The next time Greg Studrawa sees Malcolm Pridgeon, he wants the mammoth offensive lineman to fill his stomach with a popular Italian dish the junior college transfer hopes to one day present to customers while he makes a living beyond football.
"He's a culinary guy," Studrawa said on National Signing Day Feb. 3. "He called me, said he made some chicken alfredo last night and I told him, 'Bring some next time.'"
Pridgeon is only the third junior college player to sign a National Letter of Intent to play football at Ohio State in the last 10 years, just the second in Urban Meyer's tenure. He comes to Columbus via Nassau Community College in Garden City, New York, and at 6-foot-8, 325 pounds is the largest member of the 2016 recruiting class.
His size and tape makes his new head coach expect him to contribute early this fall.
"Nothing against junior college guys, but we try to build from the youth up," Meyer said Signing Day.
Both Studrawa and former offensive line coach Ed Warinner began laying the foundation of turning Pridgeon into a colossal contributor long before signing day, even though he had offers from Alabama, Florida, West Virginia, Baylor, Arizona State, Auburn and many other programs.
"He just came in last week for the visit. It was a matter of he was comfortable with a couple other schools, but he had no idea," Studrawa said. "He didn’t know me yet, he hadn't been here yet, he hadn't met coach yet. He had a great relationship with Ed. Ed did a great job over the past year recruiting that young man."
Warinner is now Ohio State's tight ends coach with Tim Hinton moving to an administrative position. The move allows Warinner to remain in the press box and fulfill his offensive coordinator and play calling duties.
Studrawa fills his place as Ohio State's line coach, but was in Meyer's ear constantly before signing day to convince him to take the extra step and make Pridgeon part of the 2016 class. The Buckeyes offered the offensive lineman a scholarship last March.
"They kept telling me about this player, offensive tackle from Nassau, and I saw his size and watched the videotape, very impressive guy," Meyer said. "He has some work to do in the classroom yet. He came on his visit and stole everybody's heart."
Pridgeon visited Columbus the weekend before Signing Day and felt comfortable, Studrawa said, but needed to be sure his mother was on board with it. She could not make the trip due to an illness. Last year, she suffered a heart attack and stroke.
"We were trying to set things up, because the situation was it was just with him," Studrawa said. "His mom couldn't come because she was ill, so he had to feel comfortable. Then he had to go back and tell her about it since she couldn't experience what was here."
Pridgeon didn't officially announce his intentions to sign with Ohio State until he sent in his Letter of Intent Feb. 3, but the Buckeyes felt comfortable with the relationships they had forged throughout the recruiting process. Even though Meyer didn't get to know him until late in the game.
“It was important to him to get his family's blessing before he made that decision. His decision was clear before he left here, I think. That's what he wanted to do, he wanted them to be as happy about it as he was. So that's what really transpired.”– Greg Studrawa
He just needed to be sure his family was on board.
"It was important to him to get his family's blessing before he made that decision," Studrawa said. "His decision was clear before he left here, I think. That's what he wanted to do, he wanted them to be as happy about it as he was. So that's what really transpired."
Meyer went to dinner with Pridgeon, Studrawa, Warinner and senior center-to-be Pat Elflein to all but nail down the commitment in the latter days of the 2016 recruiting cycle. The admiration and mutual respect flowed freely, and the head coach is eager for Pridgeon to get to campus and start competing.
"You'll really enjoy him," Meyer told the media. "What's that mean? We don't recruit a junior college guy to sit. He's a three for two, but we hope to get him here in June and compete for a starting spot."
Pridgeon has two years of eligibility remaining after he leaves Nassau, and no doubt has aspirations of playing in the NFL before using his love for culinary arts in his career.
But before that he has a responsibility at Ohio State for 2016, to fill one of the three vacant starting spots on the offensive line. Like Meyer said, it is a rarity Ohio State dips into the junior college pool of talent when it recruits.
Overall, though, Studrawa and Warinner convinced their boss to add Pridgeon to the 2016 class.
"His risen above a lot of things that have happened to him and he really wants to be here," Studrawa said. "That was the other thing. He wants to be here, he wants to succeed academically, he wants to play big-time football. After getting to know him, I think the sincerity level that he showed us over the weekend really was the key to us taking him."