Cleveland Glenville's Shawntel "Shaq" Rowell was probably one of the most surprising offers of the 2008 Ohio State recruiting class. Long thought to be over-weight and out of shape, Rowell proved everybody wrong by not only landing an offer, but signing with Ohio State. According to his mother, Raymonda, Rowell is continuing to improve his conditioning.
"Shaq is under 300 pounds right now," his mother said. "He has lost over 75 pounds. He has lost all his baby fat. He's given up all the fried foods and he's concentrating on eating right. If you haven't seen him lately, you won't recognize him. He weighs in every single day. The funny thing is that Shaq was only a six pound baby when he was born. He was a small baby. He and his sister, Sharonda, are working out together. She is thirteen years old and a great athlete. I've been getting on both of them about getting in better shape. They are out there running and walking, and not eating fried foods. I think Shaq was around 360 pounds last year, but look at him now. My baby is in super shape. All my kids are good athletes. My oldest son, Chris, is at Iowa playing football. Next year I will alternate between going to Ohio State and Iowa every other weekend.'
"I went to Cleveland Central Catholic," she continued. "I was a cheerleader and played basketball and volleyball. I like to tell people that my children get their athletic ability from me. I am very excited to have Shaq going to Ohio State. My boys are always telling each other who will do better. Ohio State and Iowa don't play each other next year, but the following year it's going to be crazy when they play against each other. I'm very proud of all my kids. They're all respectful and they have been a joy to me."
Shaq Rowell is one of the most engaging and talkative members of the Brew Crew. He happily discussed his weight loss regimen.
"I'm on a mission right now about my conditioning," Rowell explained. "The main thing for me was cutting out the fried foods. If I eat meat today, it's only white meat. I weighed in at 293 pounds today. Coach [Jim} Heacock told me he wants me to come in at around 300 pounds. He said they want me slimmer so that they can put the right amount of weight back on me. They want to do it the right way.'
"Coach Heacock tells me I have a good chance of being on the field next year. Coach Heacock and I talk all the time. He and I are real cool. He told me a couple months ago to stay in touch, so I call him all the time. He told me to report in shape and stay focused on my goals."
Rowell is looking forward to putting the pads on after enrolling at Ohio State. He is anxious to start his Buckeye career.
"I'll be heading to Columbus on June 15th," he stated. "I'll be playing in the Big-33 All-Star game and then I will be starting my college career. I will start taking classes in the summer. I'm not sure who I will be rooming with, but it will probably be another defensive lineman. I don't care who I room with because I get along with everybody. Coming from Glenville, Ohio State is just my extended family anyway."
With his older brother playing for Iowa, one might think that Rowell might have considered joining him in Iowa City. Nothing could be further from the truth.
"I was never interested in Iowa, and I don't think they were interested in me," he said. "I wanted them to recruit me, just so I could get a free trip to see my brother. It was shocking to me that they never showed any interest, especially with my brother being there. When my offers started coming in, I assumed Iowa would be the first.'
"It wouldn't have mattered anyway if they had offered. There was no chance I was going anywhere but Ohio State. Ohio State was in my heart since I was a little kid. I never doubted Ohio State would offer me. They told me before the season they were offering me. I just needed to do my end of the bargain. I never told anyone about my offer because I'm not that kind of guy. I don't get caught up in the media aspect of recruiting. I just kept working hard and did what I needed to do."
Rowell knew at an early age that football was the game he loved, even though he played every sport as a youngster.
"I was ten years old when I started playing," Rowell remembered. "I was in the fifth grade playing full-contact football, and I loved it from the first day. There was a field across the street from where I grew up. I played baseball and basketball, too. I got the name "Shaq" from playing hoops, and I was pretty good. But football just came so easy to me. It was really second nature to me. I played with all the older guys, too. After my sophomore year at Warrensville Heights, I transferred to Glenville. That was the best decision I ever made in my life."
It was at Glenville that Rowell came under the influence of legendary head coach Ted Ginn. It's hard to imagine a high school football player having more love for his head coach than Shawntel Rowell has for Ted Ginn.
