It could have been different for Jack Wohlabaugh. He knows that he could have been raised somewhere other than Ohio. After all, his father – former NFL center Dave Wohlabaugh – was born in New York, played college ball at Syracuse and his NFL stops in Cleveland was sandwiched between time in New England and St. Louis. Jack, a 6-foot-3, 280 pound offensive lineman, is glad that things worked out the way they did.
"I've thought about that before," Wohlabaugh told Eleven Warriors. "I'm glad we chose to stay here in Ohio."
So too, are the Buckeyes. They've added a big-time prospect with NFL bloodlines and an exceptional football acumen to their future roster. Wohlabaugh says that his father's influence is obvious in his style and work-ethic. He credits his father and his coaches at Walsh Jesuit (Stow, Ohio) for helping him get to the point he is today.
"The way I play probably is really similar to him, how he played," he said of his father. "Naturally he has always been giving me pointers from what he knows and dissecting film with me. Anything I can do to improve my game; he tells me to do are things he did when he was playing. It really helps out a lot. Especially with me practicing center a lot more now to begin the transition (to college) it really is an advantage. The coaches at my school really do a great job teaching proper technique, too. A lot of high schools don't have the privilege of having really good experienced coaches."
His father's experiences helped him off the field as well, preparing him for the rigors of the recruiting process.
"One of the best pieces of advice he's given to me recently would involve the recruiting process," he said of his father. "He really stressed to me: 'find the right fit for me and what I need from a college as a whole.'"
Heading into Wohlabaugh's visit to Ohio State this past weekend – which culminated in his commitment – he was not sure what would happen, though he says he had an idea based on conversation with the Buckeyes throughout the week.
"Coach (Ed) Warinner was messaging me earlier in the week and said he had big news and that I'll leave a really happy man. So I kind of thought it might happen but I didn't want to give my hopes up," Wohlabaugh said going into Saturday's trip. "Then it was actually Coach (Urban) Meyer, me, my dad, my mom, and Mark Pantoni in Coach Meyer's office right after I arrived and then he broke the news that I had an offer. It was hard to put the emotions I felt in to words, I was just insanely happy."
It didn't take long for the country's 30th-ranked offensive guard – likely to be a center at Ohio State – long to accept. Despite offers from Michigan, Minnesota, Boston College, Cincinnati, Syracuse and others, the choice was obvious.
"It's just the perfect fit for me," Wohlabaugh said of the school. "Ohio State provides a setting that I think I can thrive in; on the field, in the classroom, and in the community. I've known since the first time I visited that is where I need to be, so when the time came I knew exactly what I would do. It's a dream come true to finally be a Buckeye, and it's still surreal to me, it's just starting to set in."
After celebrating with his family Saturday morning, Wohlabaugh began the next big step in being a Buckeye – familiarizing himself with his future teammates.
"It was great talking with a lot of commits and starting to build relationships with them," he continued. "A couple of them, depending on what happens I'll even play against them this year, so it was just good to start getting to know everyone more on a different level now that I'm finally one of them. I got to meet some other 2016 commits briefly and also talked to Danny Clark for a good amount of time because he goes to Hoban now. I'm sure me he, Todd Sibley and I will develop a strong relationship over time."
Wohlabaugh says he'll make sure he's at Ohio State as much as possible moving forward.
"I'll be going down there as much as possible trying to get closer with coaches and meeting up with other commits," Wohlabaugh said of how he'll handle his recruitment, camp appearances and such. "It's nice that it's a short enough drive where I can take the trip down alone if I want. I'll definitely be going down there to get coached up by (Ed) Warinner to see what he has to say and kind of get ahead of the curve so I can practice those things all season."
If he sounds like a kid who understands the craft of football, he should. His lineage is no accident, and Wohlabaugh says that being a coach after the game passes him by is something he'd love to do; to help others. The chance to play at Ohio State, to be a student at Ohio State, isn't just about football.
"Me and my parents have had multiple meetings with Brett Wohlers, who is in charge of the academic side and he really knows what he is doing. He even played college ball himself so he will be able to relate to us," he said of how Ohio State's academic opportunities will help him. "I've always been thinking of majoring in business and even education has come to mind at some points, but I'm not set in stone on anything yet, major-wise. One job that I always thought I'd really like would actually be a football coach. Just being around football all the time it has just naturally made me want to be a coach."
Returning home to Stow, Wohlabaugh was greeted as you'd expect him to.
"Everyone here was at home was just going crazy supporting my decision," he said "You know how our people are here, they can't get enough of the Buckeyes."
And his father's advice about finding the best place for him as a whole?
"I really did that with Ohio State."