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.
If Dave Wohlabaugh, a former NFL offensive lineman who played in New England, St. Louis and Cleveland hadn't decided to set up roots in Northeast Ohio, Jack Wohlabaugh likely wouldn't be signing with Ohio State today. Unlike most other kids who live in Ohio, his father's travels meant he didn't really grow up with an ingrained love of the Buckeyes.
The Wohlabaugh File
- Class: 2016
- Size: 6-3/280
- Pos: OG
- School: Walsh Jesuit (Stow, OH)
- Composite Rating: ★★★
- Composite Rank: 20 (OG)
"I've thought about that before. I grew up watching all the good games on TV, living in Ohio I've been around and watched Ohio State for a long time, but I didn't really grow up a fan of one team, though." Wohlabaugh told Eleven Warriors. "Still, it's hard to root against the home team. I'm glad we chose to stay here in Ohio."
With NFL roots, it's not surprising that the 6-foot-3, 280-pound Wohlabaugh had begun hearing from colleges early. When he visited Ohio State in February of 2015, he did so with offers from Kentucky, Minnesota, Purdue, Boston College, and a majority of the MAC's Ohio-based programs.
Still, it was always the big group of Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State and Notre Dame that moved the dial. Ed Warinner began taking note of Wohlabaugh and that meant things were changing as the spring came around.
"Of schools that haven't offered, I probably hear from Ohio State the most. I talked to (Mark) Pantoni or (Ed) Warinner nearly every day," Wohlabaugh said in early March of last year. "(Warinner) says he likes my film a lot. He tells me that I'm an Ohio State type of football player. I like to pride myself on working hard and being really physical."
An offer from Michigan came during a one-week, three-visit stretch around the region that included a late March stop at Ohio State. Wohlabaugh returned to Ohio State three weeks later for the Buckeyes' spring game and prior to the game, in a meeting with Warinner and head coach Urban Meyer, the Buckeyes offered –– he accepted on the spot.
"It's just the perfect fit for me," Wohlabaugh said of Ohio State. "(It) 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."
A future center for the Buckeyes, Wohlabaugh wasn't resting easy after his commitment. He made multiple trips to Ohio State last summer in the hopes of perfecting his craft and improving his relationships with his future coaches.
"I’m going to try and get down here as many times as possible, so I’m kind of like a seasoned freshman when I get here," the Stow resident said. "It’s always a good experience down here, working with Coach Warinner. It’s what I want to do, I want to get to know him better and get to know how his coaching works."
To prepare for Ohio State, Wohlabaugh says he's been working around the clock on the nuance of playing center, which is where Ed Warinner sees him fitting into the Buckeyes' line. Unfortunately, will not be coached by Ed Warinner, but he's taken the time to get to know new offensive line coach Greg Studrawa since it was announced he'd be the new guy in charge of The Slobs in the future.
"I've been snapping a lot. I've got to keep snapping to get it to that point in which I don't have to think about it and that it's a muscle memory. Other than that, there's been a huge focus on my grades and working out," he said before talking about Studrawa and the transition to a new coach. "The first thing I did was ask my dad if he knew anything about him, and then I did some research. He had a lot of credentials and (my dad) has heard a lot of good things about him from other coaches."
With a former NFL lineman for a father, Wohlabaugh was fortunate to have someone around to help guide him through the ups and downs of a recruitment. Though his father played at Syracuse, there was never any pressure to follow anyone's footsteps.
"He really stressed to me 'find the right fit for me and what I need from a college as a whole,'" Wohlabaugh said of his father. "I really did that with Ohio State."