Almost A Wolverine?

How close was running back Antonio Pittman to becoming a Michigan Wolverine? The answer is, closer than you might think. Pittman discussed today his liking of the Wolverines -- before he chose the Buckeyes, that is.

Asked his feelings for Michigan this afternoon, Antonio Pittman gave the typical stock answer you might expect from a Jim Tressel coached player, "I respect every opponent we play. I'm not out there to try and kill anybody or rip somebody's head off. I'm not that kind of player. I have respect for them. It is a game. We will go out there for sixty minutes and get it on, but after the game we will be cool."

What was unexpected and left media bystanders in more than a little shock was what came next.

Pittman wanted to be a Wolverine.

"Michigan was my first choice."

Say what? Pittman, just one of five backs in Ohio State history to have back to back 1,000 yard seasons, wanted to go to Michigan?

"I never disliked Ohio State; I just liked Michigan. I liked both teams."

If this was really the case then how in the world did he end up at Ohio State?

"I got this (the Buckeye) offer before I got that (Michigan) offer so this is where I am at."

This begged an explanation, and with a little prodding he explained.

"I committed as a junior. I wanted to get it out of the way. I received this offer as soon as my season was done, and I committed."

That sounds like a stretch, but that's his story and he is sticking to it, saying, "Me and my high school coach talked about it – whichever offer came first – the recruiting process would be done. A week and a half after my junior season was over, this offer came, and my recruiting process was done."

While he didn't commit on the spot, Pittman went home, talked it over with his parents, and committed the very next morning. He was satisfied with his decision and never looked back.

"You never know," Pittman said when asked if he would have attended Michigan had they offered earlier.

How close was this battle?

"I would say about a week after I committed they came through with an offer. I think (it came through) Bo Schembechler, who is from Barberton and went to high school with my dad. ‘I knew your father real well,' Bo said. ‘I'm a real good guy – you can ask him about me.' He was in contact, but it was over, and I stuck with it."

Ohio State coaches probably didn't know when Michigan was planning to offer or visa versa, but each knew Pittman was worthy.

"They offered me because of my potential talent. They liked what they saw on film."

Michigan didn't give up easily. They knew he had committed to Ohio State, but they couldn't allow him to go without a fight.

"Two programs like that – they keep fighting for players. They knew I had committed and still put the offer out there. I never went down there on a visit. They tried, but after a while…all the other schools backed off."

So, Saturday Pittman will be facing his favorite team from childhood while playing for the team to whom he now owes allegiance.

Does this present a conflict of interest?

"I'm happy with my decision, and I wouldn't change it."

After watching Pittman waltz into the end zone to win last year's game in Ann Arbor with under a minute remaining, it's a safe bet Ohio State fans and coaches are happy with his decision too.

How happy they will be Saturday evening is the only pressing question now.


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