Ayles Impressed with Columbus

With two big unofficial visits out of the way, now it's time for Blake Ayles to get down to business. The nation's No.3 tight end prospect recently visited Wisconsin and Ohio State. How did the Buckeyes fare?

Having returned to Orange, Ca., after a Midwestern trip that saw him take in the first the campuses at Wisconsin and Ohio State, Blake Ayles can now reflect back on what he saw as he attempts to make a final decision.

After his visit to Columbus, the tight end prospect remained impressed with what the Buckeyes have to offer.

"I like everything about them," Ayles told BuckeyeSports.com. "The only thing is just if I can deal with the distance and being away from home and everything. Other than that, the campus and everything was just top-notch."

The distance could be a big factor for the Buckeyes or the Badgers to overcome – Ayles also lists Arizona State, USC and California in his top five – but a solid relationship with a school's coaching staff could help alleviate some of the problems in moving so far from home.

An hour-and-a-half meeting with OSU head coach Jim Tressel on the first day of his visit might have helped.

"He was a laid-back guy," he said. "I liked his work ethics a lot. He reminds me a lot of Coach Kunau, my coach right now. I had a good hour and a half talk with him.

"(We talked about) football, about the Block ‘O' of Life that they've got, and just about the players and everything. Then we watched a little bit of game film."

Watching the film, Ayles said Tressel pointed out how the fact that the Buckeyes had two future first-round draft picks in Ted Ginn Jr. and Anthony Gonzalez catching passes helped keep the team's tight ends from doing so. That will change this year, he said.

That fact was reinforced as he spent time touring the campus with OSU tight ends coach and recruiting coordinator John Peterson. On his first day, Peterson introduced Ayles to current OSU tight end Jake Ballard.

"He said he liked coach a lot and said they're working to get the tight ends the ball," Ayles said. "It just sounded really good, what was coming out of his mouth."

The Buckeyes have one verbal commitment from a tight end prospect in Dublin (Ohio) Coffman's Jake Stoneburner, but he is expected to play wide receiver in college. They are also actively recruiting Toledo Whitmer's Kevin Koger, who was expected to be deciding between OSU and Michigan in the near future.

Having other tight ends in the class does not hurt the Buckeyes' chances for Ayles, he said. The coaching staff told him they are looking to land "three or four" tight ends for this class, including Stoneburner.

For now, though, Ayles will be concentrating on getting ready for his upcoming senior season. He is planning to take unofficial visits to USC and Cal in the coming weeks and will make a final decision sometime before his season begins.

"I definitely want to try to pick a team before my season starts so I won't have to think about it anymore," he said.

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