COLUMBUS — A rebuilt and bigger-than-ever Ohio Stadium got its primetime closeup Friday night.
A blue-chip roster of more than 100 high school prospects sought to prove they were ready for the stage.
That even included headliner Torrance Gibson, the five-star quarterback from Florida ranked among the top prospects in the Class of 2015.
Gibson drove 20 hours from his hometown in Fort Lauderdale with the intention of merely taking in the scene at “Friday Night Lights” — the Buckeyes’ biggest annual recruiting showcase. It was his first visit to campus, and he felt he had little to prove in the camp drills. The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Gibson — ranked by Rivals.com as the No. 4 athlete in his class — was the OSU coaching staff’s top priority of the night.
Yet once the music began thumping, the newly installed lights flipped on, and about 2,500 fans filed into the Horseshoe, Gibson reconsidered. At the urging of one of his high school coaches, he adeptly jumped into a late series of passing drills, where a receiver went one-on-one against the cornerback.
“My coach got me fired up and said, ‘Fire that rock,’” said Gibson, who is also being recruited by some schools as a receiver but vows to remain at quarterback. “So I had to come here and do my best.”
Afterward, he left the stadium with Ohio State coach Urban Meyer. Both were smiling, as Gibson promised OSU fans would be when he releases his next list of top schools. He previously anointed Auburn and Tennessee as his favorites, but hinted that could change, saying only that Ohio State “will be really happy.” Gibson, who plans to announce his college decision on Oct. 20, said he hopes to make a return visit to Columbus for the Buckeyes’ season-ending game against Michigan.
“What a great awesome stadium, and they’re building more space,” he said. “It’s going to be crazy this year, and I can’t wait to come back.”
All around, the night was a look to the future, with fans getting a first glimpse of the remodeled stadium — the $13.7 million renovation includes permanent lights, 2,600 additional seats in the south end zone, and new turf — and many of the players who will someday inhabit it. On Friday night alone, four-star tight end Josh Moore of Olathe, Kans., and three-star defensive tackle Joshua Alabi from Detroit’s Cass Tech told Meyer they were committing to OSU. They became the 13th and 14th commits in the 2015 class.
Among the prospects already committed to OSU was Eric Glover-Williams, who came as if to publicly quiet whispers of his demise.
A four-star athlete from Canton McKinley once ranked as the state's top prospect, Glover-Williams has raised a series of red flags. The Canton Repository reported in January that Glover-Williams’ scholarship offer could be pulled as OSU coaches explored unspecified “off-the-field issues,” then in the spring revealed a “relatively serious altercation” between the quarterback and a McKinley teammate at school.
Glover-Williams, who worked with the defensive backs Friday, said he is on good terms with the Ohio State staff.
“I will be a Buckeye,” he said. “O-H.”