For the Buckeyes, that starting point came about three hours southwest of Columbus. There, Louisville (Ky.) Trinity linebacker Jordan Whiting was in the early portion of his junior season but yearning for a life outside of the city limits.
All it took was a scholarship offer from OSU head coach Jim Tressel, and on Sept. 1, 2007 – the first day the school could officially offer him – Whiting pulled the trigger, becoming verbal commitment No. 1 in a class that now already boasts 24 total members.
Now, as he prepares for his senior season with his college search out of the way, Whiting looked back upon his commitment.
"It's overwhelming, but at the same time I understand that as soon as I get there that it doesn't mean anything," he told BuckeyeSports.com. "I'm going to have to work just as hard as the other 23 commits and the players that are already there. Right now it's a great blessing. I'm thankful to be a part of the class.
"I enjoy every single one of the recruits. I've gotten a chance to talk to most of them."
The most well-known relationship Whiting has established is with Newark (Ohio) Licking Valley linebacker Storm Klein. The two have become close friends throughout the recruiting process and have stayed over at each other's houses, but Klein is not the only friend he has made in the class of 2009.
As it turns out, Whiting has a longstanding relationship with Justin Green, a senior at Louisville Male.
"Me and him were up in Columbus about a week and a half ago," Whiting said. "When I started playing football I played with Justin Green and we basically have had a career together – either we were playing with or against each other. That's the relationship that was built very strong."
In addition, Whiting said he has gotten to know Coldwater, Ohio, fullback Adam Homan, Pickerington (Ohio) Central safety Jamie Wood and linebacker Zach Boren and Dublin (Ohio) Scioto safety Bradley McDougald as they have subsequently verbally committed to the Buckeyes.
Those relationships are just one reason out of many why he opted to leave his home state and play his college football elsewhere despite pressure from some locals to play for either the University of Louisville or the University of Kentucky.
"I've already made my decision on where I want to go and it's a solid verbal," he said. "It's what's going to happen. I do get a lot of comments from the U of L and UK fans. But Ohio State University compared to the University of Louisville or the University of Kentucky, there's just no comparison at all."
Since his commitment, life has not changed much for the 6-0, 230-pound Whiting, who is listed as a three-star prospect by Scout.com. The biggest adjustment has been in how he has carried himself since that day – and he sounds like Spider-Man's Peter Parker as he describes the change.
"With great talent comes great responsibility," he said. "I've realized that things are going to be a lot more serious. Someone out here in Louisville is looking for me to slip up. Knowing that, I know that I'm not going to put myself in situations or certain places that I know if something goes down I don't want my name involved."
That is all part of a player who considers himself a true student-athlete in every sense of the world. Although he helped the Shamrocks take home a state title on the gridiron and also brought home an individual title as a wrestler, Whiting takes pride in his academics as his 26 score on the ACT proves.
Planning to major in business and sports management at OSU, Whiting is already focused on life after football.
"I want to show other people that I'm not just a football player, I'm not just a wrestler, I'm not just a sprinter, I'm not just a power lifter; I am a true student-athlete," he said. "I think that counts a lot more because your sport can be taken away at any given time."
However, that does not mean Whiting is shirking from his responsibilities on the gridiron.
"They are recruiting a class that knows it's got to be competitive," he said. "A lot of fans say ‘if you go there, you're not going to get any playing time.' But if I bust my butt harder than the guy in front of me …"