Alex Pace had to take a back seat to star defensive end Andre Sturdivant and other top seniors on the Cleveland Glenville football team last fall, but colleges are beginning to take notice. The defensive tackle recently picked up a scholarship offer from Illinois, and it pleased him.
"I thought it was great. Coach (Joe) Gilbert came to the school. I had made contact with him before, but seeing him in person was even better than talking on the phone."
Pace, who has incorrectly been listed at 225 and 255 pounds by various publications, is now a strapping 6'-2", 280 pounder. His versatility makes him an exciting prospect.
"I did real good last year. I played anywhere on the defensive line, depending on what team we were going against. I'll be at defensive end, I'll be at 3-technique or nose. If it's a running team, I'll be at the nose. If it's a passing team, it varies. We switch around."
His statistics indicate someone who is driven to succeed.
"I had 42 tackles, 31 for loss, 16 sacks, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and 16 quarterback hurries."
Glenville is a national powerhouse. So it is perhaps unnecessary to ask how the team did last fall. Of course, injuries and circumstances don't always allow for total predictability.
"The team did good overall. We made it all the way to the playoffs. We lost and couldn't finish it through. I had just come back off a knee injury, and a couple other ball players were pretty banged up. A top safety got injured, a receiver got injured. But overall we did pretty good. Our juniors stepped up."
Glenville should be strong again this season.
"We have a lot of guys coming back. We have Devan Bogard, who has an offer from Illinois at safety. And then we have V'Angelo Bentley coming back. He's a running back with offers from Illinois, Pittsburgh and others. We have a lockdown cornerback coming back and some wide receivers."
Pace has a number of offers, and he expects more will follow.
"Illinois, Akron, Toledo, Kent State, Ohio University, Youngstown State, Buffalo, Air Force, Bowling Green. I think Vanderbilt just offered."
He was planning to attend the Illini Spring Game, but the cost factor prevented it.
"I couldn't make it to the Spring Game because of gas prices and all that."
Hopefully, his coach Ted Ginn will have a bus tour again this summer. If so, Pace and a number of other Cleveland area products can work out for several colleges.
"We're going on a bus tour this summer. We're going to some MAC schools and probably a couple Big 10 schools. I think we'll definitely be down there to Illinois. Coach Gilbert wants me, Devan and V'Angelo to come down to see the campus, meet the players, coaching staff and facilities. And check out the educational programs."
The educational aspect is important to him. Illinois is strong in his intended major.
"I'm looking for a great program with a good engineering program because that's what I'm trying to major in. And a winning team. I want to major in civil engineering, with Sports Management on the side."
Pace keeps active during the offseason by participating in a couple other sports.
"I do a little boxing, but that's just a side thing to stay in shape. I do some track. I was going to do wrestling, but that's at the same season as (indoor) track."
Pace doesn't plan on making an early college decision.
"I don't think I want to wait until signing day, but it won't be during the season. It'll be after the season, after I take official visits."