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Recruiting News - 02/20/05

Discussion in '2005/February' started by 3yardsandacloud, Feb 20, 2005.

  1. 3yardsandacloud

    3yardsandacloud Administrator Emeritus

    News from the past few days


    <font color="#b90000">Sunday, February 20, 2005</font> Recruiting News - 02/20/05


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    Kicker gets junior day invite - Rivals PREMIUM

    February 20, 2005
    Kicker gets junior day invite
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    Bill Kurelic
    Rivals100.com *
    Kicker and punter Bryan Wright is beginning to draw interest from recruiters including an invitation to a junior day.


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    Asher Allen returns from UGA junior day - Rivals PREMIUM

    February 20, 2005
    Asher Allen returns from UGA junior day
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    Chad Simmons
    UGASports.com *
    Talent, athleticism, speed, speed and more speed is what you think of when you see Asher Allen out on the gridiron. Allen is an athlete that plays a little offense, defense and special teams for the Tucker Tigers in Atlanta, Georgia. Allen went into the weekend with a top four that were all even but is coming out of it with a leader of that group. Who is the early leader for Allen's signature next February?


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    Florida RB has national offers - Rivals PREMIUM

    February 20, 2005
    Florida RB has national offers
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    Greg Biggins
    Rivals100.com *
    One of the elite running backs in the country next year will be Immokalee's (Fla.) Javarris James. James is an early Rivals.com pre-season hot 100 member and is holding a handful of big time scholarship offers at this time.


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    THE OFFER MAN (Aaron Brown) - Scout PREMIUM

    THE OFFER MAN
    By DM BERK
    Date: Feb 19, 2005

    When looking at players who should be named to the Scout.com Top 100 in 2006, look no farther than Cincinnati, Ohio.


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    Focus '06 - Mitchell Moore (RB) - Scout

    Focus '06 - Mitchell Moore (RB)
    By Chris Pool**Midwest Recruiting Analyst
    Date: Feb 19, 2005

    Mitchell Moore, 5-foot-11, 195-pounder, from Gurnee (Ill.) Warren will be one of the top running back prospects in the state of Illinois in 2005. He has a great teacher in head coach Dave Mohapp. Mohapp is one of the best running backs to ever tote the rock in the Land of Lincoln. Moore gave Scout.com a list of his early favorites as well as a few junior day destinations.

    Mitchell Moore, 5-foot-11, 195-pounder, from Gurnee (Ill.) Warren will be one of the top running back prospects in the state of Illinois in 2005. He has a great teacher in head coach Dave Mohapp. Mohapp is one of the best running backs to ever tote the rock in the Land of Lincoln. Moore gave Scout.com a list of his early favorites as well as a few junior day destinations.

    “I don’t have any scholarship offers,” said Mitchell Moore. “I’m just getting a lot of mail from schools. A lot of junior day invitations and requests for tape.

    “Right now I’d have to say that of all the schools that are recruiting me, Iowa, Illinois, Purdue, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Nebraska and Northern Illinois would be my favorites.

    “I plan on being at Michigan’s junior day and I’m also going to Purdue next weekend. I was supposed to go to Iowa’s junior day but I had a basketball game and had to miss it.”

    Moore doesn’t have any offers right now but that should change in April when the college coaches start making their rounds during the spring evaluation period.

    Mitchell is a three-year starter that rushed for 1,700 yards and 25 touchdowns. He was named honorable mention all-state. Moore also played a little strong safety for the Blue Devils.

    How does Moore like playing for one of the best, all-time running backs in the history of the state of Illinois?

    “Coach (Dave) Mohapp doesn’t like to talk about it very much,” Moore said. “He’s a humble guy but he’s a great teacher. He knows what it takes to get to the next level.”

    Warren head coach Dave Mohapp was an all-state running back in the ‘70’s for Woodstock High School. He played his college football at Wisconsin.
    Badgermaniac.com recently ran an article on the “Top 50” Badgers and here’s what they had to say about Dave Mohapp.

