Bill Conley, the OSU tight ends coach
and recruiting coordinator extraordinaire was seduced by Mr. Bucknuts into
spending twenty minutes talking about the upcoming camps, recruiting and a few
of Mr. Bucknuts' strange fantasies. I will report here on just the first two
There is probably no "tougher"
interview than Coach Conley because of the vast restrictions on what – by NCAA
strictures – he is allowed to discuss or the issues on which he can opine.
Often, there is a ten second delay as he ponders those implications. Like
grilling an attorney on the stand while the cameras are rolling. After Coach
Conley determined that I had no designs on becoming the Howard Stern of Ohio
State football, we covered a few basics:
He has 24 teams signed up next week for the 7-on-7 camp.
The first all-comers camp will begin on June 18 and that session will
have 1300 campers (although a few might re-appear at the "senior camp" on
The second all-comers camp
will be on June 22 and he has 1200 kids registered.
Finally, there will be a kicking camp on the 28th, for which
135 high school kids have already registered. The kicking camp includes
place-kickers, punters and long snappers.
At the same time that the kicking camp
is underway, there is an elite seniors camp that the coach prefers to call a
"senior advance" camp. Last year, the Buckeyes offered and received
commitments from 4-5 kids at or after this camp. In fact, three of the offensive
linemen (Mangold, Sims and Downing) were offered together and all accepted.
Conley mentioned that those three were always high on the radar screen and that
camp just confirmed the decisions for the staff.
He dis-abused me of the notion that the
"senior advance" camp was an invitation-only affair. To the contrary, OSU is
not allowed to invite kids to the camp; they simply send out the information.
So, technically, the camp is open to any senior. This year, Conley is expecting
50 kids at the senior camp of which 15-20 should be coming from out-of-state.
The only rise I could get out of him was the mention of Wes Jefferson, a super
linebacker from Maryland who said he will be in attendance.
Coach Conley remarked that overall
attendance was up more than 20% from last year and that was a direct correlation
to the unusually good relationships Coach Tressel enjoys with Ohio high school
coaches. You have to read between the lines at this point because he didn't
want to go into any other coach comparison…
Conley implied that the camps were
significant this year with the reduced scholarships the school could offer and
that there could be "some action" following the senior camp.
On the way out the door (Conley to a
full coaches meeting, me back to the highway…), we touched on the tight end
situation. He lit up when I mentioned seeing D'Andrea playing TE in high
school and he said, "He can play anywhere on the field!". He also was
positive on Stan White as a TE and conceded that OSU needed to see how these
guys all shook out in August before they would make a recruiting decision as to
how many tight ends they would bring in. He agreed with me (doesn't everyone?)
that Ohio was unusually blessed with having two great tight ends in the next
class: Irizarry and Frost.
And before I generated any other frost
with my questions, I receded into the hallways of the WHAC. Coach Conley agreed
to do a longer feature with Dave Biddle at the camps.