Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Stats, All-District, All State

Two weeks ago I had a conversation with a parent about the number of tackles that his son was collecting during the season. Really was proud of the number of solos and assist that he had so far in the season. He mentioned to me that his son was either leading the league or close to leading the league in total tackles. His son is only a sophomore, but his dad thought that would be huge for him in recruiting.

When I told him that I pay very little attention to stats when evaluating a prospect, he was taken back. First, the league stats for tackles was unofficial. Second, who keeps the charts. Finally, even though a player may make alot of tackles, he may not pass the eyeball test. What is his size? No, that should not matter for being recruited, but you know it does.

After the season is completed, I will get all kinds of stats from all kinds of football players. Really, I do not have time to go through all of the stats. Between working on my directory and watching video, my time is limited. College coaches do not get caught up in stats. For me, pass interceptions may be the stat that I pay attention to the most. A DB at Toledo Whitmer, I believe has 7 picks. That is pretty good. So much of the statistics can be controlled by the coaches. Finally, stats influence sports writers picking All-District and All-Ohio teams.

Speaking of All-District and All-Ohio teams brings me to my main concern in this blog. Every year I go through the All-District teams closely, looking for names, especially underclassmen. I really look for players who play for teams that I have not seen during the season. The All-District teams are a good source for finding players.

Every year, I hear some of the same old comments. " I was first team All-Northwest District, and I do not have any Division I coaches communicating with me." " First team All-Ohio DE and I have no offers." " Second team All-District as a sophomore. My player is a definite Division I prospect."

One of the problems is that the first team All-District offensive lineman  is 6'2-285. Some defensive linemen may top out at 5'10. Or a first team quarterback is 5'10 and only plays QB. A corner may run 4.7. No matter how athletic or how competitive a player is, he has to pass the eyeball test and run well.

Another problem is that high school sports writers  get caught up in statistics. A quarterback's passing stats could be very influencing. Some coaches pad the defensive stats. Tackle charts can be unreal. Pancakes for offensive linemen impresses voters. Some writers get caught up in the success of the team. My first year at Lakota we were 7-3. In the four years prior, they had won six games. We had three players make first team, and one played Division III.

When I coached at Ridgedale High School, we were the northern most school in Class A. We were almost guaranteed a first team player every year. Reporters wanted all areas of the district recognized. Our players deserved the award, but none were Division I prospects.

For a parent's own sanity, realizing that the All-District and All-State teams are rewards for having a really good season and not an indicator of college potential is important . High school players, regardless of college potential, deserve recogntion if they played well, or if their play contributed to a successful season for their school. Sometimes a high school player does not have the GPA/Test score to get into a college, but has played very well for his high school team. All-District or  All-Ohio is  a nice reward.

Finally, do not get discouraged if you think that you are a college  recruit and do not make All-District or All-State. Work hard in the offseason and go into the college summer football camps intent on impressing the college coaches. At the end of the day, college coaches are the ones who need to be impressed. Your high school stats and whether you made All-District or not will not matter. What you do in front of the college coaches will be huge in your recruiting process.

Congrats to you if you get post season honors. If you did not receive any post season recognition, take a break and get ready for next year. If you are a senior, I hope you enjoyed your high school football experience.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Applause for the Mid American Conference

First and foremost, Ohio State University, Michigan, Notre Dame, and Penn  State are some of the most respected football programs in the Midwest. Of course, the Big Ten is one of the top six conferences in the country. This is pretty much a given. Just as I believe that the GLIAC is getting stronger, I also believe the Mid American Conference is getting stronger and stronger.

I remember chatting with then Bowling Green head coach Gary Blackney years ago. He told me that he was tired of the phrase "MAC player." He said that he was tired of  the Ohio high school football coaches giving out the MAC list of players. More recently, former Toledo head coach Tim Beckman would tell me the same.

Although some games are better today, MAC schools often play the top BCS schools to get a big paycheck. Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressell thought it was important to bring Ohio MAC football teams to the Shoe. Some exposure for those schools, but, moreso, a big paycheck. Kent State went to Alabama last year for a good deal of money. One of the biggest problems with this is that the money is spread throughout the entire MidAm school's sports department. Those other sports teams do not attend many home games or show alot of support for the football team , but benefit from sharing the wealth.

Ball State has beaten Indiana two years in a row. Indiana is in the Big Ten and has had some close games with other Big Ten schools. Louisville just sneaked by Ball State by two points. Ohio University beat Penn State the opening game of the season. I am well aware of the state of Penn State football, but it is still Penn State and Happy Valley. Toledo, most recently, beat Cincinnati. Western Michigan beat UConn. Finally, Northern Illinois beat a bad Kansas team.

There were some blowouts, for sure, but there were some close games, too. Florida beat Bowling Green at Florida 27-14. Arizona beat Toledo at Arizona, 24-17. For some reason, every MAC school seems to beat Army.

