Tressel Discusses His 2006 Recruiting Class

We have coverage of OSU head football coach Jim Tressel's national signing day press conference. Tressel discusses his 20-man 2006 recruiting class and provides comments on a number of the key prospects. (NOTE: This story was updated with more comments from Tressel at 11 p.m.)

Ohio State coach Jim Tressel and his staff welcomed 20 prospects for their 2006 football class on national signing day Wednesday.

The class – generally ranked anywhere from eighth to 12th nationally -- included 10 players from Ohio and 10 from out of state. It also has 12 players on offense and eight on defense.

"I think the strength of this class is it's versatility," Tressel said. "It has a little bit of everything: character, solid academic credentials and athletic ability. We went looking for help across the board at every position and feel as though we accomplished that goal.

"This group, as a whole, is very versatile. If you spread it along a broad spectrum, we got a little bit of everything.

"We think we have a tremendous product to sell. Ohio State is an extraordinary place. The tradition, in our minds, is unmatched."

Ohio State signed seven national top-100 players, including the nation's top overall prospect in Akron Garfield tailback Chris Wells. Wells, cornerback Kurt Coleman and linebackers Larry Grant and Ross Homan will all participate in spring football.

But, as always, Tressel stopped short of predicting that any of the incoming players will make a major impact in 2006.

"The one question you always get is who will make an immediate impact?" Tressel said. "What I like about this group is that they all feel they can come in and make an impact. They know they've got to get caught up in the system and move ahead with their strength and speed and knowledge.

"But this class is spread so evenly in all areas that they all feel they will have that opportunity to come in and compete."

For the first time ever, OSU had a multimedia presentation – credited to assistant recruiting coordinator Greg Gillum – that included statistics and photos of the incoming recruits. Tressel offered comments on all of the signees.

The average GPA of class members is 3.023 and 10 of the players have a GPA of 3.0 or better. Nine of them were team captains.

Here were comments on some of the notable prospects signed on Wednesday:

* On Jake Ballard -- "It is no coincidence that the recruiting coordinator coaches tight ends and he has two big tight ends with Jake Ballard and Andy Miller. John Peterson, I know, is excited about Jake Ballard. He is an explosive athlete with extraordinary movement. He is what a Big Ten tight end is supposed to look like."

* On Kurt Coleman -- "He is a young man who will enroll this spring. He is a corner we had in our youth camp. He is an outstanding athlete with excellent speed. He is a very good baseball player, but he is foregoing his senior year of baseball to enroll early. We were excited he was an early commit."

* On Thaddeus Gibson -- "He is an outstanding athlete and a big play guy. He is a disruptive defensive guy and also an outstanding basketball player. Coach Fickell got to know him and got to study him. He got to know what type of competitor he is and how passionate he is about being an Ohio State Buckeye. That is important to us."

* On Antonio Henton -- "Antonio Henton attended our youth camp. He raised some eyebrows there as a top quarterback candidate. Coach Haynes recruited him and he just had a warm feeling about Ohio State. His first three games, his team was 0-3. And they had been to the final four in his junior year. Then, the next 12 games, they rolled to the state title. He was selected as the Georgia state player of the year. He can do some things with his feet."

* On Ross Homan -- "Ross is already enrolled. I was in the weight room this morning at 6 a.m. and there was Ross. On one side, he had A.J. Hawk and on the other side was James Laurinaitis. He's hanging around the right people. He is a competitive kid and a highly motivated kid. He wants the opportunity to compete. Ross was here for winter quarter before we were here. We were still at the bowl game and he was here ready to go."

* On Robert Rose -- "As a lot of people have noted, he will be one of the outstanding defensive players coming out of high school in the nation this year. He comes from a great program with a great tradition. He is an imposing player physically already and I'm sure once Coach Johnson and Coach Ammerson get their hands on him and Coach Reynolds works with him on his speed, he is going to be something special. We are excited to have Robert Rose coming off the edge here at Ohio State."

* On Ray Small -- "When you see him, he is really explosive. He played so well at the receiver position in our camp that Coach Hazell would not let him go over with the corner group and work on his cover skills. He did not want to give any indication he could be a corner. He is an outstanding wide receiver, kick returner and cover man. His coach, Ted Ginn Sr., said he may be the most explosive athlete he has ever had, and that includes his son. I don't know, we'll see."

* On Connor Smith -- "His father, Joe, played one year for Coach Hayes and the rest of his career here for Coach Bruce. He went on to veterinary school and his son, Connor, was proud of where his father played. We are excited that Connor Smith is a Buckeye. He is a physical kid. At Cincinnati Colerain, they fly off the ball and play hard until the whistle is blown."

* On Chris Wells -- "Chris Wells was touted as being one of the most outstanding tailbacks in the country this recruiting season. We have watched him in our youth camp for years. Coach Fickell tried to get him in his linebacker group, but we would have nothing to do with that. When he gets his hands on the ball, he is special. Chris Wells is a guy who will add to the tempo of our offensive team. We have not had a big back like Chris the last couple of years and we will have a chance in the spring to see if we can make that one of our strengths."

More Comments

* On Bryant Browning -- "We took two offensive linemen in this class. We lost two scholarship offensive linemen in our senior class with Nick Mangold and Rob Sims. Bryant is ranked No. 1 in his class academically. Jim Bollman believes he is a powerful kid with excellent movement for a kid his size. He has played a multiple number of positions. It's good to have a guy that offers that kind of versatility."

* On Chimdi Chekwa -- "Tim Beckman and Paul Haynes watched him for some time. He is an outstanding cover guy. His parents are both educators. Chimdi, we think, is a guy who can come in because of his talents and compete."

* On Walter Dublin -- "He is a young man out of Sarasota, Fla., who can play the defensive end position. He may be in the mold of what Mike Kudla and Will Smith did. He can be an outstanding rusher. He can drop into coverage. He's a guy on the defensive side that can do multiple things. Our guys on the defensive side are excited about Scooter Dublin being here."

* On Dexter Larimore -- "Dexter is an outstanding wrestler, one of the top-rated heavyweights in the nation with a record of 27-0 or 28-0. He is an outstanding student. He's an outstanding sculptor. He is making a sculpture of an eight-foot pirate that will be out in front of his school. He is one special guy."

* On Grant Schwartz -- "His dad played here. We had him in our camp and he made an impact on our coaching staff with his movement and athletic ability. He is a competitive guy. We're excited to have a second generation Schwartz coming in here."

* Recruiting coordinator John Peterson on the staff's goals -- "Our goal is to get the best players we can get anywhere we can get them."

* Peterson was asked if he could comment on what happened with the Josh Chichester situation -- "Not if he's not part of this class."

* Tressel on whether he pays attention to recruiting rankings -- "I have been here five years. I can tell you our record each of those years, but I can't tell you where we were ranked in recruiting."

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