LEIPSIC, Ohio — The wide-eyed smile that flashed across Gavin Cupp’s face Wednesday morning as he placed a scarlet Ohio State hat on top of his head told the majority of the story. The large exhale he let out as he penned his name across the dotted line on his National Letter of Intent filled in the rest of the details.
This was a day of excitement, but it was also one full of a sense of relief.
“As this day has been getting closer and closer, I did a lot of reminiscing on the programs that got in contact with me,” Cupp said. “It’s just been a lot of fun thinking about it, and talking to my coach with it about all, that’s been pretty special.
“It’s a lot of weight off my shoulders.”
Cupp — a three-star offensive lineman out of a small, Division VII school in Northwest Ohio — signed to play football for the Buckeyes on Wednesday. His journey to get to this point, however, was anything but smooth.
If you follow college football recruiting — or college athletics, really — you’re probably familiar with Cupp’s story. He was once a Michigan State commit, but after opting to attend a summer camp at Ohio State the Spartans pulled his scholarship offer.
Michigan State coach Mark Dantonio has a pretty strict policy when it comes to commits visiting other schools. Cupp said he went to the Friday Night Lights camp in Columbus with the sole intention of seeing how he stacked up against some of the nation’s top talent –– not to earn an offer from the Buckeyes. Dantonio, though, probably saw things differently. He saw it as one of his commits — an Ohio kid, no less — going to visit Ohio State. There was a clear mix-up in communication between both sides and it resulted in Michigan State rescinding its scholarship offer to Cupp.
Cupp was devastated about the situation and did not know what his next move would be. He felt he performed well enough at Friday Night Lights to possibly earn an Ohio State offer though those weren't his original intentions, but a few days had gone by and he was yet to hear from the Buckeyes.
Then, on July 30th, Cupp received a phone call from Ohio State’s then-tight ends coach Tim Hinton, who was calling to inform Cupp the Buckeyes were going to offer him a scholarship. It didn’t take long for him to commit.
Cupp couldn’t have been more excited to pledge to Ohio State, but he also knew that the week following Friday Night Lights was one of the most difficult of his life.
Cupp calls the situation “water under the bridge” now and says there’s no hard feelings between he and Michigan State, but he certainly doesn’t forget about all that happened.
“If anybody knows what a verbal offer actually is, it’s me,” he said Wednesday. “I’m just glad to get it on pen and paper and that it’s official now.”
Cupp is one of five offensive linemen in Ohio State’s 2016 recruiting class, which is currently ranked No. 1 by 247Sports though that could change. He played multiple positions across the offensive line in high school, but the plan, right now, is for him to come in and compete at guard.
“It all worked out in the end and I get to play for the school of my dreams.”
“The thing that’s nice is he’s athletic for his size so one of the things that makes him so valuable is he can play all five positions,” Cupp’s high school coach, Andy Mangas told Eleven Warriors. “I know the plan going in is at guard, but if they need to put him at center, he did that as a freshman and sophomore and if he needs to play tackle he did that as a junior so he has that flexibility and that skill set to play all five positions.”
It almost certainly wasn’t the route Cupp expected to take to get to Columbus. “It’s been fun and it’s been not so fun, but that’s what recruiting is,” he said. But in the end, the 6-foot-5, 295-pounder feels he is exactly where he was supposed to be.
Gavin Hayes Cupp is officially a member of Ohio State’s football team.
“It all worked out in the end and I get to play for the school of my dreams,” Cupp said.
“I think they got a future star on their hands,” Mangas added. “With his worth ethic, his God-given ability and his drive to succeed, I’d be shocked if he’s not a great player at Ohio State.”