Gainesville, Ga. superstar Keith Wells is proof positive that nice guys can finish first. In a recruiting class filled with mature, intelligent young men, Keith Wells stands out as a leader.
After de-committing from Florida State last fall, Wells became the subject of an intense recruiting war. Ohio State didn't sit back on their heels, but went after Wells with a passion reserved for great talents like this young man.
"Ohio State started calling me the minute the word got out that I wouldn't be attending Florida State," Wells said. "It was the coaches, the recruits.... it was just crazy. Ohio State showed me that first day how badly they wanted me. I was overwhelmed by the attention I was getting from the Ohio State people. From the minute I opened up my recruitment, they were the team that showed me the full court press. They just never let up on me, in a good way, in showing me a lot of love. I was just blown away by the way they recruited me."
In an unusual move, the Buckeyes didn't place Wells' recruitment in the hands of just one coach, they put the entire defensive staff on his case. Even head coach, Jim Tressel, involved himself totally in the pursuit of Keith Wells.
"Everybody recruited me off the Ohio State staff," Wells said, with a laugh. "It was [Luke] Fickell, [Jim] Heacock, [Paul] Haynes and even Jim Tressel, himself. When the head coach gets involved, you know the school is serious. Of all the assistant coaches I feel the closest to Coach Heacock. He's an old school coaches that won't lie to you. He won't tell a player that he's the greatest thing going. He just tells you to come in, work hard, and you can be as good as you want to be. I have to put the work in because I know nothing will be easy. Coach Heacock is the type of man that will look after me off the field as well. He's just an all around good guy. I love the defensive schemes that he runs at Ohio State. I see myself coming off the edge, being a pass rushing specialist right off the bat. In my first year I want to be the guy that he knows can get to the passer. In time, I want to learn how to be a complete defensive end, and I know he can help take me where i want to go. I want to be a three-down player, not just a third down pass rusher."
It wasn't just Jim Heacock that made a big impression on Wells, though. Head coach Jim Tressel let him know that he would be actively involved in making sure he became a Buckeye.
"Coach Tressel is someone I've gotten to know so well," he said. "He calls me every single week without fail. Every time I call him he answers, or he calls me back in minutes, sometimes in seconds. Coach Tressel calls my mom just to see how things are going. When the head coach of a great school like Ohio State does things like that, it just changes everything in your recruiting. I knew right away that the Ohio State coaches are for real. I have a trust with all of the coaches that they know what's best for me."
When Jim Tressel took the time to make sure Wells' mom was comfortable with how Ohio State was recruiting her son, it didn't just leave a good impression on mom. Keith noticed how a relationship was building between the Ohio State staff and his mother, and that pleased him greatly.
"My mom fell in love with the Ohio State coaching staff immediately," he exclaimed. "When I took my official visit they treated my mom like she was a queen. She had her own assistant walking her around the campus and they made her feel so special. She definitely got the royal treatment at Ohio State. She would have supported me no matter what school I chose, but she was really rooting for Ohio State."
Don't get the idea that this young man is just coming to Ohio State to major in football. Keith wells is a great student and he takes his academic career as seriously as he does his football career.
"I plan on majoring in either civil or mechanical engineering," Wells stated. "The engineering field has always been something I've been interested in since I was a young kid. Which field I want to go into, I'm not sure at this time. The engineering program at Ohio State is highly rated and that's attractive to me. Getting a degree from The Ohio State University means everything to me and my mom. I will make sure that happens, no matter what."
Seeing how the title of this piece is "The Making of the Brew Crew", it's not hard to understand that Mike Brewster was once again a driving force in the recruitment of another potential Ohio State commit. Brewster, along with Devier Posey, Mike Adams and Jake Stoneburner reinforced the good feeling that Wells was getting from the Ohio State coaching staff.
