Five years ago injured Ohio State quarterback Braxton Miller was staring at Wayne High School while teammate Michael Bennett was a standout for Centerville. Alabama linebacker Trey DePriest, meanwhile, was playing at nearby Springfield High School.
While all three knew each other, or at least knew off each other in high school, DePriest and Miller had been friends since their youth football days.
“We grew up in Springfield together,” DePriest said. “We played Peewee [football] together. We played middle school ball together. He went to a different high school, but we’ve been friends throughout school. We first met at Peewee football practice. I went to a different elementary school, but same middle school. He could throw the ball 70 yards in the seventh grade.
“We used to talk about playing in a big game one day, but we never thought it would be like this.”
Of course Miller won’t play in the Sugar Bowl, but Bennett and DePriest are both expected to play big rolls when Alabama and Ohio State square off in the semifinal.
Those two both played both ways in high school and Bennett recalls going against the Tide’s linebacker when their Greater Western Ohio Conference high schools faced off.
“Honestly, I got him a couple plays when he was on offense and I was on defense,” Bennett said. “I don’t ever remember hitting him when I was on offense and he was on defense. I don’t know if he got away from me, if he was too fast or what. My biggest memories are when I was on defense I would get him when he was at running back.”
Bennett and DePriest won’t be on the field at the same time this Thursday and Miller won’t play at all. But five years removed from the days when they were GWOC stars, all three have made it to teams one win away from playing for a national title.