The East squad hit the field today, and Buckeye fans want to know one thing: Who else can Jamario O'Neal get? Where is Rico McCoy going? Where is Jason Gwaltney going? Ok, that's three things, but you'll forgive the misstatement if there is something good to say. There might be just that as it's close to decision time for both McCoy and Gwaltney, and Ohio State is "in there" for either one.
You don't have to look twice to find Jason Gwaltney. Actually, you do, but it isn't because you can't see him; it's because you can't believe what you are seeing.
Seventeen year-olds didn't look like this when I was a kid.
"I've just worked out hard since I was younger," Gwaltney said of his regiment to fine-tune his demigod-like appearance. "You just have to stay focused on your goals."
One goal, like most any other recruit at the All-American Bowl, is not to just show up, but show up everyone else on the field. Gwaltney isn't that boisterous, but this powerful tank of a running back definitely doesn't shy away from the competition and that's on either side of the ball.
"We're here for a reason," Jason said. "When you do make it here, you want to come strong and make sure you don't leave any questions about what you gave. Everyone here was the best wherever they came from, but now they want to be the best here."
"If you want to do that, you have to be serious about what you are trying to do."
Gwaltney, behind that unbelievably large offensive-line that is comprised completely of tackles on the first string, all no shorter than 6 foot-6 inches tall… well, even for a guy that likes to get physical, he sees that line and just smiles thinking about the holes he should have come Saturday.
"I'm never going to see anything like this ever again I don't think," he said. "I can't even see over them, but I know I just have to see between them to get up-field."
East teammate and another player that has Ohio State on his list is middle linebacker Rico McCoy. Like Gwaltney, Rico is glad to be here, but he plans on making the trip worthwhile.
"I'm not getting on that bus wondering what I could have done," Rico said. "Everyone here is bringing everything they have, so if you think you can get it done, you better bring everything you've got to."
When you are talking Rico McCoy, everything means a whole lot as there just isn't much this middle linebacker isn't capable of doing. The ultra aggressive McCoy has shown during practices that he's not just a tackler, but a top-notch defender as well. That means something when the rules have a 6-2, 220-pound linebacker back in pass coverage.
"It's all about speed," McCoy said. "You've got to be able to keep up with everyone and that includes guys in the secondary. If you are slow, you are going to get beat."
When Rico wasn't back in pass coverage and actually keeping up with the speedy wideouts, he was covering the corners, making sure that there wasn't a running back even close to getting upfield. Honestly, there's not much this kid can't do -- well, outside of being able to see over East's gargantuan offensive line.
McCoy found himself at times in coverage on a future Buckeye and one of the most electric players on the field. Future member of the Ohio State team Jamario O'Neal played both ways and showed several times why he is considered one of the top overall athletes around.
On defense, O'Neal was quick to read the ball. Playing man when you are going against players like this is always a risk, so the philosophy here was to play a soft cushion and just see what players could do to react, a la more zone coverage than man.
O'Neal looks like he would eventually flourish in either, but he was exceptional in not just seeing the play develop, but reacting, as his noted first step was about as quick as you can get.
Combine that with solid speed, good jumping ability and just a great feel for the game, and O'Neal continues to be one of the biggest pickups for Ohio State this year.
Oh, and as you all know by now, he's bringing teammate Freddie Lenix with him.
"He's just a great player and I don't think anyone realizes just how good he is right now," O'Neal said. "He's going to be just another big player for the team."
O'Neal has made himself out to be quite the recruiter since he arrived in San Antonio and why wouldn't he be? Where else would you want to look if you are wandering about for great future teammates but the place where the best of the best will be?
It didn't take Jamario long before he was already knocking on a few hotel doors and yaking in a few ears to others about joining him at Ohio State.
"I've been talking to James McKinney," O'Neal said of the Louisville, Kentucky defensive lineman. "We could sure use a guy like that, and he knows there's a lot of love at OSU."
"I think we can get him, so I am going to keep working that and see what happens."
Compared to some years, Ohio State doesn't have the bumper crop they might have any other year. It hasn't stopped them from putting together a class of high-quality players, though, and with the possible additions of Gwaltney and McCoy, you have a class that goes from solid to excellent in about the blink of an eye.
Now, Buckeye fans just have to wait until at least Saturday to see if these two prep-dreams come true.
Stay tuned for a photo page, and premium subscribers can keep an eye out for full video interviews of Jason Gwaltney as he goes into detail about his colleges and the bottom line as to what is important to him, Rico McCoy talking about Ohio State, what's up with them and how they stack up to Tennessee and of course, and Jamario O'Neal on what he's been doing since he committed, comments about Freddie committing to OSU and what is up with James McKinney.