Sunday, June 26, 2011

Congrats - "Jonny D"

This a high school football website, but I have to take a minute to applaude OSU's Jon Diebler on being drafted in the second round of the NBA draft by the Portland Trail Blazers. You see, Jon Diebler is an Upper Sandusky "guy." To me, he personifies ALL that is good in a college athlete.

Jon and I have only talked a few times. I would love to say I watched every high school game he played at Upper Sandusky. I would love to say we are good friends. I would love to say I watched every O-State basketball game. None of these would be true. I respect him as a young person, and maybe more than as a basketball player. Watching Jon give testimony during the FCA breakfast at the Ohio State Football Coaches Clinic confirmed my high regard for him.

When he was a first year guy at OSU, he played poorly in a game at Madison Square Garden. Some of the McD's morning coffee OSU fans were dissin on him pretty hard. I reminded them that just the year before, he was playing in a game at Mohawk High School. Typical Buckeye Nation. I heard some OSU basketball analyst named White was brutal on him all of the time on WTVN. Believe he played at traditional power Watkins Memorial. Maybe Jon and he can share stories about pro basketball. No, I forgot, White never played in the NBA. Heard the talk radio hosts in C-bus were really hard on him. Just boys trying to make a name for themselves Jon weathered all of the negative media.

Congrats to Jonny D.

Luke Fickell

The last few months I have been asked to comment on the situation at Ohio State. Simple answer- How should I know!" I do not work there, nor do I hang out with the coaching staff. I believe almost nothing the media reports, including SI or ESPN, or even the local Columbus media. How should I know what is going on at Ohio State.

I have known Jim Tressel since his Syracuse days as an assistant. Not well at that time, but over the years we have become friends. That is really no huge accomplishment, because Coach Tressel has developed friendships with many, many coaches. I can say this, however - Coach Tressel has done more for Ohio high school football than anyone, since my hero, Woody Hayes. I can remember when the Ohio State Clinic was down to around 400. Now up to 1,600. I can remember when the summer camps were down to 400-500 total campers. Now they get 500 campers at just a one day camp.

I am excited to have Luke Fickell as the new head football coach at Ohio State. First saw him wrestle for Columbus DeSales High School at the Galion Regionals his senior year. Tremendous competitor. Smart. Personable. Watched him all four years at O-State. Biggest complaint was he should have been an offensive center. Not athletic enough to play on DL. Excellent balance, leverage and quickness, but not athleticism. With the experience at center at OSU, he would have played that position in the "league." Now he would be winding down his pro career, much the same as his buddy, Mike Vrabel.

Fickell is re-freshing, because he has the natural smile, but also has the toughness and discipline needed to lead people. Watching him at camp, he has a different presence about him. Friendly, but very aware of how certain high school players are competing. Personable, but very aware his job at this camp is to evaluate talent. Skake hands with well-wishers when the day is done. For what it means from me, he is an excellent evaluator of talent. The prospect's desire to compete is big for him. Hopefully, he does not get caught up in the "Five Star" bullcrap. As of now , he has not. Najee Murray and Devan Bogard are not five stars, but they are going to be very good college players for OSU.

Sometimes youth is not a negative. Fickell has not been coaching at Upper Sandusky High School the last ten years. Hopefully, being a college head coach has always been a dream, and he has taken some notes along the way. You cannot train to be a head coach. Being a co-ordinator does not mean as much as people like to think it does. Only from an organizational point does being a DC or OC help that much. There were reasons he landed the BGSU job, but Urban Meyer was not an OC at Notre Dame. Head coaches just have the "it" factor. Honestly, if Josh Daniels had not tried to be Bill Belechek, or be a tough guy, he may still be coaching Denver. Fickell is grounded, which will help him learn and gain wisdom sooner than anticipated.

