On Sunday evening, the Buckeyes gained a verbal commitment for their class of 2009 from Newark (Ohio) Licking Valley linebacker Storm Klein. His verbal commitment made him not only the second linebacker in the class, but it affirmed his plans to play with his friend, Jordan Whiting, in college.
After meeting at a camp in Columbus, Klein and the Louisville (Ky.) Trinity linebacker became fast friends – and that might just be what the OSU coaching staff had in mind when they drew up teams.
"When I first got there we were on the same team," Whiting told BuckeyeSports.com. "They put us on the same team because they wanted to see how we did in our coverages and they wanted to see how we did next to each other. Ever since then we just started talking and I got his number. I had a family reunion in Newark, and that's where he's from so I stayed there for a weekend."
The 6-1, 227-pound Whiting beat Klein to the punch, however, becoming the first junior to verbal to Tressel and the Buckeyes. He did so immediately upon being offered by OSU on Sept. 1.
Being an out-of-state prospect to make the first commitment puts him in a different situation than Klein, Whiting said.
"The difference between me and him is that he's in state, so basically that's kind of already set, I guess you could say," Whiting said. "I think it would be a lot easier for him to make that decision than it was for me just because of the fact that I'm out of state. U of L (Louisville) has tried to talk to me. I've got an offer from the University of Kentucky. I get a lot of in-state and I go out of state, that's a big deal."
As a result, Whiting said he conducts himself differently when he goes out in public because he feels the added pressure that comes with committing to an out-of-state school.
But based on his surroundings, matriculating to OSU is a natural step, he said.
"Right now I've been blessed to be part of one of the top high schools in the state of Kentucky," he said. "We have a game where we played in front of over 40,000 fans, so it's kind of like a small Ohio State where I'm at right now. It's like I'll just be rolling into a bigger body of it."
Although he did not grow up watching much college football, Whiting said the play of A.J. Hawk helped OSU get his attention.
"I started watching him and was like, ‘Wow, Ohio State, what's this about?' " he said. "I did some research about it and I was impressed that it was a linebacker school. I've been a linebacker since I've been five years old."
That knowledge, coupled with a visit to an OSU camp, helped sell Whiting on the Buckeyes.
Through the first seven games of the season, Whiting has accumulated 70 tackles and forced more fumbles than he could remember. In week seven, he said he had 12 tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery.
However, his personality off the field is entirely different from the one he takes on while under the lights.
"As far as a person, off the field if you ask any of my friends that I go to school with, anybody that knows me, I am the biggest teddy bear off the field," he said. "I love kids. I like playing around with kids a lot. On the football field, there are two different personalities. That's what I think makes a great football player. I've been blessed with that.
"On the field I'm more of a team player, but off the field I'm just a big teddy bear."