Meet Troy Pascley. He's a wide receiver at Marlington High School in Alliance and he's one of the best kept secrets of the 2006 recruiting season.
Marlington finished last season with a 1-9 mark but Pascley had 23 catches for over 500 yards on a predominantly run-oriented team.
"I've been playing varsity since my sophomore year and I carry a 3.8 GPA right now," Pascley said. "My individual success has been pretty good but none of that means anything if you don't win."
As a sophomore Pascley started at defensive back, at safety and corner back, and he played running back on offense. Last season he played exclusively at wide out on offense and their new head coach this season, Dan Pallante, intends to use the 6-3, 190-pound Pascley at various positions when Marlington is on offense next year.
"I feel like I can help our team more as a receiver because I can stretch the field and set up play-action," Pascley said. "But I'll play wherever the team needs me to play to be successful."
And that's basically the way Pascley feels about recruiting and what position he might be best suited to play in college.
"I see myself as a receiver at the next level," Pascley said. "Defensive back is a possibility but it depends on what the coaches think. But I'll play wherever. Whatever it takes to get on the field."
And being a big Ohio State fan, Pascley is unabashed about admitting where he'd ultimately like to ply his skills at on the next level.
"Of course I'm looking at a lot of schools but if I was to be offered by Ohio State I would commit, no question," said Paisley who attended the Wisconsin and Penn State games in Ohio Stadium this past year. "I've always seen myself being a Buckeye and after meeting and talking with Coach Tressel you just feel so at home and you feel so comfortable there. It just feels like a great atmosphere to play football."
Pascley first made a favorable on the OSU coaching staff last summer at their camp. He ran a 4.4-second flat 40-yard dash there and he broke the camp broad jump record that Dustin Fox used to have.
"I think I jumped 10 feet, 4 inches in the broad jump and that's what caught Coach Tressel's attention," Pascley said. "And once he seen me work out one-on-one against some of the top DBs at the camp, I think that's what really got him and Coach Hazell interested. Coach Hazell is a real good guy. Ever since then they've been sending me mail and they've called the school and talked to my coach."
And now Pascley, with a 35-inch vertical jump, is looking forward to going back Ohio State's camp, and others as well, this summer for an encore performance.
"I would like to work out for them again," he said. "It seems that a lot of people still doubt my ability and I want to work out for them again and really show them what I can do."
It's obvious that he's really excited and anxious about the entire recruiting process.
"I'm happy with everything right now but the recruiting thing is something that you want to end quickly because it's so stressful," Pascley said. "But I'm humbled by it really. I went from my sophomore year not having anybody know who I was until now in my junior year. I went to the camps and got noticed and I'm just trying to handle it all in stride."
There's no Mario Manningham types in this year's receiver class in Ohio but there is a solid group of four or five wide outs of which Pascley is one. And he's not about to take a backseat to any of them.
"Along with my measureables and how I test, I really work hard for everything I have," Pascley said. "I'm not taking anything away from anybody but I feel that everything that I've worked for is finally coming to me now and I feel that I should be rated right up there with everybody."
In addition to the requisite size and speed that he has to stand out at the receiver position, Pascley thinks he has something else going in his favor.
"I think I'm different than other receivers because I'm willing to block," he said. "If you watch my films, I'm a blocker. I love blocking and I take pride in blocking a lot. That could be the difference in a game, setting your running back free."
Pascley is just an overall athlete at the wide receiver position. He runs the 100 meters and long jumps for the school's track team. Just recently he long jumped 22 feet during an indoor meet at Mount Union College. His best long jump as a sophomore last year was 21' 4" and best 100 meters was 11.0 seconds flat.
It's obvious that Pascley has a lot to offer any program willing to take a chance on him.
"I'm excited about being recruited because it's everything that I've dreamed of and worked for," he said. "Right now Ohio State is head and shoulders above everybody to me on my list. If I was to go to Ohio State it would just be a dream come true for me."
Everything is just now starting to fall into his place in Pascley's young life both on and off the football field. His mom raised himself and two of his three younger sisters as a single parent.
"I've been raised by my mom my whole life," he said. "My dad lived with us until I was two years old and I actually just met my dad two years ago. We were struggling a lot coming up and it was hard for my mom raising three kids on her on."
Pascley's mother worked and went to college at the same time trying to get a degree to be a nurse. His grandmother, in her absence, would fix meals and take care of the kids.
"She has a degree now and she works at Timken hospital," he said. "Everything is just falling into place for her now and I couldn't be any more happier for her. I'm proud of my mom for everything that she's done for me in my life."
And his dad actually lives in Columbus. His father, Troy Kirksey, actually played football at Iowa for a brief time in the early 1980's.
"Every time I go to Columbus when I get invited to a football game, me and him will go together," Pascley said. "We're starting to get more closer and closer together. I never really had a father figure in my life until now so I'm really happy. I believe everybody deserves a second chance. And my mom's very happy for me because she never had a father and she knows how it felt. So she's happy for me and my sisters to be able to have our father in our lives.
"So it's a good time in my life and even better days are ahead for me now on the field and off."
Especially if that offer from Ohio State should ever materialize.