    32. Dave Mohapp-FB-(1978-1981)- Perhaps the best FB in recent Badger history, Mohapp was named to the first team All-Big Ten team in 1979 and 1981 despite never rushing for even 600 yards in a season, truly a testament to his versatility. He is 15th on the all-time rushing list with 1,710 yards and he rushed for 10 touchdowns.

    To say Mitchell Moore has a good coach and role model to look up to is an understatement. We look for big things from Moore in 2005.


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    Coaches wary of players’ ‘mentors’ - Canton Repository

    Coaches wary of players’ ‘mentors’
    Sunday, February 20, 2005
    By TODD PORTER Repository sports writer

    COLUMBUS — Worrying about boosters is the tip of the iceberg.

    During the last two years, college football coaches have encountered a new beast. Street agents for high school basketball players have been common, and it is a problem that is manifested in AAU basketball.

    Ohio State Head Coach Jim Tressel said it is beginning to trickle down to high school football. When a coach is introduced to a player’s “mentor,” before or shortly after meeting his parents, an alert goes off.

    “Mentors or advisors in basketball are usually tied to AAU coaches,” Tressel said. “You get people who are friends of the family ... and they, too, are like an agent. They’re expecting part of what the golden goose produces, too. You never know who is pushing buttons with players. In the old days, it was almost always the player’s high school coach.”

    Recruiting now is watched so closely, it’s almost inconceivable someone would pay a recruit to attend a school. That happened in 2001, when Alabama booster Logan Young paid the high school football coach of highly-sought recruit Albert Means to steer him toward the Crimson Tide.

    Young was convicted on four counts of conspiracy, bribery and money laundering this month for paying Means’ high school coach, Lynn Lang $150,000 to deliver Means. Alabama was put on probation, and lost scholarships and bowl eligibility as part of NCAA sanctions in 2002.

    Heather Lyke, Ohio State associate athletics director for compliance issues, hopes the Alabama case opens eyes of boosters, players and coaches.

    “How can you not be aware of these issues after the Alabama case?” Lyke said.

    Perhaps Young’s conviction will send a message to rogue boosters that they could face serious consequences. Terrell Harris, the U.S. attorney who helped to prosecute the case, said that wasn’t his goal.

    “If it deters certain types of criminal conduct by boosters or those associated with college football, that’s a good thing,” he told The Associated Press.

    Tressel has encountered his share of parents asking what Ohio State will provide.

    “I always tell every family we will do anything we’re allowed to do, but we won’t do any more,” Tressel said. “It’s crystal clear the first time I meet with them. Usually when you’re definitive like that, it allows them to be seen as honorable, too.”

    The Columbus Dispatch searched personnel files of OSU coaches and reported last week that Buckeye Offensive Coordinator Jim Bollman was given a letter of reprimand two years ago for a minor NCAA violation.

    Bollman tried to help a recruit get a tutor to help him pass the ACT. The Dispatch reported the recruit to be Derek Morris. Bollman also referred the family to a Columbus auto dealer when he was asked where they could buy a car. His name appeared as a reference on a loan the family applied for through Huntington Bank.

    Morris’ family ultimately did not get the car or loan. Neither were NCAA violations. However, arranging for a tutor was a secondary NCAA violation. Ohio State reported the incident, and the NCAA declined to investigate because it was not a serious violation.

    Morris ultimately left Ohio State before ever becoming a Buckeye. He enrolled at North Carolina State, where he plays football. Tressel never discussed Morris specifically.

    “But some guys disappear from your radar early in the process, and you know it’s because you made it clear you weren’t going to play ball,” Tressel said. “Once you make it clear to them you’re not playing their ballgame, they usually aren’t interested. And I’d say 95 percent of coaches don’t play ball with them.”


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    Colleges remain on constant watch for rogue boosters - Canton Repository

    Colleges remain on constant watch for rogue boosters
    Sunday, February 20, 2005
    By TODD PORTER Repository sports writer

    COLUMBUS — The connotation of the word has changed.

    Think college sports. Think big-time college football. Now consider the word “booster.”

