Teague worth the risk.

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Established October 31, 1996
Front Page Columns and Features
Last updated: 06/19/2011 1:29 PM

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Potential Reward with Teague Worth Risk
By Brandon Castel

If you aren’t yet familiar with the name Akise Teague, shame on you.

No, he is not a star recruit for the Buckeyes, or even a summer camper who earned a late offer from Ohio State. There is really no reason for OSU fans to be aware of Teague’s existence, except that they just should be.

Akise Teague
Photo by Jim Davidson
Akise Teague

His skill set would suggest a future star playmaker for the scarlet and gray, but his size tells another story.

Teague is the best high school football player in the state of Ohio. He has been for a while. The Youngstown-Ursuline all-purpose back accumulated 2,463 yards rushing and another 800 yards receiving last season. He scored a school-record 48 touchdowns while averaging over 10 yards per carry.

He also intercepted five passes on defense, returning three of them for touchdowns.

He is electric. He has a unique ability to make a well-coached defense look like a bunch of first-timers. He is the reigning Mr. Football winner in the state of Ohio, and he is also 5-8 on a good day.

For that reason, and seemingly that reason alone, Teague never got the offer he wanted from Ohio State, even after former head coach Jim Tressel watched him rack up nearly 350 yards of offense against Coldwater in the Division V state championship game.

No doubt other teams were interested. Teague is a unique talent with a knack for scoring. Much of the Big Ten came calling, even after he committed to play for the University of Cincinnati. Wisconsin offered; Michigan State, Penn State and Nebraska showed heavy interest.

Not the Buckeyes.

They had a wealth of talent at running back, a similar playmaker in Jordan Hall and two more highly-recruited backs on the way for 2012. Even if they wanted Teague, there was no way they could justify using a scholarship offer on a 5-8 tailback at a position of strength. Not with the way Tressel and his staff divvied up scholarships.

So Teague signed with Cincinnati in February, and like a jilted ex-girlfriend who just won a beauty pageant, he gave Ohio State one last look at what they were missing out on Saturday. Despite his stature, Teague put on an MVP performance in the Big 33 Football Classic.

He carried the ball only eight times, but racked up 102 yards on the ground. He also scored three long touchdowns, including a 52-yard run and a 40-yard catch as Ohio obliterated Pennsylvania 50-14. It was the most lopsided victory in the game’s history, and it could have been a lot worse if they continued putting the ball in Teague’s hands.

He is that kind of player.

Whether he will go on stardom with the Bearcats is uncertain. There are many factors that go into a player’s success at the next level, but the tools are there. He is a weapon and it is up to the coaching staff at Cincinnati to find the best ways to deploy him.

Teague is not the first Mr. Football in Ohio to be passed over by the Buckeyes. They haven’t signed an award winner since 2006, when they landed tailback Brandon Saine out of Piqua. In fact, Ohio State has only signed three Mr. Football winners since the 1997 season (Maurice Clarett and Bam Childress being the other two).

They have certainly missed on a few good football players, including tailbacks Ryan Brewer and, most-notably, Tyrell Sutton, both of whom went on to burn the Buckeyes in the coming years. Teague will get a similar chance when the Buckeyes host Cincinnati in the second week of the 2012 season.

By then, the OSU coaching staff may wish Teague was on the opposite sideline. With a lack of established receivers, the Buckeyes have plans to use Jordan Hall as an offensive playmaker in the slot position. At 5-9, he is also the team’s top kick and punt returner and could be one of their top pass-catching options in the fall.

Few people talk about his size being a limitation after seeing the things he can do on the football field. Too bad Teague was not afforded the same luxury.

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