JJ Huddle of JJHuddle.com broke the story Friday afternoon that Ohio State had offered Pickerington Central's versatile A.J. Trapasso a scholarship and he had accepted.
Trapasso (6-1, 215, 4.5) becomes the 17th high school senior to verbal to OSU, although he plans to graduate early and enroll in time to participate in spring football in April. In addition to getting early collegiate experience, the move allows OSU to count Trapasso back to last year's recruiting class and take an extra player if needed under the NCAA limit of 85 scholarships.
With OSU losing Ray Guy Award winner B.J. Sander to graduation, the Buckeyes were in the market for a punter. They got that and then some with Trapasso, who was a standout running back, defensive player and punt and kick specialist for the Tigers.
"It did happen kind of quickly," said Trapasso's father, Sam. "A.J. had been speaking with (OSU assistant coach Bill) Conley the whole football season, along with a number of other schools. It all kind of came about starting two weeks ago.
"They began inquiring whether A.J. could graduate early and get into camp early. A.J. had a good camp at Ohio State last summer. He ran a 4.5 40 time there and Coach Conley worked with him. That got A.J.'s hopes up that Ohio State might be interested.
"Coach Conley called Tuesday night and offered A.J. a scholarship and A.J. jumped on it."
Trapasso earned All-Ohio honors as a kicker in Division I as a junior. His high school then split into two schools, dropping Pickerington Central (the old school just renamed) into Division II. As a senior, Trapasso led Central to a 9-2 record and a playoff berth. He rushed for 1,520 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. He also averaged 41.4 yards as a punter, earning All-Ohio honors as a punter this season in D-II.
According to his father, Trapasso holds 14 records at Pickerington in categories ranging from scoring to rushing to kicking and punting.
Trapasso had offers from several MAC schools and Purdue had asked him to "grayshirt" (delay his full-time enrollment until sometime in 2005). Indiana, Northwestern and Navy had also been in contact with Trapasso.
"It's funny that (Purdue) wanted to grayshirt him and Ohio State wants him to enroll early," Sam Trapasso said. "We went from one extreme to the other. But A.J., by enrolling early, goes on last year's numbers. That helps them, too.
"They had been calling wanting to know if it was possible to graduate early. We checked and it was possible. Coach Conley said they were graduating their punter and A.J. was one of the ones they were looking at."
Getting into school early should only help A.J. Trapasso make an impact in 2004, his father said.
"They want him to get in early so he can work with them in spring drills and compete for time in the spring game," he said. "Then, he'll be able to work out with them all summer. They think A.J. can compete for the starting job next year."
A.J. Trapasso had two other reasons to consider OSU -- his cousin, Joe Brown, is a former OSU player and his former Pickerington head coach, Jack Johnson, is a volunteer strength coach.
"Joe used to take A.J. up there to Ohio State and show him around and take him to classes when A.J. was in junior high," Sam Trapasso said. "That's when A.J. kind of fell in love with the place.
"Plus, I think it is great that he will be reunited with Coach Johnson. Everybody knows how great a guy he is. He has been a big influence on him and I think it's great that he will play for him again at Ohio State."