Making of the 'O'Niners: Storm Klein

Licking Valley star Storm Klein was the first Ohio high school player in the graduating class of 2009 to be offered a scholarship by Ohio State. Klein, to nobody's surprise, was also one of the first players to accept the Buckeye offer. Bill Greene takes an in-depth look at Storm Klein, and what led to his decision to be a Buckeye.

The 2009 Ohio State recruiting class is well on its way to becoming another tremendous success for Buckeye head coach Jim Tressel. The addition of Newark (Ohio) Licking Valley superstar Storm Klein was certainly not a surprise to anyone who follows recruiting, as this prospect was a virtual Buckeye lock coming out of the womb.

"We've been Buckeye fans at my house for as long as I can remember," Klein noted. "Even as a kid I remember every Ohio State game being a special time in our house. We never even rooted for anyone else, and we lived and died with every game. I can't imagine the feeling I'll get from running on that field wearing a Buckeye jersey. My dad usually took me to a home game at least once a year, and I was hooked right from the beginning."

Klein, whose father, Jason, played at Licking Valley for head coach Randy Baughman, started playing football at an early age, and developed a love for the game instantly.

"I started playing flag football in the third grade, but really got into it when we started playing tackle football in our youth program," he stated. "I remember loving the contact, and getting all bruised up after playing our games. I would go to school and the teachers would look at me funny, kind of like wondering if my parents were abusing me or something. I was always one of the biggest kids out there, and I always loved the competition. You could say my dad raised me to be a football player. People tell me my dad was a pretty good player in high school, but he doesn't really talk about that with me too much. My parents have supported me throughout all my athletic activities. I just always loved playing sports, and that's really all I remember about my childhood. I never left the field as a youngster, and that's really frustrating to me right now. I'm not playing defense all that much, because they want me fresh for offense."

Klein played a lot of different sports in junior high, and could have chosen to pursue a few other avenues in his athletic career. He was a star wrestler as a freshman and sophomore, and had great success in summer baseball.

"I've always had a passion for wrestling, and it killed me last year to have to give it up after getting injured in the state championship game," Klein admitted. "Wrestling is so much more demanding than football, and it's such an intense sport, that once you get into it, it's really hard to give it up. Football always came natural to me, but for me to succeed at wrestling took so much hard work and a total commitment. I will always miss wrestling, and it's something (Ohio State football assistant coach) Luke Fickell and I talk about every once in a while, because he was a great wrestler in high school. I played summer travel baseball too, and I played that for about six or seven years, traveling all over the place. I just realize that football is the sport I love the most, and that's always been my main focus."

Klein knew at an early age that football was the most important facet of his life, and he also had dreams of playing at the highest level.

"When I was a freshman I remember one of my teachers, Mrs. McCartney, having us fill out forms about what we wanted to do as adults," he continued. "On my card I put that I wanted to be a professional football player, and she's the type of teacher that never lets kids put down playing sports for a career, but after we talked about it she realized that was my goal, and that I was serious about it. I still have her as a teacher today, and I remember her letting me put that down but she wanted me to put down another career as a back-up plan, but I told her that was it for me, and there was no back-up plan. I'm a senior leader today, and it's really funny because she won't let any of the freshmen put down sports as a career today, and I get a good laugh out of that."

Klein admits that during his recruitment there was no other college that received even the smallest amount of consideration. If ever there was a player that was born to be a Buckeye, it was Storm Klein.

"I never even gave any other school the time of day, really," Klein said with a laugh. "I never thought that I wouldn't be a Buckeye if they really wanted me. I remember meeting Jim Tressel at the Ohio State camp after my freshman year. I was in line to shake hands with him, and I was scared to death, because I was just like a fan, not a recruit. When I got up to meet him I introduced myself, and he said he knew who I was, and I almost fainted when he said that. My dad took a picture of me shaking hands with him, and we still have that picture around today. I had a pretty good season as a freshman, but I had no idea that Ohio State knew who I was. Coach Fickell pulled me aside after that camp, and he told me they were looking at me. Once they offered me, they told me they knew they wanted me when I was a freshman, but I had no clue."

Klein remembers his sophomore year quite fondly, even though Licking Valley lost in the first round of the playoffs to Canton South.

"My sophomore year was a great year even though we lost that playoff game to Canton South," Klein remembered. "I hated losing, but I learned a lot going against Devon and DeVoe Torrence. They were the best high school players I've ever played against, and that showed me what college football players were like. I liked playing against them because they were so good, and the competition was so great, but unfortunately they were able to beat us. Both of those guys could take over a game on both sides of the football, and it was cool going up against such great athletes. I knew how hard I needed to work, and how hard I needed to play, to compete against great players after that game. Even in losing, my confidence really grew after that game. It will be great being teammates with Devon next year, and I hope things go great for DeVoe at Akron."