Schemes are important. Assistant coaches are important. Discipline is important. Media relations are important.(maybe). Communication with players is important. But "fast horses" usually win the race. Talent is the key. If you do not enough really good players, your chances to win are limited. I always joked with the Indiana staff, when Bill Mallory was the head coach. They never got outcoached, just got out peopled. Luke Fickell can recruit. Ohio State players are the best recruiters. Ohio State is Ohio State. Recruiting talent to meet your needs is important. At times college coaches seem to worry about the media, but Fickell will not do that.

Of course, I am just John McCallister, but I wish the best for Luke Fickell. A combination of youth, energy, and knowledge, he will be okay. Go Bucks!

Camps are Over (for most part)

Most of the college footbal camps are over, and although they are both fun and work, I am kind of glad. Fun - I get to see many high school players, both college prospects and prospects working hard to make their high school team better. I get to update my coaching network. Of course, I get to evaluate high school football players. Work - I try to get to as many camps as I can. Gas money! Do not make time to chat with people as much as I would like. Weather- sometimes the sun gets alittle too hot. Being a "fair-skin old dog," I use the lotion and the wide hat. For those who know me, I really enjoy doing what I do.

A few years ago, I was complaining about the dishonesty of the business. A young college assistant coach told me that " maybe I was losing my desire and drive." Needless to say I just considered the source, but that comment still amuses me and maybe motivates me. But I am going to be 63 years young next month and maybe I am an old guard.

Advice to young football players. If you can afford it, make plans to get to a camp next year. If you are in junior high go to any camp for the experience. If you are in the Ohio 215 Class, you, too, can go just about anywhere. But for you, "big is not always better." Go to a good camp that has good coaches. Sad, but not all programs have good coaches.

For the Ohio 214 Class, you have to think recruiting and exposure. You will be coming out of your sophomore year. You will already be on the radar. I have over 300 names and measurements and contact information. Many I have already evaluated. Kent State had a one day for each class. Ohio State has two days devoted to underclassmen. Look for more schools to follow this concept. Get to some camps.

For the Ohio 213 Class, obviously, exposure is the key. You need to be out there. "One day camps" is the answer. Why would you spend three days or more any place? Money and time should be important to you. You will learn some new skills, but the chance to impress college coaches with your hard work is what it is all about.

Next spring I will spend more time talking about summer football camps. July is almost here and high school camps begin the last of the month. Time to start focusing on making your high school team better.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

O-State Football Camp

Just arrived home from the OSU 3 Day Football Camp and guess what, the camps are surviving and doing well. The attendance is up from last year at all three camps. The first "Senior Camp" was well attended, and there will be a larger attendance at this Saturday's other "Senior Camp." The "Two Day Underclassmen Camp" should be well attended, but there have been so many good underclassmen who have already showcased their talents that camp attendance may not be quite as large.

The policy to invite Mid American coaches to work senior camps is still in effect. Of course, alot of the decision makers attend these camps. Many schools are represented here.

While chatting with Coach Fickell, I took my first picture for some fan. People do not realize that I take bad pics. Hopefully, I got the top of their heads in the picture. Plus these new cameras are hard on me. I am used to taking pics in the old Kodaks that had the roll of film in the camera.

Lynn Swann thought enough of the OSU Camp to bring his son from Pittsburgh for three days. Swann sat in the small bleachers, almost incognito. Archie used to try to do the same thing at Shaker Heights, but everybody knew him. I did not see Urban Meyer, John Gruden, or the Nebraska coach, but according to rumors they were in C-bus looking for houses this weekend..

Ohio State is still Ohio State. They have good players and good coaches. Tremendous facilites. Luke Fickell, hopefully, will continue to be Luke Fickell. Some recruits may choose to go elsewhere, but one cannot control that. I am always amazed when I see players called top rated or top ranked, because I never know who rates or ranks them. The basketball team survived sanctions and so will OSU football. The camps have been a success, and as I said earlier, Ohio State is still Ohio State.