Last Saturday. Kent State hammered Rutgers 35-23. Turnovers big time for Rutgers. But The Golden Flashes made good on many of those Rutgers' mistakes. Rutgers was rated 18th in the country for whatever value that is. BCS and rated - not bad for the 7-1 Golden Flashes.

Players often tell me that they want to play at the "highest level" possible. I applaude that thinking, but so often a prospect will end up being a practice player and maybe never see the field until his senior year. Now,  not trying to negative, but it happens. BCS schools outswide of Ohio feel that it is important to take a player or two out of Ohio. Taking the player, even though he is a stretch, gives them an Ohio connection, in case they go after more Ohio guys.

Why go to a "Purdue or a Vanderbilt," when you can stay in Ohio and play winning football in the MAC. "Boucebacks" happen all of the time. Of course, I understand the "egos" of parents and the dreams of players. Honestly, tough decision.  At least visit some MAC programs to see what is available. Again, I know it is a tough choice, but football is still football.

Coming out of Findlay High School years ago, Ben Roethlisberger chose Miami over some bigger programs. Pittsburgh Steelers' James Harrison played at Kent State. Of course, the list goes on and on. Most recently, Miami quarterback Zac Dysert has done well as a passer. From the small town of Ada, Ohio, will definitely get some looks from the League scouts.

One of my favorite players in the MAC is Kent State's Trayion Durham. A listed 6'0-250 RB, he has the tools and potential to play on Sundays. At Colerain High School, he always played FB in their option offense. Always had his hand down, but you could see his RB potential in the spread. Main problem with Trayion is that you do not always know who is going to show up, or how hard he will run on every play. When he runs, he is a beast. There is a place for him in the League, but needs to watch the scales.

If you are a recruit and reading my blog, do not "blow-off" the Mid American Conference. The crowds are not always the largest and the facilities are not always top line (although Toledo and Akron are not too bad), but football is football. Winning is still fun. Playing makes mom and dad happy. Maybe most important of all, NFL scouts visit the campus every spring. Four regular season games left- Get to a Mid American Conference game.

Monday, October 22, 2012

"Big 33" People Drop Ohio in the Allstar Game

Pennsylvania organizers for the "Big 33" All Star football game have notified the Ohio High School Football Coaches Directors that they are no longer interested in playing Ohio in the "Big 33" game held in Hershey, PA. They are going to sign a five year agreement with Maryland.

Amazing to me. Bush league move. The OHSFCA Director's have gone overboard to work with the "Big 33" Directors. I mean overboard. I know, because I am at the meetings and know just some of what was going on. Last year, 2012 was a one year extension. Not good enough for PA.

The biggest problem is that Ohio was beating Pennsylvania almost every summer. "Big 33" directors instituted new rules every year. New rules, even while the games were in progress. They kept uping the fees every year. I really can not go into details, but the average Ohio high school football follower would be amazed at all that went on. The PA players tried to intimidate Ohio players, only to get beat on the field

Due to players leaving early for college. Due to players leaving for summer school. Due to players afraid of injury. Due to some college football coaches asking their recruits not to play in the game (Yes they did). Ohio could not always send the very high profile players. But Ohio coaches sent really good players who played with much pride and emotion. Of course, they still beat Pennylvania. Now, PA plays Maryland.

Honestly, in some ways I am glad that we humiliated them so often that they had to drop us. Ohio has to sit back and take a long look at the situation. The Directors will meet in December. The "Big 33" Directors have been pushing Ohio around. Not Ohio's fault the game was losing money.

Hopefully, the Ohio North-South Allstar Directors  will look to see how that game can be improved. First, get it out of Ohio Stadium. Change the date. Change the starting time. Crew Stadium is interested in hosting the game. This time keep the Columbus Visitors Bureau out of the picture. There are some other improvments needed. Due to renovating Ohio Stadium, the game will not be played there this summer.

Everything will workout for the best. I guess if I were the Pennsylvania people and were beaten by the Ohio players year in and year out, I would stop playing Ohio, also. By the way, the Big 33 people said that after the five year contract with Maryland is over, they would be glad to sit down with Ohio  and talk about the series.

People have to remember that even though California, Texas, Florida, and Georgia produce many top players, Ohio is one of the best high school football organizations in the country. Excellent coaches and many well coached players throughout the state. Excellent playoff system. Pennsylvania throwing in the towel is tough to take, but we are Ohio.

Five Star Ratings - Recruit Football Players

Over the past six weeks I have become increasingly disgusted with this whole system of "Star ratings" and with the recruiting of "camp guys." I know that football recruiting "nuts" really get into the Star System, and it gives the recruiting reporters something to do to keep getting a paycheck. I guess "nuts" would include university presidents. Rating a propsect with "stars," entertains people. Offering a prospect after a good summer camp, makes work easier for college recruiters.

During the early days of high school football this fall, I was told who the three best junior prospects in Ohio were. I have seen those prospects, and they are good college prospects. Because they were offered by some of the top programs in the Midwest, they automatically become four or five stars. Just on "whose offered" guarantees them four stars. My concern is for the prospect himself. What effect does this Star System have on a prospect who has not been evaluated in actual games?

