Bearcats Looking Ahead by Offering Junior

With nineteen football recruits already having made verbal commitments in the class of 2008, the University of Cincinnati is also laying the groundwork for its 2009 class.

This season's high school seniors can't sign their college letters of intent until early February, and the Cincinnati Bearcats already have nineteen recruits ready to do just that. But with so many players already committed for this year's recruiting class, the UC staff has made some scholarship offers to juniors. One of those juniors is Jamie Wood of Pickerington Central High School.

Wood plays cornerback and receiver for the Tigers. Pickerington Central High School was undefeated and ranked #6 in the state this season despite making the jump from Division II to Division I. Bearcat fans may remember that present Bearcat redshirt freshman, Chazz Anderson, led the Tigers to the state finals in Division II last season. This season Pickerington was eliminated in the second round of the playoffs by a very talented Dublin Coffman squad that lost a 10-7 squeaker to St. Xavier in the state semi-finals.

Wood has already made a couple of unofficial visits to Cincinnati when he attended the Louisville and West Virginia games at Nippert Stadium this fall and talked on Monday about what position he'd likely play at UC. "I've talked to Coach Hinton, and he said they are looking at me as a defensive player, maybe a nickel or something like that. They're looking at me for the defensive side."

Jamie said he received his UC offer in September, and it is his only one so far. "They (Cincinnati) offered me back in September, maybe September 30. I don't have any other offers right now, but I am getting looks from other schools. Illinois writes me about every day. Akron writes along with Louisville, Northwestern and West Virginia."

Most two-way players prefer being on offense, and Wood has played exclusively on the offensive side of the ball at Pickerington Central High School until this season. Nevertheless, he says he doesn't really have a position preference. "This was my first year of playing defense in high school. I played defense in the eighth grade, but I just want to play when I get into college. I don't care whether it's on offense or defense."

With his size (6' 2"/190), Jamie understands his value to college defensive coordinators. "Receivers are getting taller and taller." Wood reports a 4.5 forty time.

In addition to Chazz Anderson, the Bearcats also have Ryan Manalac from Pickerington Central, and Jamie is familiar with both players. "I got to play two years with Chazz. It was a good experience. He taught me a lot. I grew up watching Manalac. He was a good ballplayer. I never would have thought that he would have gotten that big. He was a safety here."

Since he's still in his junior season, Jamie isn't ready to make a college choice quickly. "I'm not going to make an early commitment. I want to wait to see what choices I have."

The Bearcats are obviously a serious contended for Wood with the early offer. "I've liked Cincinnati for a while. They're actually the first people to send me a letter. Something clicked between us. I like Cincinnati a lot, especially after going to the games. The experience was pretty nice."

Pickerington has another junior, Patrick White, who plays the same positions as Jamie and shares interest in Cincinnati. In fact, the two attended the Cincinnati/Louisville game together along with Patrick's older brother, Terence White. Terence graduated last year but also had interest in Cincinnati until multiple knee surgeries made his future in football doubtful. Jamie says he and Patrick haven't talked about attending the same college. "We haven't discussed it. It would be nice if we could play together, but I think both of us want to do what's best for us." Jamie thought that Patrick already held a scholarship offer from Akron but didn't think the Bearcats had extended an offer yet.

Like most current juniors, Wood plans to attend combines and senior camps this spring and summer. "Me and my dad are maybe going to take a few kids and make the circuit of a lot of the schools that we're interested in." Jamie's mother was a track athlete at Ohio State.

With Wood's size, he could grow into being a linebacker, but Jamie's not too excited about that possibility and laughed at the prospect. "Yeah, I could be like Manalac, but I'd like to stay at the skill postions."

Jamie said he was aware of Cincinnati's academic history as one of the top schools in graduating its players. A recent study put the Bearcats and Boston College at the top of college football for graduation rates. "I took the ACT in October and got a 21, but I think I'm going to take it again to try and get a higher score." Jamie said he has a 3.4 GPA and has interest in computer programming or anything to do with athletics.

Jamie gave his statistics for this past season. "I had 25 catches for 540 yards and eight touchdowns. I had 65 tackles, seven for loss and only one interception with 12 pass break-ups."

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