Tressel Discusses His 2005 Recruiting Class

The late signing of Akron standout Lawrence Wilson put OSU coach Jim Tressel in a good mood as he met with the media on national signing day. Click here for a look at his comments on the players OSU landed.

Ohio State wrapped up its football recruiting effort for 2005 with the signing of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary defensive end Lawrence Wilson late this afternoon. Wilson, who picked OSU over Notre Dame and Florida, became the 18th and final member of this class.

OSU coach Jim Tressel discussed the class at his late afternoon press conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center.

"I think it was a good day for the Buckeyes," Tressel said. "This class is very capable both in the classroom and on the football field. It meets the ever-rising standards that the university has put in place academically, and it is very gifted from a football standpoint.

"One of the things that impress me about this class is its commitment to excellence. It is a group that is going to work very hard to succeed in all that it does."

As of 6 p.m., the OSU class was ranked seventh in Scout.com's national rankings. The class includes 11 players from Ohio, including six of Ohio High's top 10 prospects, as well as seven players from outside the state. It includes 11 players on defense and seven on offense.

Unlike in past years when OSU has had 40 or more players make visits, the Buckeyes welcomed just 27 prospects for visits. The staff also had to do with fallout from the ongoing NCAA investigation. That probe may have had a hand in losing one verbal commitment, California offensive lineman Kevin Bemoll, who decommitted and went to Cal.

"We had 27 young people in for official visits," Tressel said. "We got 18 of them, so that's a pretty darn good batting average. That is a testament to the selection process we had and the work our staff did once we got people here. It is low, but that was definitely by design.

"Something that we are especially proud of is that we feel we got the type of young men who want to be Ohio State Buckeyes. They want to achieve great things on the field. They want to achieve things off the field and get a meaningful degree here at Ohio State."

Tressel was proud of the way his staff worked through the tough questions and the difficulties to land this class.

"There are always certain battles to fight," he said. "It's always tough and it's never easy. These guys battled through all of those things. The thing I admire the most about them and these recruits is that, in their opinion, they believe Ohio State is a great place to be."

Wilson announced his verbal on ESPN News just minutes before Tressel took the podium. The coach could not discuss the verbal until Wilson had returned to his school and faxed in the letter-of-intent documents.

"You're not leaving until we get a fax," the coach laughed and said to the assembled media.

Up until Wilson's 11th-hour signing, the stretch run was looking bleak for the Buckeyes. OSU lost New York running back Jason Gwaltney to West Virginia on Tuesday and saw Minnesota defensive lineman Walker Ashley go with USC earlier today.

"Sometimes if you don't get a guy or two at the end, it overshadows the great guys you got in the beginning," the coach said. "That's huge for us to come down to the wire and get a couple of guys."

Tressel talked about Wilson, who had originally committed to Notre Dame before decommitting after Tyrone Willingham's firing.

"We really felt that Ohio State was a very natural place for Lawrence," Tressel said. "We thought it was a good fit. It was a couple hours from home and he has a brother here at Ohio State. He really enjoyed our players and his time here at Ohio State. He came down to camp here.

"Obviously, he made a decision and you live with his decision. We didn't call him up after that original decision. But when he came out publicly and said he was rethinking that, yes, our eyes lit up. We felt like we had another chance. I thought our coaches did an extraordinary job of reentering the fray. His parents are wonderful people. His brother is as happy as can be in the Fisher College of Business.

"But, truly, we did not know until 3:49 this afternoon where Lawrence Wilson was going, and we're ecstatic."

Tressel will get an early look at one of his signees, offensive lineman Jim Cordle from nearby Lancaster. Cordle will enroll in the spring and take part in spring practice.

"Jimmy will be enrolling in spring quarter and Jim Bollman thinks he has a chance to be an outstanding offensive center," Tressel said.

The coach remarked that he and his staff recruited enough speed to "put together a pretty good little track team."

"We have two guys who hope to bee the number one and number two 100-meter guys in the Division I meet with Jamario O'Neal and Freddie Lenix," he said. "They bring great speed to the table. Brian Hartline reminds me he has an open spot on his wall for the hurdle events. He placed second and fifth last year. He is coming off an injury, but his rehab is ahead of schedule."

Two of the top names in this class – Scout.com top-20 prospects OL Alex Boone and DB Jamario O'Neal – committed to the Buckeyes long ago. Tressel said they were good cornerstones for this class.

"That was huge," Tressel said. "Jamario O'Neal committed to us here three seasons ago it seems like. We knew he was going to be a great one. When I talked to him today, he was so excited. I told him on the phone I could see his smile over the phone. He is so excited to finally be here.

"Then to also have a guy like Alex Boone who everyone in America had at the top of their offensive line board, that is a great boost."