This morning a friend of mine who is a "Big Buckeye football fan" cornered me at the post office. "What is the story on the OSU defense and Curtis Grant?" Answer was simple. Since I have not made time to watch the Buckeyes, and the fact O-State has a good defensive staff,  "Don't know." He told me that Grant was a "5-Star recruit" and one of the top LBers in the country, but was not getting any playing time." Since he is not an "Ohio player," I really never saw him play in high school. For the record, AJ Hawk was a "two or three star." Check what John Simon's Star rating was coming out of high school. I told my friend that I did not understand the "Star-rating" system.

More and more, college coaches in the Midwest seem to be recruiting "camp guys" rather that "football players." In the South, college coaches recruit football players and the reason is simple. Florida, Georgia, and Texas, among others, have two weeks of high school spring football  Actual pads and contact. They also have a type of "football jamboree," which is a scrimmage between different schools. Ohio WILL NEVER have high school spring football like the South. I have no problem with that, but that is not the problem.

The problem is that college coaches continue to offer a high school prospect if he does well at their suimmer camp. He can run fast. He can jump. He can swagger. He can complete the ball to every receiver almost every play. College coaches seem to forget that when young men put the pads on things can change. Now the ball does not get to every receiver. Now with pads on he does not run as fast. Now with pads on the prospect loses his swagger, because the defender will hit back. This does not happen to every college prospect, but the odds keep increasing.

Honestly, as strange as it may seem, young college coaches do not take the time to really evaluate a prospect. They do not listen to what the recruit is saying, and they do not really concentrate on the recruit's verbal or nonverbal. They also go off of list from the recuiting "experts," like Tom Lemming. Lemming is a recruiting reporter, not an evaluator of talent. Coaches, old and young look at a highlight video, and, sometimes offer off of the highlight video. Do you think a recruit is going to put bad plays on a "highlight" video? Coaches must spend more time on recruiting and evaluations.

Of the course, the big question is always, "Who else is recruiting him?" I mean I hear that all of the time. Big deal. If O-State offers a prospect, every coach in the Midwest will be offering him. Last year Nick Saban was offering prospects in Ohio. Really the only reason he was doing that was to put pressure on Ohio State. Also, some programs in the Big Ten have offered any player who can walk and chew gum at the same time. Good Luck!

Things are not going to change, nor are football recruiting practices going to slow down. Only get worse. One recruiting point to remember - If in the summer, a college coach tells the prospect, "We like you from the camp, and you will have an offer. Offer is there, but we need to look at some other players, too. Play hard those first three or four games, and you will for sure have an offer." If a coach tells the prospect that - Good luck!

Finally, I am not trying to be negative with whole football recruiting world. I just hate to see good kids messed over. I talk with parents all of the time about the good, the bad, and the ugly of football recruiting. Honesty is not one of my weaknesses.
     Smile at the Star Rating System, but do not take it serious. One national recruiting reporter wanted to lower Braxton Miller's QB rating, because he had a bad all-star game in Florida in December.
     Smile when Rivals, or any of the other recruiting websites rank you high, but remember the recruiting reporters have not not seen every prospect on the list.
     Smile, but remember when a recruiting reporter wants to do a story on you, he has to do so many stories a month to get paid.
     Smile when you get an award at a college football summer camp, but remember football is still played with pads on. The recognition is good, but you still play the game
     Smile when you get invited to either  the Army Combine in Texas over Christmas, but remember the cost and, if you are just a guy, you will be treated like just a guy.
     Simile when you run over a defender in a game, or when you hit somebody so hard that both of you are slow to get up, or when you "spin-it" throw after throw and defenders in your face, or you when you break four tackles to score a TD.  That's football.
Ohio is never going to get high school spring football like the South. but if an Ohio high school football can play "lights-out" play after play after play on Friday nights, he has  a chance. May be someday college coaches will concentrate on recruiting " football players" again. "Woody and Bo" Days would be here again. (But with the spread offense)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Stay Focused - Play with Energy

