. Fickell likes them as a group.

"The trait that all three of them have, I think they're all three different runners, different size guys, different mobility laterally, but the thing that all three of those guys have that I'm a big proponent of is incredible toughness and competitiveness and want to be here. You can throw out the 40 yard dashes, the bench presses, all those other things, but if you've got a guy who is competitive and tough, and wants to compete, you've got a good player," Fickell said.

Freddy Lenix - "He gives us a versatility and that's the one thing we like. He's a great speed guy and a great hitter, a football player in general. He's a hitter and a fierce competitor. Some people want to compare him to Cie Grant, and he has those kinds of skills, but I think he has his own style and is his own kind of player. He's going to be a good one."

James Laurinaitis - "James is a big, physical kid. I watched him play hockey. He is a very good lateral movement kid. He's a very tough player. I think he's a middle linebacker guy."

Austin Spitler - "Another guy who could play anywhere; fullback, tight end, he might be one of the toughest guys I've seen who wants to be here, wants to be here. He could be a middle linebacker or a Sam linebacker."

"What I really like about the group is their toughness. They're all the kind of guys that if they get up after a play and their nose is sideways, they just line up for the next play."

Defensive Line Coach Jim Heacock:

DT Todd Denlinger - "He kind of reminds me a little bit of Darrion Scott, some of those linebackers that we've moved down. He's up to 280 now, a real tough kid and real worker. He reminds me of Tim Anderson in that he won't let anybody outwork him."

DE Doug Worthington - "He's big, he can run, he's a good basketball player, long arms. He comes off the edge. He has a lot of upside."

DE Lawrence Wilson - Lawrence is a guy that I've like all along. He has great explosion, can run, come off the edge, he was probably our best pass rusher in camp. We're real excited about him."

DE Ryan Williams - Ryan is a guy who is under rated a little bit. He's a great guy with great speed off the edge. I'm excited because going into this recruiting class, we earmarked guys who can come off the edge. Those three guys are going to really help us."

Buckeye Recruiting a Bit Different in 2004 - The Ozone

Buckeye Recruiting a Bit Different in 2004
By John Porentas

Letter of intent day has come and gone. The faxes have been received, and 18 new scholarship players have been brought on board to keep the pipeline full at Ohio State. From the outside looking in, it looks like business as usual, but things were a bit different this year in the Ohio State recruiting effort.

The most obvious difference is that there is a new guy in charge. Long-time recruiting coordinator Bill Conley is gone, and new recruiting coordinator John Peterson has now landed his first recruiting class. While the results are nearly the same (the Buckeyes did well) the method differed markedly.

The Buckeyes hosted just 27 official visits this year despite the fact that NCAA rules allow more-than 50. Under Conley, OSU always hosted near the limit, but this year, the Buckeyes hosted about half the allowable number.

Conley has been openly critical of the Buckeye recruiting effort in the local media outlets, saying that the small number of visits put the Buckeyes at a competitive disadvantage, but Jim Tressel seems to be one who approves of the method.

"That was definitely by design," said Tressel when asked if the small number was planned or simply evolved because the Buckeyes were having trouble getting athletes to visit.

"We thought the kids we had in had genuine interest, and we had real interest in them. I think the more you do something you ought to be more efficient," Tressel said.

There was fundamental change in philosophy that led naturally to the more efficient approach. Under Conley, the Buckeyes took a "numbers" approach, often entertaining more players than they could offer scholarships to, and always offering more scholarships than they could grant. This year, however, the focus was not on numbers, but on qualifying each prospect and offering only those who were actually on the OSU wish list, and who the coaching staff felt they could take given the needs of the team, etc.

"We never want to offer more than we can take. It's not like we had 50 offers out there and said the first 20 come on, which some people do. We kind of offer as we feel there is definitely room," said Tressel.

It was a change in the way business is done at OSU, but one that the coaching staff seemed in general to like.

"As long as you bring in the right guys. You don't want to bring in a whole bunch of guys you haven't offered scholarships to," said defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator Mel Tucker.

"You want to bring in guys that you're serious about, that you're willing to take the commitment from if they commit on the visit."

If you got an invitation to visit, that meant that the Buckeyes had room for you and were interested in you, and if you wanted to be a Buckeye, they were ready to take you. Of course, the smaller number of visits meant that the Buckeyes had to close a higher percentage of players who made official visits, but according to Luke Fickell, that sort of follows from the philosophy.

"If you bring in a bunch of guys on a weekend, and say you have five linebackers in, I can't really pay close enough attention to any one of them to really get the job done. When there was just one linebacker on campus, he had my complete attention, and I think that conveys something to the recruits," said Fickell

"You can spend more focused time on the kids if you have those kinds of numbers," Fickell added.

"I think it's pretty special to bring in as few as we did and get as many as we did. You have to be more selective, but it's great," agreed defensive line coach Jim Heacock.

In addition to the overall efficiency of the new approach, there is another aspect that Tressel likes. According to Tressel, it's a more honest approach that doesn't lead to false hopes for athletes and the parents of athletes. By not bringing in players that really won't get an offer or that the Buckeyes are not sold on, OSU does not put itself in the position of having to disappoint those people.

"The one thing that is very difficult about it (recruiting) is that the most important principals involved in it are the kids and their families, and it's the first time they're doing it," said Tressel.

"They get tussled back and forth. They get excited about it, then they got worn down by it. Then there's irritability in the household because the phone is ringing and the Internet service is calling, the recruiting service is calling, the TV is calling, the radio and newspaper is calling, the coaches are calling, their friends are calling, so if there is anything we could change, it would be to make it a little less stressful on the kids."

For Tressel, that, it seems, includes not raising false hopes for kids just for the sake of numbers in the recruiting process.

It's a different approach, but it's typical Jim Tressel, and at least for this year, the Buckeyes recruiting staff pulled it off. OSU closed on all but nine of the players that made official visits. That's a great batting average that left an absolute minimum number of disappointed families across Ohio and the country.

Recruiting Notes:
* The Buckeyes were assumed to have an uphill climb this recruiting season due to the avalanche of negative publicity and threat of NCAA sanctions on the football program. According to Tressel, those problems didn't seem to materialize. Tressel's approach to tough questions from recruits was simple: just tell the truth.

"I want to be up front and honest with them from the day I start recruiting him, because I'm going to want to be up front and honest with them and candid when they're here. I don't think that puts us at a competitive disadvantage. I think anytime honesty and the truth, that never puts you at a disadvantage," said Tressel.

* The Buckeyes signed 18 players, leaving themselves about two players short of the maximum 85 allowed by the NCAA. According to Tressel, that was according to plan.

"John Peterson told me we have 16 seniors next year. We always like to have in the 18 range to give in a recruiting class, so I don't think it hurts to be a little conservative and not overbook," said Tressel.

By shorting this class by two, the Buckeyes can "bank" the scholarships toward next year's class, or award them to deserving walkons this season.

"We like to keep a couple for that," said Tressel. "We've awarded about 12 scholarships to walk ons since I've been here.


TITLE - Rivals 100

February 3, 2005
Rivals.com 2005 Junior All-American Team

Rivals.com staff
Rivals100.com Staff Writer *

While the ink is barely dry on the national letters of intent for the class of 2005, Rivals.com is proud to unveil the Rivals.com 2005 Junior All-America Team. The team features 22 of the nation's top junior prospects and is headlined by a gunslinger from Texas, the next sure thing from the state of Virginia, the best player to come out of New Jersey in five years and many others that are about to become household names to recruiting fans all over the nation.

While the list is comprised of the top players from all over the country, the team does have a Southern feel to it. Ten of the players on the list are from states that are considered part of the Southeast, with Florida leading the way with three players.


Matthew Stafford Quarterback Dallas Highland Park
All-state selection the past two seasons. Threw for more than 1,800 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior. "He's a student of the game that has a great understanding of principles and concepts," his coach said.

LeSean McCoy Running back Harrisburg (Pa.) Bishop McDevitt
Named the Class 4A State Player of the Year in 2004, rushing for 2,828 yards and scoring 33 times. Miami, Virginia, Penn State and others have already offered.

Chris Wells Running back Akron (Ohio) Garfield
Might be the top prospect in Ohio with size and speed combo. Rushed for nearly 2,000 yards and 23 TDs as a junior. Ohio State, Michigan, Iowa and others have already offered.

Percy Harvin Wide receiver Virginia Beach (Va.) Landstown
Named the Rivals.com Junior of the Year. Harvin rolled up 475 total yards in Landstown's 47-20 victory over Robinson in the Class AAA, Division 6 title game.

Justin Williams Wide receiver Folkston (Ga.) Charlton County
Caught 45 passes for 909 yards and 13 TDs as a junior, earning 2A all-state honors. FSU, Florida and LSU have already offered.

Konrad Reuland Tight end Mission Viejo, Calif.
Big, athletic and strong kid who plays for one of the top programs in California. Ran a 4.75 at the NIKE Camp last year. Nebraska and Duke have already offered.

Carl Johnson Offensive line Durham (N.C.) Southern
Mammoth lineman who was a first-team all-state pick as a junior. Already lists offers from Tennessee, Georgia, Virginia, Virginia Tech, Auburn and many more.

Jacques McClendon Offensive line† Chattanooga (Tenn.) Baylor
Athletic big-man who was a second-team all-state pick as a junior and has already chosen Tennessee over offers from Alabama and Auburn.

Andre Smith Offensive line† Birmingham (Ala.) Huffman
The top junior in a very good year in the state of Alabama. Already has racked up numerous scholarship offers, and some think he might have been the top player in the state this year.

J.B. Walton Offensive line† White Plains (Md.) Lackey
A first-team all-state pick who already has scholarship offers from Penn State, Virginia, Maryland, N.C. State and many other national programs.

Sam Young Offensive line† Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St. Thomas Aquinas
Will be a four-year starter for one of the top programs in the entire country. An all-state pick as a junior with great agility and an imposing frame.


Clifton Geathers Defensive end Carvers Bay, S.C.
Many are comparing this kid to Julius Peppers already. They have similar size and absolutely freakish speed. Geathers already has plenty of offers, but one interesting note is that his brother Robert Geathers played at Georgia from 2001-03.

Micah Johnson Defensive end Ft. Campbell, Ky.
Played in Virginia until recently when he moved to Kentucky. Will play for one of the state's better programs and his size, mass and frame make him a physical specimen that will attract national recruiters.

Corey Hobbs Defensive tackle Oviedo, Fla.
A monster who comes off the ball hard. Usually it's the offensive lineman who do the pancaking, but not when Hobbs is involved; he is the one putting the offensive guys on their backs.

Chaz Washington Defensive tackle Destrehan (La.)
An all-district and all-area pick as a junior who plays in the same highly competitive district that handed Ryan Perrilloux's team three regular season losses. LSU has offered.

Marcus Ball Linebacker Stone Mountain (Ga.) Stephenson
A first-team all-state pick as a junior after totaling 120 tackles and seven sacks. Lit up the NIKE Camp in Atlanta a year ago, called by one coach the top LB he saw all year at the camps, after clocking a 4.49 40 and an 83.70 overall SPARQ Rating.

Brandon Graham Linebacker Detroit Crockett
The top junior in the state of Michigan. Clocked a 4.45-second time in the 40-yard dash at the Michigan State summer camp. He had 20 sacks as a junior and has a 385-pound bench-press. One of the Midwest's truly elite national prospects.

Sergio Kindle Linebacker Dallas Woodrow Wilson
Do-it-all performer on the high school level, rushing for over 1,800 yards and 25 scores while †registering 100+ tackles last fall. Could play a number of positions in college and might be the top prospect in Texas next year.

Taylor Mays Defensive back Seattle O'Dea
Similar skills to Rolle, just a lot lower profile coming out of the Pacific Northwest. All-State as a junior, totaling five picks and returning three punts for touchdowns. Won the state 100 meter dash as a sophomore and should be the top recruit in the region next year.

John Maddux Defensive back Philadelphia West Catholic
Had 10 picks and 61 tackles to go along with 605 yards and 10 touchdowns receiving as a junior. Miami, Penn State, Wisconsin and others have supposedly already offered.

D'Andre McDaniel Defensive back Tallahassee (Fla.) Godby
People call McDaniel a Kenneth Phillips clone, and if those comparisons are true look out for him. McDaniel is a prototypical big hitting safety whole lets no one get behind him.

Myron Rolle Defensive back Princeton (N.J.) The Hun School
A tremendous defensive back prospect with safety size and cornerback skills. Rushed for 1,503 yards and 22 scores as a junior to go along with 85 tackles and five interceptions on defense. Boasts more than 25 offers.

