OSU Makes Gwaltney's Choice Tougher

Running back Jason Gwaltney of North Babylon, N.Y. made news quite some time ago by committing early to West Virginia, but more recently he has decided to look around some more. OSU is one of the schools he is considering, but there's still a long way to go in his recruitment.

The initial reaction by Jason Gwaltney after his official visit to Ohio State was glowing, but it has to be tempered by the fact that he already verbally committed to West Virginia, and he still intends to make an official visit to the University of Southern California next month.

"I had a real great time there," Gwaltney said. "The facilities just blew me away. I've never seen a stadium that big, and I've never seen fans like the ones at Ohio State."

Gwaltney, of North Babylon High School in North Babylon, New York, remains committed to West Virginia but that commitment has to be regarded as tenuous at best now.

"It makes it a little bit tougher now. It wasn't as tough before because I had my mind set on one team," he said. "I still have a lot of love for the Mountaineers but it's just going to make it that much tougher to pick my team at the end of my official visits."

West Virginia has been with Gwaltney from the beginning and he committed to them back in February.

"I always followed the program and my dad liked the school because he used to follow Amos Zereoue a lot," Gwaltney said. "And they've sent a lot of running backs in the last three or four years to the pros and that really stood out for me.

"They also were my first scholarship and they showed the most interest in me in the first four months of recruiting. And after I went down there, I really loved the place and I loved the coaches, and that just drew me toward them and I decided that I wanted to commit to them."

Tentatively, Gwaltney intends to make official visits to Central Florida and USC and then go back to West Virginia, and then he'll make his final decision while he's in San Antonio for the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.

"I'm going to go on all of my visits and go to West Virginia last, and then for the whole week that I'm going to be down in Texas, I'm just going to be thinking about what I'm going to do," he said. "I know that it's going to be a real nerve-racking week for me because that's one of the biggest decision of my life, but hopefully within that week I'll be able to get it done."

With USC involved now, Gwaltney becomes a national recruiting prize.

"They've shown a lot of interest in me and they're really excited with the way the east coast players are. Like Dwayne Jarrett became one of their impact players and they feel that I can do the same thing," Gwaltney said. "They've shown a lot of interest, they came to my school to watch one of my games, and when a school shows that much interest in me, I can't just throw it in their face and not show any in them. Especially the number one team in the nation.

"And distance doesn't really have anything to do with it because I just want to go and play football."

So what would ultimately be the determining factors for Gwaltney in making a decision?

"The coaching staffs and how I get along with them I think is the number one thing," he said. "And I think education is a big thing, if they have my major (criminal justice) or not."

How did Ohio State score on his official visit there for the Penn State game?

"Across the board they have a lot of great things going for them," Gwaltney said. "I love the coaches, they have great coaches and I got along with them very well. The facilities were unbelievable and academics is just unbelievable. So they've got a lot of good things going for them right now."

Gwaltney fits the mold of the big back that Ohio State needs to plug in to their offense.

"Definitely without a doubt," he said. "That may be one of the reasons why I choose to go there or it may be one of the reasons why I go somewhere else. A lot of teams need that big back right now, and it's really hurting a lot of teams that don't have one. I think a small back is a complement to the big back, but in the end, I think the big back is someone that can wins teams national championships."

At 6-0, 235 pounds, Gwaltney mixes his agility, vision and 4.52-second speed with his raw power. Through seven games (6-1) Gwaltney has run for 1,870 yards and 31 touchdowns.

"I'm real aggressive and I go out and attack a defense and punish them," he said. "But I also got a lot of great moves and I see the field very well. For a running back my size, I can cut it back and make things happen. Even though I'm a bigger back, I feel that I can make big plays happen, like the smaller backs, too."

Gwaltney, a four-year two-way starter, ran for 2,601 yards and 45 touchdowns last season.

"I was being recruited heavily by the Big East, but after I went to the Nike camp at Penn State and tore it up and did real well, my name got out there," he said. "I just got a lot of spotlight from that camp."

He's aiming for the Nov. 26 championship game and then he'll start really examining the pros and cons of each school that he is looking into right now. He visits USC officially Dec. 17 and West Virginia Jan. 7. He hasn't set an official visit with Central Florida as of yet.

"Hopefully by Jan. 15 I'll know what school I want to be at," Gwaltney said.

He said that Ohio State will be in it up until the end. And if it should work out in OSU's favor, Gwaltney said Ohio Stadium is one of the reasons why.

"Definitely the Horseshoe really had me thrilled. There's just no place like it," he said. "You hear about it a lot on TV but you don't get the full effect until you get there. It would be an honor to walk out of that tunnel and step on to that field."

Gwaltney has an 2.42 GPA with an 860 SAT. He's retaking the SAT in January.

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