OSU Willing To Wait For Hale

Spaces in Ohio State's class of 2011 are becoming a premium, but Joel Hale said he will not have a problem should he decide to become a Buckeye. In this update, get all the details of Hale's situation including his summer plans and his thoughts on OSU.

With more than half of it's 2011 class already wrapped up, Ohio State is starting to run out of spots for new commitments.

That does not apply to Joel Hale, however. The three-star defensive tackle prospect from Greenwood (Ind.) Center Grove has watched as the Buckeyes have added four defensive linemen to their recruiting class, but he told BuckeyeSports.com that the OSU coaching staff has told him a spot still remains for him.

Once Elyria, Ohio, defensive tackle Chase Farris issued his commitment March 13, Hale said he had a realization and subsequent moment of concern.

"I think after Farris committed I started getting worried and I had my coach call (running backs coach Dick) Tressel just to make sure and find out if I was going to be losing a spot or something like that," Hale said. "Coach Tressel basically said that they're going to be there with me until the end. I was excited about that. I don't know what I want right now, and for them to say that they'll be there until the end for me is just reassuring."

That helped save him from some further stress two months later when the Buckeyes accepted a verbal commitment from four-star tackle Michael Bennett. Of OSU's four commitments from the defensive line, two are projected as tackles and two as ends.

Hale is listed the No. 26 tackle prospect in the nation behind Bennett (No. 4) and Farris (No. 9), but it is not the position he currently plays for Center Grove.

"Right now I play strongside end," he said. "I'd like to keep playing that in college, but with my size right now I don't know what they want from me. I'm about 290 right now but I could end up a 320 guy and still look skinny."

This spring, both Tressel and defensive coordinator and line coach Jim Heacock have visited Hale's school.

The Buckeyes are far from the only school in the conversation for Hale. After a junior season in which he recorded around 50 tackles including 12 for loss and four sacks, Hale said his head coach sat him down to talk recruiting.

"When I came into the season, I knew I was going to be a good player but I didn't expect the things that I have received up to now," he said. "Right after the season before recruiting picked up, my coach had me make a list of 10 schools that I'd be interested in. I had Central Michigan and schools like that, nothing like what I have now. It's pretty stressful, but I don't let it bother me."

The first big offer to take him by surprise, he said, was when Indiana offered him during his season. From there, Purdue and Cincinnati got on board shortly after the season completed.

Now he has a list of schools he plans to check out this summer: OSU, Penn State, Florida, Georgia Tech and Cincinnati. Dates are yet to be finalized. He has already visited Kentucky as well as the Buckeyes, Gators, Yellow Jackets and Bearcats.

The visits will not be for camps, however.

"I don't plan on being a big camper this summer," he said. "I just plan on focusing on my team. I'm going to take some visits and stuff but I plan on focusing on the team here rather than doing camps at other places.

"I'm looking to really see once I step on campus if it feels like home. I like to meet the coaching staff and maybe meet some of the players and see how I fit in around them. That's basically it."

The plan is to try and make a final decision before Hale's senior season commences. As he works on that, the 6-5 Hale said he primarily lets schools call him rather than placing the calls himself.

There are exceptions, however.

"(OSU and I) talk once every two weeks on the phone," he said. "I call them. I really don't go out of my way to make the calls, you could say, but Ohio State I definitely keep in contact with."

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