Late decisions could force change at No. 1 - Rivals 100

February 3, 2005
Late decisions could force change at No. 1

Jeremy Crabtree
Rivals100.com Editor *
[ The Rivals.com National Team Rankings ]

In the 2000 Presidential election, the television networks made an early call and declared Al Gore the winner. Everybody knows how that one turned out.Rivals.com

Florida State could end up with the nation's top recruiting class now that Matt Hardrick has signed with the Seminoles.On Wednesday, Rivals.com declared USC the recruiting national champion for the class of 2005. However, things could get interesting today as No. 2 Florida State has just signed a key prospect and USC still has some others out there that could change things.As a result, we may have a new team as king of the mountain once the smoke clears.

Southern Cal currently sits at No. 1 in the rankings with 2,631 points. The Trojans have commitments from four-five star players, 11 four-star players and five three star players. Their average star ranking is 3.95 and they hold a lead of 123 points over No. 2 Florida State.
However, Florida State just received a signed letter of intent from offensive tackle Matt Hardrick, and his pledge could change things.
Ranked as the nation's No. 41 player overall and a four-star player that is ranked in the top five of his position, Hardrick could easily give Florida State the bounce needed to bypass USC in the team rankings.

Overall, FSU landed three five-star players, 13 four-star prospects and five three-stars, but their average star ranking was slightly lower than USC at 3.81. Then again, those averages obviously would change with a commitment from Hardrick.

So now that FSU has landed Hardrick, it's a done deal for the 'Noles to be No. 1, right?

Not so fast
USC is still also waiting on a big fish also, Rolling Hills Estates (Calif.) Peninsula four-star tight end Erik Lorig. If the Trojans can reel in Lorig, it might be enough to offset Florida State's addition of Hardrick and keep them at the nation's No. 1 spot. Then again, Lorig heading to USC isn't exactly a sure thing.

Lorig's family told Rivals.com that a decision is still in the works and teams like Cal and Notre Dame were still in the picture. The Trojans have been listed high on his list for quite some time before a visit to South Bend this past weekend.

Then there are the questions with five-star junior college defensive tackle Gabe Long, four-star junior college offensive tackle Kevin Myers and three-star kicker Troy Van Blarcom. Sources indicated that there is a very good chance that Long will not sign with the Trojans because of his academics, and at this point Van Blarcom still has some academic hurdles to clear also before he is signed by the Trojans.Rivals.com
DeSean Jackson bumped Cal into the Top 10 and may eventually cost USC the top spot. While there remain a few questions at the top of the list, things have sorted themselves out in the rest of the top 10.

Oklahoma is at No. 3 on the list ahead of Tennessee, Nebraska, Michigan, Miami, California, Georgia and Texas A&M. Each of those programs had strong finishes, but it's the Golden Bears who made the biggest jump into the top 10 late in the game with the addition of five-star receiver DeSean Jackson. Jackson's pledge to the Bears instead of USC is one reason why the Trojans still have to hold on to remain at No. 1.

But unlike the elections, it won't be hanging chads or the Supreme Court that determines the winner of this race. It's going to be the decisions of two blue-chip prospects some time today that could turn things in favor of Southern Cal or Florida State.

Florida star has OSU offer with Bucks high on list - Rivals PREMIUM

February 3, 2005
Florida star has OSU offer with Bucks high on list

Bill Kurelic
BuckeyeSports.com Recruiting Analyst *
This standout Florida athlete has an offer from Ohio State, as well as Michigan and Florida. He is very interested in Ohio State and will visit the Buckeyes in the spring.

Will Bucks land first 2006 commitment Saturday? - Rivals PREMIUM

February 3, 2005
Will Bucks land first 2006 commitment Saturday?

Bill Kurelic
BuckeyeSports.com Recruiting Analyst *
The Buckeyes have offered a scholarship to this standout lineman and he will visit Ohio State this weekend. With the ink hardly dry on the letters of intent the class of 2005 just signed, it's now time to roll with our junior information. Read on!

2008: A Boeckman Odyssey - Scout PREMIUM

2008: A Boeckman Odyssey
By Dave Biddle
Date: Feb 3, 2005

It looked like Ohio State quarterback Todd Boeckman might have to burn his redshirt year by playing in the Alamo Bowl. Fortunately for Boeckman and the Buckeyes, it worked out for the best. We caught up with Todd Boeckman's father -- Tim Boeckman -- for his thoughts on the situation.

Chris Wells Is At The Top Of The Class In 2006 - Bucknuts

Chris Wells Is At The Top Of The Class In 2006
By Gary Housteau
Date: Feb 3, 2005

As long as Chris Wells has been known in the recruiting circles, Ohio State and Michigan have always been at the top of his wish list. Now there's another school involved that Wells thinks could be a major player as well. Could his final decision actually be somebody other than Ohio State or Michigan?

With national signing day 2005 now a thing of the past, all eyes, at least in Ohio, turn to the top of the 2006 class where Chris Wells of Akron Garfield High School resides.

Wells, who intends to enroll early at the school of his choice, was an anxious spectator on Wednesday as a few of his fellow Ram teammates signed their letters.

“I thought it was kind of exciting because everybody was out there signing today,” said Wells while taking a break from his after-school lifting workout on Wednesday. “It’s exciting and I’m just about ready for me to sign. And I’m ready for next season to start also.”

Obviously Wells is astute enough to know that he is now the object of attention from both fans and college coaching staffs in Ohio and around the country.

“That makes me feel kind of good,” said Wells who won’t turn 17 years old until August. “There’s no pressure on me at all, I just feel good about the whole situation with recruiting. I like it. I just look at it as positive publicity. I know most people say that it’s a pain but I love it.”

The constant smile on his face will tell you that he’s just very thankful for the opportunity that is in front of him because, at one point in his young life, Wells never even imagined his circumstances turning out this way.

“I never thought that I was going to the center of attention in a positive way,” Wells said. “I was always in trouble growing up so it’s kind of crazy to see myself end up how I am now. Just from school and with the law and all that, I was really worried about my future. I almost ended up in jail when I was in the seventh grade and I got in trouble. I went to court and pretty much got scared straight. That’s not somewhere that I want to be.”

So his goals in his young life now are very simple and precise.

“I just want to play football and go to school, that’s really it,” Wells said. “I just want to play ball for a nice school and enjoy it.”

He just doesn’t exactly know which school it will be at on the next level as of signing day 2005. Just recently Wells added a new school to the mix.

“Right now I’m liking three major schools and I’m on them tough,” he said. “I like Ohio State, Michigan and Oklahoma. I love those three schools to death and it’s just pulling me.”

Credit the emergence of Adrian Peterson on the national scene for Wells adding Oklahoma to his list.

“I love him to death. I love Adrian Peterson,” he said. “I talked to Coach Gundy, the running backs coach, and he told me the whole situation down there about how they weren’t getting that many running backs in and he offered me a scholarship. I just like the whole situation because just he’s there. After I graduate I’ll be a freshman and he’ll be a junior, that’s just a perfect situation to be in.”

For the longest time however, it had been predominantly a two-horse race for Wells between Ohio State and Michigan.

“I still love those two schools to death and they’re always going to be in the picture, regardless,” Wells said. “Whatever schools come in there’s always going to be Ohio State and Michigan there.”

Wells seems to know a little bit about the depth chart at running back of those two schools. He also knows Ohio State didn’t get that big back that they covet so much when Jason Gwaltney turned down the Buckeyes advances on the eve of signing day.

“Ohio State got small backs. I’m not downing them, they’re all good talents but they’re just small. Their backs are athletes but they’re small. They don’t have a big back right now,” he said. “And Michigan has some pretty good backs too. They also have a small back in Michael Hart but he’s good. It all depends on how big your heart is. Size doesn’t matter.”

At one time Wells was himself a proponent for Ohio kids staying in Ohio but he has now softened some on that stance.

I really don't think about it that much now," he said. "My mom is on me about it all the time, 'Ohio should stay in Ohio.' She wants me to go to Ohio State but she really likes Michigan too."

So what actually will be the major factor when it eventually becomes time for Wells to make his final decision?

“It will be all about the actual school itself and what the depth chart looks like will play a big role,” he said. “I do want to play my freshman year, I don’t want to sit the bench. It’s going to be hard for me to sit the bench because I ain’t never sat the bench in my life. That’s going to be kind of hard so I just want to play.”

And by enrolling in school early, Wells thinks that will give him a better chance to start or just to play at the school he eventually attends.

“I just want to go early so I can have a better advantage of playing as soon as I get there,” he said. “I just want the chance to show them what I’m about and what I can do as soon as I get there.”

Regardless of where his final destination will land him, Wells is looking forward to the ride that will take him there.

“I think my future is going to be bright and exciting to see,” he said while flashing that wide smile again. “I can’t wait for football season to start.”

And then he went back to finish up his workout.

Buckeyes Sign 18 in Class of 2005 - WBNS 10TV (AP)

Buckeyes Sign 18 in Class of 2005

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - After months of NCAA investigations and
allegations of payoffs to football players and academic fraud, Ohio
State coach Jim Tressel was more than a little relieved that he was
able to convince 18 players to sign with the Buckeyes on Wednesday.
***** "No question in these kids' minds this is where they want to
be," Tressel said after unveiling the class on the first day for
the signing of national letters of intent. "It's not like they
didn't hear a lot of different things, whether it be investigative
things, NCAA things ... That stuff didn't override to these kids
(that) this is where they want to be."
***** The highlights included Alex Boone, a 6-foot-8, 315-pound
offensive lineman from Lakewood St. Edward, and linebacker Freddie
Lenix and Jamario O'Neal, a fleet cornerback, both from Cleveland
Glenville. Yes, that's the same school that gave Ohio State one of
last year's heroes, Ted Ginn Jr., the record-setting kick
returner/receiver with speed to burn.
***** Ohio State has been under fire for most of the past two years
because of charges that football players were given high-pay,
low-work summer jobs, received money from boosters and did little
work for their grades.
***** Starting quarterback Troy Smith was suspended for the Alamo Bowl
last year and will likely be held out of at least the season opener
against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 4 for accepting money from a team
***** Tressel spoke with reporters near a sign which read, "The
desire to win is translated to TEAM CONDUCT: Woody Hayes."
***** Tressel said he was confident that the current NCAA
investigation in his program would come out favorably. "The NCAA's
not an ogre out there," he said.
***** He was asked if other schools used Ohio State's troubles against
it during the highly competitive recruiting season. Tressel said
there are not guarantees or promises when it comes to the whole
***** "We have to come short of saying, just like any school, 'Hey,
Johnny, I promise you in the next four years there won't be any
problems in my school.' You can't make that promise," Tressel
***** The 18 scholarships were fewer than Ohio State could have handed
out. Most likely the extras will be "banked" and used next year
or on walk-ons or transfers this season.
***** Among the incoming Buckeyes is James Laurinaitis, a linebacker
from Wayzata, Minn., whose father was "Animal," a renowned
professional wrestler who was part of the WWE's Legion of Doom.


Buckeyes end with splash - Columbus Dispatch

Buckeyes end with splash
Akron lineman completes OSU’s recruiting class
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Tim May

Jim Tressel kept asking whether the fax was in.

Everyone present knew Ohio State had just capped its recruiting season on a high note with the signing of highly rated defensive end Lawrence Wilson of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary. But per NCAA rules, Tressel couldn’t talk about him until the school received a faxed copy of his national letter of intent.

The formal news conference came and went, and Tressel was holding court with a small group when offensive coordinator Jim Bollman walked up to him and whispered, "It’s here."

Tressel smiled and said loudly enough so everyone in the room could hear: "Lawrence Wilson is a Buckeye."

Not that Wilson’s choice sent a shockwave through the recruiting world, though Notre Dame and Florida probably were disappointed. But it was good news for the Buckeyes not only because he became the 18 th and final member of the class of 2005, but because it showed they could land a prospect on the final day.

They had been left hanging by two prized recruits in the previous 24 hours. Running back Jason Gwaltney of North Babylon, N.Y., on Tuesday picked West Virginia over Ohio State and Southern California. Defensive tackle Walker Ashley of Eden Prairie, Minn., chose Southern Cal over Ohio State and Minnesota yesterday morning.

Even with several blue-chip prospects already signed, including offensive lineman Alex Boone of Lakewood St. Edward, running back Maurice Wells of Jacksonville, Fla.; defensive back Jamario O’Neal of Cleveland Glenville; and defensive end Doug Worthington of Athol Springs (N.Y.) St. Francis, the Buckeyes wanted to finish with a flourish. It is a class that includes 11 in-state players.

"We always talk about finishing plays, and finishing seasons, and finishing bowl games, and that’s huge for us," Tressel said.

So they finished by signing Wilson, considered the 12 th-best weakside defensive end prospect in the country by Rivals.com and ninthbest overall prospect in the state by Ohio Football Recruiting News. Wilson said he didn’t make up his mind until 2 p.m. yesterday after a talk with his parents, when they revealed they wouldn’t mind seeing him go to Ohio State, where his brother Eugene is a business student.

Then he kept the secret for another 100 minutes before announcing it on ESPNews from a remote studio set up in an Akron newspaper office. That’s when he said he felt the impact of an in-state kid picking Ohio State.

