Most college football programs have strict rules concerning football practices and visitors or guest. One of rules – “Do not talk to players or coaches during practice.” Obviously, a good and necessary rule.
Last Friday at the OSU Football Clinic, I was able to ” wish the best” to some former Ohio high school players, before and after practice. Not an ego thing for me, but a chance to express my appreciation for how far they have come and how happy that I am for them.
Jerome Baker came to one of my first ever combines, which was near Medina. A freshman at the time, he put up really good measurements and times. Talented and confident. I remember telling him that he could be special, but needed to stay focused. Also, the recruiting process would start out fun, but would get ugly.
I made it a point to watch the Cleveland Benedictine grad for three years. Liked him. Liked his talent. Liked his toughness. Liked his ability to ” ring the bell.” What I didn’t like was that he did not ring that bell all of the time. Took plays off. Also, his book bag needed revisited.
Like so many high school football players, he thought that he was a running back. He was tough and really ran north/south. Good burst, but no top speed. Guessin 6’1-195. But he was a tough, fast closing LB, as well. To me, OLB was his college position. Not to him, however. After watching him in the state championship, no doubt that he was a player.
Friday after practice talked for just a few minutes, and I mentioned some of our early days, and he laughed – “That was long time ago.”
Good chance that Jerome Baker will make some money playing the game some day. Guessin 6’1-225, and right now he will be playing the Will backer at Ohio State. Of course, now he plays every down.
On the way to practice I was able to able to congratulate OL Billy Price. Have always liked Billy Price since I watched him his sophomore year at Austintown Fitch HS. Tough, nasty football player with a great desire to compete. Remember watching him throw the shot/discus. State Meet placer and tough competitor.
Lack of height and lack speed off the edge, I thought Billy was more suited as a center or guard. Good burst, moved around the box well, athletic, smart, and physical. Earned a scholarship to Ohio State. Although listed as a DL recruit, I just felt that he was an OL guy, but a very good potential one.
The problem was that Billy was determined to be a DE. More importantly, his dad was, as well. I well remember talking with Mr. Price at a playoff football game in Mansfield. Honest opinions have never been a McCallister weakness.
Most impressive to me is that Billy listened to the advice of his Ohio State coaches and made the switch to offensive line. He will have a chance to make money on Sundays.
Without too much drama here, the biggest reward that I receive in my business is watching young, overconfident(sometimes), football talented, and gifted Ohio high school players mature into quality young men. Developing into a college football player is huge, but maturing into a good person is most important.
Thank goodness, the list of Ohio high school players who have had successful college football careers and have gone onto to be good people far outweighs the last of ones who have not.
I totally respect practice rules and regulations the college football programs have. But it is always fun to be able to spend some brief/quality with kids that I watched “but into not only football, but also life in general.”