Yesterday morning at about 9, Rogers football coach Rick Rios instructed one of his star players into his office.
Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was waiting on the phone.
What began as routine chatter between Tressel and Rams junior DerJuan "Peewee" Gambrell soon turned into a deeper discussion. Gambrell, a junior defensive star, verbally committed to Tressel and the Buckeyes about a month after receiving a scholarship offer from the program he has longed revered.
"I knew [I'd accept] when they first offered me," Gambrell said. "I had to talk it over with my family, and they were OK with it."
Gambrell was one of two juniors who committed to OSU yesterday, joining Illinois offensive lineman Brian Bobek. Whitmer's Kenny Hayes became the Buckeyes' first 2011 commitment when he made his intentions known in August.
Gambrell (6-foot-2, 180 pounds) played free safety and flanker last year for the state-qualifying Rams but is expected to matriculate to cornerback in Columbus. In earning first team City League honors, Gambrell had 50 tackles, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, and an interception. He added seven touchdowns on offense.
It was at the Buckeyes' camp last summer where Gambrell caught the attention of staffs from OSU and the University of Toledo, the only two schools to present Gambrell scholarship offers.
"We've taken a lot of phone calls at school the past couple of weeks, but he has pretty much let everyone know he's made up his mind," Rios said.
Rios, an admitted Buckeye fan who works OSU's summer camps, came close on two other occasions to sending a recruit to OSU. In 2001, OSU commit Drushawn Humphrey tragically died during his junior year, and in 2004 Fred Davis spurned the Buckeyes and signed with Southern California.
"I'm blessed that I've had a few guys that have had the opportunity to be recruited by OSU," Rios said. "It's nice to have one that we'll get to see playing in Columbus on Saturdays."
A reigning Division I regional 400-meter track champion, Gambrell, who has posted a time of 4.5 seconds in the 40-yard dash, is undecided whether he'll participate in track at Ohio State.
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