"The people there in the newsroom, they all just erupted with cheers and applause," he said. "It was a great feeling."

The Ohio State coaches cheered then, too, and seemed to breathe a sigh of relief. This recruiting season had been different, because not only did they have to answer questions about their offense, defense, business school and weight-room expansion plans, they had to deal with questions about NCAA probation.

The school and the NCAA have been conducting an investigation in the wake of allegations that were made by former running back Maurice Clarett in ESPN The Magazine in November and that have been mentioned on ESPN since. No findings have been revealed.

Tressel said he and his assistants were as forthright as could be with prospects. He also said they stopped short of saying nothing is going to happen because "no school can say, ‘Hey, Johnny, I promise you in the next four years there won’t be any problems at my school.’ You can’t make that promise."

Despite that cloud, the Buckeyes still pulled in what the recruiting services are rating to be a top 10 or 15 class, though the experts will wait awhile to make their final rankings.

"They might have missed out on a couple of guys down the stretch, but they got some guys in Jamario O’Neal and Doug Worthington and (quarterback) Rob Schoenoft and Maurice Wells and Alex Boone who are considered among the top 10 in the country at their particular positions," analyst Bill Kurelic said. "This is a very strong class."

Key to Ohio State’s success was its early commitments - Columbus Dispatch

Key to Ohio State’s success was its early commitments
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Ken Gordon

Ohio State football coaches are like squirrels gathering nuts. When the weather is warm, they scurry busily around, stockpiling tasty morsels.

Then when the cold winds blow and the pickings get slim, they don’t fear going hungry.

Fans and recruitniks pay inordinate attention to how schools do in landing commitments in January. There’s a lot of talk about how a team "closes," as if there is a save to nail down in the recruiting game-within-a-game.

And it can be argued that OSU has not dazzled in recent years with high-profile eleventh-hour commitments.

But to denigrate the Buckeyes’ closing is to ignore how well they open, for lack of a better term. And there is no better example of this than the 2005 class announced yesterday.

The two top players in the class — offensive lineman Alex Boone of Lakewood St. Edward and cornerback Jamario O’Neal of Cleveland Glenville — committed in 2003.

O’Neal’s decision was announced in February 2003, before he had finished his sophomore school year.

"That was huge," coach Jim Tressel said of O’Neal’s commitment. "You knew he was going to be a great one. And a guy like Alex Boone, who everyone in America had on the top of the offensive linemen board, for him to be on board so quickly, I think that’s obviously a great boost to establishing a great recruiting class."

O’Neal is lauded as a stellar athlete, good-sized for a corner (6 feet 1, 180 pounds) and fast (4.4-second time in the 40-yard dash). Boone is that rarest of commodities: a manmountain (6-8, 315) who can move, the earmark of a star left tackle.

It’s a bit of a stretch, but it can almost be said that Ohio State could have signed O’Neal, Boone and 16 average Joes and still had a decent recruiting class.

In the end, the Buckeyes landed six players that Rivals.com ranked in the top 10 nationally at their positions: O’Neal, Boone, quarterback Rob Schoenhoft, offensive lineman Jimmy Cordle, running back Maurice Wells and defensive end Doug Worthington.

Of those six, five committed by last September. Wells announced in January.

So when a player such as running back Jason Gwaltney, linebacker Rico McCoy or defensive lineman Walker Ashley chose to go elsewhere in recent weeks, it’s probably wise for Buckeyes fans to remember pre-September.

"This happens every year," recruiting analyst Bill Kurelic said. "People forget how highly recruited some of the players were that committed early."

Kurelic mentioned Schoenhoft, of Cincinnati St. Xavier, who Tressel practically drooled over yesterday, calling him "special."

"He had offers from Michigan and many others," Kurelic said. "Had he waited until now to commit to Ohio State, it would have been huge news."

It’s a good thing Ohio State landed some good early commitments. With the NCAA investigation and other negatives swirling around the program from November on, coaches had to work hard to keep their committed kids in the fold, let alone land more stars.

They did well to limit defections to one (lineman Kevin Bemoll of Mission Viejo, Calif.) and still land some late plums such as Wells and defensive end Lawrence Wilson.

Former Ohio State recruiting coordinator Bill Conley recalled several stellar Buckeyes who committed early, including offensive tackles Korey Stringer and Orlando Pace and linebacker Andy Katzenmoyer.

Said Tressel: "Sometimes, if you don’t get a guy or two at the end, it overshadows the extraordinary guys you got at the beginning."

It shouldn’t.

Center will start school early - Columbus Dispatch

Center will start school early
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Ken Gordon and Tim May

Jim Cordle of Lancaster completed his high-school coursework early and will enroll at OSU for the spring quarter.

The player who might be in line to replace Nick Mangold at center in 2006 will get an early start to his Ohio State career.

Incoming freshman Jim Cordle of Lancaster will enroll for spring quarter and participate in spring practice, coaches announced yesterday.

Lancaster coach Rob Carpenter said Cordle finished his high-school coursework in December but has not officially graduated. Cordle could not be reached for comment.

Cordle is the only member of this year’s recruiting class to enroll early, but others who did in the past have earned significant early playing time.

"I think in the past it has helped," offensive coordinator and line coach Jim Bollman said. "It gives someone a chance to learn some things in the heat of the battle."

Bollman projects Cordle as a center because he played there early in his high-school career.

"You don’t get a lot of guys of his caliber who have grown up as centers," Bollman said. "A lot of times, you’re teaching guys (the position)."

Short on backs

It’s no secret the Buckeyes were targeting two running backs in this year’s recruiting class. They came up one short, landing Maurice Wells but missing on Jason Gwaltney.

Now, Ohio State has just three scholarship tailbacks: sophomore Antonio Pittman, redshirt freshman Erik Haw and Wells.

"It’s going to be a top priority for next year, for sure," coach Jim Tressel said.

Several signees penciled in for defensive duty played running back in high school, including Anderson Russell and Freddie Lenix.

But running backs coach Dick Tressel said that barring injury, he would prefer to stick with the present trio and not move someone just to be the fourth-string back.

Schoenhoft admirer

Rob Schoenhoft of Cincinnati Xavier, the only quarterback in the class, is considered a diamond in the rough. But the coach of defensive end Doug Worthington from St. Francis High School in Athol Springs, N.Y., said Schoenhoft shined the day Xavier beat St. Francis 27-0 last season.

"He was the difference in our game," Jerry Smith said. "He made four big throws that enabled them to win the game. All four resulted in points. He definitely has a big-time arm."

Where are they now ?

Jim Tressel confirmed that two current players — defensive back E.J. Underwood and defensive tackle Brandon Maupin — are suspended while they take care of personal matters.

Freshman receiver Albert Dukes is not in school this winter and is back home in Belle Glade, Fla. He is preparing for a hearing later this month on a charge of lewd and lascivious battery brought against him by a minor female for an incident that occurred last summer.

He has been told to concentrate on his legal situation. After that, Tressel said, they would talk about his future with the team.

Homegrown Buckeyes (Graphic) - Columbus Dispatch


Out of State Recruits (Graphic) - Columbus Dispatch


Signing Day (Graphic) - Columbus Dispatch


2005 Ohio State Recruits (Graphic) - Columbus Dispatch



Teammates stay together - Brookhaven’s Jones, Daniels, Massey follow Columbus pipeline, sign with Minnesota - Columbus Dispatch

Teammates stay together
Brookhaven’s Jones, Daniels, Massey follow Columbus pipeline, sign with Minnesota
Thursday, February 03, 2005
Steve Blackledge

As tight as teammates can get, Brookhaven seniors Dominic Jones, Alex Daniels and Keith Massey couldn’t get an accurate read on one another’s thoughts during their flight home from a recruiting trip to Minnesota in December.

"We had a great trip up there, but I knew Keith liked West Virginia a lot and Alex liked Oklahoma a lot. . . . So I really didn’t know what was going to happen," Jones said. "The odds of us all going to the same school didn’t seem very likely."

During the following weeks, however, the three players concluded that Minnesota might not hold the name power as some of the other schools they considered, but it offered an immediate opportunity to play and some of the comforts of home.

The three standouts from Brookhaven’s Division II state championship team made it official yesterday, joining a Minnesota program teeming with Ohio talent.

Counting Westland offensive lineman Jason Sekinger, who also signed yesterday, the Gophers’ roster includes 10 players from metropolitan Columbus — most of whom are projected starters.

"I think I can speak for all the guys in saying that we just felt comfortable there," Daniels said.

"Oklahoma was nice, but it was mostly guys from Texas and Oklahoma. It just wasn’t for me. With all the coaches and players from Ohio, Minnesota just felt more like home. We felt like ‘their’ guys, like we could come right in and make an impact. We see Ernie Wheelwright and Gary Russell (both of Walnut Ridge) and all of those guys playing, and we know we can, too."

Massey and Jones are half-brothers, and Massey and Daniels have been best friends for several years. That explains in part why Massey and Daniels transferred from Marion-Franklin before their senior season.

The college decision, however, was more complex.

Jones, a playmaking defensive back, committed orally to Pittsburgh last summer but backed off when coach Walt Harris left for Stanford. Jones canceled visits to Florida, West Virginia and Michigan.

Massey, a speedy cornerback, also considered Wisconsin, Purdue, and West Virginia among others.

Daniels, a highly rated linebacker, visited only Minnesota and Oklahoma.

"After our visit, coach (Glen) Mason and coach (Mitch) Browning came to my Uncle Marvin’s house for dinner with all of our families, and by that time we had come to the realization that if we’re going to spend four years of our life somewhere, Minnesota was the place for us," Jones said.

Massey said, "Minneapolis had a feel a lot like Columbus, and I knew we’d fit in there."

Brookhaven coach Tom Blake said he spoke frequently with Browning — a central Ohio native who had been Mason’s right-hand man at Kent State and Kansas — throughout the recruiting process.

"I didn’t really have a gut feeling with any of them until they got back from their visit to Minnesota," Blake said. "They had a glow about them. They made their decisions individually, but they chose Minnesota for the same reasons."

Pioneers heading south

Jonathan Alder teammates Ben Bates and Zach Hennis chose Kentucky, but it had nothing to do with a pact between friends.

"From what everybody tells me, there doesn’t seem to be any connection at all," Alder coach Barry Blackstone said. "They were just two independent decisions."

Blackstone figures the decision will cost him money.

"I suppose I’m going to have to buy into that college football package so everybody can come over and watch the boys play on TV," he said. "I imagine we’ll be making a few road trips to Kentucky. It isn’t every day that a school this size sends a couple of players to the (Southeastern Conference)."

Offensive lineman Mike Cross of Marion-Franklin also signed with Kentucky.


Hartley standout running back Michael Thomas likely will spend a year at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia to improve his grades, according to coach Dick Geyer.... Watterson All-Ohioan Andrew Moses, the Dispatch-Agonis Club lineman of the year, is still mulling his options, coach Dan Bjelac said, adding that Harvard is a strong possibility. . . . Bexley defensive lineman Will Crall has spurned several scholarship offers from Mid-American Conference teams and plans to walk on at either Ohio State or Notre Dame, Bexley coach Tom Phillips said. . . . Eastmoor linebacker Prince Moody, the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Ohio Division III defensive player of the year, will be converted to strong safety at Wisconsin, Warriors coach Jim Miranda said.

Area Signees (Graphic) - Columbus Dispatch


2005 football recruits look promising - The Lantern

2005 football recruits look promising
By Jeff Svoboda
Published: Thursday, February 3, 2005

A total of 18 football players from eight states are now Buckeyes, coach Jim Tressel announced yesterday at the 2005 football recruiting class at Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

"We always talk about the most important thing that we bring here are the type of young men that first and foremost want to be Ohio State Buckeyes," Tressel said.

The class is headlined by three of the top 100 recruits in the nation according to the rankings of ESPN recruiting expert Tom Lemming. Those three are OT Alex Boone (Lakewood, OH/St. Edward High School), CB Jamario O'Neal (Cleveland/Glenville High School), and RB Maurice Wells (Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood High School).

Boone committed to Ohio State in July of 2003, and was ranked the third best offensive tackle by Lemming.

"(Boone) is renowned all over the country as being one of the finest offensive lineman," Tressel said. "He has the passion to become a great player."
The Buckeyes signed QB Rob Schoenhoft of Cincinnati's St. Xavier High School while having three solid quarterbacks still in the program. Schoenhoft was one of the top quarterbacks in the country last year, throwing for 13 touchdowns and just three interceptions in eight games.

"I think Robbie is an exceptional talent," recruiting coordinator John Peterson said. "He has a lot of great characteristics as a leader and directs things on the field. He is an exciting player and I think he has a bright future in college football."

With the graduation of Maurice Hall and Lydell Ross, the Buckeyes needed to improve the tailback position and did so with Wells. The Florida native ran for 3,076 yards and 31 touchdowns as a high school junior, and added 1,908 yards and 18 touchdowns last year.

