Gwaltney Will Announce Feb. 1

North Babylon (N.Y.) running back Jason Gwaltney will end the speculation on Feb. 1. It is down to Ohio State and USC. caught up with Gwaltney for the latest on his situation.

North Babylon (N.Y.) running back Jason Gwaltney has eliminated West Virginia – the school he once gave a verbal commitment to – as well as darkhorse candidate Boston College.

"I'm down to Ohio State and USC," Gwaltney said.

Gwaltney played in the Army All-American Bowl in San Antonio last weekend. The West topped Gwaltney's East squad 35-3, but he silenced any doubters with his bruising running style.

"It was a good experience," Gwaltney said. "I had a lot of fun. I met a lot of people and made a lot of new friends. And I got to see how good I really was on a national level."

Gwaltney was asked what stands out about Ohio State.

"I love how the people love the sport," he said. "They're behind the Buckeyes 100 percent. And the stadium, that plays a role, because to see 105,000 people cheering for you is a big deal.

"The coaching staff, I've really become close with (wide receivers coach Darrell) Hazell, (head coach Jim) Tressel and (running backs coach) Doc Tressel. They've been really, really good to me. They've done a lot of good things for us and made me feel good about the situation and everything. I would say that's about it."

And what is attractive about USC?

"Probably the same things," Gwaltney said. "The coaching staff. Their stadium it's not the biggest, but just being at the school is unrealistic."

Gwaltney (5-11, 230, 4.5) led North Babylon High School to the Division II Long Island Championship in 2004 with a 10-1 record (New York does not have a state championship; it breaks its champions up by region).

"Well, I definitely came into the season not in good shape," Gwaltney admitted. "I was eating a lot of fast food. In game three, it was about 92 degrees out and I cramped up a lot and we lost the game. We were up 19-0 in the third quarter, but we let up and lost. I wasn't playing in the game a lot, I was in and out.

"But I got my second shot against that same team. We won six straight and got to play the same team again and we beat them 22-21. I carried the ball 56 times in the game and led my team to the championship the next week. We won 43-14."

Including the postseason, Gwaltney rushed for just under 3,000 yards and over 40 touchdowns as a senior. As a junior, he amassed 2,601 yards (8.8 yards per carry) and 45 touchdowns. He is currently rated as the No. 9 running back in the nation by

Jim Tressel had his in-house visit with Gwaltney earlier in the month.

"That went real good," Gwaltney said. "It went real well. He's a real genuine guy. My dad really likes him a lot. They got to come see me work out a little bit along with my personal trainer. And they also got to come home with me and meet the rest of my family. Doc Tressel, he was playing around with my little cousin. They showed they are real people and not here just trying to sell their school. They were really genuine people. Coach Hazell was there as well.

"But (Jim) Tressel put the show on. Coach Hazell really didn't say anything. (Tressel) was saying the whole time, ‘This is my time with you. They get to come out and see you more than I do.'"

USC coach Pete Carroll will make his in-house visit with Gwaltney next week. Carroll makes it no secret that Gwaltney is a prized recruit – he even called him at 1 a.m. moments after the Trojans captured the national championship.

"That was… it is what it is," Gwaltney said of the late-night call. "They feel that I'm a key recruit for them and he is doing the little things as well as the big things to try and make me a Trojan."

Did Carroll wake Gwaltney up?

"Yep, but I was finishing up schoolwork late anyway," he said.

Gwaltney will wait until the day before signing day to make his decision.

"I'm going to announce Feb. 1 on ESPN," he said. "Everybody is saying, even my mother, ‘Are you committing today? Are you committing today?' But I'm going to wait until Feb. 1 and make my decision then. And then I will have the fax already sent over for whatever school I pick."

Not that he was going to give away his hand at this point, but Gwaltney was asked if he is leaning to either OSU or USC.

"Well, it's hard to say where I'm leaning," he said. "I'll say both schools have a real great shot at getting me."

Ohio State is losing three running backs to graduation that played quite a bit: Lydell Ross, Maurice Hall and Branden Joe. Gwaltney says the chance to play as a freshman will factor into his decision.

"That's probably going to be the biggest thing that sways me away," he said.

But distance from home is not a factor.

"Nah, my dad spoke to me about that and he really doesn't care about that," Gwaltney said.

The future Buckeye or Trojan then gave his strengths and weaknesses as a tailback.

"Well, my strengths would be my athleticism," he said. "I know everybody says, ‘We have a 230-pound running back, he can't do anything.' But that's a lie. I showed that in the all-star game. I can catch the ball, I can get down field quickly, I can do pass block, I can run between the tackles, and if I have to get outside, I can do that.

"My weakness as a running back? Honestly, I'm going to say I don't have any. I know I can learn things about the game and enhance my game, but I really don't think I lack anything."

Nothing wrong with a little bit of confidence.

* For more on Gwaltney, tune in to the Bucknuts Radio Hour next week.

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