The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their Buckeye careers as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.
Gavin Cupp's path to Ohio State was anything but simple. But on Wednesday, Cupp — a three-star offensive lineman out of Leipsic, Ohio — realized a lifelong dream when he signed to play college football for the Buckeyes.
Cupp's story is not a secret. Once a Michigan State commit — he pledged to the Spartans on May 14, 2015 — Cupp had his scholarship offer pulled after choosing to attend Ohio State's annual Friday Night Lights camp in Columbus in late July.
The Cupp File
- Class: 2016
- Size: 6-5/270
- Pos: OL
- School: Leipsic (OH)
- Composite Rating: ★★★
- Composite Rank: 40 (OT)
Cupp says he informed Michigan State's coaching staff of his intentions to attend the camp at Ohio State; Spartans coach Mark Dantonio has a clear policy about commits visiting other schools — as many coaches do.
There was a clear mix-up in communication between Cupp and Michigan State and it left the 6-foot-5, 270-pounder without a Spartans offer. Cupp insists he went to Friday Night Lights to see how he stacked up against some of the nation's top competition at an elite camp, not to try and earn a scholarship offer from the in-state Buckeyes.
But Dantonio did not see it that way so the scholarship offer was pulled. Cupp was lost and confused as to what we come next. He had no idea if the Buckeyes would offer after that camp. There were offers from several other schools at the time, sure, but neither really felt like Michigan State or Ohio State.
The story made national headlines. Leipsic, Ohio — a town with roughly 2,000 people — was featured on the news. This was a big deal.
"It was a very big shock," Cupp told Eleven Warriors last summer of Michigan State's decision. "I never thought any of that would be happening. I didn't really understand at first, and I still don't at times, but it's the way they operate their program and it is what it is. Everything happens for a reason and this must be what was supposed to happen."
So, after Friday Night Lights — where Cupp said he felt he performed quite well — he tried to figure out what his next move was going to be. Less than a week after he returned from Columbus, though, Cupp received a phone call.
Ohio State offered him a scholarship. And it didn't take very long for Cupp to commit.
"It was coach (Tim) Hinton who offered me, and I called (Ed) Warinner right after. He didn't want an answer right away so later that night I called coach Hinton and committed," Cupp said. "I really didn't have any thoughts (about the offer) other than relief that my family and I could finally sleep and breathe again (laughs).
"I was glad I did enough at the camp to get the offer, because I felt I had more to prove to everyone and I did that."
Things quieted down from there for Cupp, as the three-star prospect said once he was officially committed to Ohio State, that was it. He didn't want to risk anything when it came to his future again.
"I haven't talked to a single school since my commitment," Cupp said. "One school tried to talk to me on Twitter one day and that was after I just had committed, I didn't want to take any chances."
In the end, he wound up where he really wanted to be all along. A lifelong Ohio State fan hailing from Ohio, Cupp achieved his dream Wednesday by putting pen to paper.
His journey to Columbus was anything but easy, but in the end, it was all worth it.
"I couldn't be happier to be a Buckeye," Cupp said. "I grew up a huge Buckeye fan and I'm named after Woody Hayes – Gavin Hayes Cupp – so it's almost destiny."