    Maybe you’re thinking about the guy handing out $100 handshakes. Or paying for the running back’s cell phone. Or picking up the tab at a restaurant.

    The word “booster” has become synonymous with slimeball, the main character in the dirty underside of college football.

    “I’m an old-fashioned guy. Boosters, to me, are the moms bringing in spaghetti for spaghetti dinners or selling candy bars to buy the basketball team warmups,” Ohio State Head Football Coach Jim Tressel said. “It’s a word assigned to people who have an interest in a college program and maybe give money.”

    These days, some boosters have graduated from spaghetti dinners to payoffs worth thousands. When one fouls up and crosses the NCAA line, he grabs headlines.

    And it sours a program’s reputation.

    Tressel and Ohio State have had their share of problems with boosters. The Buckeyes want to do something about rogue boosters.

    “The boosters ... we’ve got to address and protect players against are the ones who don’t have a healthy agenda when they’re trying to, what they consider is helping a player,” Tressel said. “Booster clubs at the high school level boost athletic programs to enable them to do something they couldn’t. The bad ones ... they’re only boosting their own ego.”

    Ohio State’s athletic department has begun an initiative to educate the school’s boosters.

    First, let’s define a booster.

    “It ... includes anyone who’s ever contributed money to the university, provided financial support for the athletic department, bought a (personal seat license), season tickets or a suite. ... any parent of a player, employers of student-athletes,” said Heather Lyke, Ohio State’s associate athletics director for NCAA compliance. “Even if you’re not a traditional booster — what you’d think of a booster — and you’re providing benefits to a student-athlete, then you become a booster.”

    The stepped-up education of boosters is a result of Buckeye quarterback Troy Smith taking money from Ohio State booster Robert Q. Baker. Last spring, Smith visited Baker’s office in hopes of landing a job. Smith needed cash to help his mother pay for an overdue cell phone bill. Smith’s mother signed for a phone that was given to former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett.

    Smith felt desperate.

    “If a youngster is in financial trouble, we have funds and legal ways to assist them,” Ohio State Athletics Director Andy Geiger said. “The people talking about NCAA compliance, who wear the suits in administration, are not the people to watch out for. We’re the people to seek out in times of stress.”

    Smith chose to accept the money, knowing it was against NCAA rules.

    “The bottom line is the player knows what can and can’t be done,” Lyke said.

    Tressel said he talks with players about not accepting benefits or jeopardizing their eligibility. But dealing with young adults isn’t foolproof.

    “When I was 19 or 20, I know I didn’t make all the right decisions,” Tressel said. “We’ve got to figure out a way to keep our guys from being vulnerable to bad boosters.

    “This does not take any responsibility away from the player. I want to give more responsibility to us. Ultimately, when a kid makes a poor decision, we make a poor decision. What we’ve got to do is make an environment as devoid of those possibilities as we can.”

    Lyke is making sure boosters do better, too. Ohio State will triple the number of publications it sends to season-ticket holders, those who endow scholarships and general boosters. Players are counseled each season, often repeatedly.

    According to an internal investigation, Baker knew Smith was vulnerable. He used the that to get closer to the quarterback.

    Baker, who bought a luxury suite at Ohio Stadium, has been disassociated from the Ohio State athletics program. He no longer can attend games.

    The NCAA infraction was uncovered only after an internal investigation done by Baker’s employer, Poly-Care. According to Poly-Care attorney Geoffrey Webster, two other Poly-Care employees became suspicious of Baker’s relationship with two Ohio State football players, Smith and running back Antonio Pittman.

    A source close to the investigation said Pittman was with Smith when Baker handed Smith the money. Pittman declined any money and left.

    According to Webster’s investigation, Smith asked Baker what work he needed to do for the money. “He was told: ‘Nothing, just take it and leave,” the investigation said.

    After Smith accepted the envelope of money, Baker told another employee, “Good, now I own him,” according to Webster’s investigation.

    That is the kind of rogue booster Ohio State and other athletic departments across the country hope to weed out.