"Oh my God, Mike Brewster definitely had an effect on my choosing to go to Ohio State," he stated. "I never even met Mike Brewster in person, but he was texting me and calling me like we were brothers. I took my official visit with Adams, Posey and Stoneburner and we had a great time getting to know each other. I've gotten to know Etienne Sabino and we get along great. I'd say I talk with at least four Ohio State recruits every single day. That's how close we are. Brewster and I talk all the time about everything, not just football. This is just a solid class of great young men. That means everything to me. We will be like brothers forever. I mean that with all seriousness. I have no idea who I will be rooming with, but it doesn't matter at all. They're all great people and I'm fine being with any of them. We'll all be hanging out together. These guys are always staying at each other's houses. They go to each other's basketball games. It's just great. You can't find this anywhere. Mike Brewster is the centerpiece of the class. He's the guy that puts it all together. He is our leader already and everybody kind of revolves around Mike."
Keith Wells is a thoughtful young man. He is already thinking about what he hopes to accomplish before he leaves Ohio State.
"I'm a team guy first off," Wells said, with passion in his voice. "I want to leave Ohio State with rings. I want to win championships. Big-10 championships are important but I'm most interested in winning national championships. That's what I'm about. Every college football player dreams of being an All-American and I'm no different. I know the kind of work I need to do to make that a reality. It's important to me that I come out of Ohio State as a better person. I hope to grow and mature into the type of person that will represent this fine university in a positive manner. That means everything to me. I want to develop into a successful person that is prepared to go on to bigger and better things. I know that Ohio State is the place that can make that happen for me. I know this is a school that has one of the top twenty engineering programs in the country and I need to use that to my benefit. Finding a job shouldn't be too hard when I come out of school with a degree from Ohio State. I know I will be a better person because of my association with Ohio State. That's my main goal."
Wells also knows that Ohio State is the right school to help him develop his athletic ability to the fullest. He was more than impressed with the Woody Hayes Athletic Complex.
"I've become very good friends with Cameron Heyward," Wells said. "He has kind of taken me and is showing me the ropes. He was my host on my visit and we've gotten pretty close as friends. He's been through it already and he's willing to help me out. That's the thing about the Ohio State program. It's like a family. They don't hang out together in groups of two or three. They go out in groups of fifteen or twenty. They do everything together and you can see how close they are. That's the secret of why Ohio State wins so much. This is a close-knit family and everybody has each other's backs. I love the feeling of being a part of this program. Cameron made a good impression upon me.' "I won't be graduating early from high school. I want to finish with my friends. I'm just lifting and trying to get stronger. I'm running track also. I want to get stronger. I'm about 6-foot-6 and I weigh 235-pounds right now. The Ohio State coaches told me I need to get stronger. They said I should be able to play right away if I come in and start lifting hard right away. I love the weight room at Ohio State. It is unbelievable. I will use that place to get better. The strength and conditioning coach, Eric Lichter, is a monster. He's one of the most intense guys I've ever met. I know he'll have me doing the right things to get to where I need to be. I saw Vernon Gholston and I was amazed. I just want to follow Vern's workout and do whatever he did."
Once Wells reopened his recruiting, he knew that Ohio State could give him everything he was looking for in a school. Even though Tennessee and Notre Dame came knocking, it was evident to him that he needed to be a Buckeye.
"You know when I decided to open my recruiting back up, the next day they sent two coaches to my school," Wells explained. "They were in Tallahassee visiting another player, but they rented a car and drove to my school to see me. Then they turned around and drove back to Tallahassee and flew back to Columbus. They came up to visit with me for about thirty minutes and drove back and got on an airplane. I never felt like I wasn't the most important recruit in the world to them. In the end, I just couldn't see any reason to not be a Buckeye. It's the best feeling in the world. I couldn't be happier."
Keith Wells is the true definition of the term student-athlete. He will go on and be a success at whatever field he chooses to specialize in. For the moment, it looks like chasing quarterbacks will be his primary vocation. It's a job he should do quite well.
Join us next time as we take another look at a future Buckeye in the "Making of the Brew Crew."