The commitment of Klein, Texas offensive line superstar J.B. Shugarts seemed almost too good to be true for Ohio State recruiting fans. Landing Mike Adams and Mike Brewster brought extreme joy to Buckeye fans, but those commitments weren't unexpected. The commitment of Shugarts, 6' 7" and 300 pounds, sent shockwaves throughout the recruiting world.
"My good friend John Youboty had an older brother,Ashton, that played at Ohio State, and I always admired their program," Shugarts explained his initial attraction to Ohio State. "They talked about how awesome it was in Columbus and that kind of peaked my interest. I was an eighth grader at the time."
One would think that a great player like Shugarts, a life-long Texas resident, would be a lock to play college football at Texas. That is clearly not the case and Shugarts explained why he chose to leave his home state to attend college.
"I was a UT fan early on in the process, but after attending the Texas-Ohio State game in Austin last year everything changed," Shugarts admitted. "As I was leaving the stadium I threw the horns down and became a strong Buckeye lean. At that point I thought I probably would end up a Buckeye. Of course, I was getting some encouragement from Michael Brewster to go to Ohio State."
In what has become a common theme in the building of the 2008 Ohio State recruiting class, Mike Brewster was once again leading the charge to recruit great players to Columbus.
"Michael is a machine at recruiting," Shugarts said with a laugh. "He's on me to join him in trying to get guys to come with us to Ohio State. I just got text messaging on my phone and I'm just starting to get into it. I've been texting Terrelle Pryor a lot lately. I also tried real hard to get the Ohio State coaches to offer Sam McGuffie, but they didn't think they would take him. They thought his size wasn't ideal for what they wanted in a running back, and they said DeVoe Torrence would be the only running back they would take this year. I know the Ohio State coaches know what they're doing, but Sam's a really good player. I also talked with Kyle Long a lot, but I believe baseball will be his future. If he would play football it would be with all of us at Ohio State."
Shugarts' friendship with Brewster played a huge part in his decision to commit to Ohio State. He spoke of his relationship with the Florida star lineman.
"It's funny that our friendship actually began at the Michigan football camp," Shugarts noted. "We hung out a lot at Michigan, but all Brewster talked about was Ohio State. I had talked with the Ohio State coaches and when I visited there the next week I just fell in love with the campus and the entire staff. They hadn't completed the facilities yet, but they showed us the floor plans and I knew it would be awesome. I remember telling Brewster that he was right about Ohio State. Meeting Jim Tressel and Jim Bollman had a great effect on me too. I think Michael and I felt exactly the same way about wanting Coach Bollman to be our O-line coach. We're pretty similar guys and that's why we're such good friends."
Shugarts also bonded with the Dublin Coffman duo of Mike Adams and Jake Stoneburner. They were together at the Junior Combine in San Antonio and they all remain close today.
"Those two are both great guys and great players," Shugarts said. "Last summer I stayed at Big Mike's house for five days and stayed at Jake's house for a couple days.Big Mike is a great friend to me. Knowing that I have great friends at Ohio State makes it easier to leave Texas and come to Ohio. I love those guys a lot and they're great players as well as great people. I enjoy being around them so much. I can't wait until we're all together. We're all like brothers, really, not just friends. People will be shocked at how good Jake is going to be. I think Jake's skills are so good. He'll be the biggest mismatch in college football. He might end up being the best football player in this class. He will be an NFL player some day. I hope all of us can live together in one of those big apartments. It will be like Animal House."
Shugarts is also fond of some of the other 2008 Buckeye commits. Although he hasn't spent that much time with them, he can feel a bond developing between every member of this amazing class.
"When we were together at the camp with all the commits, it was really great," he said. "I hung out with Devier Posey a lot and we really became good friends. I wanted to spend more time with Nathan Williams but he was actually doing the camp, so we couldn't hang out as much as I would have liked. Williams is going to be a beast at Ohio State. I really thought the kicker, Ben Buchanan, was a cool guy. Everybody says he's the best kicker in the country. It seems like we were all made for each other. Everybody gets along and there aren't any egos at all. I can't wait to see all the guys again."
Shugarts' next trip to Ohio State will be for the Wisconsin game. The majority of this class will be gathering for that game, it appears at this time. Shugarts is anxiously awaiting that visit.
"I think most of the guys will be coming to the Wisconsin game," Shugarts stated with emphasis. "That's the plan right now. I love the family atmosphere at Ohio State. When you combine that with the great coaching there, it makes Ohio State tough to beat in recruiting. I can see why this class is developing so well."
He is also very much aware of the mystique of the "Brew Crew." Shugarts admitted to spending a little time on the internet, and is amused by the nickname.