Gwaltney's late decision to reaffirm an early verbal to WVU left the Buckeyes with just one running back, Florida's Maurice Wells, in this class. He will be among just three backs on scholarship this fall, along with Antonio Pittman and Erik Haw.

"That will be a top priority for us next year, for sure," Tressel said. "We wanted to bring in two. Obviously, we had our sights set. We did not want to offer three or four and not be able to bring them all in. We wanted to be honest with kids. Maurice is one of the best in the country. We'll probably have to move some people around a little bit, some of the troops we have here.

"But for next year, running back would be one of the priorities for that class."

Here are more comments from Tressel's press conference:

* On late addition WR Brian Robiskie -- "He is a 6-3-plus guy who just turned 17 in December. He has been around the game of football forever. His dad Terry Robiskie is a first class guy."

* On RB Maurice Wells -- "A year ago as a junior, he was only the second or third guy in the state of Florida in the large school division to rush for over 3,000 yards. It was he and Emmett Smith as the most recent ones. He comes with pretty good credentials. He brings great speed and skill."

* On QB Rob Schoenhoft -- "Rob is a competitive kid. Everyone we talked to at St. X and the people who played against Rob is that he had command of the quarterback position."

* On OL Alex Boone -- "We have one guy who is renowned across the country as one of the finest offensive linemen. He has a passion to be a great player."

* On DE Ryan Williams -- "Ryan comes from a great program at Mission Viejo, Calif., He brings an interesting vida. As a young boy, he was sitting with his grandfather at (OSU's) James Cancer Hospital. He pointed out the window and hoped that one day Ryan would have a chance to play (at Ohio Stadium). Fast forward 14 years and Ryan has a chance to sign with the Buckeyes. That is a special thing for him and we think he will do a great job on the edge."

* On DE Doug Worthington -- "He was very renowned in recruiting services and all-star teams."

* On whether there is a Ted Ginn Jr. in this class -- "If there are 18 guys stepping on the field in the preseason, you usually think that half of them will help in the 2005 year. I wouldn't pretend to know which half. They can run, they're smart, they're physical and they have the passion to be Buckeyes. To say there may be a Ted Ginn Jr. in there, I don't know who that may be."

Also Notable

* Tressel said the NCAA has not issued a ruling on kicker Josh Huston's attempt to get a sixth year of eligibility.

* The coach also said he had no indication when the NCAA will complete its ongoing investigation into the program.

"Of course we are looking forward to that," he said when asked if he was ready for the probe to end. "I look anxiously to an end to those discussions and more discussions on what the kids are doing here."

* He also had no indication when a final ruling will be made on quarterback Troy Smith's suspension. As things stand, Smith could miss the 2005 season opener against Miami (Ohio) for taking illegal extra benefits.

* He also talked about the stiffening of admissions regulations at the school.

"No question at Ohio State, admissions are done as an institution," Tressel said. "Go and talk to (high school) guidance counselors. When we were an open enrollment school, if you had a diploma you could pretty much be sure you could get in. Now we have third and fourth generation families who have gone here and kids are finding they can't go to Ohio State.

"But it's real. It's pretty clear to us what the mission is and what we need to shoot for."

Here is OSU's list of signees:

Name Ht. Wt. Pos. Hometown/High School

Amos, Andre 6-1 180 WR/CB Middletown

Boone, Alex 6-8 315 OL Lakewood/St. Edward's

Cordle, Jim 6-5 275 OL Lancaster

Denlinger, Todd 6-3 265 DL Troy

Hartline, Brian 6-3 180 WR/CB Canton/GlenOak

Jenkins, Malcolm 6-1 180 WR/DB Piscataway, N.J.

Laurinaitis, James 6-3 231 LB Plymouth, Minn./Wayzata

Lenix, Freddie 6-0 193 RB/LB Cleveland/Glenville

O'Neal, Jamario 6-1 180 WR/CB Cleveland/Glenville

Robiskie, Brian 6-3 190 WR Chagrin Falls

Russell, Anderson 6-0 190 RB/DB Atlanta, Ga./Marist

Schoenhoft, Rob 6-6 225 QB Cincinnati/St. Xavier

Spitler, Austin 6-3 228 LB/TE Bellbrook

Washington, Donald 6-1 185 WR/DB Indianapolis, Ind./Franklin Central

Wells, Maurice 5-10 185 RB Jacksonville, Fla./Sandalwood

Williams, Ryan 6-6 245 DE Mission Viejo, Calif.

Wilson, Lawrence 6-5 240 DE Akron, Ohio/SVSM

Worthington, Doug 6-7 250 TE/DE Athol Springs, N.Y./Saint Francis


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