      The high school football game that I watched last night was a game that I need to see once in a while. Just like I travel to rural school settings to watch excellent high school football, I like to go into a city to watch good inner city football. Maybe not all of the big time college prospects, but good coaching and maybe I can find  a "diamond in the rough" or two.
      If I am a sophomore and measure about 6'2-270 and start on both the offensive and the defensive lines, I may be a potential college recruit. If I run well and can change direction, I may be a potential college recruit. If my take off is good, if I play pad under pad, if I can find the ball and finish plays, I may be a potential college recruit. Finally, if my grades are just okay now, but I work hard to improve them, I may be a potential college recruit.
     But if I walk on and off the field, I need to change my attitude. If when coming back from the halftime break, I just walk, instead of jogging 50 yards toward my team doing warm-ups, I need to change my attitude. During the play, especially on defense, if I pursue hard and go to the whistle, but walk slowly back to the huddle, I need to change my attitude.  Whenever I can, I walk.
      I watched a sophomore last night who has the potential to be a Division I player coming out of his senior year. There a lot of things that he does well, and I like him. Granted just a sophomore, but he needs to show a lot more energy. He needs to develop that energy level now, so that those good habits continue into next year. This winter he needs those good habits. If he has a chance to go some camps next summer, he needs to show coaches that he has energy, not only when he does a drill, but anytime he needs to hustle instead of walk.
      For all of the young players who have the aspirations of playing Division I college football, making the tackle, or the block, or the catch, or the run is important. But what you do between the plays is equally important to college recruiters. Running on and off the field. Walking slowly back to the huddle. Not staying involved with the game, while on the sidelines. No energy in pre-game. To me, these mistakes all come under attitude. That is, poor attitude. Good college evaluators will see that. Although I am not a good college evaluator, why do you think I prefer the sidelines to the pressbox?
      Finally, if you are a "no-brainer" football recruit who only shows effort during the play, some college coaches will take a chance and sign you. We see that all of the time. But if you have okay talent with a bad attitude, good luck. The simple answer is bust your butt all of the time. Stay focused and show energy, especially, if you are a sophomore with talent.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Head Coaches Comment About Ohio Prep Football

      Really appreciated Rob Oller's column in the Columbus Dispatch this morning. The article, for the most part, was about the combine record of five college teams in Ohio. Only Division I schools were covered.
      Ohio State and the Ohio University are both 7-0. University of Cincinnati is 5-0. Mid -American schools, Toledo and Kent State are both 5-1. Doing the math, 30 wins and 2 losses. According to Oller, fourteen teams are undefeated in the Football Bowl Subdivision, with OSU, UC, and Ohio in that group.
      What I really liked were the comments of Darrell Hazell, head coach at Kent State, Matt Campbell, head coach at Toledo, and Butch Jones, head coach at Cincinnati, and Frank Solich, head coach at Ohio University. All four coaches praised the high school football played here in Ohio.
      Hazell and Campbell boasted about the quality of high school football coaches in Ohio. Jones and Solich commented on the quality of high school players here in the state. I think, if you look at the "Big 33 All-Star" games every year, Ohio is always well represented. Usually with a win! Honestly, because of prior commitments, leaving early for college, injuries, and the fact that some universities discourage players from playing in the game, Ohio is not always able to send its top college prospects to the game. The depth of high school talent is evident, as well as, the quality of coaches in all divisions. Again, usually with a win.
      One of the strengths of Ohio high school football is the quality and the longevity of the head coaches. But more than that are the high school programs themselves. Programs are well organized. All year around strength training. Not only good head coaches, but also, quality assistants, both young and old. I do not about other states, but as I travel around the state, I see more and more African American coaches working with young men. Some old, some young, but all are coaching, rather just wearing a coaching shirt.
      One of the biggest problems in Ohio high school football is money. Of course, almost every program has that problem. With teacher cutbacks, many of the young coaches with teaching degrees, cannot get jobs in the same school system. Having taught for 31 years, I see and understand both sides of the situation.
      Nice to read the comments from the coaches. Anytime high school football in Ohio gets some "love," I am happy.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Thanks WBNS in Columbus

      As far back as the Bob Trumpy days at WLW in Cincinnati, I have been a brief listener of sports talk radio. I use the word, "brief'", because, when sports talk guys make comments that attack people, then I pop-in a Michael W. Smith CD.  Most of the time I am driving the Saturn and like to be updated on sports news. However, I know alot of Michael W's music.
      WBNS radio has suspended the co-host, Scott Torgerson, or as he goes by "the Torg," for a tweet that he made last weekend directed toward Desmond Howard of ESPN College Football Gameday. The tweet was that he wished Howard would "get fired or die," so he could watch Gameday again. The sad thing is that this is not the first time that is guilty of adolesent comments. Both he and his sidekick, the Common Man, constantly make fun of people on their show. Criticism, I can handle, but personal attacks, no. I mean, what qualifies them to do what they do. Needless to say, I listen to Michael W. alot , when I am in Central Ohio.
      When Jon Diebler was a freshman at Ohio State, they were brutal on him, but the last two years of his OSU career, they "slobbered" all over him. Being an Upper Sandusky guy, do not attack Jonny D. When Brady Hoke became the head football coach at Michigan, these two made fun of his apprearance and qualifications. Coach Hoke is an old friend of mine, and I am sure he still slept at night, regardless of their comments. But why make fun of his appearance?
      Most recently, a sports talk clown in Toledo has been calling for a coaching change at one of the high schools in Toledo. First of all, years ago I heard him on his show. At that time, I wondered if he knew "whether you blew up a football of stuffed it." But calling for a change of football coaches on the high school level on sports talk radio is "small time or bush."
      Of course, some of the "sports talk show" guys on both the regional and national level have played the game and can add much insight. Charles Barkley may be one of the best. Chris Spielman, the legend in Columbus, understands the game. I said this once about sports talk hosts. Many of them are like the kid in school who would "mouth-off" to the players or criticize the team or players, mostly if they were losing.  But you could not do anything to him, because he was the short, skinny mouthy kid who knew no one could touch him. Always remember Bills QB Jim Kelly's confronting Jim Rome.
      The sports' talk shows are not going to go away. Controversy brings listerners to the station, just as controversy brings readers to sports' websites. The "Torg" crossed the line and WBNS made the right move. At my age, I understand that. The "old school guy" works at becoming more modern day media guy, but for now, Michael W. Smith needs to keep recording new CD's.