"He brings great credentials," Tressel said. "He brings great speed and skill to the offensive backfield."

Tressel repeatedly discussed how the team would perform in the classroom as well as on the field.

"They want to achieve great things on the field obviously, but they want to achieve a meaningful degree from here at Ohio State," he said. "We feel tremendous about the academic integrity of this group."

The problems that OSU is having in regards to NCAA violations did not appear to have a negative effect on recruiting, Tressel said.

"I don't think so," he said. "It still comes down to the guys that you want to end up with are the ones that without question want to end up at Ohio State. You get guys with no doubt in their mind that this is the place for them."

The Buckeye coaches noted that speed is a priority in recruiting and were happy with the speed of this year's class.
"We could put together a good little track team with this group," Tressel said.

He also told a story about the grandfather of recruit Ryan Williams, a defensive end from Mission Viejo, Calif.

"He was just a young guy sitting with his grandfather in the James Cancer Center when his grandfather was battling cancer, and his grandfather pointed out the window and hoped that Ryan would have a chance to play in the Horseshoe," Tressel said. "You fast forward over 14 years and here's Ryan with a chance to sign with the Buckeyes and it's an awfully special thing."

Bill Kurelic, a Big Ten recruiting expert with www.ohiostate.rivals.com, put the class in perspective with the rest of the Big Ten. He said he had Iowa and Ohio State tied with the ninth and tenth best classes in the country, but that Michigan had the fifth best group and best in the Big Ten.

"All three of them have recruited outstanding classes," he said. "There's not a big difference between the top classes."

He spoke highly of the recruiting efforts of the Ohio State coaching staff.

"You're not going to have the kind of success they've had without good players," Kurelic said. "That doesn't happen unless you have a head coach and a staff of assistants that can recruit."

The incoming class is made up of 11 players from Ohio and seven from out-of-state. Offensive lineman Jim Cordle from Lancaster High School will enroll early and play spring football. The other 17 recruits will enroll for fall quarter.


Ohio State's Class of 2005 - NN of Central Ohio

Ohio State's Class of 2005

From wire reports

Andre Amos
WR/CB, 6-1, 180, Middletown
Caught 35 passes for 500 yards and scored seven touchdowns as a senior ... picked off seven passes from his defensive back position as a senior ... totaled 30 catches and four touchdowns as a junior and added three interceptions.

Alex Boone
OT, 6-8, 315, Lakewood St. Edwards
Will already be one of Ohio State's biggest offensive linemen and has terrific footwork and a frame capable of carrying more muscle ... 2003 and 2004 first-team All-Ohio ... is an aggressive blocker that enjoys driving defenders away from the line of scrimmage ... 50 knockdowns as a senior.

Jim Cordle
OL, 6-5, 275, Lancaster
Will enroll at Ohio State for spring quarter classes and participate in spring practice, therefore is not signing a national letter of intent at the present time ... bench presses nearly 350 pounds ... was a devastating pulling blocker on stretch and counter plays.

Todd Denlinger
TE/DL, 6-3, 265, Troy
Collected 60 tackles, including 13 behind the line of scrimmage and seven sacks, as a senior ... started at defensive tackle as a freshman and sophomore but moved to middle linebacker as a junior, totaling 125 tackles, including 17 stops behind the line of scrimmage, six sacks and an interception.

Brian Hartline
WR/CB, 6-3, 180, Canton GlenOak
As a senior, suffered a season-ending leg injury during the second quarter of the first game of the season ... as a junior, passed for 300 yards in the first four games before switching to receiver, where he caught 41 passes for 411 yards from his younger brother, Mike.

Malcolm Jenkins
WR/CB, 6-1, 180, Piscataway (N.J.) HS
Totaled more than 300 yards receiving and scored seven touchdowns on offense as a senior ... has been timed at 4.43 seconds in the 40-yard dash ... had 65 tackles, eight interceptions and four pass break-ups as a junior and also had 178 yards receiving.

James Laurinaitis
LB, 6-3, 235, Wayzata HS, Hamel, Minn.
Name Minnesota's Defensive Mr. Football as a senior ... collected 193 tackles, including 28 for loss, as a senior after totaling more than 160 tackles as a junior ... led Wayzata to the Minnesota 5A state championship game as a senior.

Freddie Lennix
RB/LB, 6-0, 193, Cle. Glenville
Totaled 85 tackles and two interceptions as a senior ... led Glenville in tackles in 2004 with 143, including 12 sacks, and returned two interceptions for touchdowns ... scored three defensive touchdowns as a senior.

Jamario O'Neal
WR/CB, 6-1, 180, Cle. Glenville
Collected 65 tackles, three interceptions and three quarterback sacks as a senior ... 2004 first-team All-Ohio defensive back ... helped led Glenville to the Ohio Div. I state semifinals in 2004.

Brian Robiskie
WR, 6-3, 190, Chagrin Falls
Set Chagrin Falls career receiving records with 118 catches for 1,885 yards and 34 touchdowns ... caught 47 passes as a senior for 754 yards and 12 touchdowns ... led Chagrin Falls to a 9-3 overall record in 2004 and the conference championship.

Anderson Russell
RB/DB, 6-1, 190, Marist HS, Atlanta, Ga.
Averaged 8.4 yards per carry as a senior on 90 attempts ... rushed for 758 yards and scored 14 touchdowns as a senior in Marist's wishbone offense ... was Marist's leading receiver with seven catches for 171 yards and three touchdowns.

Rob Schoenhoft
QB, 6-6, 225, Cin. St. Xavier
As a senior completed 72-of-139 passes in eight games for 1,159 yards and 13 touchdowns with just three interceptions ... passed for 1,100 yards as a junior with 12 touchdowns and just four interceptions ... as a senior, helped lead St. Xavier to a 10-0 regular season record.

Austin Spitler
LB/TE, 6-3, 228, Bellbrook
As a senior totaled 132 tackles, 11 tackles for loss, seven quarterback sacks and two interceptions ... was named the conference linebacker of the year ... collected 120 tackles as a junior.

Donald Washington
DB/WR, 6-1, 185, Franklin Central HS, Indianapolis, Ind.
Caught 45 passes as a senior and scored 10 touchdowns ... averaged better than 17 yards per catch on 47 receptions with eight touchdowns as a junior.

Maurice Wells
TB, 5-10, 185, Sandalwood HS, Jacksonville, Fla.
Rushed for career totals of 5,955 yards and 55 touchdowns ... Led Florida in rushing as a junior with 3,076 yards and scored 31 touchdowns ... in nine games as a senior, rushed for 1,908 yards and 18 touchdowns.

Ryan Williams
DE, 6-6, 245, Mission Viejo (Calif.) HS
As a junior, totaled 75 tackles and six sacks for the 13-1 Diablos ... was Ohio State's first commitment to its 2005 recruiting class from outside the state.

Lawrence Wilson
DE, 6-5, 240, Akr. SVSM
Had 15 sacks as a junior and 10 as a senior ... also caught seven passes for three touchdowns as a senior ... has a 3.6 GPA ... averaged 15 points per game in basketball as a junior.

Doug Worthington
DE, 6-7, 250, St. Francis HS, Athol Spring, N.Y.
Collected 67 tackles and five quarterback sacks as a junior ... totaled 74 tackles and seven sacks as a senior ... also a standout basketball player.

Eighteen players hook up with Ohio State - NN of Central Ohio (AP)

Eighteen players hook up with Ohio State

The Associated Press
COLUMBUS -- After months of NCAA investigations and allegations of payoffs to football players and academic fraud, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was more than a little relieved that he was able to convince 18 players to sign with the Buckeyes on Wednesday.

"No question in these kids' minds this is where they want to be," Tressel said after unveiling the class on the first day for the signing of national letters of intent. "It's not like they didn't hear a lot of different things, whether it be investigative things, NCAA things ... That stuff didn't override to these kids (that) this is where they want to be."

The highlights included Alex Boone, a 6-foot-8, 315-pound offensive lineman from Lakewood St. Edward, and linebacker Freddie Lenix and Jamario O'Neal, a fleet cornerback, both from Cleveland Glenville. Yes, that's the same school that gave Ohio State one of last year's heroes, Ted Ginn Jr., the record-setting kick returner/receiver with speed to burn.

Ohio State has been under fire for most of the past two years because of charges that football players were given high-pay, low-work summer jobs, received money from boosters and did little work for their grades.

Starting quarterback Troy Smith was suspended for the Alamo Bowl last year and will likely be held out of at least the season opener against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 4 for accepting money from a team booster.

Tressel spoke with reporters near a sign which read, "The desire to win is translated to TEAM CONDUCT: Woody Hayes."

Tressel said he was confident that the current NCAA investigation in his program would come out favorably. "The NCAA's not an ogre out there," he said.

He was asked if other schools used Ohio State's troubles against it during the highly competitive recruiting season. Tressel said there are not guarantees or promises when it comes to the whole process.

"We have to come short of saying, just like any school, 'Hey, Johnny, I promise you in the next four years there won't be any problems in my school.' You can't make that promise," Tressel said.

The 18 scholarships were fewer than Ohio State could have handed out. Most likely the extras will be "banked" and used next year or on walk-ons or transfers this season.

Among the incoming Buckeyes is James Laurinaitis, a linebacker from Wayzata, Minn., whose father was "Animal," a renowned professional wrestler who was part of the WWE's Legion of Doom.

Ohio's eight other Division I programs also had bumper crops of players.

First-year Ohio University coach Frank Solich welcomed 27 players including 12 from the Buckeye state, three midyear transfers and recruits from 11 other states.

Solich said he wanted to bring in a lot of players from Ohio.

"We know that will be the bloodline for us not only this year but in the overall future of the program," he said.

Another rookie coach, Miami's Shane Montgomery, added 13 newcomers.

"This wasn't a large class in quantity because of our smaller senior class, but I think it's a tremendous class in terms of quality," Montgomery said.

Cincinnati picked off 24 players including 13 who were all-state performers.

"We recognized that we have 25 seniors leaving our program who were major contributors last year, which meant that we had a lot of voids to fill," Bearcats coach Mark Dantonio said. "We feel we have replaced them with a solid group of quality young men who will provide a great foundation for our program for years to come."

The Cincinnati recruits include quarterback Dominick Goodman, defensive lineman Terrill Byrd and linebacker Andre Revels from last year's dominating Division I state playoff champion, Cincinnati Colerain.

Mid-American Conference champion Toledo locked up 23 signees, with 11 coming from the East or West coast or the Deep South.

"Being on national TV has helped us recruit nationally," said Rockets coach Tom Amstutz, whose teams have made three bowl appearances in his four seasons as head coach. "Players from New Jersey, Texas and Florida have seen us play, so they know more about us and our style of play. It helps us get into a lot more homes, and the recruits are more open to talk with us."

The 2004 Ohio Associated Press Mr. Football, Akron Hoban tailback Tyrell Sutton, signed with Northwestern.

Where Ohio's top recruits are going - NN of Central Ohio (AP)

Where Ohio's top recruits are going

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) -- Players who have signed with or verbally committed to play Division I college football with Ohio schools, or who have committed to play with out-of-state programs on Wednesday's first day for the signing of national letters of intent:


Andre Amos, WR, 6-foot-1, 182, Middletown (Ohio) HS

Alex Boone, OL, 6-8, 310, St. Edward HS, Lakewood, Ohio

Jim Cordle, OL, 6-5, 290, Lancaster (Ohio) HS

Todd Denlinger, DL, 6-3, 285, Troy (Ohio) HS

Brian Hartline, WR, 6-2, 180, GlenOak HS, Canton, Ohio

Malcolm Jenkins, DB, 6-0, 185, Piscataway (N.J.) HS

James Laurinaitis, LB, 6-3, 235, Plymouth HS, Wayzata, Minn.

Freddie Lenix, LB, 5-11, 200, Glenville HS, Cleveland

Jamario O'Neal, DB, 6-1, 190, Glenville HS, Cleveland

Brian Robiskie, TE, 6-3, 190, Chagrin Falls HS

Anderson Russell, DB, 6-0, 197, Marist HS, Atlanta

Rob Schoenhoft, QB, 6-5, 230, St. Xavier HS, Cincinnati

Austin Spitler, LB, 6-2, 225, Bellbrook (Ohio) HS

Donald Washington, WR, 6-1, 185, Franklin Central HS, Indianapolis

Maurice Wells, RB, 5-10, 180, Sandalwood HS, Jacksonville, Fla.

Ryan Williams, DL, 6-5, 245, Mission Viejo, Calif.

Lawrence Wilson, DL, 6-5, 240, Saint Vincent-Saint Mary HS, Akron

Doug Worthington, DL, 6-7, 255, St. Francis HS, Athol Springs, N.Y.


Alex Allen, RB, 6-0, 195, Ursuline HS, Youngstown, Ohio

Michael Alphonse, LB, 6-0, 223, Miami Norland HS, Miramar, Fla.

