The Ohio State Buckeyes are definitely in a state of "California Dreamin'" this year. They have already secured commitments from standouts DE Ryan Williams and OL Kevin Bemoll of Mission Viejo, and they are very much in the thick of the race for four-star safety Shawn Oatis out of Chino Senior High School.
When asked about whether or not he was interested in the Buckeyes, Oatis replied, "Definitely. I've never been to Ohio, but I'm a Buckeye fan. I'll be visiting October 22nd."
The other school Oatis is focused on is Notre Dame, which he will be visiting October 8th. The Irish play Stanford that weekend.
"It is highly likely I end up at Notre Dame or Ohio State," Oatis said. "I've been to UCLA and Stanford and a number of others, but it didn't really jump out at me. The others are real nice, but Notre Dame and Ohio State, those are the two that stand out."
Oatis is rated as the #9 safety prospect in America by theInsiders.com and lists his height and weight at 6-0, 205.
"I want to get down to 200 because I'm going to be playing running back," he said. "I want to have my weight down and be in better shape.
"I hadn't played running back in high school. We had two good running backs so I did not play there, but I will this year. I can get bigger again, so that's not a problem."
What got Oatis so interested in Ohio State anyway?
"The national championship; it's such a great program; Coach Tressel's a really special man," he said. "So is Coach Tucker. Really all the coaches. And Mike Doss, the tradition he's leaving behind."
Chino is about 50 miles or so from Mission Viejo, but the impact Ohio State made at Mission Viejo has reached Shawn Oatis as OSU commitment Ryan Williams is planning on getting to know Oatis a lot better.
"Yeah, as a matter of fact, my dad just got done talking to Ryan Williams' dad," he said. "We were going to get to know each other and form a bond."
What will be the factors in his decision?
"Part of it is going to be a gut instinct, but graduation rates and social atmosphere, those things are going to play into it too," he said.
Early playing time could also be a factor, but Oatis also realizes that wherever he goes, he'll have to give it his all to see the field.
"Obviously, playing early's something I want," he said. "I'm going to have to be at my best. I'm going to have to give 100 percent. If I play, great, then I play. But I'm going to keep working to give it my best until I actually get in there."
Chino is indeed a long way away from Columbus and South Bend, but it also seems to be something Oatis may actually be looking for.
"Getting away from home is not going to be a big deal," he said. "You eventually have to get away from mommy and daddy.
"I want to have the full college experience. That's going to have something to do with my decision."