By now, you probably know Gavin Cupp’s story.
If you’re a recruiting nut, you likely knew of the four-star offensive tackle when he first made his pledge to Michigan State last summer. If you’re a casual fan, the revoking of his scholarship offer by the Spartans and his ensuing commitment to Ohio State likely drew your interest, as the story blew up and led to another in a continuing national discussion of recruiting ethics.
It is the shorthand by which Cupp is known to many, and the 6-5, 295-pound offensive linemen can’t hide from it. He knows it.
“It’s been fun, it’s been not so fun, but that’s what recruiting is,” Cupp said as he signed for the cameras and his friends and family this morning in his signing day ceremony at Leipsic High School in northwest Ohio.
“You know, if anybody knows what a verbal offer actually is, it’s me,” Cupp later added. “I’m just glad to get pen on paper and it’s official now. A lot of weight is off my shoulders, and it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
“It’s nice to see it come true. It really is,” his father Keith added. “I didn’t know if we were gonna make it here, but I’m sure glad we did.
“I’m sure glad we did.”
To recap the story: Then a three-star prospect, Cupp committed to the Spartans in May with – apparently – the implied indication that he wasn’t to work out for any other schools. The word commitment, after all, is in the phrase verbal commitment, and it’s something Cupp takes seriously.
But as Cupp hit some high-level summer camps, such as The Opening regional and a Michigan State camp, he excelled. The taste for top competition and national respect – two things he didn’t always get at Leipsic High School, which competes on the lowest rung of Ohio’s seven-tiered high school system – was only strengthened.
So when given a chance to compete at Ohio State’s Friday Night Lights camp in late July, one of the camps with the most talent in the Midwest, Cupp couldn’t turn it down. By the time the camp was over, Michigan State was clear – he no longer had a scholarship offer from the Spartans.
It was, of course, a tough time. Cupp’s future was in doubt, but his work at Friday Night Lights showed what he believed all along – a kid from Leipsic was indeed among the best prep offensive linemen in the nation.
His performance was good enough to lead to an Ohio State offer, and days later, he was a Buckeye. And it seems fitting. No one at his signing day ceremony had to go out to buy scarlet and gray for the event – it was already in their closet. The fact that his middle name is Hayes – yes, as in Wayne Woodrow – makes it clear his family is all about the Buckeyes. And the papier-mâché Brutus head that sat on a chair, an elementary school Halloween costume made by Cupp and his father, shows the Buckeye blood runs through Gavin.
"It all worked out in the end, and now I get to play for the school of my dreams,” Cupp said.
In fact, it all seems like a movie. There’s the small-school kid who dreamed of playing Division I football, growing up watching National Signing Day ceremonies and hoping he’d get to take part one day.
“Every signing day, I always looked forward to it,” he said. “I was always sitting on my couch watching it, thinking, ‘How cool would it be to be in one of these positions to sign with a major D-I program?’ ”
So there’s your opening scene. But, doubted by many, the kid has to show he can make it at the highest level, so there’s a montage – hard work, time in the weight room, big performances against his foes. Then maybe a snub or two by nameless, faceless coaches who instead hurry away to focus on a player or two from bigger schools (gotta take some dramatic license here).
Then, finally, midway through the film, the big break – the commitment to a place like Michigan State. Everything seems great until the conflict, the opening of the recruitment, and finally, triumphantly, there’s the offer from Ohio State. The new pledge. Finally, the signing in a high school library surrounded by family, coaches, teachers and friends.
“Now that I’m here, it’s a pretty great feeling,” he said.
Indeed it is. No one knows where it goes from here, of course, something Keith Cupp admitted today. But maybe this is just the start of the story.