Untested Prospect in Warren

      Sometimes even a blind squirrel can find a nut. This was the case last Friday night at the Warren Harding - Cleveland Heights football game.
      I was standing along the Harding sidelines, and this young man was standing beside me wearing a Harding jersey. Passed the eyeball test. I asked him if he was injured, and he said, "No." More small talk. "So, did you play last year?" Another, "No." He went on to tell me that he was on the freshman team at Warren Harding. My immediate thought was - "Oh, my!"
     This freshman  probably measures 6'1-190 on a solid frame. Told me he ran a 4.8/40, which is good. Most players generally answer, "4.5." Of course, that is usually not true. 4.5 is a number that they have heard used for skilled players, so that often is the automatic response. This dude(modern term) was honest and I like that. Talked to him about what to expect in the recruiting madness ahead. Also gave him the names of "jock sniffers" to be cautious of. As with any feshman, asked him about the classroom. He has a 3.49 GPA.
     Talked for about five minutes and then the halftime was over. As I was leaving, I told him (if he wanted and had time) he should go to my website and email me a player information form. When I checked my emails Saturday morning, his player information was there. He had emailed the infro around 11:00 Friday night. That alone tells me something about a young prospect.
     Very few freshmen, in this case players in the Class of 2016, get much public recognition from me. Just too early. Some are no brainers, like Jalin Marshall (Middletown) or Dymonte Thomas (Marlington). For me, they were "offers" after their freshman year. Now the young man I met last Friday is not on the level of those two, but my guess is that he will begin getting attention next year as a sophomore.
     For some reason, the name Herron is really popular in the Warren area. Boom's nephew really impressed me last Friday night. Now, I have not seen him in pads, nor have I seen him in any camps. But, I like what I saw and heard last Friday.. Hopefully, even a blind squirrel can find a nut once in a while.

Monday, October 15, 2012

If You are Good Enough, Somebody will Find You!

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.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Thursday Night at Olentangy Liberty

Last night I made my third trip to Central Ohio to watch high school football. All three games on the past three Thursday nights have really good games. Good weather, well coached teams, and good players. Add some good college prospects and all of this makes the trips fun and my work easier. Although I am not familiar with the television package, I appreciate the work that they have done.

The game between Hilliard Davidson and host Olentangy Liberty was no exception. Well played, good coaches, good players, and some college prospects. Davidson won the game, but really the score was indicative of how tough the game. Davidson had the ball for roughly thirty four minutes compared to fourteen minutes for Liberty.

Last year when I went to watch Davidson in the playoffs, EJ Jennings was injured and did not play. I watched just a little as a sophomore. Coach Brian White had been telling me that he hard a workhorse coming in EJ Jennings. Last night, EJ simply tookover the game. Last week against Upper Arlington, he ran for 310 yards. Last night, early in the game, on a 91 play drive, he ran the ball 11 straight times and finished the drive scoring a TD on a 2 yard run. Solid line play, but EJ just gets north/south and is better after first contact. Listed 5'11-214, just bounced off defenders. Hard to get a good shot at him.

 One of the nice parts of  what I do is that I get to watch prospects develop as early as freshman. Some come to my camps and combines. Some I see at summer football camps. Some I meet during the football season. Last night, Liberty had two senior players whom I met as sophomores. QB/DB Ryan Seibert just keeps getting bigger and stronger. Listed at 6'4-195, really believe he can grow into a strong safety or a will backer. Ryan has committed to Kent State. Bad news - he broke his ankle in a preseason scrimmage and will miss the season. LB Grant Cartwright, listed 6'4-225, has been around forever. Plays mike backer now. Runs well. Plays pad under pad. Honestly, I could see Grant putting his hand down and come off the edge. Strong and good burst. Wished each one "good luck."

Coaches allow me to be on the sidelines to do my watching and evaluating players. Actually for me, it is the best seat in the house. Attitudes of players are really important to college coaches. Sometimes I catch myself watching how head coaches react to certain situations. Last night, Brian White who I perceive as a no nonsense guy surprised me. His punter shanked his first punt. As the punter came off of the field, Coach White looked at him and said, "We gotta have better than that." No screaming, no profanity, and no face mask grabbing. Impressive.

