Schoenhoft to begin his official visit on Saturday

In the end Rob Schoenhoft of St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati chose Ohio State over Michigan and he officially committed to OSU at the Elite 11 quarterback camp this past summer. But was he ever really close to becoming a Michigan Wolverine or not?

The second big weekend of the recruiting season for Ohio State will bring to campus a few more names that Buckeye fans might already be familiar with.

Guys that have already committed to Ohio State, like Todd Denlinger, Austin Spitler, Malcolm Jenkins and Rob Schoenhoft will be checking in for their official visits. Schoenhoft's visit, however, will be a bit delayed as an important Friday night basketball game makes him a Saturday morning arrival to Columbus.

Schoenhoft is a vital cog of the Bombers basketball team just as he was to the football squad that finished 10-0 during the regular season after their opening-game loss to St. Edward was reversed due to the Eagle's four-victory forfeiture.

Unfortunately Schoenhoft got knocked out of the game against St. Edward late in the first half when he injured his ankle on a sack and he had to watch the remainder of the contest on crutches from the sideline.

"It was really disappointing for me in the first game," Schoenhoft said. "Our first pass of the season was a 73-yard touchdown pass and I thought from that point on I was going to have a major senior season. But then in the second quarter I hurt my ankle and unfortunately I couldn't be there to help my team but I was there mentally cheering them on. That was all that I could do."

It turned out that Schoenhoft missed a couple of games but eventually found his rhythm when he returned to action.

"The rest of the season went unbelievable," he said. "Down the stretch we played Ignatius, St. Francis and then teams from the GCL, which is one of the toughest leagues that you can find. Our expectations were really high for the season but it was unfortunate that we didn't get to the point where we wanted to (being) in the state championship. But I think overall we had a pretty successful season as a team."

Individually, Schoenhoft thought he was able to showcase some of the skills that made him an Elite 11 quarterback and he thought he provided quality leadership for his team.

"As far as my performance this year, you can always do better," he said. "I do have a lot of room to improve and my footwork needs to get better."

But Schoenhoft is going to Ohio State to compete from the very first day. Although the quarterback position is well stocked, the expectations for greatness will still follow him to Columbus.

"The pressure is going to be really high when I go up there and hopefully next year I'll be able to push Troy (Smith) a little bit more," Schoenhoft said. "My chances of playing are going to be pretty slim but they think highly of me and I just have to get my confidence up and start throwing the ball around up there and do what I can do."

Like Smith and Justin Zwick, Schoenhoft benefitted immensely as a signal caller from his Elite 11 experience.

"Seeing Jason White and Aaron Rogers and all of those guys in action was unbelievable," he said. "They gave me such a perspective and viewpoint that I never would have known without being there. As far as from a coaching standpoint, there were NFL level coaches there with Coach (Bob) Johnson, the coach from Mission Viejo where Mark Sanchez is the number one quarterback. He gave me the most coaching that I've ever gotten in my whole life in anything in just one week.

"It was just unbelievable and it just shows me how much more I have to learn and how much more I have to study the game."

Of course, Schoenhoft and Sanchez were both candidates for a scholarship offer to Ohio State prior to the Elite 11 camp.

"A couple of weeks before the Elite 11 camp I called him because he was interested in Ohio State. He narrowed it down to USC and Ohio State," Schoenhoft said. "I was talking to Coach Tressel about it and I guess he didn't really know where Mark was going to go. So I gave him a call and we were playing phone tag for a little bit. But I think a week before the Elite 11 camp we actually got a hold of each other.

"He pretty much told me he was favoring USC a little bit and I told him that I fell in love with Ohio State and I know that's where I want to go. So he knew about me wanting to go there and Coach Tressel told him that I was on the verge of committing and so everything sort of worked out."

The two had a chance to talk when Schoenhoft first arrived in California for the camp.

"Right when I got off the plane Mark called me and he was actually on the bus that I was waiting for to pick me up and take us to the facilities. So we had a pretty good talk and we joked about some stuff and we had a really good time together. He's a heck of player and a heck of a guy and USC is definitely lucky to have him."

But Schoenhoft knew he was going to commit to Ohio State prior to the camp and had made all of the arrangements for it.

