The Play That Started It All

Four-star defensive end and Ohio State verbal commitment Melvin Fellows is making a career out of destroying opposing offensive linemen. As it turns out, that talent was visible from the first drill he did with the varsity squad at Garfield Heights, Ohio, as a sophomore.

Finding a clip of Melvin Fellows demolishing a would-be blocker are not difficult to find. The sight of the four-star defensive end prospect from Garfield Heights, Ohio, bowling over an opposing lineman is often repeated ad nausea on Friday nights during football season.

The 6-5, 245-pound athlete who recently switched his verbal commitment from Illinois to Ohio State made an immediate impression on his varsity head coach from the first time the whistle blew. It was Fellows' sophomore season, and he was lined up against an upperclassman who weighed in at 6-4, 270.

The defensive line coach blew the whistle, and he had to call Garfield Heights head coach Charles Reisland over to survey the damage.

"The first time they snapped the ball, Melvin almost K.O.'ed him," Reisland told "The coach said, ‘I've never seen anything like this in my life.' This was a senior and a good player and Melvin just locked on him."

And thus, a legend was born. After terrorizing opponents for two full seasons now at the varsity level, Fellows is ranked as the No. 10 defensive end prospect in the country by He also remembers that first hit he made.

"I was coming back from an injury so I wanted to get back on the field," he said. "I wasn't supposed to come back or have much contact but I remember this dude who was a senior. I just blasted him. I think that's when the coach knew that I was going to be special."

Special enough to find himself at the center of a Big Ten recruiting war between an Illinois coach thought to have scored a major coup by landing a verbal commitment from Fellows and the state's unquestioned leader in OSU's Jim Tressel, although Fellows did not realize it until later.

"I'm a real humble person, so I don't really think of things like that," he said. "My sophomore year we played on FSN Ohio and I had four sacks that game and I was player of the game. After that game, I knew I could make this my career."

Illinois was the first school to offer him, and Fellows was up to nearly a dozen offers when he opted to switch his commitment to the Buckeyes. As he heads into his senior season, he is preparing for a role on both sides of the ball as Reisland finds ways to let Fellows make as many plays as possible.

Fellows said he looks forward to the challenge of playing on the offensive side of the ball, adding that he has played some tight end in blocking schemes to give his team an edge.

His goals for the season are modest and team-oriented.

"Basically my team just needs me to be a leader," he said. "I'm a senior, so this year I want to be playing both ways. I just want to win. I take a very big role on my team."

Defensively, Fellows could see time at a number of positions this season. Teams can run away from a defensive end, and Reisland said he could line up at tackle or outside linebacker in addition to end this season.

"Wherever a team has somebody that we think is maybe a little sub-par, we're going to move him around this year," the coach said. "He's a great athlete and he's a quick learner. He's the real deal."

Fellows credits his abilities to the Garfield Heights coaching staff and their instruction of his technique.

"I think in high school I have a lot of technique, better than other high school players," he said. "That paid off a lot because sometimes you have to bull rush and sometimes you have guys bigger than you and you have to use your technique.

"I really think I'm pretty athletic. I think that my long arms help me stand up offensive linemen. I think that I'm quicker than offensive linemen. I don't take plays off."

But it all began one surprising day during his sophomore season when the soft-spoken Fellows caught his coach's eye with one violent play.

"He's a little different than a lot of kids," Reisland said. "Off the field he is probably one of the most well-respected, gentle kids. Everybody likes Melvin. He's a great kid. But once he gets on the field he's one tough man. He really gets after it. He loves to play football."

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