    “They try to ingratiate themselves to a player so they can brag to a buddy, ‘Hey, I know so-and-so,’” Tressel said. “To me, that’s not a booster, but it’s real, and we’ve got to do our due diligence to educate our guys on the difference between honorable helpers vs. those who are dishonorable.”

    Booster problems aren’t limited to Columbus. Alabama football booster Logan Young recently was convicted on four counts of conspiracy, bribery and money laundering when he paid a high school football coach $150,000 to deliver a prized recruit to Alabama.

    It may be the worst violation by a school’s booster in NCAA history. Young, a millionaire, faces prison time.

    The player, Albert Means, signed a letter of intent and attended Alabama. Word got out that his high school coach, Lynn Lang, took money not only from the Crimson Tide booster, but other programs as well. Lang reached a plea deal and was the prosecution’s star witness against Young.

    In 2002, Alabama was hit with a series of NCAA sanctions, including probation, bowl bans and a reduction in scholarships.

    Ohio State is trying to avoid that. Officials need to show NCAA investigators institutional control.

    “We’ve started a booster task force,” Lyke said. “We’ve got three publication we’re sending out. One is the kitchen-sink version, one is a guide for boosters and the third is a rules-of-the-game version.”

    If a booster is anyone who buys a ticket, Ohio State must keep tabs on thousands.

    “The message we’re trying to filter out is ask before you act,” Lyke said. “If you have a question about what’s right and what isn’t, call the compliance office. When in doubt, ask for permission, not forgiveness.”

    As the university’s most visible coach, Tressel comes in contact with more boosters than most coaches. Some have tried to connect him to Baker, because Baker played football at Baldwin-Wallace for Tressel’s late father, Lee Tressel. But when Baker was playing at B-W, Jim Tressel was working as an assistant at Syracuse.

    Tressel worries that the day is coming when he must be skeptical of all boosters.

    “How do you tell a good booster from a bad booster?” Tressel said. “When we got here four years ago, there were a bunch of things we agreed upon that we needed to work on. We wanted to embrace former players and make them feel welcome. We want to appreciate fans and appreciate the people who allowed us to have the kind of department we have — i.e. people who helped rebuild the stadium and endowed scholarships. So ... I was focused on embracing people.

    “To me, that’s the challenge: How do you know who has the wrong agenda? My nature is inclusive to start. Is the sad solution that you have to be skeptical of everyone? I hope not.”

    What’s the answer?

    Tressel wants to address 15 areas. He plans to work closely with Lyke.

    “We’ve got to put a little more energy into separating the known question marks from the people who are simply Ohio State through and through, and they wouldn’t ... knowingly do anything wrong. It’s a big city here. There’s a big following ... It’s a frenzied fanaticism.

    “When we came here ... we wanted to get better with our strength and conditioning, we wanted to improve our relationship with high school coaches in Ohio and the community within the school. ... We have to be honest and add another we may need to give a little more energy and focus to.”


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    Pascley Is Newest Name Of 2006 Recruiting Season - Bucknuts

    Pascley Is Newest Name Of 2006 Recruiting Season
    By Gary Housteau
    Date: Feb 20, 2005

    Most people have never heard of Troy Pascley or Marlington High School in Alliance as well, but the talented wide receiver is hoping to become a household name during the recruiting season and help put his school, snuggled quietly between Canton and Alliance, on the football map in the fall.

    Meet Troy Pascley. He’s a wide receiver at Marlington High School in Alliance and he’s one of the best kept secrets of the 2006 recruiting season.

    Marlington finished last season with a 1-9 mark but Pascley had 23 catches for over 500 yards on a predominantly run-oriented team.

    “I’ve been playing varsity since my sophomore year and I carry a 3.8 GPA right now,” Pascley said. “My individual success has been pretty good but none of that means anything if you don’t win.”

    As a sophomore Pascley started at defensive back, at safety and corner back, and he played running back on offense. Last season he played exclusively at wide out on offense and their new head coach this season, Dan Pallante, intends to use the 6-3, 190-pound Pascley at various positions when Marlington is on offense next year.

