Fascinating story from the Morning Journal's Jason Lloyd about the recruitment of Melvin Fellows and Tressel's efforts in holding off Illinois and Michigan State, two teams that are coached by Ohioans with strong connections in the state.
The meat of the Fellows tale involves an email sent to Tressel from a member of the vast Buckeye spy network:
Eric Wolford, an Illinois assistant coach, was at a bar with the Garfield Heights coaching staff. It was Illinois' last-gasp effort to keep Melvin Fellows, a four-star defensive end prospect from Garfield Heights.
''Illinois is doing whatever it takes to keep Melvin,'' according to the e-mail, obtained by The Morning Journal. ''Eric told me his (he) is prepared to fist fight (OSU coaches Jim) Heacock and Tavier Johnson for Fellows.''
Wolford was obviously joking (and good thing, see: Johnson, Wolford), but Lloyd goes on to illustrate just how hard the Illini, in particular, are hitting Ohio for recruits. He seems to imply, and I would have to agree, that Zook's habit of early offering was a big reason why the 2009 Buckeye class got to the early twenties so quickly.
Fellows, of course, would eventually come to his senses, but he was the first big shot fired into the chosen land by the Zooker and there will certainly be more to come. Fellows' teammate (and fellow Buckeye recruit) Chris Fields summed up the Illini approach:
"They're really good people when it comes to persuading," Fields said. "They almost caught me, but I went, 'Hey.' Melvin fell in the little hole they got there, but he popped out and now he's a Buckeye."
Beware of that little hole they got there.
I wasn't one of the lucky few to have caught the Buckeye practice on the BTN last night* but the hometown paper was kind enough to blog about it. In short:
- Beat writer Ken Gordon may be envious of the openness of Rich Rodriguez's practices.
- Beanie is catching slants, which will only help his NFL stock (as if it's needed)
- Abdallah is running with the first team instead of Larimore
It's not up yet, but the footage will be posted to the network's web site here. Anybody else catch it last night?
Crazy factoid of the day: the Buckeyes have finished dead last -- 119th -- for three straight years in opponent penalty yards per game. The good teams are definitely going to get the shorter end of the stick here, but to come in last three years in a row?
*8/15 is the big day for those of us fortunate enough to cede sizable amounts of our earnings in exchange for the craptacular offerings of Comcast.