Brandon Anderson, DB, 5-11, 175, Hargraves Military Academy, Dublin, Va.

Zack Anderson, OL, 6-6, 275, Interboro HS, Lester, Pa.

Al-Teric Balaam LB, 6-1, 220, New Brunswick (N.J.) HS

Elliott Bates, OL, 6-4, 290, Chartiers-Houston HS, Houston, Pa.

Jose Crúz, TE, 6-5, 240, Bishop McCort HS, Johnstown, Pa.

DeAndre DeScott DB, 6-0, 185, South HS, Cleveland

Rodney Etienne, DB, 6-2, 183, Blanche Ely HS, Pompano Beach, Fla.

Kevin Garner, DL, 6-2, 220, West Mifflin (Pa.) HS

Antwon Hight, DL, 6-3, 285, McKinley HS, Canton, Ohio

Keith Huebner, OL, 6-7, 265, Baldwin HS, Pittsburgh

Carlton Jackson QB, 6-5, 200, Blanche Ely HS, Pompano Beach, Fla.

Chris Jacquemain, QB, 6-2, 200, Mentor HS, Painesville, Ohio

Chris Kemme, OL, 6-6, 260, Upper Arlington (Ohio) HS

Joshua Kiner, DL, 6-3, 255, Central Dauphin HS. Dauphin, Pa.

Jermaine Lindsay, WR, 6-1, 165, Bowie, Md./Forestville HS

Terricko Marshall, DE, 6-3, 235, Maple Heights HS, Ashtabula, Ohio

Bryant McMillon RB, 5-10, 193, Hughes Center HS, Cincinnati

Clarence McPherson, DL, 6-3, 240, Miami Edison HS, Miami, Fla.

Merce Poindexter, TE, 6-4, 235, Lincoln HS, Ellwood City, Pa.

J. Sharps, WR, 6-5, 205, South HS, Westerville, Ohio

Joe Tuzze, FB, 5-11, 240, Lakeland HS, Mayfield, Pa.

Scott Uziel, TE, 6-4, 250, Franklin Regional HS, Export, Pa.


Luke Alexander, WR, 6-0, 170, Springfield, (Ohio) South HS

Fred Barnes, QB, 6-2, 185, Chicago Hts. (Ill.) Homewood HS

Cody Basler, LB, 6-3, 225, Bay City Western HS, Auburn, Mich.

Jarrett Buckosh, OL, 6-7, 254, Elyria (Ohio) HS

Chris Bullock, RB, 5-11, 220, Destrehan (La.) HS

Aaron Davis, WR, 6-2, 182, Armwood HS, Seffner, Fla.

Trevor Frericks, DL, 6-1, 255, Quincy Notre Dame HS, Oxford, N.C.

Jacob Hardwick, DL, 6-3, 260, Ocean Lakes HS, Virginia Beach, Va.

Thomas James, DL, 6-2, 255, Goose Creek (S.C.) HS

Nick Lawrence, LB, 6-3, 220, Brighton (Mich.) HS

Rhett Magner, WR, 5-10, 165, Colony HS, Palmer, Ala.

Kevin Mahoney, OL, 6-6, 295, North HS, Springfield, Ohio

Brady Minturn, DL, 6-4, 250, Loveland (Ohio) HS

Phillip Pollard, OL, 6-3, 270, South HS, Westerville, Ohio

Michael Ream, DL, 6-3, 235, Bluffton (Ohio) HS

Ruben Ruiz, TE, 6-4, 245, Arizona Western CC, Oro Valley, Az.

Jimmy Scheildler, TE, 6-4, 240, Bishop Chatard HS, Indianapolis, Ind.

Antonio Smith, CB, 5-10, 175, Central HS, Miami, Fla.

Richard Solak, OL, 6-4, 280, Cardinal Mooney HS, Norristown, Pa. Shane Steffy, OL, 6-3, 290, Riverview HS, Oakmont, Pa.

Bobby Thomas, DB, 5-10, 200, Warrensville Hts. (Ohio) HS

Cordelle Thompson, LB, 6-1, 205, Middletown (Ohio) HS

Stephon Thompson, CB, 6-0, 175, Southfield-Lathrup HS, Franklin, Mich.

Calvin Wiley, DB, 5-11, 185, Notre Dame HS, Detroit

Guy Williamson, OL, 6-4, 300, Mahomet-Seymour HS, Mahomet, Ill.

Chris Wright, CB, 5-10, 175, Middletown (Ohio) HS


Kazeem Ali, 6-3, 225, TE, Hazelwood Cent. HS, St. Louis, Mo.

Trevor Anderson, 6-2, 258, DE, Crockett Technical HS, Detroit, Mich.

Connor Barwin, 6-4, 225, TE, U. of Detroit Jesuit HS, Hazel Park, Mich.

Terrill Byrd, 6-0, 285, DL, Cincinnati Colerain HS

Craig Carey, 6-4, 215, QB, Cincinnati Elder HS

Thomas Claggett, 6-2, 270, DT, Frederick Douglass HS, Temple Park, Md.

Tyler Clifford, 6-4, 223, DE, Portsmouth (Ohio) HS

Nick Davila, 6-3, 195, QB, Caffey JC, Alta Loma, Calif.

Steve Gawronski, 6-3, 275, OL, Rogers HS, Toledo, Ohio

Marshawn Gilyard, 6-1, 180, RB, Flagler Palm Coast HS, Palm Coast, Fla.

Dominick Goodman, 6-1, 196, QB, Cincinnati Colerain HS

Brad Jones, 6-2, 190, DB, McKinley HS, Canton, Ohio

Chris Jurek, 6-2, 252, OL, Southfield-Lathrup HS, Southfield, Mich.

Jeffrey Linkenbach, 6-6, 315, OL, Margaretta HS, Castalia Ohio

Jared Martin, 6-1, 175, WR, Clyde (Ohio) HS, Green Springs, Ohio

Mike Mickens, 6-0, 165, DB, Wayne (Ohio) HS, Huber Heights, Ohio

Patrick Mimms, 6-3, 265, DE, Frederick Douglass HS, Cheverly, Md.

Leo Morgan, 6-1, 230, LB, Lackawanna JC, S. Windsor, Conn.

Andre Revels, 6-1, 240, LB, Colerain HS, Cincinnati

Corey Smith, 6-1, 208, LB/RB, Salem (N.J.) HS

Curtis Smith, 6-2, 240, DE, Glenville HS, Cleveland

Derrick Stewart, 5-11, 175, WR, Ursuline HS, Youngs., Ohio

Cedric Tolbert, 6-0, 195, DB, Xenia (Ohio) HS

Marcus Waugh, 5-11, 230, RB, Toledo St. John's (Ohio) HS, Whitehouse, Ohio


James Brown, S, 5-11, 170, Fresno City College, Merced, Cal.

Jon Brown, QB, 5-10, 180, Westlake, Ohio

Dante Campbell, OL, 6-2, 275, Warren (Ohio) Harding HS, Ohio

Sam Frist, DL, 6-4, 250, Hargrave Military Academy, Southern Pines, N.C.

Greg Keys, RB, 6-1, 205, Bellevue, Ohio HS

Jameson Konz S, 6-3, 210, Lake HS, Uniontown, Ohio

Shawn Lewis, WR, 5-8, 165, Bishop McCort HS, Johnstown, Pa.

Coleman Lynn, WR, 5-9, 160, Tri-Cities HS, Hapeville, Ga.

Michael Machen, QB, 6-6, 240, Coffeyville (Kan.) CC, Mobile, Ala.

Reid Macko, K, 5-10, 165, Armwood HS, Brandon, Fla.

Anthony Magazu, QB, 6-4, 190, Providence HS, Matthews, N.C.

Derek McBryde, DB, 6-0, 190, Glenville HS, Cleveland

Stevon Moss, LB, 6-0, 210, Phoebus HS, Hampton, Va.

Derico Murray, S, 6-0, 185, Archbishop Moeller HS, Cincinnati

Augustus Parrish, DL, 6-5, 290, Potomac HS, Temple Hills, Md.

Anthony Pastore, QB, 6-2, 200, Sequoyah HS, Woodstock, Ga.

Dennis Pittman, S, 5-9, 190, Pasadena (Cal.) City College, Atlanta (Ga.)

Danny Sadler, DB, 5-10, 180, Maple Heights, Ohio HS

Edner Safaite, S, 5-11, 175, Lely HS, Naples, Fla.

Lester Troutman, DL, 6-4, 215, Chaminade-Julienne HS, Dayton, Ohio

Allen Whitaker, LB, 6-3, 215, Forestville, Md. HS

Jarvis Williams, LB, 6-3, 195, Stafford HS, North Stafford, Va.

Mark Woodson, WR, 5-11, 175, Shaker Heights (Ohio) HS


Andre Bratton, RB, 5-11, 180, Woodbridge (Va.) HS

Antonio Brunson, DB/WR, 5-11, 175, John Carroll HS, Ft. Pierce, Fla.

Heath Cartwright, OL, 6-6, 265, Chesterton HS, Westville, Ind.

Brayden Coombs, DB, 6-1, 180, Colerain HS, Cincinnati

Travis Craven, DE, 6-4, 220, Snider HS, Ft. Wayne, Ind.

Brad Goatley, LB, 6-2, 220, Maumee (Ohio) HS

Joe Hudson, LB, 6-2, 218, Piqua (Ohio) HS

Sean Kavanagh, DB, 6-1, 205, Cle. St. Ignatius HS, Westlake, Ohio

Brian Klesmith, OT, 6-6, 276, Ottawa Hills HS, Grand Rapids, Mich.

E.J. Morton-Green, WR, 6-4, 205, Cincinnati Princeton HS, Mason, Ohio

Daniel Raudabaugh, QB, 6-4, 205, Coppell (Texas)

Kevin Samy, DL, 6-1, 255, Massillon Jackson HS, Canton

Jeff Thompson, DB, 5-10, 175, Kilbourne HS, Worthington, Ohio


Spencer Farley, RB, 5-8, 205, Morgantown (W.Va.) HS

Josh Febus, QB, 6-2, 205, Coffman HS, Dublin, Ohio

Dathan Ferrainolo, OL, 6-3, 288, Lisbon Beaver Local HS, East Liverpool, Ohio

Christopher Garrett, WR, 5-8, 175, Stonewall Jackson HS, Bristow, Va.

Jameson Hartke, DL, 6-5, 239, Centerville (Ohio) HS

Ervin Jackson, DB, 6-0, 189, Pearl River JC, Kiln, Miss.

Steven Jackson, DB, 6-2, 180, Westlake HS, Austin, Texas

Brandon Jones, QB, 6-2, 195, Marietta (Ga.) HS

Eric Kenkel, DL, 6-4, 240, Elder HS, Cincinnati

Idris Lawrence, DB, 5-10, 173, Brookhaven HS, Columbus, Ohio

Josh Leuck, DL, 6-3, 275, Westside HS, Omaha, Nebraska

Brian Mellott, DL, 6-3, 255, Austintown-Fitch HS, Youngstown, Ohio

Jordan Meyers, LB, 6-1, 218, Harrison (Ohio) HS

Michael Mitchell, DB, 6-0, 190, Highlands HS, Ft. Thomas, Ky.

Mitchell Morsillo, FB, 6-0, 243, Moon Area HS, Moon, Pa.

Mark Parson, DB, 5-10, 192, Fork Union Military Academy, Richmond, Va.

Voncarie Owens, RB, 5-10, 185, Jones County JC, Taylorsville, Miss.

Brandon Peterson, WR, 6-1, 185, DeMath HS, Gaithersburg, Md.

Mike Philibin, OL, 6-4, 290, Youngstown Cardinal Mooney HS, Poland, Ohio

Conor Reilly, DL, 6-3, 240, Hudson (Ohio) HS (Hudson)

Lee Renfro, DB, 5-10, 202, Southwestern HS, Burnside, Ky.

Chris Rodgers, TE, 6-4, 228, Central HS, Phoenix, Ariz.

Gary Schussler, OL, 6-2, 264, Chardon (Ohio) HS

Tommy Stuck, OL, 6-1, 291, Lancaster (Ohio) HS

Thad Turner, WR , 6-0, 169, Marietta (Ga.) HS

David White, Jr., OL, 6-1, 300, Chardon (Ohio) HS

Jayson White, FB, 6-2, 225, McDowell HS, Erie, Pa.


Walter Atkins, DB, 6-1, 180, Deerfield Beach HS, Pompano Beach, Fla.

Sam Azner, OL, 6-7, 288, Wayne Hills, Wayne (NJ)

Robin Bailey, WR, 6-5, 195, South HS Westerville, Ohio

Keiron Brown, DB, 6-1, 185, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Margate, Fla.

Beau Brudzinski, LB, 6-1, 210, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Weston, Fla.

