Caleb Southworth is one of those propsects some recruiting analysts might label a "hidden gem."
The 6-foot-5, 220-pound tight end/defensive end from Piketon (Ohio) High School recently turned down an offer from Bowling Green State University and recruiting interest from other schools around the Midwest to commit to Central Michigan University.
Southworth's commitment to the Chippewas has created a feeding frenzy of attention. He doesn't answer his phone anymore out of respect for CMU. All the attention of having college football coaches chase him is a new experience for Southworth as he was overlooked early in the recruiting process.
"A lot to do with getting my name out to the next level was going to the colleges instead of waiting on them to come to me," Southworth said. "Besides a quick pit stop on a long road trip, not many people out-of-state visit us in southern Ohio. Knowing this, I spent a lot of this past summer and a little of last year going to camps and trying to get associated with programs I was interested in."
One of those programs Southworth visited was CMU.
"I went there and they liked what they saw and that is why I am a Chip," said Southworth, noting that he is firmly committed to CMU.
"I only have two offers, from Bowling Green and CMU," Southworth said. "To be honest, shortly after I committed to CMU I almost cut off all communication to other schools, ending chances of getting more offers. Hopefully that tells CMU fans about my level of commitment."
While Southworth's exploits on the basketball court are widely published on the internet, it turns out that he considers track his second sport.
"I do play a little basketball but I also run track in the spring when I'm not playing football," Southworth said. "If anything, running track at the next level would probably be what I would do instead of football. In basketball we (Piketon) only had one successful season, but in track I've made it to state the past two years, in the 110 hurdles my sophomore year and both 110 and 300 hurdles my junior year."
Southworth reports he ran in the low 4.7's at Central Michigan's camp this June. Recruited by CMU linebackers coach Mark Elder, it was at that same CMU camp where Southworth said he earned his scholarship.
While the CMU coaches look at Southworth as an athlete who could play multiple positions, he said he's being recruited primarily as a pass catching tight end.
"CMU has made it clear to me that they like me at a few spots on both sides of the ball but they indicated that they like me at tight end the most," Southworth said.
Southworth was elated to watch his future team upset Michigan State 29-27 on national television Saturday afternoon.
"That was a huge 'W' for Central," Southworth said. "Hopefully, that opens the door for more opportunities to play against more prestigious programs. CMU is very capable of hanging with the popular teams of the Big Ten and other notable conferences."
Although the thought of playing against the Spartans at Kelly/Shorts Stadium in 2012 is exciting for him as he prepares to be a D-1 athlete, Southworth confesses he doesn't need external motivation.
"At this point, it doesn't take a whole lot to motivate me to become better," Southworth said. "CMU is going to get the best Caleb Southworth that I can be. Michigan State better not have a down year that year because CMU is going to win regardless."
Back in Piketon, the village where his roots are firmly planted, Southworth points out that while the two stop lights are the main attraction, it is the people who make Piketon great.
"Out-of-towners won't see too much in a village with two street lights," Southworth laughed, "but it won't take much to find the few good athletes here training their butts off to get better year round.
Southworth concluded: "You might see a few Piketon faithful publicly declaring the athletic dominance at Piketon. That's one of the biggest factors as to why I chose CMU, I absolutely love the fan support that comes with the program."
Hidden Gem Southworth a Big Catch for CMU
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