Chichester Makes It Official

Lakota West two-sport standout Josh Chichester gave his verbal commitment to Ohio State at a Friday press conference. Chichester will be on scholarship for football, but will also play basketball. He picked the Buckeyes over Illinois.

A happy and relieved Josh Chichester gave his verbal commitment to Ohio State on Friday at a press conference at Lakota West High School.

He will play both football and basketball for the Buckeyes and will be on scholarship for football.

Chichester (6-8, 215, 4.7) is ranked as Ohio's No. 13 football prospect in Ohio High. He is also a national top-100 prospect, ranking as the country's No. 60 overall prospect and as the nation's ninth-best receiver by Scout.com. He is also a highly regarded basketball prospect who is ranked at No. 8 in the Class of 2006 in the state by Ohio High.

Chichester addressed the audience at Friday's presser.

"I want to thank my parents, my grandparents, my sisters, my coaches, teachers and supporters," he said. "It was a very difficult decision for me. After weighing all my options, I felt I couldn't make a better decision than choosing the school that I'm with. All the schools that I've talked to have been tremendously nice to me. I want to thank all the college coaches for helping me throughout this recruiting process. All the schools that considered me agreed to give me the opportunity to play both sports: basketball and football.

"After much thought and prayer and decision with my family and coaches, I've decided to sign a football scholarship, which will give me the opportunity to play basketball as well. I have contacted and committed to The Ohio State University. I talked to (OSU head coach) Jim Tressel this morning and we made this commitment official."

Chichester listed a final five schools of Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Louisville and Notre Dame.

"If it wasn't the Buckeyes, my second choice probably would have been Illinois," he said. "I would say it was a pretty close decision. I always had Ohio State in the back of my head, but the scholarship just wasn't there. But Illinois was, so I put them in front for a little bit."

Ohio State offered a scholarship to Chichester on Monday. He was more than happy to accept.

"It's overwhelming," he said. "I'm happy, because I worked so hard. Hopefully I can help out the Buckeyes."

Chichester was asked what separated OSU from Illinois and the rest of the pack.

"Well, I went to their football camp recently, and the love they were showing me when I was up there, that just topped it all off," he said.

Chichester did not grow up as an Ohio State fan.

"I didn't really have a favorite football team, or college team at all," he said. "It's just that Ohio State is a good team and I've seen all the championships that they've won and I just want to be a part of that."

Chichester's parents seemed pleased with the choice.

"It's great to me," Stephanie Chichester said. "I'm just glad he will be closer."

"It's great to me as well," Joseph Lindsey said. "I'm an Ohio State Buckeye fan."

Lakota West head football coach Larry Cox has witnessed a mini-pipeline develop from his school to OSU over recent years. First, defensive tackle Brandon Maupin committed to the Buckeyes in 2003. Then, offensive tackle Steve Rehring did the same in 2004 (Rehring was present for Chichester's press conference).

"Well, let's just give Ohio State credit for seeing talent and knowing which guys to pick," Cox said. "At the same time, let's give our kids a little credit, too. They're pretty hard-working kids. They know what's expected of them to get there. It helps when you've had players that have gone there, like a Steve Rehring, because they can speak to them and let them know about Ohio State.

"And if you go to an Ohio high school, obviously, it would have to be a goal to play at The Ohio State University. Most kids would like that. We're fortunate to have good athletes that know what it takes to make it at the Division I level. And we have great assistant coaches here that help get them ready."

Cox describes Chichester as a somewhat shy young man who is all about winning.

"Josh is probably one of the most humble human beings," Cox said. "He is not comfortable talking about himself. He would much rather talk about the team, games, things like that.

"When he was up at Ohio State's camp, he cracked a joke with coach (Darrell) Hazell, the wide receivers coach, and it just about knocked me over, because Josh just doesn't do that much. The recruiting process has taught him a lot about relationships, so to speak. I knew right away – I didn't say anything, or make a big deal about it – but I knew right then that he must feel at ease and real comfortable about Ohio State, because there aren't a lot of coaches that he jokes with."