    “I feel like I can help our team more as a receiver because I can stretch the field and set up play action,” Pascley said. “But I’ll play wherever the team needs me to play to be successful.”

    And that’s basically the way Pascley feels about recruiting and what position he might be best suited to play in college.

    “I see myself as a receiver at the next level,” Pascley said. “Defensive back is a possibility but it depends on what the coaches think. But I’ll play wherever. Whatever it takes to get on the field.”

    And being a big Ohio State fan, Pascley is unabashed about admitting where he’d ultimately like to ply his skills at on the next level.

    “Of course I’m looking at a lot of schools but if I was to be offered by Ohio State I would commit, no question,” said Paisley who attended the Wisconsin and Penn State games in Ohio Stadium this past year. “I’ve always seen myself being a Buckeye and after meeting and talking with Coach Tressel you just feel so at home and you feel so comfortable there. It just feels like a great atmosphere to play football.”

    Pascley first made a favorable on the OSU coaching staff last summer at their camp. He ran a 4.4-second flat 40-yard dash there and he broke the camp broad jump record that Dustin Fox used to have.

    “I think I jumped 10 feet, 4 inches in the broad jump and that’s what caught Coach Tressel’s attention,” Pascley said. “And once he seen me work out one-on-one against some of the top DBs at the camp, I think that’s what really got him and Coach Hazell interested. Coach Hazell is a real good guy. Ever since then they’ve been sending me mail and they’ve called the school and talked to my coach.”

    And now Pascley, with a 35-inch vertical jump, is looking forward to going back Ohio State's camp, and others as well, this summer for an encore performance.

    “I would like to work out for them again,” he said. “It seems that a lot of people still doubt my ability and I want to work out for them again and really show them what I can do.”

    It’s obvious that he’s really excited and anxious about the entire recruiting process.

    “I’m happy with everything right now but the recruiting thing is something that you want to end quickly because it’s so stressful,” Pascley said. “But I’m humbled by it really. I went from my sophomore year not having anybody know who I was until now in my junior year. I went to the camps and got noticed and I’m just trying to handle it all in stride.”

    There’s no Mario Manningham types in this year’s receiver class in Ohio but there is a solid group of four or five wide outs of which Pascley is one. And he’s not about to take a backseat to any of them.

    “Along with my measureables and how I test, I really work hard for everything I have,” Pascley said. “I’m not taking anything away from anybody but I feel that everything that I’ve worked for is finally coming to me now and I feel that I should be rated right up there with everybody.”

    In addition to the requisite size and speed that he has to stand out at the receiver position, Pascley thinks he has something else going in his favor.

    “I think I’m different than other receivers because I’m willing to block,” he said. “If you watch my films, I’m a blocker. I love blocking and I take pride in blocking a lot. That could be the difference in a game, setting your running back free.”

    Pascley is just an overall athlete at the wide receiver position. He runs the 100 meters and long jumps for the school’s track team. Just recently he long jumped 22 feet during an indoor meet at Mount Union College. His best long jump as a sophomore last year was 21' 4" and best 100 meters was 11.0 seconds flat.

    It’s obvious that Pascley has a lot to offer any program willing to take a chance on him.

    “I’m excited about being recruited because it’s everything that I’ve dreamed of and work for,” he said. “Right now Ohio State is head and shoulders above everybody to me on my list. If I was to go to Ohio State it would just be a dream come true for me.”

    Everything is just now starting to fall into his place in young Pascley’s life both on and off the football field. His mom raised himself and two of his three younger sisters as a single parent.

    “I’ve been raised by my mom my whole life,” he said. “My dad lived with us until I was two years old and I actually just met my dad two years ago. We were struggling a lot coming up and it was hard for my mom raising three kids on her on.”

    Pascley’s mother worked and went to college at the same time trying to get a degree to be a nurse. His grandmother, in her absence, would fix meals and take care of the kids.

