David Durham made a weekend visit to Ohio State in early February and walked away committed to be a Buckeye for the 2010 class. The Austin Texas Westlake linebacker found what he was looking for in Coach Tresel, Coach Fickell, and the LEO position. We found out why he committed early to OSU and what he hopes to accomplish as a senior this coming year.
By Steve Patterson
His high school career has been a mix of success on the football field and wrestling. "I’ve had some big moments like blind-siding the quarterback for a fumble in the Austin High game (big rivalry), playing in the Texas 5A play-offs in the Alamodome, going deep in the play-offs this year, and making all-state in wrestling 2 years in a row." For this past season he put up very impressive defensive numbers. "[My statistics were] 82 tackles and 11.5 sacks for 2008." he reported to us when we contacted him this week.
Two Columbus Visits
Recruiting started early for Durham who drew attention as a sophomore. But when he visited Ohio State, it was the fans, the traditions, the facilities and academics but also the coaching staff which really stood apart. "Coach Tressel and the staff were difference makers for Ohio State." he explains. "I also liked the philosophy of the program and the defensive scheme. And Ohio State has great fan support."
He feels some fans might be surprised by his early commitment but he has plans to focus on high school during his senior year. "People may have been surprised, but I’ve always said I wanted to commit early and focus on helping my high school team my senior year." He knows his national ranking might not be as high as if he had waited longer. " I could have kept visiting and collecting offers but I wanted to go to a program that made it clear I fit their scheme and that I was one of their first offers. I’ve also said that location has never been a factor for me. I wanted to be where I fit in best and Ohio State was that program."
The timing for Ohio State was perfect. "The weekend I visited Ohio State was the only weekend I had off since the season ended. I received offers from every staff I visited with in person that weekend – Virginia, Ohio State and West Virginia. We ran out of time and canceled appointments to Pittsburgh and Maryland."
Ohio State and the Big 10 Win Out
D1 recruits from Texas often attend college in the SEC or the ACC but the Big 10 was mentioned often as a strong defensive conference that he would thrive in. "During the season people kept telling me I should look at the Big 10 and I began to watch some of the games on TV." Durham having family in Pennsylvania was also a help for Ohio State when they came knocking. "I really don’t mind playing in cold weather – that’s probably a negative for a lot of guys from Texas. I have family in Pennsylvania and my mom went to Penn State, so I’ve been going up there my whole life. As my recruiting started to pick up I started feeling like I might fit better in the Big 10."
When he committed to the Buckeyes, Durham had already planned additional school visits and didn't expect to be unavailable when the new offers came. "I had visits scheduled and was expecting offers the next two weeks at Wisconsin, Vanderbilt, North Carolina and NC State." Ron Zook made an offer after Durham had committed as the Illinois coach desired to stay on the radar. " I received one over the phone from Illinois." Durham told us.
In the end, Ohio State is the place were Durham will spend his college career. The coaching staff was a difference maker along with the tradition and the upcoming schedule when the Buckeyes play Miami (FL) in a home-and-home series and then California in a similar two year battle. "I was not going to find coaches anywhere else like Coach Tressel, Coach Fickell and the rest of the staff. I just knew that was where I fit. I’ve always wanted to be the best and play in big games."
Not Afraid of Competition
Durham is ready for the competition that he will find at the linebacker position at Ohio State when he arrives in 2010. "The players at Ohio State are the best in the nation and I will have to compete every day and be my best. Competition can only make you better. You know going in what the expectations are – beat Michigan and Penn State, win the Big 10 and win the national championship. "
Some recruits like to string out the process but Durham felt deciding now was the right choice for him and his family. "I could have prolonged the process to accumulate more offers but that would have been distracting for me and my family. This way, I can concentrate on helping my high school team and focus on getting better for my senior year."