Despite being 6-feet-8 and 320 pounds, offensive tackle Shawn Glaser of Akron Hoban High School has been somewhat overlooked when it comes to his name being mentioned among the top offensive linemen to watch in Ohio during the 2005 recruiting campaign.
"I was always gigantic for my age. I look back at pictures when I was 6 or 7, and I was quite a bit taller than all of my friends back then," Glaser said. "I wasn't real interested in football as a little kid, but I knew that someday that I could be great at it, so I tried it in my freshman year. I was always too big; even in the fourth grade I was like 40 pounds over the weight limit, and in the eighth grade I was 100 pounds over the weight limit. So I didn't have any experience at all with football coming into my freshman year."
And since that time for Glaser, he believes that his overall development as a football player has come at a very steady clip.
"I remember the first two-a-day in my freshman year when we started hitting and I just started dominating everybody," he said. "It was just the best feeling in the world, and I had never felt that. I had always played basketball before, and I did good there, but when I started dominating in football I just developed a love for this sport. And that love for the sport is what has carried me on through the years, progressing each year, making huge leaps and bounds.
"And it wasn't until after my sophomore year, after seeing all of the leadership from the seniors that I realized ‘Where do I want to go with this sport?' and that's what drives me today. That's what compels me to do better."
Heading into his senior season now, Glaser acknowledges that he is still a work in progress.
"Obviously I've still got a lot of room for improvement, because last year was my first year starting so my senior year is only going to be my second as a starter," he said. "But I want to go out there and play like a four-year starter."
Admittedly, Glaser is still learning the subtle nuances of playing his position but he's an intimidating force on the gridiron nonetheless.
"Whenever I go out on the field, I like to play with the most intensity that I can. I like to be the most intense player possible," he said. "But that's not always the best thing. There's a lot of brains and reaction that needs to comes first. Obviously I'm the biggest guy in the area, or one of them, and I think I played as good as I could have, but I haven't reached my potential yet. Next year I'm trying to find that balance between being intense and playing smart."
With a solid year of experience under his belt now Glaser is thinking that the sky is the limit for him.
"Looking back on last season, I could see where I could have done better for where I was physically," he said. "I was so caught up in the physical half that I forgot about the mental half, and that's what I need to do this year. I can already tell that I'm going to be a better player even if I didn't do anything in the weight room, just by looking at how I played last year. That's what I need to improve the most: how I play. I've never had a problem putting the hours in in the weight room and doing the right things like stretching for 20 minutes each day no matter how tired I am. That's never been the hard part for me, it's just the stuff that you've got to learn."
Although he's gotten his fair share of letters from colleges in the Big Ten and around the country, Glaser is by no means a household name in the recruiting arena at this juncture.
"I don't think about it a whole lot, but yeah I'm not too well known, and I think that's because I didn't play a whole lot in my sophomore year," Glaser said. "Having played just the one year, it wasn't exactly this breakthrough performance that it could have been had I started my sophomore year."
And playing under the long shadow of fellow behemoth from St. Ed in the neighboring Cleveland area, Alex Boone, only motivates Glaser even more.
"I saw him at Ohio State's Junior day and I kind of sized him up. He's just like a carbon copy of me," Glaser said. "I look at him and think ‘what separates him from me?' Obviously, maybe, he's a little bit faster with his foot speed and stuff like that and I just think, "If he's there already, why can't I get there?" If the one thing that you cannot teach that him and I have is size, and I've already matched that, so it makes me want to work even harder when the pain and tiredness sets in."
At least at this point, Glaser makes no false pretenses about his desire to attend Ohio State as well.
"I want to get to a lot of camps and get my name out there more than it is now," he said. "I just want to explore my options and see what's out there, but right now I want to go to Ohio State. I'm real interested in them. I was really impressed at Ohio State's Junior Day with the facilities and, although I haven't visited many other colleges yet, I could just tell from the atmosphere it's like a family down there, just like it is at my school. That's the place where I could see myself grow and prosper and that's the kind of place that I'd like to go to. "
Glaser, who was born and raised in Columbus, attended Ohio State's summer camp last year and that's what initially sold him on the Buckeyes.