Cox thinks Chichester made the right choice.

"I feel very confident about his decision," he said. "And I know he's relived. When he called Coach Tressel this morning, he hung up the phone and went, ‘Ahhh.' So, I felt pretty good about it. And I also spoke with the (OSU) basketball coaches yesterday and they are fully aware of his commitment and giving him the opportunity to play in their basketball program. In fact, even Coach Tressel told him to make sure he mentioned it at the press conference today that he will be playing basketball as well."

Chichester says the recruiting process wore on him.

"It's been crazy," he said. "Everywhere I turn, someone is there. Every time I'm home, someone is calling. Every time I'm out, reporters are there. So, I'm just happy it's over now."

So, what was more of a hassle: Dealing with all the coaches that called? Or dealing with the nosey reporters?

"I think the reporters," Chichester said with a laugh. "No offense, but they all ask the same questions and I'm like, ‘Why don't you ask your friend or someone?' But it was OK though."

We then caught up with Chichester for a one-on-one interview. He says Hazell was a big factor in his decision.

"Coach Hazell is a humble guy and is down-to-earth," Chichester said. "He seems like a great guy to play for and seems like he gets along with all his players. He knows what the kids like and he can connect with them.

"And I'm also looking forward to playing for Coach Tressel. That's going to be a big thrill. You just have to respect him so much that it's just automatic. Plus, he respects you as well. I just like him."

About a month ago, Chichester wasn't sure what to think. He wanted an offer from OSU and thought he would get one, but he understood that nothing was a sure thing.

"I figured they would offer, I just didn't know when," he said. "I really wasn't sure."

Ohio State's coaches simply wanted to see him up close and personal at last Saturday's senior advanced camp.

"Yes, I think they just wanted to see me at camp," Chichester said. "It went great at camp and I thought they would offer after that. I was hoping, but I didn't want to jump the gun a little bit."

And how about the week OSU basketball coach Thad Matta is having? First, he gets commitments from Greg Oden – the nation's No. 1 overall prospect – and Mike Conley Jr. Then, he gets a nice bonus with Chichester, who won't count against OSU's scholarship allotment for basketball.

"That's going to be great," Chichester said of playing with Oden and Conley. "That will be really cool. I played against them summer before ninth grade in AAU and that wasn't that bad. Playing with them is going to be great because they are great athletes.

"It wouldn't have affected my decision, but I was happy to see them commit to the Buckeyes earlier this week."

We've seen Chichester listed anywhere from 6-6, to 6-8. So, how tall is he exactly?

"I think I'm 6-8," he said. (6-7 is probably more like it.)

Chichester weighs 215 pounds, but will play at 225 or above in college.

"Yeah, at least," he said. "I'll probably be 225 before the end of this season."

Chichester has been compared to the likes of Harold Carmichael (a 6-8 NFL Pro Bowl receiver from the 1970's and early 80's), but he prefers to be compared to a present-day NFL star.

"I would say TO (Terrell Owens), because he gets after it on the field and so do I," he said.

(Hey, and Buckeye fans don't need to worry about a prolonged holdout from Chichester.)

Chichester says he is happy to have the decision out of the way. Now he can focus on the present and not worry about the future.

"It is a big relief," he said. "Now I can just enjoy life and this summer. Now I can go to Nike (basketball) camp and just play my game and not worry about any people coming up and asking me, ‘So, who are you going to choose? What are you going to do?' They should already know."

As a junior in 2004, Chichester had 32 receptions for 734 yards and 11 touchdowns. As a sophomore, he had 26 catches for 333 yards and three touchdowns.

He is already Lakota West's career leader in receptions, yardage and touchdowns.

Last season, he was first-team All-Greater Miami Conference, first-team All-Southwest Ohio, first-team All-Cincinnati, and first-team All-Butler County.

In basketball, Chichester averaged 13.1 points and 8.2 rebounds per game in 2004-05. He also blocked 50 shots. He was named first-team All-Greater Miami Conference and honorable mention All-Ohio.

He can play either forward position.


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