Off to Warren soon. Cleveland Heights travels to Warren Harding. Then on to Warren Howland - Niles McKinley game. Have never seen a Niles McKinley team play. Also get to see the best senior running back in Ohio - Deveon Smith. Another player I that I watched since his freshman year.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Youth League Sports

As many of you know, I live on four acres south of Upper Sandusky (no not Cedar Point) in a farmhouse that was built in 1851. With the nest totally empty, I do not get involved with sports in the town. That is what I prefer, because I do not have the experience to contribute to athletics. There are far more frustrated "jocks" who know more that I. Shoot, there are more dads who never played a sport, but have watched Ohio State and the Cleveland Browns, and, now they have forgotten more about football than I will ever know.

At McD's this morning, a parent told me that a midget league team in Upper Sandusky beat another team  by the score of 66-0. Supposedly, the coach did everything he could to keep the score down. 66-0!!! I bet if for some reason, his son was on the losing team, he would not have scored 66 points. Wait, knowing that he had a highly successful athletic career at Upper Sandusky, he might have. No character assassination here, but just another high school player trying to live the dream of being a coach.

A few years ago, I was driving by a midget league practice and the coach become upset at the kids. He made them run over 300 yards, and they went right back to scrimmaging. They were 10-12 year kids. But I am sure that they were tougher and more disciplined because of that move. Many years ago, a group of parents got to together and had a midget league head coach replaced in mid-season. Now this is midget league, not the NFL. He was not replaced for his treatment of kids, but because he was not winning. Midget league, do not forget.

My suggestion this morning was every year in March the league put all of the names in a hat and redraft every player, regardless of what team that he played on. Obviously, the league has enough equipment. One of the boys on the team that was beaten 66-0, would have a chance to be on the team that scored the 66 points. Of course,  the coach might redshirt him or put him on the practice squad. Just think of the new team comraderie that would develop. Also, a boy would have a chance to learn from a new coach.

A few years ago I brought my idea up to some midget league coaches. Answers ---" But we have our systems and our depth charts set. We would have to reteach our techniques, and players would have to learn a new defense and offense." I just put my head down and walked away.

A friend of mine who is a successful lawyer once told me that he played both seventh and eighth grade football and never got into a game. I know a coach who would substitute players, until the other team started closing the gap. Then he would call a timeout and put the first group back in the game. This coach is a teacher/coach in the system and does a lot for athletics. But is he really developing character, or feeding his own ego?

What really set me off today was a news story on the noon flatscreen news. A seventh grade coach hit a player who was running along the sideline on the last play of the game. The game was in Utah. The player suffered a concussion, but should be alright. The 30-40 something  coach actually looks like he would hit his 90 year old mother for spilling some milk. He also looks like he does not know if you blow up a football or stuff it. I am guessing he never got  much playing time in high school, but he did get a senior letter given to all seniors.

They are filing child abuse charges against him. His lawyer made sure that people realize that he did not step on the field. That's huge. Not step on the field, but still gave a seventh grader a concussion. That makes sense!  I mean the guy is a coach of a school sponsored team. Schools develop young people academically and socially. Sports are a part of that. Hopefully, a school is not desperate to the point where they have to hire guys with a mentality like this seventh grade coach.

One more war story. A few years there was a local head football coach who had no communication skills when it came to coaching football. None. Absolutely none. Four letter words, the Lord's name in vain. Remembering a player's name. No communication skills, period. I asked my eight graders what would happen if I swore in class, or used the "F-bomb, or used the Lord's name in vain? They said that I would get "fired! I asked them how does a junior high or high school coach could get away with using that language. Their answer - " He is a coach, you are just a teacher."

Someone has to step up and say, "Enough." If the good people are not working with the kids, find the good people who can develop into good coaches. The league commisssioner, the schools athletic director, or a group of parents (possibly) needs to take responsibilty and get good people who can work with young people. Might be hard for the person in charge to make those decisions, but that goes with the position.

John McCallister is not going to change youth sports in Upper Sandusky. But you, as a parent, use good judgment in youth sports. If you coach, let the big time coaching to Urban Meyer or Brady Hoke. Develop young people for the next level of competition. Do not try to make the finish product, just be part of the process. By the way, my two boys played high school football, but their late mother d said,"No," to youth football.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Be Careful What You Say

Read in the Dispatch this morning that freshman backup quarterback Cardale Jones was suspended for the Nebraska game for sending out a stupid/silly message tweet. On Friday, being the sometimes funny young man that he is, Cardale questioned why college football players had to go to classes when they were there to play football.

Knowing Cardale a little bit, he was probably trying to be "cute." First met Cardale when he quarterbacking at Cleveland Glenville. Always thought he had potential, but was not always coachable, and he listened to too many "experts" in the recruiting world.  However, he is just a young man entering the real world of college football. Cardale is just one of many that I deal with from time to  time. And like  grown men playing a sport and saying or tweeting something to be "cute," he has apologized to Coach Meyer. Cardale Jones is a good young man. When we see each other, we always chat a few minutes.