Friday, June 17, 2011

A Camp "offer"

Before I leave for the OSU 9-12 football camp, I really want to remind prospects and parents about a "Camp-offer." College coaches cannot make an "offer" to a prospect while in summer camp. Really I do not believe they can offer a prospect while he is even on campus. Not for sure on that, however. Will find out.

Some assistant coaches sometimes get too excited and might say something that mentions "offer," but that is not an offer and is against the rules. Plus, the head coach is usually involved in offering a propect.

Be careful with the word "offer. Before, you, as a propect or parent, make any comments regarding offers, check with some one who actually can help you. Verify the offer with the coaching staff. Offers are a big thing with high profile prospects. Some just collect them as a game. Others have no clue what an actual offer consists. As usual, the dot-com media loves to hear the word offer, because it gives them more content.

Save yourself the embarrassment, and be for sure, before you make any announcement.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Kent State Football Camps

The last two days I have been visiting the Kent State University football camps. The former head coach at Kent State shied away from high school football camps, but the new staff lead my Darrell Hazel is bringing them back. For me, as an evaluator of talent, I am really glad they are doing this. The university, and more importantly the Ohio High School football coaches, should be just as glad.

On Tuesday, Kent State hosted prospects in the Class of 2014. Really good numbers. Personally, there were some that I will follow this fall. Do not want to mention players now. A big lineman from near Kent and an athlete from near Upper Sandusky jumped out at me. Too early to write much about them, but they have a chance to be really good.

Today, the Class of 2013 was well represented. At least twenty campers will need to be watched this fall. Two from Michigan and a quarterback from Pennsylvania performed well. Because I only evaluate Ohio kids, most of time was focused on the prospects in Ohio' Class of 2013.

Campers were put through combine testing in the morning. After the tests, campers went through different types of football agilities. Kent State coaches not only directed the drills, but also closely evaluated the prospects. The afternoon session was divided into offense and defense. Prospects all worked on each side of the ball.

The strength of these camps that the groups were smaller, and there was much more individual attention given to the campers. Each Kent State assistant coach was the "guy" as far as leading the drills and the afternoon individual position sessions. Prospects could ask questions anytime. Coaches not only broke down every position step by step, but also were very clear in what they were instructing.

From the very beginning, you could sense that this was not a physical education class type camp. Players were skilled and competed hard. No nonsense. Billy Price, 6'4-285 offensive lineman from Austintown Fitch lead the way. Already has offers from Ohio State, and I heard UCLA. Price thought the camp was important, and, of course, he loves to compete.

Every college program cries,"Get them on campus." Kent State, after years of no camps, is making the effort. Thursday the Class of 2012 arrives. From early reports, the group has both "how manys" and "who manys."

Coach Hazel and his staff are "getting after it." Coaches are copycats. Although just a few schools are doing the underclassman camps, next year will see more. Hopefully, Kent State is starting a trend.

Monday, June 13, 2011

MSROHIO Underclassman Showcase

Last Saturday, June 11th we held our first true underclassman camp. Of course, since I am the director and would say this, "the camp was a success." With 60% chance of rain, not one rain drop feel. A beautiful day for football. A total of 129 campers attended and another 11 were registered, but did not make the trip for fear of bad weather.

We ran some of the traditional combine skills. Times were recorded, but there was no formal instruction. Most of the day was spent on individual specific drills and competition drills. There was some limited 7on7 competition near the end of camp. Individual headshots were taken and can be seen on this website. Two video cameras were constantly going.

