Denlinger (6-3, 275) has been set on Ohio State for weeks. But he waited to announce his college choice until he had a chance to come over to Columbus on Wednesday morning and meet with OSU head coach Jim Tressel and other members of the OSU staff.
That mission was accomplished during a meeting at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. Denlinger ventured to the facility today with his parents, Bart and Teri Denlinger, and now Todd officially considers himself as a member of OSU's 2005 football recruiting class.
"It's always been my childhood dream, growing up in Ohio, to be a Buckeye," Denlinger told Bucknuts.com. "The coaching staff is great, it's a great football team and they have great facilities. The fans are great. You really can't beat it."
Denlinger is ranked as Ohio's third-best prospect by Ohio High. He had scholarship offers from 20 major schools, including Wisconsin, Tennessee, Oklahoma, Maryland, Boston College, Stanford, Purdue, Northwestern, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Vanderbilt, Duke, Penn State, Cincinnati, Indiana, North Carolina, Kentucky, South Carolina and Michigan State.
"It's a big source of pride to realize I'm on so many people's lists," Denlinger said. "It's hard to tell them no, but it's something you have to do. Wisconsin was nice to me. I'd have to say they were second on my list, along with Oklahoma. They treated me well, too. But Ohio State is the place I want to be."
He discussed his rationale for getting his decision out of the way early.
"My high school team is a big priority for me right now," Denlinger said. "I am a captain this year, my coach said. So I want to take my summer and spend it with my team. Also, I think recruiting can get out of hand with visits. I've always had my heart set on being a Buckeye, so why visit anywhere else?"
OSU's newest verbal also discussed who recruited him for the Buckeyes and also some fond memories of watching them in action.
"It was mainly (defensive line coach Jim) Heacock," Denlinger said. "He has always been in touch with me, e-mailing me. (Linebackers coach Luke) Fickell has been there for me. He came and brought the scholarship offer (letter) to my school. (Defensive coordinator Mark) Snyder visited the school as well. All three of them played a pretty big part.
"I remember that 1997 Rose Bowl against Arizona State. I was at my grandparents watching that. The way they fought back, that was amazing. That's been in my memory, along with the Fiesta Bowl a couple years ago when they beat Miami (Fla.)."
Denlinger played on the defensive line as a freshman and sophomore before moving to linebacker this past year. In fact, he had a huge junior season with 125 tackles, 17 for losses and four sacks. He also had an interception and a punt block.
"Leadership is probably my main priority," he said. "I love to lead the team. I'm a pretty quiet leader. I try and lead by example. I think I'm always around the ball. I'm quick I can read plays pretty well.
"I started varsity my freshman and sophomore years at defensive tackle. I know most of the techniques and I know Coach Heacock is a great D-line coach. Anything he needs to teach me, I'm sure he will. I'll be playing on the defensive line as a senior. I'll play a little bit of everything."
So where does Denlinger project as a Buckeye?
"They just said they would see how my body matures over the next couple of years," he said. "Right now, I think they are looking at me as a defensive end. But they said I could be playing tackle before I know it."
He is quite a physical specimen. He has run a 4.71-second 40-yard dash. He benches 350 pounds and squats 475.
Denlinger gives OSU four commitments among the state's top six players, including the top three. Top-ranked Jamario O'Neal of Cleveland Glenville and No. 2 Alex Boone of Lakewood St. Edward have also verbaled to OSU.
Denlinger becomes the fifth commitment in an OSU class that could number as many as 18 to 20 by signing day. Also committed are Lancaster, Ohio, offensive lineman Jimmy Cordle and Mission Viejo, Calif., defensive lineman Ryan Williams.
"I talked to Boone a little bit at OSU's pro timing day," Denlinger said. "I haven't gotten a chance to meet any of the other players in this class, but I plan to."
Denlinger boasts a 3.85 GPA, including a 4.0 in his junior year. He will take the ACT in June. He is also a standout shot and discus thrower, so it is unlikely he will graduate early and participate in spring football next April.
"I probably won't graduate early," he said. "They have pretty good depth on the defensive line already. I'll probably just enjoy the rest of my high school life."
Below, this link contains video highlights of Todd Denlinger.