Traveling across the state Thursday, Friday, and Saturday almost every week evaluating college prospects leaves Sunday a day of relaxing and showin some love for my labrador. I have really gotten away from watching the NFL games. Yesterday, however, I watched the Browns-Bengals game, and since I like the competitive nature of Jim Harbaugh, I watch some of the Giants- 49ers. Probably the most rewarding time was watching some of the Ohio high school players compete.
Since I am a Woody Hayes disciple, I still care about Ohio State University football. O-State has a rich tradition of winning football and to play there has to be a really good experience. But sometimes we forget that other schools give scholarships. Even at the pro-level, I believe that if you are good enough, someone will find you. The same at the college level, but the media and alumni can sometimes influence a college coaching staff in the recruiting of a prospect. But, again, if you are good enough, someone will be willing to give you a chance, regardless of where you have played high school or college football.
Last night was fun, because many of the young men who I watched during their high school years are getting playing time in the "League." Players with Ohio high school backgrounds were playing in the two games. The Buckeyes, as well as other universities, prepared these young men for the NFL. My point is that lower Division I schools can get players to the next level. Even D-III school, Mount Union is represented.
Alex Boone (Lakewood St Ed's) (Ohio State) had kind of an up and down career with the Buckeyes. Always thought he was an excellent athlete, but took plays off. At 6'7-300, he had the potential. Personal issues were his biggest defender. Now focused and starting left guard with 49er's, Alex is doing well.
Ted Ginn Jr (Cleveland Glenville) (Ohio State) was the first round draft choice of Miami. Speed, vision, and burst were his strengths. Precise route running was not a strength. But he worked hard to be an NFL player. Coming off injury, he is returning punts for the 49er's.
Domenik Hixson (Columbus Whitehall) (Akron) is one of the go to receivers for the New York Giants. When he was a sophomore in high school, he was a skinny little kid who did not like football. Speed made him special coming out of high school. Akron took a chance. Now he has Super Bowl ring.
Chase Blackburn (Marysville) (Akron) was a solid linebacker with okay speed and okay size. I liked his athleticism. Think that he played some TE, also. Continued to improve size and strength at Akron. The Giants took a chance. I will admit that a scout for the Giants lives in Marysville, but Chase still had to earn a spot. Owns a Super Bowl ring.
John Hughes (Gahanna Lincoln) (Cincinnati) listed at 6'2-320 was a third round pick for the Cleveland Browns. In high school, he was 6'1-250, but was strong, nasty, and a run stopper. Height may have hurt, but physicality did not. UC gave him a chance. Because of an injury, John started at defensive tackle against the Bengals last night.
Ishmaa'ily Kitchen (Youngstown Mooney) (Kent State) is a back up for the Cleveland Browns. Think that he may have been an undrafted free agent. At Mooney, "Ish" was overweight and took plays off. But he was strong and athletic. Earned a football scholarship from Kent State. As a Flash, he played early, but still did not really "get it" until his junior year. Played yesterday against the Bengals and did well.
Jim Cordle (Lancaster) (Ohio State) plays center for the New York Giants. Rated him the second best lineman in Ohio his senior year. A quiet guy, he pass blocked little. in the wing-t type offense at Lancaster. But he was athletic and smart and intense. Worked hard to make himself a pass blocker for the Buckeyes. A Super Bowl winner.
Garrett Celek (Cincinnati LaSalle) (Michigan State) was tall slender TE in high school. Could catch and block, was the "younger brother" of Philadelphia Eagle TE Brent Celek. Coach Mark Dantonio (MSU) recruited his brother Brent to Cincinnati and recruited Garrett to Michigan State. An undrafted free agent, Garrett has bulked up to 6'5-252 and played some TE last night for the 49ers.
David Bruton (Miamisburg) (Notre Dame) will be playing some back-up FS for the Denver Broncos tonight. A wide receiver/defensive back in high school. Limited speed. Excellent athletic. Honestly, I did not think he could play alot at for the Irish. Got faster and stronger while at Notre Dame and now makes his money with the Denver Broncos.
Derek Wolfe (Beaver Local) (Cincinnati) scrimmaged against Cardinal Mooney his senior year. Mooney over matched Beaver Local, but Derek stood out. Probably 6'5-245 and played DE. Physical and nasty and could run. I liked him, but he was battling some personal issues. Continued to get bigger/stronger at UC. First round draft choice of the Denver Broncos. Will be making plays tonight for Denver.
Some of my facts are not correct. Have not double-checked any of them. No time. Doing it from memory. I, constantly, tell high school football players who want to play college football. Getting a BCS scholarship is really hard to do, but possible. If it does not work out, lower and mid level D-I programs are really good will make you a better football player. Getting a free education and playing college football is the dream of almost every player I work with.
Quite honestly, I love the Mid-American Conference. Sometimes, a prospect will leave the Midwest just to play for a BCS school. That BCS school may not have a good football program, or you are not good enough to play there. Problems arise. Staying in Ohio, or in the Midwest can be a good thing. Of course, there are exceptions.If a player is really, really talented, he should be able to play anywhere. In that case, check out the top programs in the country.Just remember whether trying to get recognized by colleges, or even by the NFL --- No matter the level of school, IF YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH, SOMEBODY WILL FIND YOU.