Evege Represents OSU Commits At Senior Camp

For a while during the recruiting process, it seemed like Donnie Evege of Wayne High School might never verbally commit to Ohio State as many were expecting since the time he was offered a scholarship. But Evege took his time and looked at what other schools had to offer before he made it official and committed. Evege talked about his recruitment and OSU after he worked out at their senior camp.

Although he had already verbally committed to Ohio State a little more than a week before their second senior football camp on June 23, Donnie Evege of Wayne High School was out there working hard like the other 300-and-some campers were.

Evege was offered a scholarship from Ohio State back in December, right before Christmas, when the Buckeyes were still in Columbus preparing for the Fiesta Bowl against Notre Dame.

"Some of the top recruits got invited to watch the practice, feel the atmosphere and just observe everything," said Evege shortly after he finished working out at OSU's senior camp. "And I got offered that day, right here in the Woody Hayes Center."

Not too long after he was offered, Evege went to a junior day on campus and Jim Tressel actually counseled Evege on when the best time to commit might actually be.

"Me and my father asked Coach Tressel when is the best time to commit early, if you want to commit early," Evege said. "And he said, ideally if you want to do it, July is a really good time. He said that gives you a really good chance to go out and see some other schools and get a feel for the process. He said to go into it with your eyes wide open and see everything and then, once you've seen everything and you feel it's right, then pull the trigger."

So Evege followed his advice but after a while he realized that he couldn't wait around for July to pull the trigger.

"June came around and I couldn't wait anymore," he said, "so I decided that I had to do it in June."

Although Evege looked around with "eyes wide open," he knew where his heart belonged the entire time.

"Honestly I knew all along that Ohio State was always number one," he said. "Even when I went to other junior days and went on other unofficials, I always walked away saying ‘They really don't compare to Ohio State.' (Certain schools) had their own aspects that were really good but it wasn't up there with Ohio State for me personally. Ohio State was always number one for me."

But some people began to wonder, as the time passed by, if Evege was possibly being squeezed out of the equation with Ohio State. Many in the Internet world had Evege pegged as a signing day (2006) commitment.

"I never felt any pressure (to commit). Coach Tressel or, actually, none of the coaches ever said, ‘Donnie let's get it going,' It was never anything like that," Evege said. "I always felt comfortable and I appreciated them allowing me and my family feel comfortable because, like they say, you only get to do this once so go see what you want you to see. But you just have to do it when you think the time is right. So I didn't feel any pressure to commit."

And Evege then cleared the air with regard to reports of him wanting to be offered by Notre Dame.

"You can't get all caught up in the Internet stuff," he said. "Someone from down there said, ‘If he would have got an offer from Notre Dame he wouldn't have went (to OSU)' and that's not true at all. I went on a junior day there early on during the winter workouts and it was nice but I wasn't waiting for that offer. It was just a good school just like Purdue and Indiana and every other school that I visited. It was a good school but it doesn't compare to Ohio State in my eyes."

But all the speculation ended for good when Evege formally committed to Ohio State on June 13.

"My family and I went on an unofficial visit, my mom's only been here like one time just to see the Woody Hayes Center in my freshman year and she's never talked to the academic advisors or to the whole coaching staff," Evege said. "So it was real important for my mom and my dad and for all of us to come up here again because it was getting close to that time when we wanted to make a decision. We came up here, I think it was two weeks ago on a Tuesday, and Coach Gillum took us around and toured the campus and he did a great job. We toured everything, what they're doing new, what they're building and what's going to happen...everything."

And then Evege along with his mom, dad and sister went to see Tressel in his office.

"We were just sitting there talking about life and we started talking about the process and it was just that time," Evege said. "You know how people say that you just know it when the time is right and it was just that time. We had seen everything that we needed to see, I was confident, I knew that's where I wanted to be."

And so he committed right there on the spot.

"I was excited," Evege said. "And Coach Tressel was happy for me. It was a great moment for me and my family."

The excitement since that moment has carried on with him.