This is not about Cardale Jones and being silly. Not about the discipline of Coach Urban Meyer. Not about crackin on Jones for using twitter. Anytime an athlete wants to get some attention, he or she goes to their Twitter account and vents. Of course, when he or she is confronted, they will say that they acted out of frustration, and then apologize and everything is forgiven. This article is about using good judgment as an athlete.

I have unfriended prospects on facebook, because of the slang and because of some of the "stupid," not "silly" comments being made. Trust me, I am not "Clean Gene," by any stretch of the imagination. But I want to remind athletes that they must be aware that anything that they say can be put into any form of print, and be almost guaranteed that comment will be out there. Cell phone photos are so easy to use that even my 86 year old mother can take a pic with a cell phone.. Sad, but anytime an athlete is in public, he or she is fair game, regardless of the name.

Media people need content. Whether a beat reporter, a flat screen personality, internet person, or a sports talk host. Everybody is looking the "story." Better yet, these same people want to be the ones to break the "story." It is their job and, sometimes, that means"take no prisoners." Because an athlete is trying to be "cute," a comment on twitter, or facebook, or a picture, can turn that "cute" into "ugly." Nobody really wants that.

A picture or quote can appear anywhere. Everybody knows that. But, when the chance to be "cute," or as Coach Meyer used the word, "ignorant," an athlete really has to use good judgment. The consequences are not worth the bad choice. Plus, good or bad, public perception can be a very narrow, one way street. I always told my own three adult kids when they were in college, " be careful with the internet or cell phone, you will have to get a job someday."

Being an old 64 run teacher/coach, most of the young readers will smile and think that the old guy has to get in the modern world. But, "common sense" has been around for many years. It never goes away. Put our pride and ego aside, and use some common sense. Sometimes it can make all of the difference in making a choice.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Ty Howard - Twenty Years Later

When you have been in the football  recruiting/evaluation business for almost twenty-five years, you meet many good people along the way. Being on the sidelines before and during games, once in a while a player from the past will walk up to me and introduce himself. Always fun to renew memories and friendships. Before last night's game at New Albany, I was totally surprised to see Ty Howard.

Ty Howard? First, I will tell you that Ty played football for the Buckeyes way back when. I am guessin about 1995-1997.  At 5'9-180, he played with every ounce of ability that he had. He could run and, most of all, would finish. Excellent open field tackler. Good recovery speed. All of the tools, but only 5'9. What I remember most was not his football talents.  Ty was a Columbus inner-city guy who respected people, and, most of all, did everything with class.

One story. Back then I did more or a "Lemming-type thing" where I met the propects, took their picture, and interviewd them. I met Ty at his home and visited with him on his front porch. After about ten minutes, I asked him to quit answering my every question with "Yes sir," or "No sir.." That lasted for about five minutes and then it was back to "Yes sir," or "No, sir."

Second story. When I saw him play against Columbus South High School, I knew he was special. He had a bad knee and the defenders were trying to hurt his knee. I believe it was still in the first half that Ty had had enough. He fought back and was ejected from the game. Since he was the only college prospect on the field, my work was over. I made a point to tell him that I had driven 65 miles to watch him play for a quarter and a half. Went on to say that I was disappointed (maybe some slang) and that he is going have to learn to control his emotions (maybe some more slang). After graduating from Briggs High School and Ohio State University, he spent four or five years in the League. Last team was with the Bengals, I believe.

Ty has moved back to Central Ohio and is coaching football at New Albany High School. His son Tyrell (2014) is a starting corner for New Albany. Like his father, Tyrell plays with all of his ability. Backpedals well and  has good hips. Like his father, he was not blessed with height, but he gives effort. Only a junior, if he continues to work hard and stretch an inch, or maybe two, he should be fine. Obviously, sizes and times have increased since "Pop" ran the ball for Briggs High School over twenty years ago, but strength of character will always be important. If he is like his dad, Tyrell should have a chance.

As crazy as this may sound, I still have a picture from the Columbus Dispatch of Ty and his family celebrating the Christmas season. At least, it is in a drawer someplace. Not a Christmas present, but seeing Ty Howard last night was really good. Reminising for five minutes was good for me. Of course, I gave him my "five minute Woody Hayes lecture," on paying forward. Seeing young Africian American coaches who have "been there" working with high school football players is huge.

Now that I think about it, I can not remember Ty saying, "Yes sir," or "No sir," last night. But the class was still there. I would expect none the less.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Hats Off to Coach John Cooper Again

I have mentioned former Ohio State University Head Football Coach  John Cooper in blogs before, but I want to applaude him one more time. Whether it is "old age wisdom," or simply "big time class," Coach Cooper has done it again.

