Long Road To OSU Ends For Boone, O'Neal

It's only fitting that DB Jamario O'Neal and OL Alex Boone are getting an early jump on their college time at Ohio State. After all, the two blue-chip prospects were the first players in the 2005 recruiting class to commit to Ohio State -- Boone back in the summer of 2003 and O'Neal way back in the winter of 2003. After Saturday's North-South game, Boone and O'Neal, who just started classes at OSU, spoke about what it means to finally be in college after waiting for so long.

When the 60th renewal of the North-South Classic was in the history books and the North came away with an impressive 45-17 victory, Alex Boone and Jamario O'Neal didn't have very much time to celebrate afterward because they had school in the morning.

Both Boone and O'Neal would officially begin their college career on Sunday with their first classes to begin as early as Monday.

"I cannot wait," Boone said. "I have been waiting two-and-half years for this and I've been counting the days every day, and it's tomorrow, and I'm (expletive) myself to tell you the truth. I cannot wait. I'm so excited to get in the weight room, go to school, hang out with the guys and all of that. I'm just so pumped up to start."

Ultimately, Boone realizes that the expectations for him at Ohio State are sky high next season, especially after another solid performance in the North-South Classic.

"I'm just going to take it one step at a time. If I play, I play. If I don't, I don't," he said. "Whatever the coaches want me to do, I'll do whatever they want. If they want me to player quarterback, corner, whatever; I'll do whatever they want me to do and I'll be happy doing it."

But Boone does have a burning desire to work himself into playing time as soon as possible.

"My inspiration (going into this) is just to start this year, right away, hands down," he said. "I'm going to go out there and just start kicking butt and doing the best that I can."

Whether he plays or not, it will all be a tremendous learning opportunity for Boone from the very minute he officially steps on campus.

"I'm going to learn as much as I can and try to be smart about it," Boone said. "I'm not going to take in too much at one time and hopefully I'll learn a bunch."

O'Neal is just as excited about the opportunity facing him. He's had to overcome a great deal the past two years, both on the field and off, to be in the position that he is now, and he thinks that he's as ready as he'll ever be.

"I enroll tomorrow (Sunday) and I feel like there's a lot of great things in store for me," he said. "I'll be around some really great kids and players, whatever you want to call them, and I think there's some really good things ahead for me."

Obviously O'Neal has seen the example first-hand that his brother Ted Ginn Jr. has set as far as living up to expectations at Ohio State.

"I feel that if I come out and do what I have to do, then the job is going to get done. So there's no pressure," O'Neal said. "I'm expecting to play corner here, that's my position, and I'm going to work just as hard as the next guy and get it done."

He just wants to contribute as soon as possible in whatever way possible.

"I just want to come in and just play," O'Neal said. "I want to perform my role and do what I have to do to help bring a national title back to Ohio State."

But Boone and O'Neal both really enjoyed playing in their last official high school football game.

"It was just a lot of fun," Boone said. "It was my last game in high school and I haven't hit in a while and coming back to it kind of felt good. But it was a lot of fun and I can't tell you how proud I am of Tyrell (Sutton)."

Sutton was the game MVP and ran to Boone's side on many occasions en route to his 203-yard and 3-touchdown performance.

"Tyrell Sutton, that's all I have to say," Boone said after the game. "That kid is amazing. I never thought that he could run like that but that kid's got some legs. I'm so proud of him right now. To see a kid like that run that much makes an offensive line so happy and proud, but I'm so happy for him. He's accomplished so much. He's going to Northwestern, he's such a good kid and he deserves it all."

O'Neal thought it was a good challenge for him coming off of track season.

"It was great coming off of track season and coming right back into football," he said. "If felt like I didn't miss a step. It felt real good."

And he really enjoyed himself out there as well.

"It was a lot of fun. I just went out and had a great time and did my assignment," O'Neal said. "They really didn't throw that much my way, and the rules were kind of funny with the man (coverage). They did a lot of switching off screens and stuff like that. So it was harder to defend. But I just did my job and had fun."

He was proud of his team for earning the victory in the impressive fashion that they did.

"We lost last year to the South, and we just felt like we needed to bring it back to the North," he said. "So we just did what we had to do."

And on Sunday both O'Neal and Boone, two of the top rated recruits in the recruiting class of 2005, would do what they need to do to finally become an official member of the Ohio State Buckeyes.

"This is just great. People would die for this (opportunity)," Boone said. "To tell you the truth I'm just so happy. I couldn't be any happier."

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