"I told Coach Tressel that I was ready and he kind of told me that we're going to wait and see what Mark does. And I accepted that," Schoenhoft said. "But I told Coach Tressel that Ohio State is where I want to be and a Buckeye is what I wanted to be, and he said he appreciated it."

And then he told Michigan that he wasn't interested before he went to the camp also.

"I told Coach Loeffler from Michigan that I'm not coming there and he wasn't very happy," Schoenhoft said. "And I told everyone that I was going to be a Buckeye and I made all of the arrangements, and I just made it official out there."

He officially committed to Ohio State on July 24 and Sanchez committed to USC. In hindsight, the whole series of events leading up to the Schoenhoft commitment to OSU were a bit surprising because many people had him pegged to go to Michigan for the longest time.

"In the local paper, the Cincinnati Enquirer, they had that I was an Ohio State fan growing up and I was," Schoenhoft said. "Ever since I was little I always loved Ohio State and I always hated Michigan. When Michigan won the national championship I was sitting there crying."

But his feelings changed about Michigan in his freshman year of high school.

"I was kind of infatuated with Michigan because they were the first people to really recruit me and they were the first people to show any interest in me," Schoenhoft said. "I think they kind of made me a little biased toward them because they were the first ones to recruit me and they were kind of my first love. You don't really know anything else accept that. I just felt really comfortable there and I went to three years of camp there."

And he didn't initially feel that way about Ohio State. Even as late as the Nike camp in April, Schoenhoft wasn't really into Ohio State. And the Buckeyes had yet to make him a scholarship offer at that time.

"When I went up to Ohio State, I didn't really feel that comfortable at first," Schoenhoft said. "But when I came back and took my academic visit, I realized that I could feel that comfort level there and it kind of opened up my horizons."

That enlightening visit came shortly after he participated in the senior camp at Ohio State this past summer, right around the time OSU made him an offer.

"That helped me open my eyes and it led me to the truth," Schoenhoft said. "(The offer) finally came and I realized I belonged there after that trip I took. When I stepped off campus for the second time there and I kind of cleared my mind of all of the bias that I had before. I kind of felt stupid not realizing how great this place is and how great Columbus is for me."

And now he can't help but think about how it will feel to be a quarterback at Ohio State in the near future.

"It's just inevitable not to think about it, being at one of the greatest colleges in the world, both athleticly and academicly," he said. "Just to have the opportunity to lead the biggest sport at that school and be one of the most influential players on the team is just heart stopping. There is so much honor in that position and in just being on the team. It's just a great honor and a great privilege that I have to even try to compete for that."

Schoenhoft was sort of a late bloomer at the position by circumstance as much as anything else. Marty Mooney, the fourth-string quarterback at Notre Dame was the QB at St. Xavier in Schoenhoft's freshman year.

"He pretty much brought me up in the position," Schoenhoft said. "In my freshman year I could throw it a million miles an hour but I would throw it into the woods on every play. So he really developed me and he still does. We throw every summer together."

In his sophomore year, Schoenhoft battled for the position but he was beat out by another senior and so he played receiver that year. He got his first experience at quarterback in his junior year and then played about three quarters of the year in his senior season.

"Once I get to Ohio State I've got a lot to learn," he said. "I'm going up for the spring practice even though I can't practice and I'm just going to try to get my feet in the water."

He might be relatively inexperienced at the position but Schoenhoft has been a quarterback for most of his life and it's a dream that he'll play the position at Ohio State.

"I'm just so excited to be a part of the tradition and be a part of the team," Schoenhoft said. "I'm just going to be a little freshman next year that doesn't know anything and Troy and Justin and Todd (Boeckman) are going to have three and four years of experience and it's going to be a great experience for me. I'm just super-excited to be a part of it."

But before he gets there he wants to have one last stab at a state championship on the hardwood while he's still a Bomber.

"I think our team is ready to make a run and I'm not going to leave my sports career at St. X without a ring," said Schoenhoft, a regular in the AAU summer circuit. "So I'm going to give it everything that I got and there's going to be a little extra pressure because it's going to be my last sports opportunity."

It's obviously important enough for him to arrive a little late for his official visit to Ohio State. Better late than never.

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