Coach's Corner: They Can't Take Them All

In today's edition of Coach's Corner, we look at the ongoing trend where some key Ohio high school football prospects are just not able to attend Ohio State. The reasons vary from case to case, but they become notable, certainly, when a Tyrell Sutton, Javon Ringer or Bryan Cupito excels for another Big Ten institution.

It amazes me that every time Ohio State plays a team that has a large number of Ohio players, like Minnesota, a player from Ohio attending a school other than Ohio State has a great game, or an All-Ohio high school football player is not offered a scholarship, it's assumed by many that the Buckeyes must have screwed up.

I thought that it might be interesting to examine the realities involved in why not all of these players are recruited by the Buckeyes, why some players choose not to come to Ohio State and why Ohio State may not be the best fit for everyone.

By this point in the Big Ten season, the names of Ohio players making headlines at various Big Ten schools are many. They include -- but are certainly not limited to -- running back Tyrell Sutton at Northwestern, running back Javon Ringer at Michigan State, quarterback Bryan Cupito (and several others) at Minnesota and wide receiver Mario Manningham at Michigan.

One of the realities is that there are many Ohio players on various collegiate rosters around the country. Ohio high schools produce top caliber football player. Take it from someone who has recruited many a player from many a state, the high school coaching in Ohio is second to none.

Ohio high school coaches are great teachers of the game. They spend the time, research the sport, visit universities and attend coaching clinics to keep up on the latest trends, techniques and fundamentals associated with the great game of football. College programs know that an Ohio high school football player is normally a step ahead of his contemporaries from other states.

At the same time, Ohio high school players are among the best in the country, not everyone is good enough to play Division I-A football and especially at a school like Ohio State. The hard fact of life is that if one does not meet certain physical criteria, it is impossible for him to compete at an elite level. Speed, height, weight, agility and strength standards, at times, must be met in order to have even a chance to compete.

Important also is the need to have the non-physical traits such as confidence, desire, determination and mental toughness. When an athlete possesses both the physical and non-physical components, the chance to excel becomes possible. The result might be the next Cris Carter, Chris Spielman, Mike Vrabel or Ted Ginn Jr.

By evaluating the tangibles and intangibles and by evaluating players on film and in competition, college coaching staffs make educated guesses on whom to offer scholarships to each year. Some of these athletes end up being great; some end up being good; but most end up somewhere in between.

It's important to understand that there are those great high school players that are talented enough to play for any college or university that simply can't be offered scholarships because of specific standards set by the institution. Just because a player meets NCAA academic qualification, doesn't mean he is immediately accepted into a university like Ohio State.

There have been many outstanding NCAA qualifiers the last decade that wanted to at least visit Ohio State that weren't allowed. Offering a scholarship to someone who may have a difficulty in the classroom is indeed a gamble – one many colleges and universities do not want to take.

Another reality is that some athletes are best suited for specific programs and systems. A small tailback is sometimes suited for a spread offense where his quickness is more important than running over someone. A dropback style quarterback may not be suited for a sprint out or option attack. A linebacker that doesn't have great speed would find difficulty fitting into a defense that requires a lot of man-to-man coverage.

Many times the social environment is just as important or more important than the athletic environment. The norm is for a player to attend a school in a locale similar to the one he comes from. There are times, however, that athletes benefit from a change in their normal surroundings.

For example, I had much more of a chance of landing a player from south Florida when he or his parents wanted him to leave the state. Whether for academic or social reasons, leaving the area or the state can sometimes be looked upon as beneficial.

There are well over 100 football players in the Big Ten Conference from the state of Ohio. NCAA limitations of 85 scholarships per team make it apparent everyone can't attend Ohio State even if both parties wanted it that way. Colleges and universities recruit and offer only those who realistically have a chance to play and play early in their particular program.

Schools do not have the luxury of stockpiling players like they could in the old days when more scholarships were allowed to be offered. Collegiate coaches and recruits alike, really consider the depth chart at each position before offering or accepting a scholarship.

Even though not everyone who plays high school football in Ohio could or should play for Ohio State, most kids end up playing where they should play. They end up getting an education where they should get an education. Ohio football and all the positives that go with it remain strong; and that's a good thing!

EDITOR'S NOTE -- Bill Conley spent 17 years as an assistant coach at Ohio State. He is in his second season as a football analyst for He will conduct his next Chat session on the site at 3 p.m. Eastern time Mon., Oct. 14. Check out his weekly radio talk show on WTVN-AM (610) in Columbus. It airs each Sunday from 9 a.m. to noon.

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