October 30, 2011
Zaire compares his two favorites
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Few, if any, recruits were awaiting the kickoff of Saturday night's Ohio State/Wisconsin game as eagerly as Malik Zaire. The 6-foot-1, 190-pound junior dual-threat quarterback from Kettering (Ohio) Alter currently holds a verbal offer from both programs and lists the two as his favorite schools. Needless to say, Zaire was excited to be able to see them match-up in a big-time atmosphere.
"The game and the atmosphere was ridiculous," he said. "(The fans) were like a twelfth man for Ohio State. They were into it from beginning to end and I thought that's what helped them get the victory."
In a game that featured some unbelievable momentum swings, Zaire took a lot from being able to watch both teams fight through adversity.
"It was definitely an eye opener," he said. "I got to see what both teams look like when they're down and I got to see what both teams look like when they're up. It was a good look. Wisconsin fought back from being down and then Braxton (Miller) led the team down and threw the touchdown."
Zaire also observed a lot of positives in the play of true freshman quarterback Braxton Miller. Zaire and Miller are from the same area and have known each other for a few years.
"I think he definitely looked a lot more comfortable," Zaire said. "They put the offense in his hands a little bit in terms of running what he ran in high school, a lot more spread and being able to use his athleticism to get away and make plays."
As a quarterback with a similar skill set to Miller, Zaire couldn't help but be impressed with Miller's game-winning touchdown pass.
"It looked like something I would do, just buying time when you're under pressure," he said. "You just have to keep your eyes down field and make a play and that's what he did. I see myself doing that a little bit so that was pretty cool."
In addition to Ohio State, Zaire has been to games at Northwestern, Notre Dame, and Wisconsin so far this season. Saturday night's experience ranks right at the top for the talented signal-caller.
"It's definitely in the top one or two," he said. "They get a lot more fans and everybody is a lot more into it. They are definitely one of the great atmospheres to be at on a college game day so it was good to look at that."
Though winning the game certainly didn't hurt Ohio State's chances, the end result of the game isn't the most important thing that Zaire pays attention to when he goes on college visits.
"I'm looking at the home feeling I get from it and how the crowd reacts to certain things, especially when they're down," he said. "I'm looking at the plays that the coaches call and how the team is, if they get too bloated when they're winning or if they're losing, how they handle that. I just look at things like that, more so than winning and losing."
Overall, both Ohio State and Wisconsin seem to have strengthened their grip as the top two programs on Zaire's list.
"It gave me a more positive look at both schools," he said. "In terms of the situation and how they handle things, and their offenses are and everything, I definitely got a better handle on both schools."
Now Zaire turns his attention to the state playoffs where his undefeated Alter team is situated in a region with four other unbeaten squads. Zaire outlined the keys to a potential state title run.
"I think that number one is no turnovers, we need to limit those, turnovers can make or break a team," he explained. "I think the next thing is on the offensive side of the ball, keeping possession. So far this whole year, we've done a good job of keeping the time of possession on our side. If we get those two things, I'm pretty sure we'll be fine."
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