Just getting a highly-touted and much-coveted offensive line prospect like Dan Doering of Barrington (Ill.) High School on campus is a tremendous thing. Having him come back for a second time, albeit unofficial both times, is very encouraging.
"I went to visit Ohio State in the summertime, and when I went to that visit I got some information about the academics and the student life at Ohio State, which I liked a lot," Doering said. "I came back for the second visit (last weekend), and I came away very impressed with the atmosphere and the fans and just the overall impression they gave me about football there at Ohio State and how they do things there."
Gameday Saturday at Ohio Stadium against Wisconsin was as exciting for Doering as any other college venue that he has been at.
"I would say Ohio State is right up there," he said. "I've been all over the Big Ten and Notre Dame and some of the other schools for football games and stuff, and they're all definitely high-energy, high intense football games."
Doering's accessibility to and interaction with the Ohio State coaches was something that stood out favorably for him on his game-day visit.
"Being able to talk with all of the coaches was pretty impressive," he said. "Everyone from Coach Tressel to everyone on the whole coaching staff I talked to before (the game) and some of them after the game. It's a great coaching staff, they're all great people and great coaches."
The long drive to Columbus didn't seem to damper the overall experience for Doering in any way, especially after having played a game of his own on Friday night.
"No it's not that bad. It's about six hours away," he said. "You drive from my house to Indianapolis and then it's kind of a straight shot over. So it's not that far of a drive."
Considering all of the pros and cons associated with Ohio State, there's a lot that Doering really likes about the Buckeyes.
"I just have a good feeling when I go there," he said. "Like when I went there this summer and talking to all of the academic people there, I had a good feeling about the school and all. And then going back there for the game and talking with Coach Bollman, it just feels like a good tempo that I can see myself playing at. I don't know why but I just feel comfortable there."
Doering visited Ohio State during the time they were running their summer camps but he didn't participate in any of the workouts.
"I just talked to Coach Tressel," he said. "I wanted to talk to Coach Tressel and find out about his program and everything and see how he does stuff, and that was definitely a major part of me coming back to watching a game."
The Buckeyes were beaten soundly by Wisconsin ending Ohio State's 18-game home winning streak with Doering looking on.
"Football is football, you win some you lose some," Doering said. "I told them after the game that the loss didn't impact me at all."
So after two unofficial visits to Ohio State now, do the Buckeyes have any real shot of landing his services or is it mainly a competition between the three schools that he already has official visits scheduled with?
"Right now, definitely, they're still in there," Doering said. "I'm very much still considering them from what I've seen so far and who I've talked to and what I've gotten from the school from what they've shown."
Doering and his father enjoy Script Ohio before the game
But as of right now Doering has official visits scheduled only with Notre Dame, Iowa and Nebraska and many people who follow recruiting closely have him pegged for either Iowa or Notre Dame. Doering's sister is a student at Iowa and he's supposed to be in Iowa City this weekend to the see the Buckeyes take on the Hawkeyes.
"All of the schools that I'm looking at right now all match up equally right now. I don't really have a leader at all," Doering said. "All of the schools that I'm looking at, I think there's seven right now, they're all the same. I know that I have Notre Dame, Nebraska and Iowa as three officials but that's just because I think that I'm pretty comfortable with those three schools."
How will he determine his other two official visits?
"I'm going to be talking to a lot more people and talking to the coaches and everything and learn more about all of the programs," Doering said. "Eventually I'll come down with the final two (official visits)."
Ohio State certainly may have helped its chances for getting one of those remaining visits last weekend.
"It was probably about or maybe a little bit more than what I was expecting from just the atmosphere and how everything came across," Doering said. "Just the energy that was in the stadium and all around the campus was a good feeling."
Teaming with a guy like Alex Boone might be an interesting experience for him but it wouldn't necessarily make him favor Ohio State in the end over any other school. The two will play on the same offensive line together in the Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 15, 2005.
"I've never talked to him before and I've never met him but it probably wouldn't influence my decision that much. I don't know," Doering said. "I guess if we contacted each other and maybe talked a little bit. I don't know. But I don't really (consider) outside influences that much. It's mainly my parents and my family that I talk to."
Recruiting really kicks into gear for Doering beginning in December, and it's likely that he'll have final a selection by the time the Army All-American Bowl comes around.
"I'm visiting Notre Dame, Iowa and Nebraska in the first three weeks in December for officials," he said. "And I want to try to get the other two officials in before the All-American game. But I don't know. We'll see what happens."
Will he announce his decision at the all-star game?
"Maybe, we'll see," Doering said. "They kind of tell you that if you're ready to commit you can commit, but if you're not you don't have to. So we'll see."
The whole recruiting experience has been almost surreal for Doering.
"It's definitely an awesome experience and I never envisioned myself to be where I am right now," he said. "You just get to meet so many great people and so many people that have character and you just learn a lot of new things."
He seems to be motivated by the lofty expectations.
"Just (seeing) the (future) competition level and knowing what people expect out of me makes me get up every morning and work harder and try to be a better football player and a better person," Doering said.
For Ohio State fans, landing Boone and Doering in the same class would be a major step in rejuvenating the much-maligned offense line of the Buckeyes.
"I really like the support the fans give the team," Doering said. "On those third down conversions (attempts) when everyone gets up on their feet and the whole place gets going and everything starts rocking, I kind of got the chills a little bit. It was pretty cool. All of the energy there, it was awesome."
Having Doering in a Buckeye uniform would actually help Ohio State convert a few more of those third-down conversion attempts. At one time, it seemed like there was no chance at all that Doering would end up in Columbus. But now there is at least real hope for him making an official visit. And then you never know what could happen.
"Right now, I've gotten everything that I wanted to get from Ohio State in what I've seen and what I've heard, and now I've just got to go and match them up against the rest of the schools that I'm looking at," he said. "Just coming from Ohio State, I liked what I saw."