Welch Wary Of OSU Spotlight

Growing up in Columbus, Sirjo Welch became very aware of the spotlight that Ohio State players are under. The soon-to-be freshman safety from Columbus Beechcroft appears to be ready for the attention. He will be on display tonight at the Ohio All-Star Classic at Crew Stadium (7 p.m., Ohio News Network).

As an athlete from Columbus, Beechcroft High product SirJoseph Welch can speak about the microscope that is seemingly trained on members of the Ohio State football team.

"You have to be careful because you can easily find trouble," said Welch, who signed with the Buckeyes in February. "A lot of people are telling me to just go in and do what I have to do and stay out of trouble because once you're at Ohio State, everything is there for you.

"You know when you come here you can't get in any kind of trouble. I don't care if it's the littlest thing -- littering or whatever. You'll end up in the papers and on television."

Welch made his comments on Monday during media day for tonight's Ohio All-Star Classic (7 p.m., Ohio News Network). He credits his parents for disciplining him when he encountered some problems as a high school student.

"My parents took me out of basketball for a little while because of some issues," he said. "That helped me a lot. I learned there are some things in life you have to walk away from. Even though it might be hard, you have to walk away from them and stay out of trouble."

The 6-0, 180-pound Welch is projected as a safety at Ohio State. He tallied 14 interceptions over the last two years (including eight for a 9-3 playoff team as a senior). But Welch lured recruiters from across the country with his speed (4.4 seconds in the 40) and hitting ability.

"I can tackle and hit," he said. "That's what I'm good at -- tackling and hitting."

Welch told reporters Monday he graduated with a 3.3 GPA. He should be qualified academically, although he retook the ACT this past Saturday.

When asked if he needed to raise his score to qualify, Welch said, "I don't think so. I just signed up to take it again just in case."

Welch will be among 10 future Buckeyes on display during Saturday's Ohio All-Star Classic, sponsored by Grange Insurance.

"This brings us together as friends and teammates," he said. "It's a good thing. All of the Ohio State players get along and have that bond together. It's a cool thing. I look forward to playing with everybody."

Also playing for the South team will be Alex Barrow (Dublin Coffman), Erik Haw (Columbus Independence), Jonathan Skeete (Gahanna Lincoln), Brandon Underwood (Hamilton), Ben Person (Xenia) and Chad Hoobler (Carrollton). The South squad will be coached by Steve Channell of Trenton Edgewood.

OSU signees on the North squad include Brandon Smith (Euclid), Shaun Lane (Hubbard) and Curtis Terry (Cleveland Glenville), who was a late addition to the game. The North will be coached by Mentor‘s Steve Trivisonno.

The Ohio All-Star Classic was played in Columbus Crew Stadium for the first time in 2001 after being held in Massillon or Canton from 1977-2000. The Ohio All-Star Classic was also held in Columbus in 1975 and 1976 when the game was contested in Ohio Stadium.

The players had a full week of activities planned. They were scheduled to visit Children's Hospital, Columbus City Council, a Clippers baseball game and have a swimming night at a Columbus area pool. Plus, the annual Ohio All-Star Classic banquet was scheduled for Friday night.

Tickets are available for $10 at the Crew Stadium box office. Call (614) 447-CREW for more details.

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