Tom Burzine, TE, 6-5, 225, Connetquot HS, Bohemia, NY

Dajuane Collins, RB, 5-11, 205, Deptford HS, Westville, NJ

John Duhe, DL, 6-4, 230, St. Thomas Aquinas HS, Weston, Fla.

Chris Faison, FS, 6-1, 175, Lahser HS, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Keith Forestal, LB, 6-4, 220, Youngs. Liberty HS, Liberty Township, Ohio

Buster Garrett, OL, 6-4, 275, Nease HS, Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.

Lyndon Gayle, DL, 6-4, 275, North HS, Akron, Ohio

Shawn Glaser, OL, 6-8, 300, Archbishop Hoban HS, Fairlawn, OH

Jeff Green, FS, 6-4, 215, Deptford HS, Westville, NJ

Eric Heller, LB, 6-3, 225, Beechcroft HS, Columbus, Ohio

Garry Hill, DB, 6-3, 180, Trotwood-Madison HS, Trotwood, Ohio

Kevin Hobbins, OL, 6-7, 315, Crestwood HS, Peterborough, Ontario, Canada

Kevin Kilgo, OL, 6-5, 270, Stevenson HS, Sterling Heights, Mich.

Jeremy Mack, LS, 6-4, 225, Center Grove HS, Greenwood, Ind.

D.J. Nichols, WR, 6-3, 215, Jr., Cerritos CC, Compton, Calif.

Lester Richmond, FS, 6-2, 185, Morgan Park HS, Chicago, Ill.

Brandon Summers, QB, 6-2, 195, Southfield (Mich.) HS

Stephen Williams, WR, 6-5, 185, Marshall HS, Houston, Texas


Mike Barlak, LB, 6-2, 218, Gateway HS, Monroeville, Pa.

Derek Bush, TE, 6-4, 250, Circleville (Ohio) HS

Halley Ferrell, PK/P, 5-11, 180, DeLand (Fla.) HS

Codera Jackson, CB, 5-10, 170, Alfred State College, Rochester, N.Y.

Greg Jacobs, DE, 6-3, 274, Fork Union Military Academy, Midlothian, Va.

Da'Michael Horne, WR, 5-11, 175, Twinsburg (Ohio) HS

Ben Lane, FB, 5-10, 250, Hubbard (Ohio) HS

Antonio Magnone, QB, 6-2, 210, Steubenville (Ohi) HS

Jim Phelan, DT, 6-3, 310, De LaSalle HS, Chicago (Ill.)

Jarvis Richards, CB, 5-11, 170, Seabreeze HS, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Todd Rowan, QB, 6-3, 185, LaBrae HS, Leavittsburg, Ohio

Mychal Savage, DT, 6-2, 305, Hargrave Military Academy, Hartsdale, N.Y.

Maurice Smith-Davis, LB, 6-1, 240, Michigan St., Warren, Ohio

Brandon Strapp, CB, 5-10, 185, Mainland HS, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Ray Taumalolo, DL, 6-2, 270, College of the Sequoias, Honolulu, Hawaii


Mitch Clark, DE, 6-2, 250, New Philadelphia, to Wofford

Chris Banks, WR, 6-3, 175, Alliance, to Indiana

Ryan Brinson, RB, 5-10, 180, Can. McKinley, to West Virginia

Billy Cundiff, QB, 6-3, 205, Greensburg Green, to Connecticut

Kendell Davis, RB, 6-0, 190, Alliance, to Michigan State

Brandon Long, LB-TE, 6-3, 230, Can. GlenOak, to Michigan State

Dennis Underwood, RB, 6-0, 185, Louisville Aquinas, to Indiana

Dan Kinsey, DB, 6-3, 190, Lisbon Beaver Local, to Indiana

Mike Beatty, FB, 6-2, 225, Chardon NDCL, to Colgate

Mike Chambers, WR, 6-1, 190, Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit, to Minnesota

Tim Conner, RB, 5-10, 185, Cle. Glenville, to E. Michigan

Fonzie Culver, LB, 6-1, 205, Cuyahoga Falls CVCA, Cuyahoga Falls, to Fordham

Mike Dinard, LB/RB, 6-2, 222, Parma Padua, to Northwestern

Andre Evans, CB, 6-0, 170, Cle. Glenville, to Buffalo

Kyle Flannery, DL, 6-1, 228, Lakewood St. Edward, to Butler

Bruce Hampton III, CB, 5-10, 180, Cle. Hts., to Indiana

Jay Harper Jr., CB, 5-9, 165, Maple Hts., to Bucknell

James Ingram, DE, 6-4, 245, Cle. Hts., to West Virginia

Eric Kettani, FB, 6-2, 215, Mentor Lake Cath., to Navy

Joe Kleinsmith, ATH., 5-11, 177, Lakewood St. Edward, to Indiana

Andrew Means, WR/DB, 6-1, 220, Avon Lake, to Indiana

Zoltan Mesko, K, 6-2, 180, Twinsburg, to Michigan

Jason Palumbo, LB, 6-2, 210, Cle. St. Ignatius, to Yale

Omar Powell, LB/RB, 6-3, 225, E. Cle. Shaw, to West Virginia

Richard Quinn, WR, 6-2, 225, Maple Hts., to North Carolina

Jim Ramella, LB/TE, 6-4, 240, Cle. St. Ignatius, to Boston College

Chris Rowell, S, 6-1, 180, Warrensville Hts., to Iowa

Michael Russell, OL, 6-2, 310, Cle. Glenville, to Howard

Mike Sheridan, OL, 6-3, 275, Cle. St. Ignatius, to Villanova

Jeremy Smith, WR/DB, 6-2, 193, Cle. Hts., to Howard

Alex Spooner, TE, 6-3, 225, Lakewood St. Edward, to Cornell

Jacory Stone, WR, 6-2, 195, Cle. Glenville, to E. Michigan

Trey Stross, WR/DB, 6-4, 190, Avon Lake, to Iowa

Tyrell Sutton, RB, 5-9, 194, Akr. Hoban, to Northwestern

Marlon Terry, OL/DL, 6-1, 253, Akr. Buchtel, to Pittsburgh

B.J. Travers, LB, 6-1, 243, Westlake, to Iowa

Eric Tupta, LB, 6-3, 230, Gates Mills Gilmour, to Colgate

Bryan Williams, RB/DB, 5-11, 185, Akr. Buchtel, to Pittsburgh

Sirod Williams, DE, 6-4, 260, Garfield Hts., to Illinois

Kody Babcock, DE, 6-5, 215, W. Lafayette Ridgewood, to Lafayette

Zach Hennis, OL, 6-8, 315, Plain City Jonathan Alder, to Kentucky

Ben Bates, LB, 6-2, 210, Plain City Jonathan Alder, to Kentucky

John Buckner, OL, 6-5, 295, Columbus Beechcroft, to Air Force

Derek Bush, TE, 6-4, 240, Circleville, to Youngstown State

Jarren Collins, QB, 6-2, 175, Columbus West, to Tennessee-Martin

Mike Cross, OL, 6-6, 290, Columbus Marion-Franklin, to Kentucky

Alex Daniels, LB, 6-4, 230, Columbus Brookhaven, to Minnesota

Rick Ingold, OL, 6-4, 265, Newark, to Columbia

Dominic Jones, DB, 5-9, 185, Columbus Brookhaven, to Minnesota

Clark Koury, DB, 6-0, 200, Dublin Coffman, to Columbia

Gus Krimm, DB, 6-2, 195, Upper Arlington, to Cornell

Anthony Marsano, LB-TE, 6-3, 225, Marion Harding, to Indiana State

Keith Massey, DB, 6-1, 200, Columbus Brookhaven, to Minnesota

Chris Miller, DB, 5-10, 180, Hilliard Davidson, to Air Force

Prince Moody, DB, 5-11, 190, Columbus Eastmoor Academy, to Wisconsin

Will Norris, OT, 6-7, 290, Baltimore Liberty Union, to Eastern Illinois

Jason Sekinger, OL, 6-10, 300, Galloway Westland, to Minnesota

Chance Smith, DB, 5-10, 180, Columbus Beechcroft, to Illinois State

Austin Weaver, DB, 5-8, 165, Dublin Coffman, to Robert Morris


Wolverine class lauded as Big Ten's best - NN of Central Ohio (AP)

Wolverine class lauded as Big Ten's best

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) -- To say that often-conservative Michigan football coach Lloyd Carr is pleased with his 2005 recruiting class is an understatement.

"The standard answer is accurate: you can't evaluate a class for three years," Carr said Wednesday. "But if I had to, I would say it has a chance to be the best class we've ever had here."

Most recruiting analysts say the Wolverines hauled in another top-5 class, led by running back Kevin Grady of East Grand Rapids High School in Ada.

Grady was ranked as the No. 3 running back prospect in the country by Allen Wallace of SuperPrep magazine. Wallace, recruiting analyst Tom Lemming of Prep Football Report and Jeremy Crabtree of Rivals100.com all ranked Michigan as having the best class in the Big Ten Conference and the No. 4 recruiting class in the country.

The analysts' top three varied, as Lemming chose Nebraska's class as No. 1, Wallace went with Tennessee and Crabtree picked Oklahoma.

Grady never seriously considered any other school and actually enrolled at Michigan last semester, despite the fact that Wolverines' freshman running back Mike Hart ran for 1,455 yards last season in leading the team to a share of the Big Ten title. Grady joined the team in time to participate in a half-dozen practices as Michigan prepared for the Rose Bowl against Texas.

The running back holds state records with 8,431 career rushing yards, 151 touchdowns and 24 consecutive 100-yard rushing games. He was one of a handful of in-state recruits for the Wolverines.

Of the 23 members of the 2005 class, six are from Michigan, four each are from Ohio and California, three hail from Kentucky, two from Illinois and one each from Louisiana, New York, Pennsylvania and Texas.

Carr filled holes up front on defense with four defensive linemen, including 6-foot-6, 310-pound Marques Slocum of West Catholic High School in Philadelphia and 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive end James McKinney from Central High School in Louisville, Ky. McKinney committed to Michigan on Wednesday morning.

"Marques played in the high school All-American game and we watched him on film and thought that he was a guy who could make a difference here, and I think he will," Carr said.

Carr isn't afraid to use his freshmen. Hart emerged as the Big Ten's leading rusher in 2004, though he didn't nail down a starting job until the fourth game of the season.

Another true freshman, Chad Henne, stepped up and started all 12 games for the Wolverines after junior Matt Gutierrez went down with a shoulder injury before the season opener. Henne was fourth in the conference in passing with 2,743 yards, 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions.

"The question for all the freshmen, and some of them we do have plans for this year, will be how much can they learn in the short training camp we'll have," said Carr, whose team opens the 2005 campaign Sept. 3 against Northern Illinois.

The Wolverines also added two of the country's top skill athletes. Michigan beat out Michigan State, LSU and Virginia Tech for wide receiver/quarterback Antonio Bass of Jackson, Mich. -- the No. 2 skill athlete in the nation according to SuperPrep. Ten of Bass' 15 touchdowns last season went for 39 yards or more.

SuperPrep's No. 5 skill athlete -- LaTerryal Savoy of Mamou, La., -- also committed to Michigan. Savoy had 1,325 receiving yards and 22 touchdowns as a receiver, and intercepted 13 passes as a defensive back.

The Wolverines beat out two-time defending national champion USC and archrival Ohio State for highly regarded punter Zoltan Mesko of Twinsburg, Ohio. Mesko emigrated to the United States from Romania when he was 11 and speaks five languages.

Penn State class boosts JoePa's outlook - NN of Central Ohio (AP)

Penn State class boosts JoePa's outlook

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Penn State's two biggest threats in 2005 have yet to play a down for the Nittany Lions.

They haven't even put on their uniforms yet.

Derrick Williams, rated the nation's No. 1 recruit by Rivals.com, and Justin King, ranked No. 19, headlined a class of 19 athletes who signed letters of intent Wednesday to play football for the Nittany Lions.

And while many are touting their speed -- both have been timed under 4.3 seconds in the 40-yard dash -- some recruiting experts are extolling their abilities as pitchmen.

"When we talk to kids like Jerome Hayes, the All-American linebacker who committed to Penn State today, they said the real reason they're coming to Penn State is the effort of King and Williams," said Phil Grosz, editor of the G&W Recruiting Report and publisher of the Penn State fan newspaper Blue-White Illustrated.

"They're important on the football field because they're skill players at positions where Penn State needs talent, but they became recruiters when they came here."

Williams, a 6-foot, 189-pound athlete from Greenbelt, Md., and King, a defensive back from Pittsburgh, both made verbal commitments to Penn State in December and enrolled at the school in January, meaning they will be able to participate in spring football practice.

Francis Claude, a tight end from Champlain School in Vancouver, Quebec, also enrolled early.

Williams' and King's commitments to play for coach Joe Paterno were widely regarded as a turning point in the Penn State recruiting class.

