Chaminade-Julienne head coach Jim Place
I knew it would be easy to get to downtown Dayton because the Bucknuts business office is there and I've been there before. But I had no idea where Chaminade-Julienne High School was other than the address I had. Turns out I drove right by it on Ludlow Ave. and had to call the office for directions.
When I finally get to the school I saw a football team practicing on the grass next to the parking lot, but it certainly wasn't the varsity. That's when things really got interesting. I was told the varsity was practicing at Kettering Field and I was given directions. I'm guessing it's about four or five miles away from the school.
But when I got off the freeway exit at the right spot, my adventure began. I ended-up getting directions from two different people and I was still lost. Eventually I flagged a police car down -- there were more than a few in the area -- and got directions. Turns out I drove by the field once or twice before. In all I wasted about 45 minutes to an hour of time just getting to the practice.
But I was happy to be there nevertheless. I was looking forward to seeing Ringer practice and the Eagles were in full pads. Jim Place is another one of those saintly coaches that I was talking about yesterday. I've only spoken with him on the telephone prior to attending the practice but he came right over to me -- I was wearing a red Ohio State shirt and had a camera -- and introduced himself and made me feel comfortable. Wonderful man!
Naturally, we started talking about his team and the first person we talked about just happened to be Ringer.
"Before you talk about him as a player, first you have to talk about him as a person," Place said. "He studies three hours a night, he's in church three nights a week and he's just a very dedicated young man. He would like to be a minister. He is really and truly a real-deal, first-class person.
"As a player, he benches 365 pounds but he's benched 380 in the past. We think he runs a 10.6 (100 meters), he's just a slight hair behind Brandon (Harrison). Brandon ran a 10.5 last year and he and Javon run toe-for-toe. He's got great speed and agility and he's a black belt in karate. He can put a cup on my head and kick the cup off the top of my head; he's got tremendous flexibility. And he's got tremendous drive and he's very focused. He's a great young man to coach, he's a lot of fun."
Ringer (29) faces Brandon Harrison in practice
Place has witnessed Ringer do so many tremendous things on the gridiron during his career as an Eagle. One in particular could be the one that elicits so many comparisons between Ringer and Barry Sanders.
"His greatest move that I like is when you think he's almost down and he puts his hand on the ground and pops back up and keeps on running," he said. "That is something that is a thing of beauty to a football coach and a football fan."
As far as recruiting and Ohio State is concerned with Ringer, things seem to be getting done in order to make that a reality.
"Let's put it this way -- both sides, Javon and Ohio State are making sure every T is crossed and every I is dotted," Place said. "We don't want a situation where they come back later on and say ‘we need something else.' Everything is positive and it's moving along at a good pace. I don't think anybody wants a situation though where anybody looks back and goes ‘this wasn't the right move.' So I like it that way.
"Jim Heacock and I probably talk to each other about three times a week. He's not allowed to talk to Javon, but I play the messages for Javon so he hears them and everything is very positive. It's just a procedure where our kids do things right and that's the way we're doing it with Javon."
So is an offer imminent then from Ohio State?
"They're the ones that can offer him. Let's just put it this way -- there's nothing that I see that will stop it," Place said. "So I just think it's a matter of going through the procedures, but I can't say that. I'm not the one giving him the (scholarship) money."
Place is the one that has the enviable task of formulating a game plan to take advantage of Ringer's skills.
"Quite obviously we've changed our offense to feature Javon a little bit and we've changed our defense to feature Brandon a little bit," he said. "When you got a talent like that, you use him. It's as simple as that. We're going to make people stop Javon but then we've got some other weapons to go to. But we're going to make them stop Javon first."
Of course, Brandon Harrison verbally committed to Notre Dame this summer.
"He's a 10.5 100 meter guy, he's 200 pounds and he's built solid as a rock. He benches 335 pounds and he plays very hard," the coach said. "And him and Javon got each other to challenge each other. They're going to push each other to both be better than they want. They're best friends, but it's good for the players to push each other like that.
"Brandon is another great young man. His mom and dad are both solid forces in his life as are Javon's mom and dad. Notre Dame got a real steal here. You just don't find guys that run 10.5, they don't drop off of trees."
In addition to Ringer and Harrison, Place mentioned a few other players on the squad to watch out for.
"Number 66, with a funny number for a defensive back, is William Johnson," he said. "He's a 6-2, 190 sophomore that will be on the field. If it wasn't for Javon and Brandon, he'd be a running back but we're probably going to start him on defense. He's long and lean and he's a real good basketball player. We already know he'll be the next in line of our big-time recruits here.
