Finals Thoughts from Army Bowl in San Antonio
By Michael Chung
SAN ANTONIO — It has been a jam-packed few days here in the Lone Star State and Ohio State’s 2013 class is really starting to take shape. The people running the all-star game do a top-notch job and it is no longer a secret why they are the best.
I, for one, am happy to see the Army All American Game is still the standard-bearer for high school all star games. These guys are not only concerned with giving the kids a good time but also teaching them service and introducing them to real American heroes. Seeing all the soldiers walking around the hotel and hearing their stories reminds us all that a real hero is more than someone who can run a sub 4.5 40, but rather someone who is willing to put their life on the line for a cause higher than themselves.
Football will always move the needle in this country, but talking to the soldiers who have returned from active duty has been the biggest blessing of this trip. With my diatribe out of the way, here are some final thoughts from San Antonio:
* With Chip Kelly reportedly interviewing with the Cleveland Browns, Philadelphia Eagles and Buffalo Bills, his days in the college ranks are numbered; I do not see how he will stay at Oregon. Is Kelly pulling a Peter Carroll? Do the Ducks face sanctions like the Trojans did?
* If James Quick goes to Louisville, look for Urban Meyer and his staff to go in hot pursuit of Oregon commit – and Texas native – Dontre Wilson.
* Santa Monica WR Sebastian LaRue is another name on Urban’s radar if things go south with James Quick, who will make his announcement on Saturday during the Army Bowl. Frankfurt County WR Ryan Timmons is also scheduled for an official Ohio State visit soon, and if all paths are blank by then, do not be surprised if Timmons receives an offer from the Buckeyes.
* I was very impressed at the poise and maturity with which Buckeye recruits and targets handled themselves during interviews down here in San Antonio. I really think Buckeye commits Johnny Townsend, Evan Lisle, Eli Apple and Ezekiel Elliott all have bright futures in Columbus. This group seems to be more than just athletes but also good guys. I also had a chance to talk with DT Michael Hill on the phone, and this is another guy who is as southern of a gentleman as you can find.
* LB Mike Mitchell has been quiet with the media but after talking to him here in San Antonio, I think he has a fun personality, sharp mind and, of course, stellar athleticism. I would not be surprised at all if he sees the field his freshman year and will be surprised if he does not contribute almost immediately. He wants to play and it seems there is no doubt Ohio State is the best place for him to see the field soon. He knows that middle linebacker is as much mental and physical and he clearly has both.
* WR James Quick is a quiet humble kid. I feel for him as he faces heavy pressure from his home state to be a hometown hero but also has an opportunity to play for one of the best coaches in the country. I am reminded that recruiting fanatics – myself included – need to give kids like Quick some space and realize he is just trying to pick a place to go to school.
* I tried to find out if last nights game influenced Quick towards Louisville after the Cardinals put the smack down on the Florida Gators. Charlie Strong did nothing but positively promote his program in front of entire nation, and if Quick was truly split 50/50 this week, it would not be surprising if the Sugar Bowl pushed him over to the red birds.
* Not just James Quick, but while interacting with a lot of kids who had OSU offers and are 4 and 5 star prospects, I was reminded that these guys are just young men who are no where near discovering themselves. We sometimes make them celebrities but they are just kids.
* Texas commit Tyrone Swoopes looks really good. Why do I bring up a Longhorn recruit? Many sites rate OSU commit J.T. Barrett ahead of Swoopes, a dual-threat QB out of Whitewright, Tex. J.T.’s rehab sounds like it is on schedule and Swoopes (6-5, 230) has been hailed as the next Vince Young down here in Texas. With another year or two of Braxton and J.T. coming in behind him, OSU’s QB future as of today appears bright. Look for the Buckeyes to land another stud QB in the 2014 class.
* Evan Lisle is big in person and I cannot wait to see what he looks like after Mickey Marotti gets a hold of him.
* If the punt is the most important play of the game, as Jim Tressel once espoused, then Ohio State is in great shape with Johnny Townsend. He was consistently booming 45-55 yarders with excellent hang time. He told The-Ozone he averaged almost 45 yards a kick in high school and with Mickey Marotti as strength coach, do not be surprised if Townsend becomes one of the great punters, a la Tom Tupa, at Ohio State.
* It is clear Urban Meyer’s philosophy of recruiting is very different than Jim Tressel’s. Recruiting analysts said to me that Tressel was much easier to cover, having only a select number of recruits he focused on, while Urban Meyer goes after anyone in the country he feels can play ball and help him win the crystal trophy. Recruiting analysts are definitely putting in more hours under the Urban Meyer regime.
* The Army All American Bowl roster is filled with players who had offers from Ohio State. At least four USC commits told me today they were offered by Meyer but preferred the warmth of SoCal over the Ohio cold. It will be poetic justice if these players are someday drafted by Buffalo, Minnesota, Green Bay and Chicago – or any other cold weathered NFL city.
* Ohio State coaches have not called WR Tony Stevens in a few weeks. They are allowed one contact per week in the dead period but communication between the sides appears to be dead. Urban Meyer leaves no stone unturned but it looks like he has skipped this one over the pond. Look for Stevens, a former Florida State commit, to become Aggie.
* That is all from San Antonio. The Buckeyes are in really good shape for 2013 class and all but guaranteed a top 5 spot in the rankings. How high will they go? A lot will depend on the impending decisions from LB Trey Johnson (Friday), along with LB Mike Mitchell and WR James Quick on Saturday.