Cleveland Buckeyes Rock Columbus

There is a long history of bringing Cleveland's best high school football products to Columbus to play for the Ohio State Buckeyes. However, since head coach Jim Tressel took over the OSU program, perhaps no place in the country has had as much positive impact on the Buckeyes' football fortunes as the 216 has.

Cleveland's Glenville High School alone has placed seven players on OSU's current roster, including Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Troy Smith and star receiver Ted Ginn, Jr. Despite the fact that their hometown is often the subject of ridicule, the players who hail from the Cleveland area are proud of their lake side city.

Never wanting to exclude any of his teammates, OSU captain Troy Smith said he tries not to think about the others on the team who grew up in the Cleveland area as an exclusive brotherhood. "I try not to do that, to say that there is something special here and not there because I think you take away from other players on the team who you have a bond with." Smith added, "I think as a quarterback and as a leader, you have to be able to talk and be friends with everybody. You are not going to be able to do that sometimes, but the majority of the time when you can, you should take advantage of it."

Smith is apparently very serious about not wanting to exclude anyone because he said he and the rest of the Cleveland crew have incorporated a pair of players from south of the Cleveland area. "You know, for those out there who don't know, we have adopted a couple of guys from Akron, too. Antonio Pittman and Beanie (Chris) Wells are now from Cleveland also. So I would like to get that out there."

Despite joking about the issue, Smith could not help but show the pride he has in Cleveland while addressing the media during Wednesday's press conference at the Camelback Inn just out side of Phoenix. "I love my city, I love where I am from," said the Buckeyes' field boss. "They're not mean streets either. They are the main streets. I just want to make it better for the kids coming up now because a better city, a better situation, better chances and opportunities for kids growing up. But then at the same time, if I go back into the community and I take some of the things away that made me who I am, how will they find their identity? It's a catch-22."

Smith's former high school teammate Ted Ginn, Jr., said he believes there is a connection between the players on the team who were reared in Cleveland. "On the way over here we were talking about high school things and the times where, you know, me and Gonzo and our teams met up at certain track meets and we played against each other." Not me and Gonzo, but our schools. It is always going to be competitive. We brought that competitiveness together as one and now we are playing together for the same cause. We are in the same boat for the same thing," Ginn explained. "You know, it is just great to have a guy like Gonzo (on the team) and to have Troy coming from the same high school as me and just people from the city."

Senior receiver Anthony Gonzalez concurred with his Cleveland brothers. "It is something that I personally take a lot of pride in, being from Cleveland. I know Ted feels the same way as we all do. Just being from the same city, having common experiences growing up, being able to relate on a lot of different levels and always competing in track meets. I never played Glenville in football, but Ted played Ignatius. Just having those common issues is always fun and exciting for us and it is just nice to be able to bring it together as one," Gonzalez said.

Dave Rice will be covering the Ohio State Buckeyes for as a fully credentialed reporter throughout National Championship Week.

Rice has been working in the local and national media field for more than a decade. He has a degree in broadcast journalism from Northern Arizona University and has been serving as a writer, editor and producer of sports and international news for a national wire service for nearly ten years.

Originally from the Cincinnati area, Dave is a lifelong Cincinnati Reds and Ohio State University fan. He enjoys spending time with his wife, young daughter and by watching high school and college sports.

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