Mike Hartline Reflects On Busy Weekend

One of Ohio's top quarterback prospects was expecting a lot from one school and got little and was expecting little from another school and got a lot. Mike Hartline talks about his junior day stops at Purdue and Notre Dame this past weekend, why he didn't go to Ohio State's junior day and what he thinks about Michigan in general.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression. Quarterback Mike Hartline of Canton GlenOak High School had two chances at getting a first impression this weekend when he attended the junior day events at Purdue and Notre Dame, respectively, and he came away from his football excursion with mixed reviews.

"Actually it started off kind of slow at Purdue," Hartline said. "I was going there expecting a lot more and I really didn't get all that much."

When he first got there Hartline was taken to a recruiting room that was connected to Ross-Ade Stadium.

"It was pretty nice," he said. "When we went there I met some of the coaches and head coach Joe Tiller but at the same time there were two separate groups walking around and the quarterback coach wasn't with our group. So it was kind of a disappointment, I didn't really get to see Coach (Blaine) Bennett very much. And Ryan (Palmer) didn't get to see the offensive line coach either.

"But it was good to see the field and the athletic center. The field was nice - I kind of liked the field - but the weight room seemed kind of old and messy. But it was a nice trip there just to see something new and see the city."

Hartline admittedly was excited to see just what Purdue had to offer prior to the visit.

"Obviously I liked the offense but I was just going there to hear the whole spiel and see the place where I would be spending most of my time in, and that came out disappointing," he said. "The first sight or first opinion wasn't very good so they kind of dropped some for me."

After leaving West Lafayette, Hartline and his mom drove toward a location just outside of South Bend where they spent the night in a hotel. Both he and Palmer attended Notre Dame's junior day on Sunday.

"When we first got there some of the players greeted us and shook our hands, along with some of the coaches, and that was a nice welcoming," Hartline said. "We got handed a big old packet on the new coaching staff and their history and where they all had been. And the same with Coach (Charlie) Weis, it showed all of his history and all of his personal success. It was really nice."

Hartline next met with Coach (David) Cutcliffe, the quarterback coach who coached both of the Manning brothers in college.

"He seemed like a nice guy," he said. "Really down to earth and really intelligent about the position."

After that the recruits all went into an auditorium where they were shown a highlight tape and some of the things that Notre Dame had to offer.

"Then they introduced Coach Weis and he introduced his whole coaching staff and told us what they had to offer," Hartline said. "To tell you the truth, every position coach had something great that they did in their coaching career."

Father Malloy, the president of Notre Dame, spoke to the group next.

"He was telling us how Notre Dame was more than a place to play football," Hartline said. "He (told us) how it was a family place and how it's a great atmosphere to be around."

The recruits then took a bus ride around the campus where they were shown where they would be staying and all of the academic places and some other interesting places on campus.

"That wasn't too long which I liked," Hartline said. "They didn't try to bore you too much and keep you on that bus forever."

The Joyce Center was the next stop for the recruits.

"The fans there greeted us and they had the band playing for us and the cheerleaders were there so it was very nice and very welcoming," Hartline said. "We sat down and ate our lunch and after that went to the basketball game."

Coach Weis addressed the crowd during halftime of their basketball game.

"It was really neat because he addressed more the students at the game than all of the fans," he said. "He was looking at the student section and he told them how they play a big role in having a recruit come here. It was kind of interesting. He seems just like a great people person and he gives it to you straight."

To say the least, Notre Dame obviously left a favorable impression on Hartline.

"Yeah it was great," he said. "But the biggest impression was comparing last year when I went with Brian to the Notre Dame junior day, to this year. Just how much everything completely took a 180 (degree turn). It just turned around so much, it was just incredible. My mom could vouch for that, she was totally blown away."

Hartline credits Weis for that turnaround.

"Everything was so organized and they obviously put time into it and dedication and commitment into their whole junior day," he said. "I guess it's a reflection of what Charlie Weis is going to do when he's there. Junior day is a lot more than people think. It's about liking everything, and everything has to connect with everything. It really made a strong impression on me. I enjoyed it very much."

