COLUMBUS, Ohio - Quarterback Verlon Reed showed up at his first practice at Marion-Franklin High School and told members of the coaching staff that he would be their next Ohio State Buckeye.
Roughly four years later, on National Signing Day, Reed officially became a Buckeye when he signed his letter of intent in the auditorium of his high school in front of classmates, fellow athletes, friends, family, and even media.
"It is very exciting," Reed said Wednesday. "It is a stepping stone, not only for me but the city also. Everybody has a chance to make it. Anybody from anywhere. As long as you're doing the right things, it will pay off.
Reed, a 6-foot-2, 185-pound quarterback, has been a Buckeye fan for years and was considered a heavy lean during his recruitment to sign with Ohio State since receiving the coveted offer.
"Just like week I was thinking about wanted to be a Buckeye and I told my coaches I was going to be a Buckeye (my freshman year)," Reed said. "For this to come true is a really big deal."
Being an in-town recruit, Reed was able to become quite familiar with what Ohio State had to offer. In his exposure to the program, Reed was always blown away about what Ohio State could be for him.
"It was everything I expected it to be," Reed said of Ohio State. "There wasn't anything behind closed doors that I didn't know about. If you need something, they can provide it for you, and that was a big part of my decision."
One of the major factors in Reed's recruitment was whether or not he would be able to play quarterback at the next level. Though most schools that sent offers his way wanted him at another position, Ohio State agreed to give Reed a shot at making as a signal caller when he arrived on campus.
It was an opportunity he couldn't pass up.
"I played quarterback my whole life and that's very important to me and that's what I want to play," Reed said. "With them to give me the opportunity that is all I asked for was just my shot and they will give me the opportunity to make a big difference.
"I had to make my case a lot (to play quarterback)," Reed added. "A lot of schools came in like, 'You're a great quarterback, but we don't need you at quarterback,' and Ohio State was the same thing but they were going to give me a shot. And with a shot, that's all I need if I do what I got to do. I think I will fit in really well with the system. They are going to evaluate me and see where I fit in and wherever they put me, that's where I will be at."
Reed had the privilege of watching Troy Smith, former Buckeye quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, every weekend being from Columbus and Smith became a big role model for the new Buckeye.
The quarterback wants to wear No. 10, the number he wore in high school, when arriving at Ohio State. Only Devon Torrence, a cornerback, wears that number now for Ohio State.
Smith came to Ohio State as an athlete and made it at quarterback, which gives Reed some motivation to make it at the position, too.
"I want to keep my number. No. 10," Reed said. "My favorite quarterback is Troy Smith. I idolize him a lot. That's the reason why I like the No. 10. It also gives me hope. With me giving young kids in the city hope to let me know that I can also be a quarterback at Ohio State."
Even if Reed doesn't make it at quarterback, he is confident that he is versatile enough to be a contributor at any position the Buckeye coaching staff sees fit. In addition to playing quarterback for Marion-Franklin, Reed also played defensive back quite a bit as well.
"It is great because I am not a one-dimensional athlete, I can play other positions," Reed said. "If quarterback doesn't work out then I could move somewhere else. If I was only able to play quarterback and I don't get the starting job, then I am just sitting. I would like to be on the field to contribute to the team."
The theme of the press conference and his interviews today was the ability to motivate the underclassmen and others to keep their heads focused on the goal. Becoming a better man, not just a football player, is one of Reed's biggest goals.
"That's the main thing, leadership and character and that's what drew me to Ohio State," Reed said. "Of course everyone wants a great athlete, but they don't want anyone that is going to start trouble or bring a bad name to the university as well."
Ari Wasserman is a staff writer for BuckeyeGrove.com. He can be reached at [email protected].
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