    “She has a degree now and she works at Timken hospital,” he said. “Everything is just falling into place for her now and I couldn’t be any more happier for her. I’m proud of my mom for everything that she’s done for me in my life.”

    And his dad actually lives in Columbus. His father, Troy Kirksey, actually played football at Iowa for a brief time in the early 1980's.

    “Every time I go to Columbus when I get invited to a football game, me and him will go together,” Pascley said. “We’re starting to get more closer and closer together. I never really had a father figure in my life until now so I’m really happy. I believe everybody deserves a second chance. And my mom’s very happy for me because she never had a father and she knows how it felt. So she’s happy for me and my sisters to be able to have our father in our lives.

    “So it’s a good time in my life and even better days are ahead for me now on the field and off.”

    Especially if that offer from Ohio State should ever materialize.


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    Focus '06 - Ryan Palmer (OL) - Scout PREMIUM

    Focus '06 - Ryan Palmer (OL)
    By Chris Pool
    Date: Feb 19, 2005

    It looks like it’s going to be another solid year for offensive lineman in the Buckeye State. Ryan Palmer, from Canton (Glen Oak) is 6-foot-7, 280-pounds and he played guard last year. Palmer received all-league honors as a junior and says he’s being recruited as both a guard and tackle. Does he have any scholarship offers? Who are Ryan’s early favorites? Take a look.


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    Tucker added to Browns' staff - Cleveland Plain Dealer

    Tucker added to Browns' staff

    Saturday, February 19, 2005

    Tony Grossi
    Plain Dealer Reporter

    Cleveland native Mel Tucker is leaving Jim Tressel and Ohio State to join the Browns as coach Romeo Crennel's defensive backs coach.

    Tucker coached defensive backs at OSU the past four years and doubled as co-defensive coordinator in 2004.

    "Coaching at Ohio State has been an unbelievable experience, and I will always have a special place in my heart for the Buckeyes and our national championship team," Tucker said in a statement released by the Browns.

    "To have the opportunity to work with Romeo Crennel, who has created defensive gems the last three out of four Super Bowls, is one I could not pass up."

    With the Browns, Tucker will be reunited with Todd Grantham, recently named Browns defensive coordinator. Tucker began his coaching career as a graduate assistant under Nick Saban at Michigan State in 1997 when Grantham was defensive line coach.

    Tucker also coached one season with Saban at Louisiana State in 2000.

    Tucker played football at Cleveland Heights High and earned four letters as a defensive back at Wisconsin. He played briefly in the Canadian Football League before embarking on a coaching career.

    Tucker is the eighth assistant coach named by Crennel.

    The others are: Maurice Carthon (offensive coordinator), Jeff Davidson (offensive line), Terry Robiskie (receivers), Dave Atkins (running backs), Grantham (defensive coordinator), Jerry Rosburg (special-teams coordinator) and John Lott (strength and conditioning).


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    Mel Tucker Leaves Buckeyes for Browns - WBNS 10TV

    Mel Tucker Leaves Buckeyes for Browns

    CLEVELAND (AP) - Mel Tucker, an Ohio State assistant coach the
    past four seasons, joined the Cleveland Browns on Friday as their
    defensive backs coach.
    ***** Tucker, a Cleveland native, is the latest addition to new coach
    Romeo Crennel's staff. He coached the Buckeyes' defensive backs,
    serving as a co-defensive coordinator for Jim Tressel last season.
    ***** "Coaching at Ohio State has been an unbelievable experience and
    I will always have a special place in my heart for the Buckeyes and
    our national championship team," Tucker said. "To have the
    opportunity to work with Romeo Crennel is one I could not pass
    up."
    ***** Tucker played at Cleveland Heights High School and earned four
    letters at Wisconsin. Before coaching at OSU, he spent two years at
    Miami of Ohio and one at LSU under Nick Saban, now with the
    Dolphins.


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    Tucker Takes Job With Browns - Bucknuts

    Tucker Takes Job With Browns
    By Bucknuts.com Staff
    Date: Feb 19, 2005

    Ohio State has lost one of their top assistant coaches as defensive backs coach/co-defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has taken a job with the Cleveland Browns.