"I would have gone anywhere to play for Mr. Ginn," Rowell said softly. "This man is the greatest inspiration that exists in my life. He has taught me more in two years than I learned in my previous sixteen years. He is the greatest teacher any student could be around. Coach Ginn doesn't talk that much about football, and that surprises people. He talks about life and doing things the right way. He always talks to me about my classwork and how I'm doing outside of school. He just cares so much about people that it's kind of tough to talk about him. The first day I met him he asked me where I wanted to go to college. I told him I wanted to go to Ohio State. He told me what I needed to do academically to make that come true. I will look up to him the rest of my life. I hope he coaches at Glenville for a long time, because I will want my children to play for him some day. I would put my life in his hands and trust him with it."
Rowell indicated that his decision to attend Ohio State was a decision he didn't make selfishly.
"Ohio State is the best place for me because it wasn't just about me," Rowell stressed. "It's good for my mother to have me only a few hours down the road. It's good for my sister to have me be able to get back home easily. If I get sick, my mom will be there in a hurry, count on that. I wouldn't want to be far from my mom."
Rowell's mother, Raymonda, obviously means a great deal to him. Shaq has no problem talking about the people he holds dear in his heart.
"My mom means so much to me," Rowell said emphatically. "She means everything to me. My whole family does. Without my mother beside me I don't know where I'd be right now. Coach Ginn has only been in my life for two years. My mother has loved me from the beginning. I can't begin to tell you what a great lady she is. She is a great person and I love my mom. People tell me I'm like her and that's a great thing to say about me. Family means more to me than football."
Rowell is a fine example of how young people can turn themselves around from a physical standpoint. He knows it hasn't been easy and he describes it as a total lifestyle change.
"I drink a lot of vitamin water and constantly stay hydrated," he said. "I had to change my whole lifestyle around, especially my eating habits. I'm six weeks into the program that Ohio State sent me. I'm following it, but I'm not calling Ohio State all the time and telling them how I'm doing on the program. I'm not that kind of person. They will see me and know I'm doing the right things. I've got great people around me that support me and keep me motivated. This is something anyone can do if they put their mind to it. You just need to make it your mission in life."
Rowell is not really into following recruiting on the internet. He's proud to be a member of the Brew Crew, and he knows they have a lot to live up to.
"We are a top-10 class, so we need to get out there and show people we are worth it," Rowell admitted. "I'm friends with Mike Adams. We met each other in San Antonio a few years ago. I took my official visit with Keith Wells and we hit it off real well. He's a real good guy and I told him on our visit that I was coming to Ohio State and he should too. I'm looking forward to getting to know the other guys. I probably know the players at Ohio State better than the incoming freshmen. Ray Small and Bryant Browning are my boys. Jermil Martin and I are real tight and it will be cool to play with him at Ohio State. Ohio State needs to get out there and get Terrelle Pryor. We need that guy pretty bad. He seems like a nice kid and the media seems to be hounding him to death. I feel bad for him and all he's going through. He needs to sign with Ohio State and come be part of our family."
Rowell takes his place as a role model to young people very seriously. He remains close to his teammates at Glenville, even though he will be moving on shortly.
"I love my teammates at Glenville," he said. "Ohio State is after a few of them, Marcus Hall and Jonathan Newsome. Marcus Hall is one of the top offensive tackles in the country. We played next to each other and he is a great football player. He's also a great young man because he is so humble and down to earth. Jonathan Newsome is going to be a great player, you can write that down. Mike Edwards is another player that Ohio State needs to look at. I tell these guys to act like they don't have anything made. Stay focused and keep pushing to get better is the right way to go. Those guys need to do what is best for them regarding college, but I have a good feeling about them being Buckeyes. We need to keep getting Glenville players every year at Ohio State. I respect Cordale Scott for making the decision he made, but I feel pretty good about these current Glenville players coming to Ohio State. I'm kind of like a big brother to these guys and hopefully they can come stay with me next year and see how great it is at Ohio State. The tradition of Glenville players going to Ohio State is something we need to never let die. I only hope I can live up to what people like Ted Ginn and Troy Smith have accomplished."
Shawntel Rowell is the type of young man that has overcome a lot in his young life. He seems to have the personality and the desire to be a success at Ohio State and beyond. Join us next time as we take another inside look at the "Making of the Brew Crew."