The campers got their money's worth. Most of the coaches were selected on reccomendations from my friends in the coaching profession.The most pleasant surprise was the work and knowledge of the coaches. They did a tremendous job. Some of these guys need to be mentioned.
Chuck Gresham played at Eastmoor HS and YSU. Directs a training center in Columbus. He was responsible for warm-ups, the 40, and RB's. Very thorough and liked his enthusiam.
Jason Krause is the head football coach at Fairfield HS. Timed the 40's. Ran the star drill and coached DB's. Tremendous knowledge of DB's and excellent communicator.
Andy Gasper is defensive co-ordinator at Grove City. Coached LB's both inside and outside. Very intense and knowledgeable. Very detailed.
Kevin Heitzel is DL coach at Toledo Whitmer. Coached the DL, both DT and DE. Also very intense. Did a really well with one on one drills.
Brian Thomas is a WR coach at Dublin Coffman. Also OC at Bexley. Provided an assortment of receiver drills. A lot of energy. Very detailed.
Paul Yunker is an OL coach at Bryan in northwest Ohio. Liked his attention to details. Provided many types of lineman drills. Good at one on one drills.
Matt Daniels is the QB coach at Toledo St Johns. Worked with proshuttle. Tremendous job with QB's. Liked his footwork drills. Also worked with 7on7. Liked his enthusiasm with QB's.
Kyle Goebbel is the QB at Dublin Coffman. Worked well with passing techniques. Also well with 7on7.
Donald Henderson played QB at Brookhaven HS and at OU. Ran the broad jump and worked with RB's. Detailed and liked his evaluations of RB's.
Joe Baldwin will be new to the staff at Central Crossing. Works combines with me. Worked with DL. Good young coach.
Isaac Anderson is still a college student. Will work with Upper Sandusky football staff this fall. Really believe he will be an excellent coach some day. Works combines with me. Ran powerball test. Also worked with OL.
Chris King trains athletes in central Ohio. Very knowledgeable. Wor with he 40's and WR. Understands details of combine instruction.
The backbone of my instructional staff. Feel very fortunate to get coaches(sight unseen) of this caliber.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Ozone

Last week I chatted with my old, good friend John Porentas, the founder of the "The Ozone" website, which centers on Ohio State Athletics. We have been friends for many years, and I respect him, because he started from the ground-floor and worked his way to the top. Most amazing is that he has not stepped on people on his climb. Even more amazing, he is the same media guy that I meet many years ago.

The Ozone features and covers all sports. Baseball has a tremendous following. Other sports at Ohio State get much coverage. Football and basketball, as should be expected, probably require the most coverage. Interesting enough, Porentas does not let his staff get too wrapped up in the recruiting process. Many people believe recruiting is what sells. Fans love the rumors of recruiting, but Porentas realizes just how much non factual information is out there.

The Ozone, like many sites, has an open forum. Obviously, disagreement from readers is evident. The forum is closely moderated and discussions are civil. No name calling. No vulgarity. They try to maintain a certain level of credability. As for myself, I hardly ever read forums and never participate in chat rooms. Premium sites are too expensive for a retired teacher. But I sneaked a peek at Ozone's Open Forum.

If you want more O-State news, visit the OZONE. Easy to read.

Unless he has changed over the years, Porentas built his website by being honest and following the rules. In this day and age, that seems to be a lost art. If you see him, he probably will not be in a three-piece suit. You probably will not see him dining in alot of five star restaurants. His office is not in Dublin. But, you can trust his knowledge and can sense that he cares about people. Proud to call John Porentas my friend and to applaude the work that he has done.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Isaac Jeffers - Kenton High School

Sometimes even guys like me cannot see the " forest for the trees." Sometimes I get so caught up in evaluating players across the state that I miss one or two in my backyard. Such is the case with Kenton High School's Isaac Jeffers. All of 6'4-250, he just continues to grow and get stronger. Watched him workout at a lineman's camp and he is impressive.

First saw him his sophomore year. He was playing defense for the Wildcats. Playing DE and some linebacker. Long arms. Good balance. This past season, he played much the same type of positions. But you could see him growing into his body. Over the winter he worked hard in the weight room and added strength and good weight. He did not play varsity basketball last winter, which was a mistake. He needs to improve his footwork and basketball will do that. Plus he was a force in the paint.

