As the Buckeyes kicked off the camp season during a scorching weekend that kicked off the month of June, around 325 players from across the nation converged on campus for a Sunday afternoon camp. Among them was Ra'Shede Hageman, a three-star tight end prospect from Minneapolis (Minn.) Washburn Senior who was taking in the OSU campus for the first time as part of an unofficial visit.
Now back in Minnesota, his father, Eric, told BuckeyeSports.com that both he and his son were impressed with what the Buckeyes have to offer.
"It went well," he said. "It's hard not to be impressed by the facilities at Ohio State and the tradition of all the great players. Ra'Shede was impressed with all of that and he enjoyed the visit quite a bit."
The duo arrived Saturday morning and had a full day's worth of activities planned for them. The Hagemans sat down with an academic advisor, met with OSU director of football performance Eric Lichter, took a tour of the Woody Hayes Athletic Center, visited the Hale Cultural Center on campus and also got a bird's-eye view of Ohio Stadium from the press box.
Throughout it all, OSU running backs coach Dick Tressel was the primary contact for the duo.
While the facilities left both Hagemans impressed, Eric said Ra'Shede's final decision will rest on more than simply what the school has to offer from a physical standpoint.
"I wouldn't just reduce it to a list," he said. "I think it's more like a feel. It's as much about the people as about the facilities. Nowadays so many places have such impressive facilities that you can't just say, ‘Oh, they have the biggest weight room or stadium or whatever.' It might not be the exact same thing Ra'Shede has in mind, but what I'm trying to guide him to do is to focus more on the people and the attitude of the team and the whole program."
In that case, the Buckeyes appear to have done a pretty good job of meeting those goals. In addition to Tressel, the Hagemans met with tight ends coach John Peterson and head coach Jim Tressel while they were in Columbus. Both Peterson and Dick Tressel had dinner with the Hagemans Saturday afternoon, while the head coach sat down with the duo Sunday morning before camp began. At the camp itself, Ra'Shede got to spend time going through drills under the direction of Peterson, who would be his position coach should he come to OSU.
The overall approach from the coaching staff helped OSU's chances, Hageman said.
"We liked them all," he said. "They have an approach where they clearly care about you beyond just as an athlete but as a whole person. I think that comes from Coach Tressel at the top. His interest is not just in you as an athlete but you as a person, and that's certainly something parents like to hear."
As a junior, Hageman caught 25 passes for 663 yards and 12 touchdowns. Scout.com ranks him as a three-star prospect and the No. 25 tight end in the country for the class of 2009.
OSU is not the only school on the itinerary for Hageman, however. He will attend a one-day camp at Minnesota on June 14 and another at Wisconsin on June 22. In between will be a two-day unofficial visit to Florida to take part in a camp June 16-17.
For now, he is not in a hurry to make a decision – and the OSU coaching staff is encouraging that stance despite already having one verbal commitment from a tight end already and a recruiting class that is rapidly approaching 20 members.
"The Buckeyes certainly weren't putting any timetable on having him commit," his father said. "They said they will keep a spot open for him. I got the sense that they are anticipating their largest recruiting class they've ever had at Ohio State."