On September 28, 2003 I wrote my first story with Tony Pike as one of the subjects. Pike, a senior quarterback at Reading High School was taking a college visit to Miami for their game against Cincinnati in what will always be remembered as the game Gino and Big Ben went toe-to-toe.
While Pike was just one of several high school prospects at the game in Oxford, it turned out that Pike's path and mine were on a collision course that continues today.
The next time I saw Tony he was taking snaps in a playoff game against Versailles at Wayne High School. Pike, a senior, would not have a great game but I saw what I felt was a major talent capable of being a top college quarterback. In my story I wrote the following.
"Cincinnati Reading QB Tony Pike put up some great numbers during the 2003 season. On this night the cold weather made it hard for him to get going, along with a tough D-line from Versailles. Several passes were tipped at the line and Pike threw 4 INT's on the night. Still this kid has a great arm and could turn into a top college quarterback when all is said and done."
On this night Pike threw the ball 53 times completing 23 for 291 yards. But still Pike found some interest but not a lot of interest from college coaches. When I put together my All-Ohio Team for Division IV Tony Pike was my top quarterback followed by another name who got some press this past weekend Tim Hiller (Orrville High School – Western Michigan).
Hiller and Pike both found college coaches shy away during the recruiting process but both enjoyed big wins on Saturday as Hiller helped Western Michigan defeat Illinois and we all know what Pike did in beating West Virginia.
But Pike almost didn't become a Bearcat. After taking in camps at Purdue, Cincinnati and Bowling Green, the interest in Tony didn't come from the Bearcats until late after Mark Dantonio had taken over the program.
On signing day only Toledo sent National Letter of Intent papers to the quarterback and Tony and his family had to make a choice. Dantonio and the Bearcats had offered a greyshirt while Toledo offered a full ride up front.
Tony's father Steve had gone through the recruiting process himself but felt lost in what was in front of him for his son. After talking with several friends who were high school coaches and contacting the NCAA the Pike's had a choice to make. Take Toledo's offer or try something different by taking the offer from Cincinnati.
Now we all know what Pike did by delaying his enrollment until January of 2005. Mark Dantonio signed Dustin Grutza and got Tony Pike in the same class despite not really having a scholarship to give Pike.
I wrote in February of 2004 the following about Tony Pike after he accepted the Bearcats greyshirt offer.
"The Bearcats have pulled off a recruiting steal with this one and have a quality quarterback in the fold with a one or two year separation with the one they signed from Kentucky on Wednesday (National Signing Day)."
Make no mistake; Tony Pike has seen the ups and downs of being a college quarterback as he fought to learn Mark Dantonio's offense only to see a drastic change to Brian Kelly's system and the transfer of Ben Mauk into the program followed by his great success.
But in college football strange things can and usually do happen. Only a few months ago some spoke about Pike's future in the program ending after this season. Now after his success this season it's easy to see Tony Pike is not only the quarterback today but also in the future.
The Rest Of The Story On Tony Pike
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