"Oh yah, I know all about the "Brew Crew" and all that stuff," he said with a laugh. "I'm pretty bad with the internet, but I try to read the stuff. It's all because of Brewster and he IS crazy, believe me. It's hard to talk to him in person, because he's always on his phone. I mean he's never not text messaging someone or talking to someone. It's pretty funny to watch him. Every single time I've ever hung out with him he's always been on the phone. I think he takes it into the shower. Now the college coaches can't text message people, so Brewster does all the text messaging. He probably does more than any college coach could anyway."
Shugarts was effusive in his praise of Buckeye offensive line coach Jim Bollman, both as a technician and as a person. As with Brewster and Adams, it appears Jim Bollman was the main reason that J.B. Shugarts decided to cast his lot with the Ohio State Buckeyes.
"I'm so excited to play for Coach Bollman," Shugarts stated. "His credentials speak for themselves. He coached for years in the NFL, so he teaches what his people need to do to get to the NFL. His guys don't miss a beat when they go to the pros either. They're ready to contribute right away and they end up having great careers. He's also a great guy and I speak with him pretty often throughout the week, almost every day. I know Brewster calls him a lot and they're really close."
Shugarts said there is no jealousy among the three offensive line commits. Each is willing to play whatever position Ohio State wants them to play. He said their close friendship comes first, over playing time and where they play on the line.
"I know Brewster wants to play center, and as for Big Mike and I, we'll play anywhere we're asked to," he said. "I just want to get on the field as soon as possible and I don't care where I play. I'll be graduating early in mid-January. I'll be enrolling in March and I'll go through spring practice with Adams, Brewster and Stoneburner. The last I spoke with Coach Tressel, I believe he said we're the only ones coming in early."
Shugarts didn't hesitate to mention Jim Tressel when asked to name the reasons he chose Ohio State. It's clear he has a lot of respect for the Buckeye head coach.
"Coach Tressel is the best coach in the business," Shugarts said emphatically. "He won at Youngstown State and he's been to the championship game twice at Ohio State. His coaching speaks for itself. I think he's a Hall of Fame coach. He's done a lot in a short amount of time at Ohio State. He's also a great guy and a nice man to talk to. I'm excited to have him as my next head coach."
Shugarts had his choice of nearly every top program in the country, yet he committed to Ohio State very early in the process. He spoke of why Ohio State was the only place for him and why it was such an easy decision to make.
"I really liked everything about Ohio State," he said. "I like the people because they're all really good people. You never hear anything bad about Ohio State other than Maurice Clarett, and that wasn't the school, it was just one guy making bad choices. The winning tradition and the fans are so awesome. I love the fan support and the pride that the alumni shows in the school. When we went to the spring game we had people asking for our autographs. I mean I'm just a high school kid, but they treated all of us so great. I'm not Eddie George. I'm just a 17 year old kid. That weekend sealed the deal for me."
The weekend of the 2007 spring football game will go down in Ohio State recruiting history as the best of times. Landing Mike Brewster and J.B. Shugarts in a 12 hour period will be forever marked in every recruiting fan's memory.
"Oh man, that was the greatest time I could imagine," Shugarts remembered fondly. "I always planned to commit on August 1st, right before the season started. When I got there and we started having such a great time, I just knew it was the right time. It felt so right, because I felt so much at home with all my teammates. I would have committed at the dinner where Brewster announced, but my dad wasn't there and I couldn't do it without him being there with me. He was there the next morning at breakfast and when we went back to Coach Tressel's office, I just went ahead and did it. I told Coach Tressel that I was going to be a Buckeye and I was committing to him. Coach Tressel came flying out from behind his desk and just grabbed me and started yelling and that was awesome. He started shaking my dad's hand and it was too much. I laugh today that people never thought I would commit to Ohio State. They thought I was leaning everywhere else all the time. That was funny to me. I think Coach Tressel was even shocked. We left the office and went and told Coach Bollman and he was so excited too. I'll never forget that moment as long as I live."
Before closing, Shugarts was eager to discuss the rumors that he might not be totally firm with his decision to attend Ohio State. Recent visits to LSU have some Buckeye fans concerned that the young superstar could be wavering in his commitment. He addressed the issue head on, as he would an opposing defensive end on the football field.
"I'm glad you asked me that because it's something I want to address," Shugarts said emphatically. "The Ohio State fans have absolutely nothing to be worried about. I love Ohio State and I'm a Buckeye all the way. I went to LSU with our kicker, who's a good friend. Ohio State is the place for me. I am 100% committed to Ohio State and cannot wait to get there and contribute to winning championships."
Next week we will continue to look at the "Making of the Brew Crew." There will be five more articles dealing with the players who will make up the 2008 Ohio State recruiting class. Eventually the "Brew Crew" will give their final predictions on who rounds out this amazing class. Stay tuned for more of the "Making of the Brew Crew."