Mike Hartline (pictured, left) of Canton GlenOak High School was one attendee who thought the positive experience of just being there far outweighed anything negative about it.
"Definitely the positives would be just showing my face down there and, even with the few amount of reps that I got, actually showing that I have some good qualities in me and I that I can make some things happen with such little chances that I had," Hartline said. "Overall the experience just to go down there and get my name out there and let people see me, I think, it was totally worth it. But the camp itself was a little bit disappointing."
While the first day of the combine was devoted mainly to individual testing, the second day allowed the young men to showcase their skills in individual drills that were videotaped.
"I thought I did pretty good with the little repetitions I had," Hartline said. "I always think I can do better but I think I did pretty good. I just wish I had more of an opportunity to shine."
It was extremely hard for one camper to shine or to distinguish himself from another with such a large pool of candidates at every position.
"I wanted to go out there and just show all the kids and recruits what I was all about but at the same time you have all of those quarterbacks there and how can you really shine? There were like 70 or 80 quarterbacks invited," Hartline said. "You're special because you're down there but it cuts you down a bit because you thought you were actually better than this and you thought you were in a higher rating than with 70 or 80 other quarterbacks. But I still felt like I wanted my moment of fame and my chance to shine a little bit."
Ultimately, the combine was Hartline's first chance to make his case for him being in the Army All-American Bowl next year.
"I just thought that game was so fun and I can only imagine what it would be like playing with the best kids in the country. I just think it would be incredible to be a part of that," he said. "So it definitely motivates me and I was definitely excited when I saw those guys go out there and play. I'd definitely like to be one of the guys that get picked to play in the game next year."
The new recruiting season of 2006 unofficially begins on Wednesday, Feb. 2, the day the 2005 class sends in their letters of intent, but things have already begun to happen in earnest for Hartline since he returned home from San Antonio.
"It's already picking up for me right now," Hartline said. "Coach Tressel and them have been down to see Brian and I got to talk with them already. And some other coaches have already been down to check up on me and meet me. Coaches from Purdue, Michigan, Syracuse and Cincinnati were also there this past week.
"I like just meeting everyone. Some of the coaches I already knew before. It's just surprising to me just to see how quickly everything is starting already. It's just right before signing day and they're already starting with the new class. They also came in to see Ryan Palmer (pictured, left) too, he's one of our offensive linemen. He came down and met with the coaches too."
So where does Mike Hartline actually stand, recruiting-wise right before signing day 2005?
"Right now I just see all of this as being a big opportunity or a big chance in my life just to make something of myself," he said. "Some people want to commit to a school and get it over with but I actually want to just sit back and enjoy this because it only happens once in your life. I think it's just a really incredible thing that happens to just a few amount of kids so I'm going to take my time and enjoy it as it's just starting to happen."
Attending summer camps and other combines is the next big recruiting thing on Hartline's radar.
"I definitely would like to see a lot of Purdue, Michigan and Ohio State this summer," he said. "Another school that I'll probably go to camp at is Cincinnati. Some of my teammates are going down there and they want me to go down with them. I think my brother went down there last year. From then on, any of the other camps are pretty much wide open, I just have to decide which ones I want to go to."
So would it be fair to say in late January or early February of 2005 that Purdue, Michigan and Ohio State would be Hartline's top three schools?
"Yes and I think that's a great little start," he said. "Just a week ago I really had no real clue, Ohio State was always in the picture obviously, but since these schools have made an impact so quickly on me I think that would boost my ratings on all those schools. Those top three really interest me."
Could the Hartline family actually survive a split Ohio State-Michigan household?
"People are obviously going to create a big drama with it but I think in the family they're going to be totally supportive of me and they're going to be behind me in every decision that I'll make," Hartline said. "So I don't think it would be that big of a problem."
But with his brother being at Ohio State, there is a natural gravitational pull to follow his older sibling there. The two never really had the opportunity to play together last season because of the leg injury that Brian suffered.
"It might play a factor and it might not, I just think that we will have to see how things go over the next couple of months and over the summer," Hartline said. "Obviously if things work out I'd love to play with my brother. He'll be recruiting me there big time. He's actually the main guy here telling me everything."
Depth charts might also play a role in his ultimate decision but Hartline knows that competition is something that he'll be dealing with no matter what school he selects.
"Every time a coach comes in I ask them what their quarterback situation is and they tell me," he said. "Coaches are always telling me that if I go to their school I'll have to compete no matter what. So it factors in a little bit but I really don't think it's that big of a deal. Wherever I go I'm going to compete and if I don't win the (starting) role then I'll need to put even more work into it."
Between now and the time that Hartline actually begins his senior season on the gridiron, he will hone his athletic skills this winter and spring working with the school's track team. For the indoor season he'll focus on the 60 meter hurdles, the high jump and 4X400 relay, and for the outdoor season he will specialize in the 110 hurdles, the 300 hurdles, the 4X400 relay and the high jump.
"I kind of picked it up from Brian, those were his main events last year," said the versatile and athletic signal caller. "I just started goofing around with the hurdles and I got into it I guess. I have an advantage since I'm so tall and my inseam is so big to get over the hurdles, and I know that I can run with the best of them in the state."
But come the summer and then fall it will all be football and Hartline couldn't be more excited about what his future holds for him.
"I'm so excited I can't even describe it. I'm so excited for football to start already and I'm so excited for the summer (to come) to get it going and everything," he said. "I ask Coach Rose every day who's interested and who's been calling and I really want to know everything. I just can't wait until this whole experience starts to kick off."
Right now, the sky is the limit for Hartline and he wants to make the most of it. Already he's planning on doing everything that he possibly can in order to have a really special senior campaign.
"I think everything is going to play out great," he said. "And I think I'll be special enough to go back to that game down in San Antonio and be one of the top 100 recruits in the nation."
The national combine he just attended got him off to a great start.