And though the Lions receivers struggled last year -- no wideout had more than 20 receptions or 254 yards -- Grosz said the impact of this class will be felt immediately on special teams.

"In 22 years covering Penn State football, I've never seen this type of speed," Grosz said. "This is the type of speed that you think of at Miami, Florida State, Oklahoma."

Though Williams may figure into Penn State's plan at wideout and King may end up playing on both sides of the ball, Grosz said players like Knowledge Timmons and Lydell Sargeant will see time on the punt and kickoff teams.

It's an area Paterno needed to address after his Lions finished last in the Big Ten in kickoff returns (17.5 yards), ninth in punt returns (7.9 yards) and eighth in kickoff coverage (20.9 yards allowed).

Those troubles, along with an offense that ranked 109th nationally in scoring (17.7 points per game), contributed to the Lions' 4-9 season, their fourth losing season in the last five.

Hayes, a linebacker from Bayonne, N.J., High School, should figure into the special teams mix and was a signing-day decision for Penn State. His coach, Rich Rodriguez, said the Lions had always been a favorite for the 6-foot-2, 225-pound prospect, but they lost some favor when Fran Ganter moved from assistant head coach into the athletic department office.

It was the effort of King, whose stepfather, Terry Smith, lettered for Paterno as a wideout from 1988-91, at the Army All-American Bowl in January that got the Lions' back among Hayes' favorites.

And Williams, not one to lag behind King, began calling some of the nation's top players, including tackle Jared Gaither, of Chatham, Va. The 6-foot-9, 300-pound lineman remained committed to Maryland.

But Williams' effort with Todd Nolen, the nation's No. 24 wideout, is part of the reason he is taking an official visit to Penn State this weekend.

Other recruits include Mickey Shuler, of East Pennsboro, who is the son of former Penn State and New York Jets tight end Mickey Shuler.

There is little question, though, that Williams and King are the gems of the class.

Playing three positions on offense, Williams racked up 2,052 total yards and contributed to 24 touchdowns on offense in his senior season at Eleanor Roosevelt High School.

King, a 6-foot, 183-pound cornerback, rushed for 1,795 yards and scored 30 touchdowns as a senior for Gateway High School.

They are among eight players listed as either defensive backs or wideouts to commit to Penn State's Class of 2009, rated 26th nationally by Rivals.com.

Enthusiasm, however, might be the biggest thing the duo brings to the table.

"People say it's the best thing in the world that Derrick Williams made a verbal commitment and enrolled at Penn State in January, everyone gives the obvious reason," Grosz said. "But I think the No. 1 reason it's important is that he's already starting to germinate an infectious winning attitude."

Late signings help out Hawkeyes - NN of Central Ohio (AP)

Late signings help out Hawkeyes

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) -- Iowa football coach Kirk Ferentz is delighted that his recruiting class is so highly regarded, but he also knows where they'll ultimately be judged -- on the field.

The 22 players who signed with Iowa on Wednesday make up the highest-ranked class in Ferentz's six seasons at the school. Analyst Tom Lemming ranks the Hawkeyes No. 4 in the nation, Scout.com has Iowa fifth and Rivals.com puts the class at No. 7.

"I think recruiting rankings, they're a lot like preseason rankings in football," Ferentz said. "They're projections based on past performance and that type of thing. But we still have a lot of football to be played."

Iowa is coming off the best three-year stretch in school history, with 31 wins that include the Outback Bowl after the 2003 season and the Capital One Bowl this past season. That success has come mainly through recruiting lesser-known prospects and then developing them into top-notch college players.

While this year's class has been showered with accolades, Ferentz believes the players still fit into the Iowa mold.

"I think I'm most impressed with the attitude, the intangibles we were able to get familiar with during the recruiting process," he said. "I think this group has already developed in many ways an interesting chemistry."

Five of the recruits are from Iowa: defensive lineman Alex Kanellis of Iowa City West, linebacker Pat Angerer of Bettendorf, defensive end Tyler Blum of Walnut, offensive lineman Andy Kuempel of Marion Linn-Mar and offensive lineman Marshall Yanda, who's from Anamosa and has been playing at North Iowa Area Community College in Mason City.

"Kind of like on the field our goal is to be the Big Ten championship football team in November, we still feel that way about recruiting," Ferentz said. "It all starts in Iowa and it spreads to the Midwest."

Chicago was a big focus, with six players coming from Windy City suburbs. Ferentz said the early commitment from quarterback Jake Christensen of Lockport, Ill., was a key to that area.

"The fact that he committed early helped us get some credibility in the Chicago area," Ferentz said. "Then Jake and his dad were very aggressive. Quarterbacks are smart. They understand it helps to have good teammates on both sides of the ball.

"So they were very aggressive in trying to help us recruit a good class."

Tony Moeaki of Wheaton, Ill., is one of the top prospects in the class. Scout.com ranks him the No. 1 tight end in the country, while the other recruiting services put him at No. 2

Dan Doering of Barrington, Ill., is the No. 2 offensive tackle, according to Lemming. Other Illinois recruits are defensive lineman Ryan Bain of Bolingbrook and offensive linemen Kyle Calloway of Belleville and Dace Richardson of Wheaton.

"We made the decision early to treat Chicago like part of our state," Ferentz said. "With the population base being what it is, we really have to look elsewhere and Chicago makes perfect sense. We've really tried to make a good effort there."

Gophers stage raid on Columbus - NN of Central Ohio (AP)

Gophers stage raid on Columbus

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Gophers lost out on the state's top recruit on Wednesday, but continued their success in talent-rich Ohio by signing one of the nation's top linebacker prospects.

The Gophers signed 18 recruits to national letters of intent, including highly touted linebacker Alex Daniels of Columbus, Ohio.

Eden Prairie star Walker Ashley, however, spurned his home state Gophers for two-time defending champion Southern Cal.

"We're working our tails off," Gophers coach Glen Mason said, referring to in-state recruiting. "Sometimes we're having success and sometimes we're having disappointments, but I don't know of a state anyplace that keeps all their players."

Ashley, rated one of the top 10 defensive tackles in the nation by several recruiting services, said he couldn't resist the opportunity to play for the Trojans' burgeoning dynasty.

"Through the whole last seven days I've been hopping back and forth between three different schools -- Minnesota, Ohio State and USC," Ashley said. "I just felt USC was the best fit me."

The Gophers landed seven Minnesota players, including running back Jay Thomas of Tartan, who rushed for 1,549 yards and 14 touchdowns last year.

Simley quarterback Marcel Jones and Cretin-Derham Hall offensive lineman Ned Tavale also stayed home.

"We were able to blend size with speed and once again we put a high premium on athleticism," Mason said.

It is Daniels, however, who some think will make everyone forget about Ashley.

Mason and offensive coordinator Mitch Browning used their strong connections in Ohio to lure the 6-3, 230-pounder away from marquee programs Oklahoma and Ohio State.

Daniels had 100 tackles, five sacks and returned two of his three interceptions for touchdowns to help lead Brookhaven High School to the 2004 state championship. He is rated as the 11th best athlete in the nation by recruiting service Rivals.com and illustrates the vast inroads that Mason and Browning have made dating back to their days at Kansas.

"We had good players (from Ohio) at Kansas and pretty good players from Ohio since we've been here," Browning said. "(Daniels) just seems to be the guy that's making a big splash because he visited Oklahoma and Ohio State wanted him and he's a tremendous football player."

He also brings with him two talented teammates. Defensive backs Dominic Jones and Keith Massey also committed to Minnesota and should help bolster Minnesota's mediocre defense.

"I've made no bones about it that we need to play better defense," Mason said. "We need to do a better job coaching defense and we need better defensive players. That was one of our priorities."

Landing Ashley, whose father Walker Lee Ashley was an NFL linebacker, certainly would have helped.

Ashley initially narrowed his choices to USC, Minnesota, Ohio State and Penn State, where his father played. But the Trojans' considerable success set them ahead of the pack.

"They're two-time national champions, they get a lot of exposure," Ashley said.

Other top players to leave the state include Cretin-Derham Hall lineman Rafael Eubanks (Iowa), Wayzata linebacker James Laurinaitis (Ohio State) and Waconia tight end Joey Hiben (Notre Dame).

It wasn't easy for Mason to see them leave.

"Of course you'd like to get everybody," he said. "But I think we did all right.

"I'm very pleased with this class for the most part. We've met our needs across the board."

Including Matt Stommes, a 6-6, 245-pound defensive lineman from Eden Valley-Watkins High School. He grew up the first of nine children on a family farm in rural Richmond, Minn.

"He wants the opportunity," Mason said. "If I had (eight) brothers and sisters at home, had to milk cows and do farm chores, I couldn't wait to go to college either. He's excited."


Versatility the buzzword for Wisconsin class - NN of Central Ohio (AP)

Versatility the buzzword for Wisconsin class

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The University of Wisconsin's 2005 football recruiting class is loaded with versatile players and two-way threats.

The headliner is Travis Beckum of Oak Creek High School near Milwaukee, the 2004 Associated Press player of the year. He will get his shot at linebacker, where the Badgers lack depth, but he has the size and speed to also play wide receiver, kick returner and several other positions.

Then there's Shane Carter of Troy, Ohio, who was recruited as a safety but is fast enough to play cornerback and wide receiver. He's the half brother of former NFL star receiver Cris Carter.

Jarmal Ruffin of Philadelphia is so versatile he was listed simply as "athlete" in his biography.

The Badgers announced two dozen commitments, including preferred walk-on kicker Matt Fischer of Appleton East High School, and four state players who accepted scholarship offers to stay in Wisconsin.

"It's a fast class," coach Barry Alvarez said. "There's a lot of speed in this class, regardless of the positions. It's very athletic. You'll see a versatile group of athletes. A number of the athletes have several positions that they can play.

"There are a couple of them we don't know where they're going to play when they show up. And we recruited them that way, talked to them about wherever our need is and wherever they seem to fit, that's where we're going to start them."

The Badgers went 9-3 last year, rising to the No. 4 ranking in the nation before losing to Michigan State, Iowa and Georgia. They'll lose 13 position starters, and cornerback Brett Bell is recovering from a serious knee injury he suffered during workouts last week.

Combine the versatility with that opportunity and several of the two dozen players could contribute right away.

Alvarez said he expects at least six of them to play this fall, at the very least on special teams, including all four linebackers: Beckum; Jonathan Casillas (New Brunswick, N.J.); Elijah Hodge (St. Thomas, Virgin Islands by way of Ft. Lauderdale Dillard High School); and O'Brien Schofield (Great Lakes, Ill.).

The class's versatility is part design, part good fortune.

"What we try to do is find the best guys we can get," Alvarez said. "When you find a guy that you want to take at a specific position and yet he can play some other positions, it does provide more value. With the 85 scholarship limit, you like versatility. You want to get the best guys on the field. When they can play more than one position, certainly that helps you and allows you to be more flexible on both sides of the ball."

Alvarez said his only regret was "I would have liked to have one more offensive lineman. Yet, we have some defensive linemen who could go that way, so that gives us some flexibility. But that's really the only thing that I regret in this class."

Alvarez signed two offensive linemen: Eric VandenHeuvel of Hudson High School and Andy Kemp of Menasha High School.

Kemp, who is 6-foot-6 and 315 pounds, is only 17 but is already a college student, having completed his high school credits early so he could attend the UW this semester and go through spring football practice.

The class represents nine states, but Alvarez said he'd like to refocus his recruiting efforts closer to the Midwest in the coming years because places like Ohio have been so bountiful.

As have the Wisconsin players who have stayed in-state.

The coup this year was Beckum, who chose the Badgers over several national powerhouse suitors.

"When you have someone as highly recruited as he is, (who) could have gone any place in the country, that's a priority for us. You want to keep the best players at home," Alvarez said. "And when you have someone that's as good as anyone in the country at their position, certainly that magnifies it."

"He was key to this class, he really was."

Indiana, Purdue get different classes - NN of Central Ohio (AP)

Indiana, Purdue get different classes

Coach Joe Tiller used eight straight bowl trips and a wide open offense to lure Purdue's recruits.

Terry Hoeppner had the tougher sell -- promising recruits he would rebuild the Indiana Hoosiers program.

Tiller called his ninth recruiting class at Purdue his best yet on Wednesday, the first day high school players could sign with colleges, while Hoeppner was satisfied with his first foray into Big Ten recruiting.

"I don't want a mulligan on this class," Hoeppner said.

For Hoeppner, signing day capped a whirlwind January that included late hours, long road trips and an early wake-up call Wednesday.

The first signature came from wide receiver Andrew Means at 7:07 a.m. The last came from running back Demetrius McCray, a first-team all-state player from Florida.

In all, the Hoosiers added 24 new players but announced only 23. Hoeppner said the last player's family asked Indiana to hold the announcement until this weekend, and while he complied, he also offered a hint of what to expect.

"Demetrius was one we were holding our breath on," Hoeppner said. "And we may be saving the best for last. He's probably the highest-rated player in this class."

