WAUSEON - Elliott Mealer will be shopping for large posters today - just something to quickly cover up those Scarlet and Gray walls in his bedroom. He'll need a new wardrobe, too, and then he'll probably have to paint his car.
Mealer, the huge offensive lineman from Wauseon High School, who has been an Ohio State fan since about the day he came home from the hospital in his mother's arms, has lived in an essentially scarlet and gray world. Now, he might even need to change his blood type.
Mealer decided late Monday night to play college football for Michigan, and he knew the move would require that a metamorphic transformation take place in the rest of his life. "I was raised a Buckeye. I loved the Buckeyes - and I still do," Mealer said yesterday. "But I'll have to buy some different clothes now, since a lot of my stuff is all Ohio State."
The 6-6, 294 pound Mealer, who will be a senior this fall, was a highly sought-after prize. He had received scholarship offers from Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois, Indiana, Northwestern, Duke, Toledo, Bowling Green and a number of other MAC schools.
Ohio State had been recruiting him hard, as well, and had Mealer in Columbus Saturday for the Scarlet and Gray spring game. But the Buckeyes had not yet offered him a scholarship, and when Ohio State landed a couple of top offensive linemen from Florida and Texas in the last few days, Mealer's decision became a bit easier.
"I think the picture changed a little when Ohio State got those other guys in, but Michigan had been very persistent all along and I think Elliott was very comfortable with them," Wauseon head coach Mark Emans said.
"The interest in him just snowballed after last season, and Michigan's been involved for a long time. It's just kind of funny that, until about 8:30 last night, he was a big Buckeyes fan."
Mealer, who also plays basketball for the Indians, said the chemistry between him and the Michigan coaching staff sold him on becoming a Wolverine. He also said emphatically that his decision to go to Ann Arbor was in no way a slight directed at Columbus.
"I was kind of waiting on Ohio State to see if they were gonna offer, and I'm sure now some people thought this was just me getting back at them, but that just is not true," Mealer said. "The advice I got from a lot of people was that you would know when things felt right, and it's been that way with Michigan for a while now. This was never meant to be disrespectful at all towards Ohio State. I really like the coaches on the staff there too."
Mealer said the whole recruiting process, which started with a few letters coming his way during the 2006 season, had been a humbling and somewhat overwhelming experience.
"I just considered it an honor, whether it's Bowling Green or Toledo or Duke and even up to Michigan, coming to see me and showing an interest in me playing for them," Mealer said."I think that for the most part, Elliott is relieved right now that the process is over," Emans said. "He's going to a top-notch program, and he'll be real close to home. That's a plus for him and his family."
Michigan coach Lloyd Carr, who is prohibited by NCAA regulations from commenting on recruits until they formally commit by signing a national letter of intent, will have to let Mealer work out the color scheme on the home front.
With Brutus Buckeye staring down at him from one wall, and "The Ohio State University" emblazoned on another, Mealer was able to sort things out and make a decision he said he feels comfortable with.
"Michigan was my number one school for a long time, and after I talked it over with my family and then slept on it, the decision to go there felt great," Mealer said. "All signs pointed north for me. And as far as my room and all the Ohio State stuff - I'll just have to figure that out."
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