"Yes, I will be at Ohio State as a walk-on," Thoma said. "I had an offer from Kent State, but I didn't really look into it too much. They were recruiting me since the beginning, but then they kind of stopped. At the end, it was kind of down to Ohio State and Louisville.
"Football-wise, the opportunity was better at Louisville. I could have come into fall camp as the number one guy on the depth chart. But I want to sign international business and their program was not as strong. Ohio State's business school is really good. That helped me decide."
The 6-2, 185-pound Thoma will leave St. Thomas Aquinas as a five-sport letterwinner. He played football and soccer this past fall. In the winter, he is a member of the swim team. In the spring, he plays baseball and competes as well in track.
Thoma averaged an amazing 48 yards per punt and also consistently had a four-second hang time on his punts. He was a first-team All-Ohio pick in Division V.
"I told Ohio State about my plans last week," Thoma said. "I talked to (OSU assistant coach Jim) Bollman. He said he was pretty excited about the news. He said he would keep in touch with me."
This fall, OSU will be looking for a replacement for Kyle Turano, who it does not seem will receive a sixth year of eligibility. Thoma will join a pair of redshirt freshmen in the punter battle. A.J. Trapasso is on scholarship, while Tyson Gentry is a walk-on from Sandusky (Ohio) Perkins.
By having Thoma make an official visit, Ohio State, by rule, must put him on scholarship the moment he plays in his first two years on campus. Thoma is hoping to force the issue by earning his scholarship.
"I'm confident in my abilities," he said. "I am going to work this summer as hard as I can. I want to put myself into position to compete for the job."
Thoma holds a 3.6 GPA and scored a 27 on the ACT. He will participate in the Stark County all-star game July 22.
Pettrey Also A Walk-On
The Columbus Dispatch reported this past week that Raceland, Ky., kicker Aaron Pettrey will also enroll at OSU this fall as a walk-on.
Pettrey, a 2004 Raceland graduate, sat out this past fall as a grayshirt. He was hoping to enroll on scholarship for winter quarter or in time for spring football. But the OSU staff now wants him to initially enroll as a walk-on with a chance to go on scholarship perhaps next winter.
"It's been real hard," Pettrey told The Dispatch about the uncertainty. "That's been where I've wanted to go for a while, so I'm going to do whatever it takes."
By Bucknuts.com's unofficial count, OSU may have two available scholarships after signing just 18 players on signing day. But one of those scholarships could go to the new long snapper, likely walk-on Drew Norman. It is unclear who, if anybody, OSU will use the other scholarship on.
Pettrey's scholarship offer is apparently tied to Josh Huston's bid to get a sixth year of eligibility. It appears that Huston will be successful in that bid, leaving no room – at least in terms of the staff's plans – for Pettrey at this time.
"I don't know the answer on Josh," OSU coach Jim Tressel said on national signing day. "We are optimistic. Everyone we've talked to … obviously, we can't talk for the NCAA, but we're optimistic."
Pettrey (6-3, 195) hit 8 of 13 field goals as a high school senior in Kentucky, including a state-record 58-yarder.
"As far as Aaron, the only thing I'm allowed to say is we are interested in him and we are recruiting him," Tressel said on signing day. "Beyond that, I really can't say."
Pettrey has taken college courses near his hometown during the fall and now in the winter. When he comes to OSU, he will battle with Huston as well as scholarship redshirt freshman Jonathan Skeete and walk-on Ryan Pretorious, a native of South Africa.
To save money, The Dispatch reported that Pettrey would live with his uncle, Rick Pettrey, who lives in nearby Dublin.