    Ohio State defensive backs coach and co-defensive coordinator Mel Tucker has decided he will be leaving Columbus for to become the defensive backs coach of the Cleveland Browns .

    Tucker, a Cleveland native who played high school ball at Cleveland Heights, had coached with Ohio State for four years and had previously been defensive backs coach at LSU in 2000 and Miami (Ohio) from 1998-99.**

    "Coaching at Ohio State has been an unbelievable experience, and I will always have a special place in my heart for the Buckeyes and our national championship team," Tucker said.

    Tucker is viewed as a rising star in the coaching profession and had also gained a reputation as one of Ohio State's top recruiters.*

    "I am excited about the addition of Mel Tucker to our staff," new Cleveland Browns head coach Romeo Crennel said in a press release from the Browns. "He is a sharp young coach and I was very impressed with him during our interview. As evidenced by the job he has done with the defensive backs at Ohio State, I know he will be a great contributor to our defense and he will be instrumental in the success of our defensive backs."

    Tucker, who had recruited the Cleveland area, had become one of Ohio State's most popular assistants among both players and high school coaches. No word yet on who will replace Tucker at Ohio State.


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    Thoma Is Proud To Be Walking On At Ohio State - Bucknuts

    Thoma Is Proud To Be Walking On At Ohio State
    By Gary Housteau
    Date: Feb 19, 2005

    Although Jonathan Thoma wasn't offered a scholarship by Ohio State, he is excited that he'll have an opportunity to go out an earn one if or when he becomes the starting punter. This five sport star from St. Thomas Aquinas High School is more than up to the challenge.

    Everything has been happening so fast for Jonathan Thoma of Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas High School since he recently agreed to be a “preferred walk on” at Ohio State, but he couldn’t be any happier for the situation that he's ended up in.


    “I’ve just been taking everything in stride and just letting things happen,” Thoma said. “And it’s been great.”

    Prior to this past football season, Thoma would have been thrilled with the opportunity to go Ohio State on scholarship, but the sport he thought that could have gotten him there was actually soccer.

    “I’ve always just loved all sports,” said Thoma who actually was a quarterback on his 7th and 8th grade football team. “I chose soccer for high school and I did well in that. I made the all-district team and I was the Stark County player of the year this year. I’ve been a starter here since my sophomore year.”

    Thoma will actually play and likely letter in five different sports at St. Thomas in his senior year. In addition to football and soccer, he was on the swim team for the first time and we was the top scorer on the team, and he’ll play baseball in the spring and be a member of the school’s track as well.

    “I was actually making visits as a soccer player and a lot of schools were interested in me for baseball, so I was in between soccer and baseball,” said Thoma who plays the outfield and is hitting over .400 for his career on the diamond for his school. “Ohio State is still sending me letters for baseball so I don’t think they know about the football situation. So I was already looking at Ohio State.”

    But it was his soccer prowess that actually gave him the opportunity to become the punter on the school’s football team. Aquinas head coach Tim Tyrrell, who played tight end for Jim Tressel at Youngstown State University, knows the importance of the punting game first hand and solicited the aid of Thoma in that department for this past season.

    “Our coach needed a punter this year and he asked me to come out, and it worked out pretty well,” Thoma said. “They were always trying to get me to come out, mainly as a receiver because of my height, but last season we had kind of a shaky punter and (Tyrrell) came up and invited me out.”

    And knowing what he knows now, Thoma has no regrets for how everything has turned out.

    “I’m sure that if I would come out for football earlier, I’ve been told that I would have had a lot of scholarships on the table but I’m just thankful for the situation I’m in and I’m glad that everything has happened this way,” he said. “My main obligation was to soccer this year. I had football practice right after school and then I would run over to soccer at 4:30 so I basically just stuck to kicking this year even though it would have been fun to play other positions.”

    A wise man has said on more than one occasion that the punt is the most important play in football and Terrell has obviously learned well from the wise one.

