"You guys had no idea, did you?"
That's what Columbus Beechcroft head coach Tom Dunlap asked me after introducing myself over the phone this morning. My answer?
"No, we didn't."
SirJoseph Welch was a name we had indeed heard before, but it was admittedly a surprise to learn of his commitment to OSU. Welch's stock has risen so fast though that maybe it was only a matter of time before the defensive back got that Buckeye offer. Coach Dunlap said things really picked up once schools got their hands on SirJoseph's highlight tape.
"SirJoseph's Tape just caught people's eye," Coach Dunlap said.
The offers came flying fast and furious. Coach Dunlap said Iowa was the first to offer as they came forward in March, and since then, most of the Big Ten as well as several schools from outside the conference extended offers as well.
"The film really put it over the top," Coach Dunlap said. ""It's what they (the coaches) were looking for."
So what was on that tape that impressed college coaches so much? Coach Dunlap said that SirJoseph has a tremendous knack of getting to the ball.
"He made his skills known by getting to the football," Coach Dunlap said. "He was like a shot to the ball… it's almost like hitting a baseball – it's like something he's got. Some of his interceptions – it's like a swoop out of nowhere."
In addition to his cover skills and ability to get to the ball, Coach Dunlap said SirJoseph also showed the hitting ability that coaches wanted to see. It wasn't uncommon to see him in the middle of a play or pile-up, and sometimes, it was the Beechcroft defenders that got the worst of it.
"Some of our own guys took the biggest hits from him," Coach Dunlap said. "He plays like he's truly having a great time."
SirJoseph (6-0, 180) was one of the leaders on a Beechcroft defense that allowed just over seven points a game last year and was one of the best in central Ohio. He had five INTs - two of them returned for touchdowns - and was one of the leading tacklers in assists. He played safety for Beechcroft (it was his first year playing varsity), but Coach Dunlap says that he'll wind up wherever the OSU coaches feel he fits best.
"They recruited him as a secondary back," the coach said. "He'll play where he fits in."
SirJoseph has also excelled on the basketball court as a point guard, and Coach Dunlap said that has played a role in his football success.
"His ability as a tremendous point guard crosses over to the football field," Coach Dunlap said.
Coach Dunlap said SirJoseph has always wanted to be a Buckeye, and a recent meeting with Coach Tressel went a long way in helping to firm up the decision.
"His parents were very pleased with what the program had to offer," Coach Dunlap said.
In addition, two players who attended Beechcroft that are currently on the Buckeyes had a role as well. WR Jamal Luke and CB Antonio Smith have made the coach proud in what they have achieved and have represented OSU very well. They made a stop last year at a banquet and cast a very good impression.
"It was hard for anyone not to be impressed," the coach said.
Coach Dunlap said SirJoseph is a guy who is always into athletics, and that focus doesn't give him time for much else off the field.
"He is dedicated to his two sports," Coach Dunlap said. "When he's not playing football, he's playing basketball."
The early decision will work in Welch's favor as Coach Dunlap said that SirJoseph had hoped to take some of the decision-making pressure off.
"This will allow him to concentrate on school and prepare for college," Coach Dunlap said.
The story of SirJoseph Welch is still developing, and we hope to have him on an upcoming Bucknuts Radio Hour to find out more. Stay tuned to Bucknuts for more on the latest Buckeye!