Loyalty is huge for me. Always has been and always will be. Sometimes being loyal can almost be a fault. Ohio State football players, just like anyother college football program, are, for the most part, loyal to the coach for whom they played. Coach Hayes had "Woody's boys;" Coach Bruce had "Earle's boys;" Coach Cooper had "Coop's boys;" Coach Tressell had "Tress's boys;" Of course, Coach Meyers will have "Urban's boys."

Head football Coach Bo Pellini at Nebraska was recruited by and played two years for Coach Bruce. The final two years he played for John Cooper. Two different coaching philosophies. Of course, Coach Bruce's exit was not good for many Buckeye fans and Buckeye football players. I remember how some of the players handled the change in coaching, which is understandable.

If you read the comments that John Cooper made to the Dispatch recently about Bo Pellini's years at Ohio State, you appreciate the class of John Cooper. If you read futher about the communications that they have had over the years since, you appreciate the class of John Cooper. Bo Pellini was a 4.65 guy who played with every bit of ability that he had. He was a hard nosed blue collar guy from Youngstown. But I remember watching the sidelines during Ohio Sate games, and I appreciate the class of John Cooper.

Thursday Night Football in Central Ohio

Thursday night football is now in Central Ohio. Last week I made the trip to watch an excellent game between city powers Marion Franklin and Walnut Ridge. Tonight's televised game is between Olentangy and New Albany. Good coaches and good programs. Should be fun.

Looking forward to watching Olentangy's Andrew Simms who came to my camp last summer. Listed at 6'3-250, but getting bigger and stronger. Really athletic. Also his nasty streak. Have watched DB Buchi Okafor and QB Andrew Horstman mature over the years. Both came to my both my combine and my camp coming out of their sophomore years. Buchi plays FS and has committeed to Miami. Andrew is really coming into his own as a quarterback, but I do not know what level that he can play. OL Austin Schmidt, an Illinois commit is having a good season, as well.

Also have watched New Albany's Darron Lee for three years. First saw him at the OSU summer football camp. Last year, evaluated him during New Albany's run in the playoffs. After a very successful Ohio State camp, he earned an offer from OSU. A QB/SS now, the Buckeyes want him on defense. Physicality, along with his athleticism, make him a special player.

Olentangy head coach, Ed Terwilliger, probably does as good a job as any coach in Ohio with regards to rebuilding programs. Olentangy Liberty started back in 2003 and Olentangy Orange, maybe five years ago. Terwilliger lost players to both of the new schools and had to "remodel" his progam. Although he lost players to two new high schools, he has done well. Currently this year the "Braves" are 5-0.

The game will be well coached and intense. Knowing both programs, I would expect nothing less.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Player Interviews for Media

As an assistant high school football coach told me last Saturday night, "the new age" in high school recruiting is now. Of course, many of you whom read this blog, realize that I am always guarding the high school college prospect with the media. Not just internet media, but all media. After games, interviewing players has been going on for years. Even being on the flatscreen or radio has been going on for a long time. No problem, but becareful what you say to a reporter.

Calling players on the cell phone or contacting a player through Facebook goes on all of the time. In fact, many years ago, I wrote recruiting bios on the players in the Midwest for Allen Wallace of Super Prep. He wanted me to be more aggressive with my questions to the recruits not only in Ohio, but in all of the Midwest states. Moreover, he told me not to worry about upsetting high school or college coaches. As you can guess, that lasted for a year. Well known football recruiting reporter, Bill Kurelic took my position.

A football recruiting reporter in Northeast Ohio did an interview two weeks ago with a quarterback in the Class of 2014. When the story came out, there were quotes about college coaches that were never made. There were other mistakes, too. My advice to the recruit is to be careful with the answers. If the recruit is unhappy with the story, refuse to do another interview with that reporter. Simple as that.

I guess I am reacting to two recruiting articles on a website that covers Ohio State University.
        1.  A recruit does not have to answer every question.
        2.  Do not compare your official or unofficial visits to other schools. That should be something you keep among your family and high school coach.
        3. Be careful commenting about college football coaches from any college program. If you do, blow them up and do not say anything negative to be made public.
        4. Let the reporter find out what different terms mean. If someone asks what a " non-committable offer," is, tell them to ask a college coach. That is what I did, when someone told me that he had a "preferred walk-on redshirt."
        5. Be careful about listing your three favorite schools. Be sure that all of the schools are recruiting you and that you do not forget a school who is really recruiting you. Again, show class and not disrepect a football program by what you say.
        6. After visiting a school, ask your dad not to gain recognition by saying something "stupid" about a program or a visit. Look what happen to Colt McCoy after his dad had to "pop off." A dad has already done that after a recent gameday visit.

Football recruiting reporters want to develop a relationship with a recruit or a recruit's parents. Good chance that the reporter will casually, and often,  remind a recruit to "break the news to him first," when he decides to commit. The more the recruit communicates with a reporter, the better the chance that this can happen.

Going through the football recruiting process can be one of the best times of a recruit's life. Try to keep everything in perspective. Use good judgment in what you say to be made public. Never forget - Recruiting is a business. Treat it that way.