Small Ready For Big 33 And Ohio State

Although he hasn't been near 100 percent for much of the week of practice leading up to the Big 33 Football Classic, Ray Small of Glenville is confident enough to know that he can still make big plays if called upon during the game. But win or lose, Small along with Ohio teammates Thaddeus Gibson and Bryant Browning are all set to report to Ohio State a day later to begin their college careers.

In a way, Ray Small feels like he's playing with house money on Saturday when the Ohio High School All-Stars go against the best prep players that Pennsylvania has to offer in the 49th edition of the Big 33 Football Classic in Hershey.

"At the beginning of the week I really thought that I wasn't going to play because I could barely run on it," said Small regarding his nagging groin injury that first began to bother him during the latter part of the track season. "But I've been icing it, taking Ibuprofen and wrapping it up before every practice so I should be real good to play on Saturday."

Small was injury-free and running at his absolute best during the track season in early May when he finished second to Brandon Saine in the 100-meters at a meet in Dayton. But he tweaked his groin shortly after that meet and he's had a difficult time dealing with the injury for most of the time since. It even forced him to miss competing on the second day of the state track meet for the second year in-a-row.

"I've only been going about 60 percent this week but probably Thursday and Friday I went about 95 percent," Small said, "so I'm pretty good."

But Small wasn't involved in any contact at all during practice this week.

"That's not really an issue," he said. "I don't plan on getting hit."

He obviously has a quiet confidence to him. Small and his teammate Robert Rose seem to share that common characteristic with some of the others who hail from Glenville.

"It comes from our environment. We were grilled to be confident," Small said. "I watched Ted (Ginn), Donte (Whitner) and all of those guys play. We're all confident. It's just where we come from."

And in that same confident manner, Small all but expects to make some big plays in the Big 33 game.

"If (big plays) come, they come," he said. "But if not, I'm more of a team player than anything. Usually they do come so I don't really expect it. I just go out and do it."

Small does understand that his Ohio teammates will actually be looking to him and a couple other of the skill players on the roster to make some game-changing plays during the contest.

"I need to play a big role because (Pennsylvania is) calling us the ‘C' team and since I'm one of the guys going to a bigger college I have to step up," Small said. "I think it's really a great chance for me because I'm going to a bigger school and I have a bigger name. So I'll have a pretty big role."

But if the big plays don't come his way during the contest, Small knows that life will still go on.

"This game is nothing but fun for me," Small said. "I have a career and a future ahead of me so I just go out to play football, that's what I do."

According to Small, that next career starts on Monday when he attends his first class at The Ohio State University. Despite reports to the contrary, Small says that he's all set to become a student-athlete at OSU on June 19.

"(The staff) told me that I enroll on Monday and they wanted me to take (the ACT test) one more time," said Small who took the ACT again on June 10. "So I took the test but I'm already good."

By the time he gets his official test results back from the ACT test, Small, who is already an NCAA qualifier, will already be taking classes at Ohio State.

"I'll already be enrolled in school by then," said Small who has every intention of going straight to Ohio State on Sunday, being in class on Monday and practicing with the team on Wednesday. "They just asked me to take it and I did it."

And since Small will officially be at Ohio State just two days after he plays in the Big 33 contest, he'll have access to treatment from the OSU medical staff for his injury going forward.

"It's really not that bad. It's something that I can play through," Small said. "It's kind of tight and it resists me when I'm running sometimes. I can feel it and it kind of messes with me. In your mind it hurts so you're scared to going 100 percent. But with me being under the care of Ohio State, I feel confident it will get better a lot faster."

He just wants to get back to feeling as good as he did right after he raced against Saine.

"I was at my peak right there. I don't know what it is," Small said. "I continue to work hard but every year I come up with an injury or something. And it's just in track, I've never had an injury in football."

In addition to getting his injured groin healthy in a hurry, Small wants to learn how to become a successful student athlete at Ohio State as soon as possible.

"I plan on going in and doing what I got to do, working out hard and getting good grades in the classroom," he said. "And then I want to try to get on the field as early as possible as a freshman."

Small, who will wear the number 6 at Ohio State, certainly doesn't mind the favorable comparisons to the guy who currently wears the number 7 on OSU's roster.

"I like people calling me (Little Ted) because I look up to him and he's like a big brother to me," Small said. "Sure I'll be glad to be called Little Ted. It's always been my goal to do what he did.

"When I was a sophomore and he was a senior I kind of copied everything he did, like the way he walked or the way he talked. Being a younger guy I looked at everything he did and I kind of took it in and followed it so I could do what he did."

Soon-to-be Buckeyes Thaddeus Gibson and Ray Small

You certainly can't fault Small for trying to be like Ted Ginn. But he's just grateful for having the opportunity to have a chance to do what Ginn has already done at Ohio State.

"I feel great right now," said Small who for the longest time, it seems, has been considered to be a candidate to be an academic casualty. "The test was real tough for me and I'm not a great test-taker. So I'm real fortunate and I appreciate (Ohio State) doing what they did to get me in."

And soon he hopes to show his appreciation when he's out on the field in his first opportunity.

"I want to be out there on the field every single play," said Small who is slated to play on offense in the slot position in his first year at Ohio State "If they need me on defense then I'll play defense. I just love the game of football."

And he loves being a Buckeye.

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