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Last updated: 04/21/2011 1:07 PM
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Football
Not Moving on to New School starting to be Old School
By Brandon Castel

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Twelve members of Ohio State’s 2011 recruiting class will play in Ohio Stadium this weekend, but only seven of them will be wearing Scarlet and Gray.

The other five will be lining up on opposite sides of the North-South All-Star Classic, which will be played Friday night before the Buckeyes take the field for their annual spring game on Saturday.

Being a part of the Friday preview before Saturday’s main event might seem like a drag for players like Nick Vannett, who have dreamt all their life of playing in the Horseshoe, but the Westerville Central product is at peace with his decision not to enroll early this spring.

Nick Vannett at North/South practice
Photo by Jim Davidson
Nick Vannett

“I just wanted to graduate on time and enjoy my senior year and get to play in all-star games like this,” said Vannett, who will play tight end for the South squad on Friday.

In today’s world of college football, graduating on time has almost become the exception as more and more players choose to enroll early to get a jump on the playbook and life as a student athlete.

Ohio State had five freshmen enroll back in January, including quarterback Braxton Miller and tight end Jeff Heuerman. Offensive lineman Tommy Brown and defensive back Ron Tanner joined them in the spring, but the other members of the 2011 class aren’t too worried about falling behind.

“I'm pretty sure they get some sort of an edge, but I never really thought about doing that. I figured you're only in high school once,” said Chase Farris, a defensive lineman out of Elyria who will play for the North squad.

“I only have five classes a day, so I go to school at 8:35, get out of school at 1:30, take a nap when I get home and go lift weights.”

That is a lot different than the life of a college freshman, who is trying to balance going to class with early morning workouts, study tables and a little thing called practice. The Buckeyes will have had 15 of them this spring by the time Saturday is over, and Vannett has been on hand for a number of them.

“Going to spring practice, I wish I could jump in the drills a little bit,” he said.

“But it'll all work out though.”

Despite the fact they will be competing at the same position, Vannett has developed a great relationship with Jeff Heuerman, a tight end out of Naples, Fla. who is participating in his first spring practice.

“He’s just working hard, trying to get a spot on the team,” said Vannett, who will join Heuerman and the rest of his new teammates on June 19.

“He’s been giving me some pointers about coming in and working hard. Just keep lifting and get your strength up and come in and work hard.”

There is no question that players like Heuerman, Jeremy Cash, Ryan Shazier and Joe Hale will have a big jumpstart heading into the fall over guys like Vannett, Farris, Devin Smith, Steve Miller and Doran Grant, but at what cost?

“There’s pros and cons to it if you look at it,” Vannett said of choosing not to enroll early.

“I wanted to stay in to enjoy the high school experience with my classmates. I just wanted to graduate with them and I didn’t want to miss out on events like senior tag and prom.”

Isn’t that part of being a kid? Ohio State fans, not to mention coaches, are happy to have Braxton Miller on the field this spring as they look to replace Terrelle Pryor for the first five games of the season, but where will the line be drawn?

If kids are enrolling in January now, where will we be in 10 years? Will they be skipping their senior years all together?

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