Thursday, February 08, 2001

Tressel signs 17 in first OSU recruiting class

AP Sports Writer

        COLUMBUS, Ohio — Unlike his predecessor, Jim Tressel is apparently a fast finisher.

        Tressel, hired Jan. 18 to replace the fired John Cooper as Ohio State's head coach, locked up 17 recruits Wednesday, the first day for the signing of national letters of intent to play Division I football.

        “They all liked my big ring,” said Tressel, who coached Youngstown State to four I-AA national championships in his 15 years. “They all wanted to get a big ring here. I said that was the idea.”

        A former Ohio State assistant under Earle Bruce, Tressel closed the deal on several highly touted prep stars in the final two days. He picked up the signature of Columbus Brookhaven running back Maurice Hall — who rushed for 3,057 yards and 51 touchdowns as a senior — on Wednesday afternoon.

        Tressel also grabbed Canton GlenOak defensive back Dustin Fox — whose brother Derek played at Penn State — in the final hours. Fox's uncles, Kenny Kuhn and Tim Fox, are former Ohio State standouts.

        Prior to announcing his decision, Fox told The (Canton) Repository, “Coach Tressel ... what a great person. I would say he gained more ground in a month than any coach did in the entire recruiting season. If he had been there the whole time, there is no limit to how good this class would be.”

        One of the reasons cited for Cooper's firing was his record down the stretch — 2-10-1 against rival Michigan and 3-8 in bowl games.

        Another was Ohio State's dismal performance in the classroom and several disciplinary problems on and off the field.

        Tressel said two members of his first recruiting class had yet to meet NCAA academic requirements for incoming freshmen. Cooper lost six recruits one season.

        Tressel said he was happy with whom he got and with how many players he got.

        “I feel great about it,” he said. “In that first four or five days, I was hoping we might hit double-digits (in recruits). We were scrambling, no doubt about it.”

        He said his assistant coaches deserved all the credit for the recruiting class — “I just went where they told me to go” — and that many of the players were sold on Ohio State before he even spoke to them.

        “It's not a hard thing,” he said at a news conference at the Woody Hayes Athletic Center. “When they sat back and thought about it: the Horseshoe, being close to home and 99 other reasons.”

        Tressel wasn't the only new coach pulling in players on Wednesday. His replacement at Youngstown State, Jon Heacock, signed six players.

        “Our scholarships were down this year because of losing only 12 seniors,” said Heacock, elevated from defensive coordinator on Jan. 25. “Also in that process, with Coach (Tressel) leaving and myself getting the job, we were a step or two behind. I think that hurt just a little bit.”

        But Heacock said the most important thing was quality and not quantity.

        “We still need to find a couple of more guys along the way. I have not panicked. I know where we are. I know the recruiting process happened a little late for us,” he said. “I am real pleased with what we got and really excited about this group of kids. I think they are first-class kids and that is what excites me the most.”

        Big Ten schools other than Ohio State signed more than 20 players out of the Buckeye state.

        The most notable of those were Associated Press Mr. Football Jeff Backes of Upper Arlington, who signed with Northwestern, and his counterpart as defensive player of the year in Division I, Pat Massey of Cleveland St. Ignatius. Massey signed with Michigan.

Player Pos. Ht Wt HS/Hometown
Redgie Arden lb 6-5 225 Ironton
Angelo Chattams wr 5-11 180 Chaminade-Julienne
Ryan Cook ol 6-7 295 Martinsville (Ind.)
Dustin Fox db 6-0 190 Canton GlenOak
Simon Fraser dl 6-5 244 Upper Arlington
Chris Gamble wr 6-3 195 Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard
Marcus Green dl 6-3 300 Louisville Male
Maurice Hall rb 5-10 189 Cols. Brookhaven
Ryan Hamby te 6-4 245 Moeller
Mike Nugent pk 5-10 165 Centerville
Adam Olds ol 6-5 270 Dublin Coffman
JaJa Riley rb 6-2 190 San Diego Mission Bay
Lydell Ross rb 6-1 210 Tampa (Fla.) Gaither
Brandon Schnittker fb 6-3 240 Sandusky Perkins
Quinton Thomas de 6-5 255 Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) Dillard
Andree Tyree te 6-3 280 London
Chris Vance wr 6-2 190 Fort Scott (Kans.) CC

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