Ryan Pedon can’t wait to taste the pizza once again.
There are many things Pedon missed about the city of Columbus, the place he grew up. But when he had the opportunity to come with Chris Holtmann to Ohio State, he instantly thought of a local pizza shop in his hometown.
“I’m going to have to give a shout out to the home pizza, the greatest pizza on earth, Rubino’s Pizza in Bexley,” Pedon said Friday. “My college roommate called today from California, and he’s experienced Rubino’s, and he said, ‘How many times are you going to eat Rubino’s Pizza in this first month?’ I said,’ Quite a bit.’”
“I’m excited to be home for a lot of reasons but obviously knowing your surroundings is great.”
Pedon’s move home is about much more than pizza, of course, but it sure is nice for the guy who grew up coming to Ohio State football and basketball games to be back in his comfort zone.
Holtmann was officially introduced as the head basketball coach for the Buckeyes on Monday and he opted to bring his entire staff with him to Columbus. Pedon, Mike Schrage and Terry Johnson had a good thing going at Butler and that continuity will be important in attempting to get this Ohio State program back to where it once was under Thad Matta.
Pedon will certainly play a big part in that. He’s the highest-paid assistant on Holtmann’s staff and it’s widely expected he will spearhead what is the lifeblood of every major college program: recruiting.
Perhaps more importantly, Pedon will lead the Buckeyes’ staff in recruiting the state of Ohio with all of his ties. In his brief stint as head coach, Holtmann has already made it abundantly clear he intends to keep top Ohio talent home.
“This region is a tremendous area for talented, smart and tough players,” Holtmann said at his introductory press conference. “I’ve recruited Ohio for over 20 years and it has outstanding players and coaches, some of the very best in the country.”
“It will be paramount to our success. There’s no question. We’re going to work extremely hard to close our borders and dominate the state of Ohio in recruiting and it will be an everyday focus for us.”
As someone who played his high school ball and college ball in the state, and also coached at multiple colleges in Ohio, Pedon knows how critical it will be to ensure top in-state prospects want to play at Ohio State.
“I think if you look at the history of this program and I think when this program was at its best throughout different time periods throughout the past 30, 40, 50 years, why was it? The common denominator here is kids from this state have been Buckeyes and wanted to be Buckeyes and came here with a purpose,” Pedon said. “I can tell you that recruiting Ohio kids and keeping them home, that’s where it’s at for our program.”
Ohio State already proved that’s a top priority by re-extending scholarship offers to top 2018 in-state prospects Dwayne Cohill and Jerome Hunter earlier this week. Both had offers from this staff at Butler and each was offered by Matta’s previous staff with the Buckeyes, but it was important for Ohio State to “re-offer” both players to illustrate importance.
Pedon said his first week on the new job has consisted of nonstop phone calls. These are mostly to recruits, coaches, former Ohio State players to introduce himself. He has nearly 400 text messages from friends and family members who still need to be returned. He’ll get to those later.
He’s been so busy he hasn’t even had time to soak everything in just yet. That, too, will come with time.
“In a lot of ways, it’s a dream come true to be part of this program, to be part of this university to work for Chris in my hometown,” Pedon said. “I think if you would have written this scenario up at the start of my coaching career 19 years ago, that would make anybody happy. I’m excited to be here and I’m humbled by the opportunity and just excited to get this thing rolling.”
And don’t forget about the pizza, of course.