Turmoil Comes at High Price for Buckeyes
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — It seemed inevitable, but the turmoil surrounding the Ohio State football team has finally brought about a future casualty.
With the program in limbo following the resignation of former head coach Jim Tressel and the departure of star quarterback Terrelle Pryor, at least one recruit is not going to wait for the other shoe to drop.
Ejuan Price signed with the Buckeyes back in February, but the Woodland Hills, Pa. linebacker has had a change of heart. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Price actually asked to be released from his letter of intent with Ohio State as far back as a month ago.
“He just didn't feel any stability there even before Tressel resigned,” Woodland Hills coach George Novak told the Post-Gazette Thursday.
One of four linebackers in Ohio State’s class of 2010, Price committed to the Buckeyes back in January, right about the time university officials were discovering email exchanges between Tressel and a Columbus attorney named Chris Cicero.
Price nearly changed his mind on National Signing Day after taking a late visit to the University of Pittsburgh, but decided instead to stick with his word and sign with Ohio State.
The months that followed would be rough for anyone associated with the Buckeyes. First Tressel admitted to knowingly withholding information about potential NCAA violations involving Pryor and wide receiver DeVier Posey. Then it seemed like the block O logo was in the news every other day with new allegations and new criticism of the university, and particularly head coach Jim Tressel.
Tressel eventually resigned after 10 seasons in Columbus, leaving co-defensive coordinator Luke Fickell to run the team as the interim head coach in 2011. One of Fickell’s first official duties was to talk star recruit Kyle Kalis off the ledge.
One of the top-rated offensive line prospects in the class of 2012, Kalis called Fickell with intentions of withdrawing his commitment to Ohio State, but 45 minutes later he was sold on the direction of the program even without Tressel.
“We aren't worried about it, and I think that's the most important thing. We have always sold Ohio State, and that's what we're trying to tell these kids day in and day out,” Fickell said during his introductory press conference.
“It's about something so much bigger than what they read and what they say. We just need to get them here so they can understand that.”
It looks like they won’t have that chance with Price, who was rated as a 3-star inside linebacker in the class of 2011. He committed to the Buckeyes over offers from Iowa, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Michigan State, but has yet to make a decision about where he will play his college ball.
“He has some ideas, but if he gets his release I'm not sure where he would go,” Novak said.
His departure leaves the Buckeyes with 22 players in the class of 2011, not including Glenville quarterback Cardale Jones, who is planning to take the grayshirt route to Ohio State.
Seven members of the class have already enrolled at Ohio State, including star quarterback prospect Braxton Miller, but the other 15 players are not scheduled to arrive in Columbus until sometime this weekend.
Six of them will be playing in the Big 33 Football Classic this Saturday, but the Buckeyes know the real challenge for recruiting begins with the 2012 class.
“What we have stressed to those kids is that we are looking for a few good men and ones that can stand up and understand what Ohio State is all about,” Fickell said.
“It is about something bigger than this situation. It is about something bigger than a coach. That's what we are going to hammer home to them continually.”
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