Eight OSU Signees Tabbed For North-South Classic

Austin Spitler

Future Buckeyes, including linebacker Austin Spitler, say they are looking forward to playing in the Ohio North-South Classic June 18. Click here for all the details, plus comments from Lawrence Wilson on his OSU verbal.

More than 60 of Ohio's top high school football players assembled in Columbus Thursday for the official introduction of the rosters for the 60th annual Grange Insurance Ohio North-South Classic.

Eight future Buckeyes will participate in the game, which is set for Sat., June 18, at Columbus Crew Stadium. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.

"Nobody in the country plays high school football like here in the state of Ohio," said Canton McKinley coach Brian Cross, who will coach the North squad. "This is going to be one hell of a game."

Cross' North squad includes fivee OSU signees – Lakewood St. Edward offensive lineman Alex Boone, Chagrin Falls wide receiver Brian Robiskie, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary defensive end Lawrence Wilson and Cleveland Glenville linebacker Freddie Lenix and defensive back Jamario O'Neal.

The South squad, coached by Dublin Scioto's Karl Johnson, will have three OSU signees – Middletown wide receiver Andre Amos, Cincinnati St. Xavier quarterback Rob Schoenhoft and Bellbrook linebacker Austin Spitler.

Wilson was a popular interview candidate, appearing in Columbus one day after his dramatic announcement on ESPN News that he had picked Ohio State over Notre Dame and Florida.

"It was home and I wanted to be there," Wilson said. "It is a great program with great tradition. I talked with all of the coaches there and I felt comfortable with them."

Wilson had not even told the coaches of his decision before he announced it on national televison. Afterwards, he reached members of the staff via phone.

"They were thrilled," Wilson said. "I talked to (defensive line coach Jim) Heacock and Coach Tressel afterwards. They were happy. They said I made the right decision."

Wilson said he is looking forward to playing in the Ohio North-South Classic.

"It is really exciting," he said. "I am kind of overwhelmed to be here with all of these guys. This should be a good experience."

Also Quotable

We got comments from a number of other OSU signees at the North-South Classic press event. Here's a sampling of some of the other sentiments:

* Lenix on playing in the game -- "It's a good honor. I think I played a good season. I think this is recognition for how hard I've worked throughout the years. I think it will be a real tough game. We know there will be some good athletes in this game."

* Lenix on signing -- "I feel good it is all out of the way and finished. I'm a Buckeye. That's what everybody wanted me to be and what I wanted to be. I'm glad it's all over now. I've known (OSU assistant Mel) Tucker since the eighth grade and he did a good job of sticking with me and telling me to be patient and that my scholarship would come."

* O'Neal on playing in this game after playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl -- "I think this is great to play against the top players in your class. I'm sure it will be a great event. It was a great experience down there, being with the country's top athletes. It was a fast paced game with a lot of hitting going on. Come June, I'll be ready for it."

* O'Neal on finally signing with OSU after committing to the Buckeyes nearly two years ago -- "I was real happy to finally sign with Ohio State. I couldn't sleep the night before signing day. It's finally here. I know it will be great to finally go down to Ohio State."

* Schoenhoft on being selected for the game -- "There is just great tradition in this game. Justin Zwick and Troy Smith also played in this game. This is a good honor."

* Schoenhoft on his plans for the spring -- "After basketball season ends, our offensive line coach played at Boston College and was a graduate assistant at Cincinnati. He is pretty much going to kick my butt. Andre Amos is going to come down and we will throw the ball a little bit. I need to work on my footwork and become quicker."

* Amos on playing in the game -- "It is really a great honor to be here with all of these great athletes. As they were saying, there is a chance somebody here will be in the Super Bowl one day."

* Amos on playing offense or defense at OSU -- "Whatever the team needs me to do to be successful, that's what I will do. If they want me to jump on corner, I'll do that. If it's wide receiver, I'll do that. I'll do whatever it takes to win and for us to be better."

* Boone on playing in this game -- "I know the competition down here will be tough. There are kids from all over the state down here. It is neat to meet them. This will be a good step forward."

* Boone on being in this class -- "I know a few of the guys. I think it's a great class. I don't know how it could get any better with guys like Rob and Freddie Lenix and Jamario O'Neal. This is a great class and a great group of kids. I don't think you can ask for anything more."

Also Notable

* Boone told reporters he is still hopeful he can find a way to graduate early and enroll in time for spring football at Ohio State. School officials at St. Edward previously expressed their hopes that Boone stay through the conclusion of the second semester and graduate with his class.

* Three OSU signees from Ohio are not pegged for the Ohio North-South Classic. Canton GlenOak wide receiver Brian Hartline continues his rehabilitation after suffering a broken leg in his team's season opener in August. Lancaster offensive lineman Jimmy Cordle is planning on graduating early and enrolling at OSU for spring football in March. By enrolling, he is ineligible to play.

It is unclear why Troy defensive lineman Todd Denlinger was not selected. Last year, OSU signee Curtis Terry was a late addition to the all-star game.

* Notable players on the South include WR-DB David Bruton (Notre Dame), LB Alex Daniels (Minnesota), DB Brandon Harrison (Michigan), DB Dominic Jones (Minnesota), WR Greg Orton (Purdue), RB Mister Simpson (Michigan) and DL Terrill Byrd (Cincinnati).

* Notables on the North include LB Brandon Long (Michigan State), OL Rocco Cironi (Michigan State), WR Mario Manningham (Michigan), DB Kyle McCarthy (Notre Dame), TE Jim Ramella (Notre Dame), WR Trey Stross (Iowa), RB Tyrell Sutton (Northwestern) and LB B.J. Travers (Iowa).

* The North-South Classic is the nation's longest running high school all-star game. The North holds the all-time lead 32-24-3. The South won last year 44-28. This will be the 11th time the game has been played in Columbus.

* McKinley's Cross is a true North-South Classic vet. He played in the game, was an assistant, was a South head coach and is now the North head coach.

* Four Heisman Trophy winners played in this game as high schoolers -- Desmond Howard, Archie Griffin, Vic Janowicz and Roger Staubach.

* Here is a photo essay on the Ohio North-South Classic:

Ohio North-South Classic photo page

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