Youngstown Cardinal Mooney defensive tackle John Simon, also a Buckeye commit, has become good friends with Klein. The two of them received their Ohio State offers within a 24-hour period, and although Klein committed to Ohio State several months before Simon, he never doubted Simon would end up a Buckeye.

"John and I have become really good friends," Klein said. "I gave him a call after he got his offer, and we really hit it off. We were together at a spring practice for the first time, and we just became great friends. We will be rooming together next year at Ohio State. I remember being a little worried about him going to Notre Dame at first, but as our junior seasons came to the end I knew he was going to be a Buckeye. He just wanted to wait until after the playoffs to make an announcement. It was tough watching him play in the state championship game. We had lost in our championship game the day before, and then I had to watch his game the next day. I was really torn because Adam Homan was playing against him from Coldwater, and I liked Adam a lot from being with him at camp. I think Adam really earned his Ohio State offer that day, because he was really something in that game. I was really hoping Adam would get offered by Ohio State, and it helped get our recruiting class rolling when he got his offer along with Jack Mewhort."

The 2008 Ohio State recruiting class was dubbed the "Brew Crew", and that group of players became famous by helping to recruit each other to Ohio State. That recruiting effort, led by Mike Brewster, Jake Stoneburner, Mike Adams and Devier Posey, was not lost on Simon and Klein.

"I talked to Brewster a lot about how to go about recruiting other players," Klein admitted. "I'm not exactly the type of personality that Brewster is, but I've tried to do some of the things he did. I did it with my own style, which is more laid-back than Brewster. The guy I really wanted the most was Melvin Fellows. Melvin is a great guy, and I didn't let the fact that he was committed to Illinois stop me from calling him all the time. I think we talked for over an hour the first time, and we found out that we had a lot in common. We hung out together at the Ohio State spring game a lot, and that was when I knew he was going to be a Buckeye, and so did he. All he needed to do was tell Illinois that he had changed his mind, and I know that was tough for him because he had given his word. Melvin and I talked about a lot of things other than football, and our friendship has really grown. I always stressed to him that this decision would impact the rest of his life, and I know how happy he is to be a Buckeye. Simon and I would split up some of the other guys to call, and then we would check back to see how things went. We still do that all the time."

Even though he's still playing his senior season at Licking Valley, Storm Klein is eagerly awaiting the day he enrolls at Ohio State.

"I can't wait to get to Ohio State and get my career started," he said. "I'm not sure what they want from me next year regarding playing time. I have no problem with redshirting the first year if that's what they think is best, but I want to do whatever the coaching staff wants me to do. All I know is I'm going to be a linebacker, either a middle or a strong side backer. Coach Fickell always tells me to watch both spots, and try to see how they run their defense. I like the style of play they run, and I'm anxious to be a part of it. Coach (Jim) Heacock is one of the best defensive coaches in the country, and I can't wait to learn from him."

Jim Tressel is obviously one of the best head coaches in the nation, and the opportunity to play for him was a huge factor in Klein choosing Ohio State.

"I can't say enough about Jim Tressel, and the type of person he is," Klein stressed. "He's a strong Christian man, and I really respect that about him, as well as the fact that he's such a nice guy. He can back up what he says, and his life is a testament to his faith. I called him last year and told him I was coming up to hear him speak at the Main Event in Columbus. It's great to see him speak in public, because when he speaks, it's obvious that people listen. He's a great role model for me because he represents Ohio State University in such a positive way. I consider Jim Tressel a great man, and a great coach, and I feel honored to be able to play for him. He makes me want to leave everything I have out on the field for him."

Klein is so eager to become a Buckeye that he will be graduating early from Licking Valley, and will enroll at Ohio State in January.

"I will be at Ohio State in January, and I'll go through spring practice," he said. "I just want to get there as soon as I can and become part of the team. I want to get a head start on my academic career, and start weight training under the strength and conditioning people. I want to ease into things as far as learning the defense, and there won't be as much pressure as there would be reporting in the summer. Jack Mewhort, Adam Homan, Zach Boren and Jamie Wood are all planning to come in early too. We are looking forward to getting to know each other better, and we can go through everything together. This class all gets along so well, and I think this will be start of friendships I will have the rest of my life."

Although he understands he has a lot of hard work to put in over the next few years to get on the field for Ohio State, that hasn't stopped Klein from setting some lofty goals for himself.

"I hope to be an impact player at Ohio State," he said. "I respect everybody that's on the roster at Ohio State, but I don't want to be a special team player or a career backup. I hope to play in the NFL some day, and I'm willing to put in the time and effort to get there. I want to be a player like Bobby Carpenter, A.J. Hawk or James Laurinaitis. Those are the guys I look up to, and want to be like. I want to be everything I'm capable of being at Ohio State, because if I do less than that, then I'm just cheating myself. I want to help Ohio State win another national championship. I just think that would be the greatest moment of my life if I could be a part of that. I remember how I felt when Ohio State beat Miami in 2002, and I can't imagine what that feeling would be like to share with your coaches and teammates. That's what I want out of my career at Ohio State most of all."

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