"Jim Tressel's speech, the ‘Block O of Life' speech, pretty much turned my life around," he said. "Walking out of the speech, I had to shake Jim Tressel's hand and thank him for basically changing my life. I knew going down there where I wanted to be, I knew I wanted to play here, but that speech pretty much showed me the way. That speech kind of showed me how to live your life great and how to lead a good life doing everything right. Looking back on it now, I read about Woody Hayes a lot and I see Jim Tressel a lot in him.
"From that day on last year I realized ‘Look where I can go.' So why would I not devote my whole life to being the greatest player that I can be and being good off the field? Grades were never my strong point, but after that I was definitely motivated. Since I went to that camp, I think about putting on that uniform every night, and I thank God for making me a football player because it's just who and what I am. I am the game."
And if it doesn't pan out the way he wants and Ohio State is not in Glaser's future?
"If for some reason I don't get in, or don't get a scholarship, or things just don't work out, then, yeah, so I'm not going to be a Buckeye, but I'm still a football player, and I'm going to get a scholarship to somewhere else," he said. "So I'll just have to change my whole view of things. Instead of focusing on playing for Ohio State, I'm going to focus on playing for whoever I end up playing for because that's where I'm at."
But for the time being, Glaser's destiny is pretty clear in his eyes.
"I'll keep all of my options open, but I already know where I want to be and pretty much how to get there," he said. "It's all about follow-through now and improving my mental game and doing what I can in the weight room with my speed and footwork and agility and stuff like that."
It's almost as if Glaser intends to will himself to Ohio State one way or another.
"Yeah pretty much," he said. "If it wasn't possible, I wouldn't be working for it. It has to do with that Block O speech. What I want to do and what I want to be pretty much matches the goals of the Ohio State football program. Not just being a good player but being a good citizen and being good in the classroom. Just contributing to the cause which is bettering the community and being the best football team in the United States. What separates that school from any other is that it's not just about football and their facilities, it's about life and motivation, making yourself a better person and making the team better."
In the mean time, he'll continue to work on his game to become worthy of being an Ohio State recruit.
"Each game is going to be another stride for me; I'm going to improve week by week," Glaser said. "I think if I can make the strides this year that I did last year, then I think I'll do that."
And Glaser has the added benefit of blocking for one of the best running backs in the state of Ohio. Tyrell Sutton already has rushed for nearly 6,200 yards in his career.
Glaser's teammate, RB Tyrell Sutton
"I think it's a blessing for one thing because he's a great friend of mine and I'm thankful for having him," Glaser said. "He's an inspiration on the field. I've seen him take some real hard hits because he's a big target on the field, and I've seen him sprain his ankles and get them taped up, and then he goes right back out there and does his magic. I think he's an inspiration for everybody as well as a leader."
Just because of Sutton's gaudy numbers alone, Glaser and the rest of his teammates will have the opportunity to perform in front of the many eyes that will be watching the Hoban program in dark film rooms across the country this year.
"That's the key word, it gives me great opportunity," said Glaser who has a 2.7 GPA and will be taking a college entrance test for the first time this coming Saturday. "But getting letters and offers isn't going to make you a better football player. What happens off the field doesn't really matter on the field. You can't get a big head or anything like that."
His intentions for his future at Hoban, and then beyond are more than admirable. Nothing short of a state championship for the Knights and a scholarship to Ohio State are in his thoughts at this time. With the relatively small number of scholarship offers available at OSU, Glaser's allegiance to the Buckeyes will almost surely be tested.
"Initially, there will be a little bit of disappointment if I don't get an offer from Ohio State, and then when I sign with another team, my loyalties go to that team," Glaser said. "Whatever team I end up playing for is whatever team I'm going to make the best of. I'm not going to play any differently for Iowa or Notre Dame than I am for Ohio State.
"No matter what happens I'm all football, that's what I want to do with my life and I'm not going to set my goals low and settle for second best."