The pressure might have been mounting all around him, but Bradley McDougald
was one of the last to notice it.
On campus for a summer camp at Ohio State, the Dublin Scioto prospect already held an offer from the Buckeyes. With spots rapidly filling up in the school's class of 2009, McDougald made the short trip to campus and showed his wares to the OSU coaching staff.
But with other players committing to the program at a record-breaking pace, McDougald felt no sense of urgency when it came to issuing a verbal commitment to the Buckeyes.
"The coaches did a good job letting me know, and they talked to my coaches if they couldn't talk to me and said, ‘Bradley doesn't have to make a decision by any time, we still have a spot available for him when he is ready to become a Buckeye,' " McDougald told BuckeyeSports.com. "They want their players to know that they want to be a Buckeye, so before they do they get a chance to go see other schools."
As a result, the 6-1, 190-pound McDougald went through defensive drills simply with his eyes focused on taking in what the OSU coaches had to tell him and trying to improve his game.
The fact that the weekend would yield six new commitments was not registering on the assembled campers – at least, from McDougald's perspective.
"If there was a buzz, I didn't hear anything about it," he said. "We went down there and we all liked what we saw at the same time and we got along with each other real well as if we were going to be future teammates. I think everybody just liked it and was ready to be a Buckeye."
Count McDougald in that group full of members that decided they wanted to be Buckeyes. As soon as the weekend was up, he decided he wanted to add his name to the list.
The following Monday, McDougald eventually placed a phone call to OSU linebackers coach Luke Fickell, the recruiting coordinator for central Ohio. But first came four difficult phone calls: one to Wisconsin, one to Michigan State, one to Illinois and a final one to Boston College, informing each coaching staff that he was pledging his services to the Buckeyes.
"I called those schools and let them know that I was choosing Ohio State and thanks for recruiting me," he said. "Then I called Coach Fickell and told him I was ready and he told me to give (OSU head coach Jim Tressel) a call. I called Coach Tressel and then it was official.
"He was just happy. I committed a couple of minutes after Corey Brown had committed, so he was just excited. He's a very cool coach."
With that, the Buckeyes landed a cornerback who has made a name for himself by being an aggressive hitter who loves providing run support near the line of scrimmage. Also a running back in high school – his favorite position to play – he was being recruited by most schools as a defensive back.
OSU did not enter the picture for McDougald until early this spring, he said. First they checked out his film, then paid him a visit at school before eventually extending him an offer in late spring.
"They liked my size as a defensive back and the way I play physical and have the ability to drop back into coverage or fill up in the hole to make a play," he said.
A central Ohio product, McDougald said becoming verbal commitment No. 22 was a "dream come true" – but he is not ready to rest on his laurels just yet.
"It really is like a dream situation," he said. "I think it's an outstanding position, but I don't want to get happy because I'm finally there. I want to make sure I keep working harder to make sure I'm ready for the next level when I'm down there and be the best player that I can be. Now that I know I'm good enough to play there, it's just about getting better and getting stronger and keep working hard so I can have a good career when I'm there."
Ohio State landed a number of recruits during the weekend, but for Bradley McDougald, committing to be a Buckeye marked the realization of a dream come true. Find out what led to him becoming a Buckeye, who he called first and how his expectations have changed.
The central Ohio football product is thrilled to be a Buckeye.
McDougald is a Buckeye.