Freeman makes family proud

We found out yesterday that Ohio State was the choice of standout LB recruit Marcus Freeman. For Marcus's father Mike, OSU has always been the favorite. Gary talked with Marcus's proud father yesterday about the decision and future at OSU.

You couldn't help but notice the emotions visibly displayed from the tears rolling down the cheeks of Mike Freeman, the father of Marcus, at yesterday's assembly.

Marcus Freeman and father Mike hug

"I'm elated for my son," said Mike Freeman as he fought back uncontrollable tears.  "I'm very proud of him and the things that he's achieved on the football field and in the classroom.  And I think, from my point of view, that he's an outstanding young man.  I'm just elated for him."

It had to be an extra special day for Mike Freeman, who hails from Columbus East High School and has been a Buckeye fan all of his life.

"I shared with Coach (Jim) Tressel that when I was small growing up, I was in the Boy Scouts, and we used to work in Ohio Stadium as attendants, showing people their seats and things of that nature," Mike Freeman said.  "At that time they allowed the Boy Scouts to show people their seats, and that was my first exposure to Ohio State football."

He mentioned an OSU halfback by the name of Don Clark to allude to both his age and his long allegiance to the Buckeyes.

"I've always been a Buckeye fan but I wanted him to make the decision, what he wanted to do, because he has to do the time," Mike Freeman said.  "I have great respect for the other schools and the coaches that he's talked to, but I'm elated that he decided to go to Ohio State.  But I would have supported him if there was somewhere else that he wanted to go."

After he left East High School, Mike Freeman joined the military.  He's now a retiree of 26 years of service.  He played basketball and some football in his day, but he admitted that he was never a star.  He can't really explain the way his youngest son has become the type of football player he has become.

"Him and his brother have been playing football ever since they were in third grade," dad said.  "That's always been what he's wanted to do.  Sometimes we had to kind of detour him to think about other things, but football has always been in his blood.  Athletics over all."

Marcus and brother Mike

Mike Freeman and his wife, Marcus's mother - Chong, have obviously contributed to the athletic pedigree of Marcus and his older brother Mike, 19, by getting him involved in football and athletics at an early age.  Mike is a defensive back at Wittenberg University.

"We started the kids out in Taekwondo when they were three-years-old," Mike Freeman said.  "So athletics have always been a part of their life because I felt that athletics would keep my children off of the streets.  School and athletics have always been a part of the Freeman lifestyle.  Both of my children, they stayed in it and they're in it to this day."

The elder Freeman is also a big Jim Tressel fan.

"I've met him twice," he said.  "The first time we met, we went to visit him on one of our visits.  He didn't promise us anything; he talked to us straight, and he said he wouldn't lie to us because if he lied to us he would lie to someone else.  As far as I'm concerned, the conversation that me and him had when we first met, between two men, I really enjoyed talking to him.

"I think he's good for Ohio State.  I think the program, although I don't think it was ever bad, is better with him.  He's added a sense of pride, not only for the football program but for sports fan in Ohio.  They're proud of Ohio State and they're proud of what Ohio State does."

Freeman was first a fan under the legendary Woody Hayes.

"I've always been a fan but I think that Coach Tressel has added even something more to a great program," he said.  "The way he talks the parents and the way he talks to his to-be players I think is commendable."

From the tears pouring down his face, it's obvious that Freeman thinks that his son couldn't have ended up at a better place.

"It makes it extra special because I've been a Buckeye fan all of my life," he said.  "I always look forward to them ‘Dotting the I.'  To watch them ‘Dot the I' as an Ohio State fan, I think, is the greatest thing you can see."

But nobody in the Freeman family, including dad, is going into this in a blind manner by any means, no matter how great a situation it seems for Marcus to be in now.

"I'm an excited parent but I'm also a cautious parent," he said.  "I hope the seeds that we have sown in him in his youth will help him sustain through adulthood, certain standards or character about himself.  At this point we're looking at watching him grow into adulthood and see if the principles that we taught him as his parents, me and my wife - Chong Freeman - hope that the seeds take.  Not only in athletics but in anything that he wants to do in life, that he's successful.  We know everything is not perfect but we just want him to enjoy his life."

From all indications, Marcus is off to a tremendous start.

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