The future stars of Ohio State football officially begin their college careers, as standouts from all over the country put pens to their National Letters of Intent.
Growing up in nearby Westerville, Jaelen Gill's recruitment to Ohio State seemed to be pretty smooth, at least for him.
Gill's commitment to the Buckeyes wasn't without some drama on the first day of March, when he announced his commitment with a video that first showed him donning a UCLA shirt before the shot cut to him on the field at Ohio Stadium, shedding the UCLA blue for a black Ohio State shirt.
Prior to his announcement, Gill told those in attendance at his ceremony that the first person who knew where he was going before anyone else was his grandfather, who passed away in April of 2016.
The Gill File
- Class: 2018
- Size: 6-foot-1, 182 pounds
- Pos: RB
- School: Westerville South (OH)
- Composite Rating: ★★★★★
- Composite Rank: 1 (APB)
"He meant the world to me, and if you know how close I was with him, when he passed, it hurt me and I was down for a really long time," Gill said. "In my last moments with him, I told him where I was going to school."
Gill's journey to Ohio State hasn't been an easy one for the dynamic running back. In his four years as a Wildcat, Gill went through the death of his grandfather, three head coaches and an ankle injury that cost him the majority of his junior season.
He told Eleven Warriors in August that the adversity that he has faced, including the multiple coaching changes, will prepare him for the next level in his playing career.
“The hardest part is learning new playbooks and adjusting, but at the same time, it makes you a better player,” Gill said. “In the future, you might have a new coaching staff in college or in the pros and you will have to adapt. I’d say honestly, it made me stronger as a player.”
Gill persevered, earning an invite to Nike's The Opening and accepting a place in the upcoming U.S. Army All-America Bowl following the ankle injury. He also chronicled his senior season with the Wildcats in a series of exclusive letters to Buckeye fans through Eleven Warriors.
Despite a 4-6 record in his senior season, Gill still managed to earn first-team All-OCC Buckeye honors and even had an entire day devoted to himself in the city of Westerville.
— WSHS Athletics (@SouthWildcats) November 8, 2017
Gill's commitment in March was just Ohio State's fourth in the 2018 class. However, his commitment came when it did in order to begin the process of jump starting the class, which is among the best in the country.
“I’ve been recruiting guys for a while now. I’m already trying to flip people,” Gill said the day of his commitment. “Me and Jaiden Woodbey, the safety from California, we talk about it every day. We’re trying to flip a few people and maybe you can think of some of those guys. We’re trying our best, we’re already recruiting and I’m excited."
Despite being such a hard commit, Gill doesn't play on enrolling early at Ohio State in order to play baseball for the Wildcats in the spring. Once he does arrive on campus however, Gill said he envisions himself playing more of an H-back role in Urban Meyer's offense rather than a true running back.
“I feel like I can fill that role without a problem,” Gill said. “Curtis Samuel is phenomenal. He is one of the more athletic guys I have ever seen, especially seeing him in practice, and he does the same thing in practice that he does in games. I feel like I can be just like him, if not better.”