"I'm very excited and I'm very blessed," he said. "I prayed about this for a long time and my family has been very supportive and I truly am excited. I start summer school on Monday (June 26) and I'm going to take the second semester of government so I can get ahead so if I want to, I'll have the opportunity to graduate early. The good thing about that is that it's just another opportunity, it's an option, and if it's the best thing for me then I can enroll early. But it's an option."

Marcus Freeman enrolled early from Wayne but Evege was still at Xenia at that time.

Evege started out at Xenia High School where current OSU Buckeye Ben Person is from.

"I'm going to talk to (Freeman) about that some more and see what he thinks, but I start school on Monday and I'm looking forward to it," Evege said. "So I'm very excited and I'm kind of anxious in a way. I just know that I have to keep working hard now and pushing my guys at Wayne and they have to push me."

At 5-11 and 192 pounds Evege is initially being looked at as cornerback when he gets to Ohio State. He worked out with the defensive backs at OSU's camp.

"Here at OSU they're looking at me as a defensive back and I think we're leaning toward corner as of right now," he said. "But safety is always going to be an option because of my speed and I'm getting bigger and I'm getting stronger. And this year at Wayne, Joe Gilford and I will probably be sharing time in the running back role. But I'll be a defensive back at Ohio State."

More than anything, it's just a big relief for Evege to have this decision behind him. Now he can put all of his energy into his senior season.

"There's a lot off my chest, it's kind of hard to put in words," he said. "Now I really can just focus on my senior season. Honestly it didn't get too crazy at my house but, now, just knowing that I don't have to deal with any of that is a big relief. It was all a blessing but now I've made the commitment, my decision is made, I'm going to the best university in America and I don't have to worry about it any more.

"I can now focus on my senior season, the summer workout and the two-a-days. We play St. X the first game and now I can focus on all of that with my teammates with no distractions."

But it was neat just to go through the whole recruiting process.

"I think honestly I made the best decision with wanting to commit early and committing early," Evege said. "Like I said before, now I can just focus on my senior season. There's really no distractions, nothing. I know where I'm going and I can just focus on Wayne High School now."

And he was happy with his performance at the camp.

"It was a great experience today. There are some things I still need to work on, always," Evege said. "But there was some good competition here. We didn't get to test in everything because of the weather but we did get to do the vertical and I jumped my best vertical ever, I jumped a 41 (inches), so that was pleasing. I've been working on that, going to the rubber band camps and doing the resistance training so that really paid off.

"But overall today I would say the testing that we did went really good, in the drills I thought I planted and got off the ball really well and made good breaks, and on the one-on-ones I think I had two interceptions and a couple of knockdowns. So I feel pretty good from everything I was able to do today."

And now he's just thankful for the opportunity that's ahead of him.

"God has put me in a situation where He's blessed me and my family and the first word that comes to mind is opportunity," Evege said. "There are countless opportunities that you have here. Even outside of football. Football is a lot and that's what I'm here for but I'm going to get a great education. I'm leaning toward the business field right now but whatever I study is going to be the top of the line. And I'm going to meet people that I'm going to stay in touch with for the rest of my life. Who knows what's going to happen."

And then there's that part about playing football in Ohio Stadium.

"Again it's a great opportunity," Evege said. "When I get on that field, whether it be early or whenever, I just see myself making plays in the Horseshoe and helping the Buckeyes win games."

Evege, who's been clocked at 4.31 in the 40-yard dash before, brings a lot of speed and quickness to the cause.

"That's what a DB needs, speed and quickness," he said. "I have that make-up speed and off the ball I have that quickness to check any receiver."

And, of course, it helps being a member of the National Honor Society. Evege has a 3.5 GPA and has scored a 21 on the ACT.

"I'm looking forward to my senior year (on the field) and I want to finish up strong in the classroom," he said. "I'm going to do summer school now when I go back and do what I've got to do education-wise, and go from there, whether I graduate early or stay. I'm really excited."

Buckeye Sports Top Stories