Decker, Dodson Enjoying Life at Ohio State
By Brandon Castel
COLUMBUS, Ohio — Taylor Decker doesn’t know what life would look like had Urban Meyer not come waltzing in to ask him for a dance.
Same with Kyle Dodson.
Photo by Jim Davidson
Both players had already picked other partners to the big dance known as college football when Meyer paraded in with all his flashy rings, fearless determination and silver tongue.
He suddenly made Ohio State the most attractive partner at the ball, but in reality, Decker had always wanted to dance with the Buckeyes. He was just waiting to be asked.
“I had always wanted to, if I was given the opportunity to come to Ohio State, take full advantage of it,” Decker told The-Ozone.net during OSU’ fall media day.
“I wasn’t recruited, umm, prior to coach Meyer being here very heavily.”
Growing up in Vandalia, Ohio, Decker always dreamed of playing football for the Buckeyes. He was ecstatic when he was invited to visit Columbus for Ohio State’s game against visiting Ohio University back in 2010, and Decker simply assumed that’s where he would end up playing his college ball.
Except the Buckeyes weren’t quite as sold on Decker as he was on them. They had seen him as a sophomore, when he weighed only 245 pounds and was a starter on the Vandalia Butler basketball team.
He had drawn interest from a number of MAC schools, and even heard from West Virginia coach Bob Huggins, but it quickly became clear Decker’s future was on the gridiron.
That was going to be his meal ticket, especially after then-Notre Dame assistant Tim Hinton started showing up at his high school when he was only a sophomore. That always stuck with Decker, especially after Hinton was hired as the new tight ends and fullbacks coach at Ohio State in January.
“I’ve known them for a long time,” Decker said of Hinton and former Notre Dame offensive line coach Ed Warinner, both of whom are now in Columbus.
“I’ve known coach Hinton since my sophomore year of high school. They’re great guys and they really care about us. Coming in and actually knowing some people was nice.”
Even before Meyer officially lured Hinton and Warinner – a pair of Ohio natives with strong ties to the Buckeye State – to his new staff in Columbus, he was already checking in with Decker. He wanted to know for sure if there was still a fire burning deep inside him to play for the Scarlet and Gray.
“I was shocked, because around college football he’s a superstar among coaches,” Decker said.
“I was shocked that he contacted me and asked what I thought about Ohio State. I thought it through and came back to them that I had interest. It was great. I’m definitely thankful I was given that opportunity.”
An opportunity Decker would likely not have been afforded if not for the coaching change at Ohio State.
Despite his close relationship with Hinton, that wasn’t the reason Decker ended up as a Buckeye. Neither was Warinner. He ended up in Columbus because that’s where he always wanted to be, despite the fact he was not recruited strongly by former OSU head coach Jim Tressel – or at all by interim head coach Luke Fickell and his staff.
“I’m not bitter about it at all, but I’m just happy I was able to end up where I wanted to be,” Decker said, now a filled out 6-7, 310-pound monster of a freshman at Ohio State.
“It’s a dream come true. I grew up an Ohio kid and always wanted to be a Buckeye. Now I am.”
Photo by Jim Davidson
The same goes for Dodson, a 4-star offensive tackle out of Cleveland Heights who originally committed to play for Bret Bielema at Wisconsin before Meyer was introduced as the new coach of the Buckeyes.
“It feels great. I think that I made the right choice,” said Dodson, who wanted to remain close to home so he could be around his family – and especially his grandmother.
“If I would have went to Wisconsin, I wouldn’t have felt as comfortable; I wouldn’t have felt at home. I feel at home and I feel at peace here.”
So much so that Dodson plans to introduce his new teammates to the chant that sealed his fate back in February.