Hoeppner managed to keep 10 of 14 players who had committed to former coach Gerry DiNardo and used some old ties in Indiana and Ohio to fill out nearly half his class.

The Hoosiers signed six players from Ohio and three from Indianapolis -- wide receivers Josh Bailey and Brandon Walker-Roby and athlete Tim Sergi. Hoeppner also got tight end Ty Harangody of Andrean and running Bryan Payton, a prep school player who grew up in Fort Wayne.

Hoeppner did more than just piece together a recruiting class, he filled some big holes.

Courtney Roby, the Hoosiers' career receiving leader, and quarterback Matt LoVecchio were both seniors. Roby may eventually be replaced by his brother, Walker-Roby, one of five receivers that signed Wednesday. Hoeppner also added five running backs and two athletes.

But since he signed no quarterbacks, the Hoosiers will rely on three veterans who have thrown a combined 22 passes in college.

"I'm very particular about that position, and we were not just going to take a quarterback," Hoeppner said.

There was more encouraging news on another front. Hoeppner said Wednesday that BenJarvus Green-Ellis, the Hoosiers' top runner the last two seasons, called to announce he may return next year. Last week, Green-Ellis announced he would transfer.

"He called us and indicated he wants to come back, so we'll have to see what happens," Hoeppner said.

At Purdue, there were no problems attracting top players in Tiller's 21-member class.

Tiller even went back to Texas to pluck another quarterback prospect -- David Ramirez.

But the Boilermakers top prospects may prove to be linebacker Kyle Williams, 300-pound offensive lineman Jason Kacinko, 265-pound defensive end J.B. Paxson and Selwyn Lymon, a 6-4 wide receiver from Fort Wayne Harding.

"If all the paperwork gets cleared, there's no doubt Kyle Williams will be on the field for Purdue this fall," Tiller said.

Williams already has enrolled in school at Purdue, but Tiller said he may be forced to redshirt next season.

Tiller got nine signees from Indiana, including Mr. Football Jason Werner, and what he considered all of the top eight players in the state. Four more recruits are from Illinois.

Purdue's class has been ranked among the top 30 nationally, and Tiller said he believes it's the best overall group he's had at Purdue even if few play big roles next season.

"How many of these guys will get to the field, I don't know," Tiller said. "But I know we are bringing on board some very talented players, and I do think we're bringing the type of talent into this class that I would not at all be surprised to see five or six of these guys play for us this year. And that's a strong statement, I think."

Ball State signed 20 players, including defensive linemen Jordan Applegate of Fort Wayne Snider and Drew Duffin of Avon.

Zook uses ties to snare top recruits for Illinois - NN of Central Ohio (AP)

Zook uses ties to snare top recruits for Illinois

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. -- New Illinois football coach Ron Zook signed 19 players to national letters of intent Wednesday, including blue-chip recruits at running back and receiver.

Rashard Mendenhall, a running back from Niles West High School, already is enrolled in the university and will be able to participate in Zook's winter conditioning program and spring drills.

"You watch a little tape on him, he gets you excited," Zook said. "You like that look in his eye."

Mendenhall, who verbally committed to former coach Ron Turner as a junior, is one of eight recruits from Illinois in Zook's first class. His brother, Walter, was on the Illini team last season.

Zook's other top recruit is Derrick McPhearson, a receiver from Hyattsville, Md., who attended prep school last fall. He caught 38 passes for 778 yards and eight touchdowns as a senior at DeMatha High School in 2003.

"I personally have been recruiting Derrick for the past two or three years," Zook said. "He comes from a great, great family and I think he'll come in here and do the things he's supposed to do, and I think he has the chance to be a special player."

McPhearson is the son of Gerrick McPhearson, who played defensive back for the New England Patriots.

Zook used his ties to the South to sign defensive back Guesly Dervil of Jacksonville, Fla., Tremayne Walker, a 285-pound lineman from Tallahassee, Fla., and Will Bergen, a 260-pound lineman from Tampa, Fla. The Illini also signed three players from Georgia, one from Louisiana and one from Ohio.

Zook said his list could grow by a player or two. He took over the job Dec. 6, two weeks after Turner was fired.

Quarterbacks top Northwestern class - NN of Central Ohio (AP)

Quarterbacks top Northwestern class

EVANSTON, Ill. (AP) -- Northwestern University announced the signing of 20 high school recruits Wednesday, including three quarterbacks and nine linemen.

"We focused on recruiting linemen this year, as well as some of the skill positions, especially linebacker, running back and quarterback," NU coach Randy Walker said. "We are going to lose some quality players in those areas the next couple years and need to groom some of our younger talent this year. ... This might be one of the most talented classes Northwestern has ever recruited."

The Wildcats signed quarterbacks Mike Kafka of Oak Lawn, Eric Peterman of Springfield and Andrew Brewer of Tulsa, Okla.

Kafka led Chicago St. Rita to a 35-8 record in a four-year career and last year completed 75 of 129 passes for 1,004 yards and 10 touchdowns, while also rushing for 806 yards and five TDs.

Peterman had a school-record 347 points and 7,303 yards of total offense at Sacred Heart-Griffin High in Springfield and led his team to a four-year mark of 39-2.

Brewer passed for 3,705 yards and 45 touchdowns with 16 interceptions during his career at Jenks High School, his team's only loss during a 12-1 season coming in the state title game.

The biggest of the linemen are 6-5, 290-pound Tyler Compton of Humble, Texas; 6-4, 280-pound Adam Hahn of Hartford, Wis.; 6-6, 275-pound Kurt Mattes of Oarkville, Pa.; and 6-3, 260-pound Desmond Taylor of Los Angeles.

The two running back recruits are Tyrell Sutton of Akron, Ohio, who rushed for a state-record 9,426 yards during his career, and Omar Conteh of Cypress Texas, who gained 390 yards in one game last season.

Sutton was named Ohio's "Mr. Football" after a stellar senior season at Archbishop Hoban High.

Two other recruits were also chosen players of the year in their respective states -- Joliet Catholic Academy linebacker Chris Jeske and defensive back Brendan Smith of New Hampton Prep in New Hampshire.

Tennessee, USC, Score Big on Signing Day - AP

Tennessee, USC, Score Big on Signing Day

AP Sports Writer

Southern California finished recruiting with a flourish. Several blue chip prospects who entered signing day uncommitted ended it headed to USC as the two-time defending national champions continued to stockpile talent Wednesday.

Rivals.com has the Trojans' class rated No. 1 in the nation, just like last year.

"It's been a hallmark of ours, getting great classes and putting them together one after the other, which has allowed us to reach the level of success we have," USC coach Pete Carroll said.

Unlike last year, the Trojans weren't a consensus No. 1 among all the leading recruiting analysts - but they were close.

Max Emfinger had USC second behind Oklahoma. Allen Wallace of SuperPrep and Scout.com ranked USC No. 3, with Tennessee first and Michigan second. The Trojans were third behind Nebraska and Tennessee, according to Tom Lemming of ESPN.com and College Sports Television.

USC landed two of the nation's best linebackers (Brian Cushing from New Jersey and Luthur Brown from California) and two of the top defensive linemen (Walker Ashley from Minnesota and Kyle Moore from Georgia) on Wednesday. All four were uncommitted when the day started.

"It looked like it might not have been their year, but it turned on a dime," Bobby Burton of Rivals.com said of the Trojans. "To have back-to-back No. 1-ranked recruiting classes is unheard of."

Quarterback Mark Sanchez and linebacker Rey Maualuga from California and wide receiver Patrick Turner from Tennessee highlight the Trojans' class.

Sanchez will have to sit behind Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart, who decided to return for his senior season despite a chance at being the No. 1 pick in the upcoming NFL draft.

Carroll's reputation for playing freshmen keeps the Trojans' already loaded roster from scaring away the best high school players.

"We had players of the year from four states and others who are coming to do something special," Carroll said. "They're not concerned about depth charts, just about opportunity."

Oklahoma's 55-19 loss to USC in the Orange Bowl last month certainly didn't hurt the Sooners in recruiting.

The Sooners' two prized recruits were on the defensive side, where they could use some help.

Tackle DeMarcus Granger from Texas and linebacker Ryan Reynolds from Nevada were each considered among the very best defensive players in the country.

"This class met our needs, and I am especially happy about the quantity and quality of the linemen on both sides of the ball," Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. "We needed to do well there, and we did."

Like USC, Florida State closed strong and joined perennial powers Michigan, Georgia and Miami with highly rated classes. But also cracking the top 10s were Nebraska and Texas A&M, two schools trying to return to the nation's elite.

Nebraska coach Bill Callahan did particularly well recruiting the junior colleges. It's a class that could have an immediate impact on the Cornhuskers, who went 5-6 last season.

"A year from now, everyone will be talking about this Nebraska class as their greatest in the last 25 years," Lemming said.

Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione, heading into his third season with the Aggies, went head-to-head with Oklahoma and Texas on several players and came away with the school's best recruiting class in years.

"We want to be able to recruit the best in the nation," Franchione said. "We want to continue to enhance our image nationally."

The Vols haven't had a class regarded this highly since 2000, when coach Phillip Fulmer brought in a group that included linebacker Kevin Burnett, offensive linemen Jason Respert and Michael Munoz, tight end Jason Witten and quarterback Casey Clausen.

"They're back to familiar ground," Wallace said.

The Volunteers signed 27 players on the first and busiest day of the national signing period, and went into the Midwest and all over the South for topflight prospects.

"You have to do that at Tennessee, where you don't have that homegrown talent," Burton said.

Coming off a 10-3 season, the Vols signed defensive end Raymond Henderson from Wisconsin, linebacker Andre Mathis from Pennsylvania, defensive back Adam Myers-White from Ohio, linebacker Rico McCoy from Washington, D.C. All were rated among the best players at their positions nationally.

Tennessee's top-rated recruit, cornerback Demetrice Morley, is from Miami.

"The University of Tennessee is a great product to sell with the traditions, facilities and academic support," Fulmer said. "If we can get them to campus, then we've got a chance to sign them."

Walker Ashley's dizzying decision is USC - Minneapolis Star Tribune

Walker Ashley's dizzying decision is USC
Chip Scoggins,* Star Tribune
February 3, 2005 UREC0203.SIDE

Eden Prairie senior Walker Ashley admits his head was spinning when he left the University of Minnesota campus after an unofficial visit this past weekend.

Ashley, one of the nation's top defensive lineman prospects, said he was leaning toward signing with the Gophers at that point. By Monday evening, he had changed his mind and felt Ohio State would be his college choice. But on Tuesday afternoon, Ashley had shifted his attention to Southern California, which is where his recruiting process finally came to an end.
Ashley ended months of speculation and his own back-and-forth mental debate Wednesday by signing a national letter of intent to play football for USC, the two-time defending national champions.

Ashley chose the Trojans over the Gophers, Ohio State and Penn State in an intense recruiting battle that went down to the wire.

"When I sat down and thought about it, I just felt USC was the right place for me," said Ashley, who is the eighth-best defensive tackle prospect according to national recruiting analyst Tom Lemming. "It was harder to tell all the other coaches 'no' than to say 'yes' [to USC]. You build such a personal relationship with the coaches. You don't want to hurt anybody's feelings or let anybody down. But you just have to do what is best for you."

Ashley said throughout his recruitment that USC held a slight lead over the other schools, although he offered mixed signals the final few weeks. There was talk around the Gophers football complex this week that Ashley had told numerous people that he wanted to stay home and had eliminated USC from consideration. His final decision raised speculation that Ashley had been pressured by family members to pick the Trojans, but he denied those claims.

"That's not true," Ashley said. "This was my decision."

Ashley's father, Walker Lee Ashley, acknowledged Wednesday that he asked his son to pare his list of schools several weeks ago, but he decided against it.

"He felt strongly about not eliminating anyone," said Walker Lee Ashley, who played linebacker for the Vikings in the mid-1980s, when USC coach Pete Carroll was the team's defensive backs coach. "He took his time, he went through the information, and he feels he made a good decision for what's best for him."

The Gophers seemed the best bet for Ashley to earn immediate playing time, but he said he believes he can work himself into the mix at USC this season with the graduation of star defensive tackles Shaun Cody and Mike Patterson.

Ashley also sought advice from former Breck star Dominique Byrd, who is now a senior tight end at USC. The two talked throughout the process and had another conversation Tuesday night.

"Dominique helped me through the whole process," Ashley said. "He came from Minnesota and his parents were worried about the distance. But he said it's OK. They take care of you."

Laurinaitis to Buckeyes
As expected, Wayzata linebacker James Laurinaitis signed with Ohio State. Ohio State officials said Laurinaitis is the first Minnesotan to earn a football scholarship to Ohio State, but he is not the first from this state to play for the Buckeyes.
Minneapolis native Sid Gillman, who died two years ago at age 91, was an All-America at Ohio State in the early 1930s. Gillman is a member of both the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame.