June 3, 2005

Buckeyes add third verbal to class of 2006

Jake Ballard wanted to give every school that wanted him a fair look, but when it came down to it, he couldn't turn down the school that was his longtime favorite.

After initially hoping to camp at both Michigan and Ohio State before deciding between the two schools - each of which offered him a scholarship on Tuesday - Ballard decided no more time was necessary to make his decision, committing to the Buckeyes this morning.

"I knew I wanted to go to Ohio State," the Springboro, Ohio, standout told BuckeyeSports.com. "I wanted to give Michigan a shot, but I kind of felt like I would just be wasting my time. In my heart I knew I wanted a shot to play at Ohio State, and I didn't want to do anything that might make me lose my chance to play at Ohio State."

As late as this past weekend, it appeared as if Ballard might need to hit the summer camp circuit in order to earn the scholarship offers he was seeking. Schools such as Louisville and Michigan State had offered early on in the process, but the 6-7, 245-pound Ballard was hoping to hear from some of the Big Ten's premier powers.

Things happened quickly Memorial Day weekend. On Monday, Wisconsin offered a scholarship, followed by Michigan and subsequently Ohio State on Tuesday.

"It's been crazy," Ballard said. "First it started off being an offer from Wisconsin. Then Ohio State and Michigan offered. Then all the people down here - there are a lot of Ohio State fans, but some Michigan fans - they were saying, `Go to Michigan,' `Go to Ohio State.' I had to think about it … but I knew I wanted to go to Ohio State."

Ballard called OSU this morning and spoke to tight ends coach John Peterson and head coach Jim Tressel.

"They were pretty excited," he said. "They said they can't wait to get me on campus next year and get me ready to play."

The Buckeyes will look at Ballard as a tight end, though many schools believe that he could add significant weight to his frame and develop into a standout offensive lineman. However, Ballard is proficient at both route-running and pass-catching, and with OSU not extremely deep at TE, don't be surprised if Ballard sticks there.

After originally planning to hit camps at Iowa, Michigan and OSU in order to prove that he was deserving of scholarships from those schools, Ballard's commitment means that Ohio State's camp will likely be his only stop in June.

Said Ballard, "This frees up my summer quite a bit."

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