    “I think it’s the same way at Ohio State but at St. Thomas the first thing we would work on everyday is the punt for about 20 minutes at the beginning of practice and then we would go off and do offense and defense,” Thoma said. “So it was very important in our system.”

    And because of that, Thoma should fit into Ohio State’s system very well. And the sooner he’s able to win the starting job the better as far as he is thinking. Thoma knows there is a potential opening at the punting spot and he plans on putting his best leg forward.

    “I’ve never seen the others down there kick so it’s not really fair for me to say anything along those lines but I’m going to work as hard as I can this summer, I know I have the ability and I’m going to put myself in the best position that I can to compete for the job this fall,” he said. “I would love to earn that job because it’s no fun standing on the sidelines even if it is at Ohio State. I’d rather be a part of the game. So it’s definitely something that I’m going to work for. (Becoming the starter) is the big goal that I’m going to shoot for.”

    Earning a scholarship is actually the secondary goal but in a way it’s the motivation behind the motivation for Thoma.

    “The scholarship is important to me because we don’t have the most money in the world but I just want to be successful in the classroom and on the field and do my very best in both,” he said. “I’m actually honored to be preferred walk on. Ohio State has their pick of whoever they want basically and to be one of the 105 people to get this chance is great for me.

    “It’s just amazing to see all the support that I’m getting and I’m just pumped to get down there and do my best for everyone here and for myself and for my family.”

    It’s better late than never for Thoma. Signing day came and went and Ohio State didn’t offer him a scholarship but they really let him know how important he was to them.

    “Ohio State and Louisville both basically contacted me three weeks before signing day,” Thoma said. “Ohio State’s been there all along but they hadn’t shown heavy interest until about three weeks before signing day. And Kent State offered me two days before signing day. I was actually home sick on signing day and I was on the computer seeing who went where and I wasn’t too worried about not being able to sign a scholarship, I was just thankful for the opportunity I had.”

    And now the 6-2, 190-pound Thoma will continue to hone his punting skills in addition to playing baseball and competing in the long jump in track in the spring.

    “I’ve always had a lot going on that it almost burdens me not to have something going on,” he said. “When I have things going on it gives me a schedule to follow and I’m still going to have plenty of time to practice punting and things like that. I’m just trying to have as much fun as I can in high school.”

    A strong work ethic is just a natural part of his upbringing. Thoma’s mother is from Malaysia, his father is Caucasian and he was born in a country called Brunei, one of the richest countries in the world. In addition to his athletic exploits at Aquinas, Thoma carries a 3.6 GPA in the classroom.

    “My dad was working with the United State’s Sports Academy and he went over to Malaysia to coach the state track team from where my mom was from,” Thoma explained. “He went to a party one night and it was my mom’s birthday party and that’s how they met. They fell in love and six months later they were married. If he didn’t go that party that night I wouldn’t be here.”

    And becoming a Buckeye is just another great thing that has happened in his life.

    “I’ve experienced more than most kids will ever experience,” said Thoma who’s father is professor at Mount Union College. “We do all kinds of traveling with my dad’s conferences and going back to mom’s house in Malaysia, so I’ve been everywhere. And this is just a new chapter in an interesting life I guess.”

    And he intends to make the most of his opportunity at Ohio State. Tressel couldn’t have made a more favorable impression than he did on Thoma and his family.

    “My parents met him and they were impressed with how he was so honest with us,” Thoma said. “He told us exactly what the situation was and it was great. He laid it all out and said, ‘just do your best and we’ll see where you fit in.’ So I feel very fortunate. Everything has seemed to have gone right so far and hopefully it will continue on that way.”

    With his place at Ohio State now secure, he can’t wait until he’s actually on the field and booming kicks in the stadium some day.

    “It’s going to be unbelievable,” Thoma said. “When we walked out of the tunnel on my visit and I just looked up and I could envision how it would be. And it’s just going to be unbelievable.”
     
  2. jnam2727

    jnam2727 Got newb?

    Great job 3 yards as always! Thanks!
     

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