"We have two other kids that have already committed. Jon Myles, a 6-1, 190 pound defensive back, has committed to Ball State, and Lester Troutman, a big defensive end has committed to Kent State. He's a 6-5, 210 pound rush defensive that's going to grow into being a good athlete. Johnny Bonner , a 6-4, 205 pound jet receiver, is getting a lot of MAC offers. Our quarterback is going to be a prospect; he's a 6-2, 190 pound junior -- Matt Bruggeman -- and we think he has a chance to be a real good football player."
But Place is just as proud of his guys that aren't getting the big time offers.
"Nick Hest is just a solid football player and two-year starter for us," he said. "He's a guy that does everything right but probably won't play college football, but by gosh he's busting his tail and enjoying his senior year. He's a 4.0 student and a real solid football player and he's having a lot of fun."
It's a difficult schedule facing CJ but Place thinks his kids are up to it.
"When we put Trinity and Elder on our schedule, the defending Div. I Kentucky state champion and the defending Div I Ohio state champion, that's what you call a challenge. So we're either going to step up or we're going to fold," Place said. "The amazing thing is, we can have a great football team and not even make the playoffs. So we've got to step up to the challenge and push ourselves from day one.
"We open up on Thursday night against a team that was a Div. I regional finalist, Northmont Thunderbolts, so the challenge starts right from day one and keeps right on going."
Of course the Eagles would ultimately like to get a state championship again.
"That's always a goal and these kids were sophomores then and they all remember it," Place said.
Ringer first burst upon the statewide scene with his stellar performance in that championship game. He's excited to start his senior season.
"I feel very excited now," Ringer said. "Sophomore year we won state, junior year we went 8-3 and lost in the first round of the playoffs. This year all of the seniors came to the conclusion that we want to win the state, period, and we want to go undefeated doing it."
It's even more important to Ringer than any individual accolades.
"I know this is my last time playing with all of my friends who I've had since the seventh grade," he said. "We've all been together since the seventh grade and we all think it would be a blast to go out undefeated in our senior year."
Ringer intends to do his part to make it happen.
"I feel like I'm very mentally sharp and with my linemen that I have and the year of experience that they had last year, I feel like I have nothing to worry about," he said. "All I have to do is my part and I know that they'll do their's."
The expectations for Ringer alone are sky high.
"A lot of people expect me to do better than what I've done for the past two seasons, but I'm going to let God do what he wants," he said. "If He wants me get a certain amount of yards then I'll get that. If not then I'll still be satisfied."
And he said that he's also satisfied with the way recruiting is going at this time.
"I feel like everything is going well," Ringer said. "I feel real positive about how things are unfolding for me. I feel very positive about the whole recruiting process."
As he told me before in a previous interview, patience is the key word.
"I feel like patience is a great thing," he said. "You have to have patience in order to be able to do what you want."
And Ohio State?
"They're pretty much involved, yeah. They're doing good," he said. "Things are looking good. I'm just going to let everything unfold for itself and I'm just kind of taking it all in."
Ringer's Karate Kick
On that note, Ringer performed his now famous karate kick to the head of Coach Place and then I was on my way to Hamilton to see Myers-White.
Driving down 75, I was tempted to get off at the Middletown exit to visit with Andre Amos, and if I had more time I would have. But I went to Hamilton and it took longer than I was expecting to get there.
I missed the break between practices and AMW was already out on the practice field for the second session. So I took some photos of him, and during a brief water break I had a brief chance to speak with him.
He mentioned that he's likely going to visit Purdue, Tennessee, Florida, USC and Ohio State on his official visits, and he again confirmed that Ohio State is still very much in the running without directly stating that they were his number one choice.
Anyway, I told AMW that I'll be in touch with him soon over the phone to do an interview with him and then I got in my car and headed back to Columbus. I wasn't even at Hamilton for more than a half hour or so, tops.
As it turned out, by the time I got back to the Woody Hayes Center, it was passed the allotted time allowed for cameras at practice but I went in to observe the remainder of the practice anyway.
Day five of my trip never came to fruition, but one way or another I'll have more schools and players to report on before the actual season begins. We'll be doing some more high school work on JJHuddle.com throughout the season this year so you might want to check us out over there. For me...I'll be everywhere in Ohio beginning week one, literally. I hope you enjoyed reading about my tour in Ohio for this year. I certainly enjoyed making it.
Adam Myers-White Photo Gallery