Leipsic, Ohio, three-star offensive guard Gavin Cupp lost his Michigan State scholarship offer and commitment after camping at Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights event on July 24. He later earned an offer from Ohio State on the basis of that showing.
With the Spartans and Buckeyes set to square off Nov. 21, here’s a breakdown of how and why Cupp's recruitment took the path it did.
1. For small schools, high-profile camps are important
The Leipsic Vikings compete in Division VII of OHSAA football, the class reserved for the schools with the smallest enrollments in the state.
With the 6-5, 285-pound Cupp sometimes going up against linemen severely smaller than him, game tape doesn’t hold the same importance as it might for guys at Cincinnati Moeller or Cleveland St. Ignatius who face top teams on a weekly basis.
“There’s a lot more weight put on the camps in today’s recruiting, and I think that’s even more so with smaller schools,” Leipsic coach Andy Mangas said. “Yeah, they can watch film, but when you watch him manhandle a kid that’s 180 pounds, it’s hard to translate and understand how he’s going to do at the next level. He had to get into the camp circuit and show what he could do in that aspect.”
2. Most of all, Cupp wanted to prove himself
Ignore the back-and-forth comments issued indirectly between the two schools and their fans and focus on this: Although Cupp's actions left the Spartans unsatisfied, he insists the main purpose of his participation was to see how he stacked up against other high-level recruits.
“I’d been working very hard in the summer and had camped at Michigan State and at the Nike combine in Columbus,” Cupp said. “I had to put myself out there one more time. I had been in contact with Ohio State and they invited me down, so I thought if there’s a place where I could prove myself for the last time it would be there.
“It’s a very elite camp, so I figured if I could hold my own against those guys I would definitely prove myself.”
3. He walked out of Ohio Stadium thinking he’d played well
Cupp spent the night under the Ohio Stadium lights working under the watchful eye of Ohio State offensive coordinator Ed Warinner, who doubles as OSU’s offensive line coach. Going against some impressive defensive linemen, Cupp managed to acquit himself nicely.
He left the camp thinking he’d accomplished his goal of proving he could handle himself against other top players.
“At the end of camp, I just knew I gave it everything I had,” Cupp said. “At that point, I felt I had done enough and had done very well. I felt I left it all out there and felt like I proved myself that night.”
4. The week of uncertainty was miserable
When Cupp found out Michigan State no longer considered him a commit, there was certainly some second-guessing going on.
“I think when the whole Michigan State thing went down, obviously there was some frustration and some moments of doubt in terms of, ‘What did I do? Is this going to pan out?’” Mangas said.
On July 30 – the first day of Big Ten Media Days – Cupp got the good news that Ohio State was issuing him a scholarship offer.
“It was very relieving,” he said. “People say it was probably exciting – and it was – but it was more relieving because after everything had gone down, I finally had that offer. It was very relieving.”
5. His list of phone contacts got bigger
Switching from Michigan State to Ohio State after a lengthy commitment to the Spartans meant developing relationships with a whole new set of future teammates.
Fellow offensive line commits Jack Wohlabaugh, Michael Jordan and Tyler Gerald are often at Ohio State games along with Cupp, allowing them to build friendships quickly.
“I had good relationships with those guys at Michigan State, but I built those relationships again at Ohio State,” Cupp said. “All the offensive line commits, we all know each other really well. I’m just reaching out to try to get to know the other recruits.”
6. He’s excited for Saturday
When asked about what it would be like to watch the Buckeyes take on the program he once committed to, Cupp was pretty direct.
“It’s going to be a lot of fun,” he said. “I’m going to leave it there. It’s going to be a lot of fun.”