And he also enjoyed what Cutcliffe had to tell him about their offense.

"(Cutcliffe) talked about what his philosophy is and how they're going to focus their offense around what Weis did with the Patriots," Hartline said. "He said that they like to throw the ball and they're very fundamentally sound and they'll be a big play-action team."

According to Hartline's count, as many as nine quarterbacks were there for junior day. Reportedly two of them, Zach Fraser of Mechanicsburg, Pa. and Demetrius Jones of Chicago, left with scholarship offers from Weis.

"You have to think how is this guy (Cutcliffe) treating you any different here than the next guy," Hartline said. "I talked with Coach Cutcliffe and I told him that we'll keep in touch and he said, ‘No, believe me, I'll keep in touch with you.' But I think they're interested in their own way."

Overall, Hartline said it was one of the best junior days that he and his mother have experienced over the past two years.

"We both know that it was a very outstanding junior day and one of the best junior days that I've ever been to," he said. "It sparked my interest in Notre Dame a lot. It's a great school, it was more than I expected."

Knowing firsthand how much of an impact that attending a junior day at a school can have, Hartline chose to pass on attending Ohio State's junior day this year.

"I think I already know all that about Ohio State," he said. "I think I already know that Ohio State coaches are accepting and very caring about things. After being at a bunch of Ohio State games and watching practices and going to different things with Brian all of the time, I kind of already know how everything goes there. Ohio State's a great school.

"It's kind of hard to explain but I've been to Ohio State so much and I've seen a lot there that I didn't really think I needed to go down there again. I probably did miss out on something by not going to Ohio State's junior day but already going with Brian there to his junior day and his official visit, I just don't see how else you can treat a player any better than they do at Ohio State."

Among other things, Hartline missed seeing Ohio State defeat Michigan on the hardwood during OSU's junior day this year. But he did get a more favorable view of Michigan at their junior day a couple of weeks later.

"I wouldn't say that Michigan was as connecting as Notre Dame or Ohio State, but I always take Michigan into consideration because I consider them to be more of a quarterback school," Hartline said. "I can make that next step and go to the next level, to the NFL, and be great at what I do as a quarterback at Michigan. There's no better school than Michigan to do that."

So whichever way Hartline looks, he's looking at three top-notch programs that he would consider himself very lucky to end up at, regardless of the eventual success that he has or doesn't have playing there on the gridiron.

"At Notre Dame, Ohio State or Michigan, those are three schools that I know I can go out in life and get a job and won't be denied anything just because I went to that school," he said. "So it is just as important to consider what you have after football as well."

But putting academics and a quality education aside for a moment, Hartline's real focus is on what's in front of him on the gridiron now.

"Sure I want to go to a place where I can excel as a person and a football player but my main goal right now is to excel as a football player," he said. "I really don't want to go to a school that forces academics so much on you. I know it's a very important thing and it shouldn't be taken lightly, but at the same time I'm there to be a football player and I'm not there to be an academic person."

Ultimately, Hartline understands that it's a football scholarship that affords the recruits the chance at a quality education. And he's up for the challenge on both stages at whatever school he chooses.

"There's no doubt in my mind that I'm going to work hard on my academics because after football you really have nothing left but your degree," Hartline said. "So I'm going to take everything seriously and focus more on what I'm actually going to do, both on the field and off, when I get there."

But for now, he's just going to enjoy the entire recruiting experience and his search for that perfect school is off to a great start. As of now, however, Hartline only has an offer from Kent State in hand and he's expecting another one from Michigan State to be coming in the mail any day.

It's basically a numbers game at every school and Hartline knows he will have to be patient and bide his time while scholarship offers fall into place.

"It all comes down to how many scholarships a certain school has to offer and whether or not that school wants to wait and look at (a certain recruit's) senior season and evaluate him more," he said. "So it can come down to many different things."

So even a school like Purdue might actually look a lot better to Hartline in the fall.

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