Although he has played just on the defensive side of the ball in Mike Mauk's two platoon system, I can him see playing some offensive line this fall. Maybe a college center at the next level. Toughness is evident. Really needs to keep working on quickness drills, mainly because he has grown so fast. Most schools are going to look at him on the OL. Do not believe he is BCS level, but he is a scholarship guy.

Speaking of Kenton, Maty Mauk long jumped 22'11 1/2 and placed second at the Ohio High Schools State Track Championship. I wonder if the recruiting analysts who rated him second and third in the state have ever watched him in person.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Dirk Weisenburger - Norwalk O-lineman

Recently had a chance to watch Dirk Weisenburger from Norwalk HS work out. The good news - Dirk has finally hit a growth spurt. More good news - Dirk has been working hard in the weight room. Now a very athletic 6'5-260. Starter in both basketball and football as a sophomore. Moves his feet well. Watched him on video as a junior and liked him athletically, but he needed to get bigger and stronger.

Attended my camp last summer. Worked hard, but I teased him about getting bigger. Not only is he getting stronger, but he is standing taller and playing with more confidence. Also like the way he bends. Long arms and locks out well on pass protection.

If Dirk impresses coach's during the summer camps and plays lights out early. I mean really dominates defenders. Playing in a lesser known football school, he has to dominate. Really liked what I saw the other day. and if that effort keeps rising, he will be one of Norwalk's first scholarship players in a good while.

Adam Cole - Pickerington Central

Impressed with Adam Cole today. Cole mans the interior defensive line for Pickerington Central. As a sophomore, he was overweight and soft. Good athleticism. Good feet and a true 1 technique guy. As a junior showed much improvementbut was still overweight. Saw him today and he has really started to slim down. In fact, I joked with him about it.

Moves well for his 320 pounds. Liked the way he moved around the rings. Gets off blocks well. The biggest challenge for Adam will be to keep slimming down and continue to build up his endurance.

Really like his chances to play at the highest level. Looking forward to seeing him this fall.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Braxton Miller - Do not Change

Watching Braxton Miller as a sophomore, he just had the "it." There was something about him that made watching him fun. As a junior, watching him mature was fun. Standing with on the sidelines last year at the Herb Classic in Columbus was fun. Quiet, soft spoken, but what a competitor!

In 7on7 competition, he just did enough to win. Nothing flamboyant or earth shattering, just enough to win. Of course, he had a "rocket" that got him out of trouble at times, quick feet to avoid the rush, and a smile that one had to like. During the fall, these qualities stayed the same. He did have to run harder and quicker against live defenders and he succeeded.

His junior year in the first game of the season, he threw a pass that will always be in my "Top Ten Plays." Running to his left, he stopped just inside the boundary, probably a good yard from the fourth down marker, and threw a perfect strike 35 yards downfield. This play prompted me to tell Coach Tressel. " I do not know how good Pryor was as a junior in high school, but he was not in Braxton Miller's league." Coach just looked at me.

Nobody really knew him or really understood how talented he was. They almost beat Lakewood St. Edwards in last year's D-1 State Championship game. He just kept bringing them back. Cold weather-sharp passes and quick feet. After the game, everybody knew Braxton Miller. Then last winter one of's national recruiting experts dropped him in his QB-rating nationally, because he had a bad Under Armour All-Star game in Florida. The All-star game was a reward, not to be taken seriously.

Please Braxton Miller do not change your personality or do not quit being a good guy. You are a tremendous athlete who is also an excellent passer. Not a thrower like some QB's, a true passer. You are a natural leader. Please do not stick up for controversial characters. Remember everything Jay Minton has told you. Be a role model for what kids should do. Do not get caught in the media's game. O-State desperately needs a quarterback who can lead. I also know that you hate to travel far, so stay put. Be the next great O-State quarterback.

I am a Braxton Miller guy. Every year as I watch high school football, I see guys who have the "it." Most of the time, they never let me down. Being a role model is tough. Please Braxton Miller - do not change.