Archbishop Hoban's dominant defensive end Greg McMullen confirmed to the Akron Beacon Journal that he verbally committed to the Nebraska Cornhuskers Thursday.
McMullen, a highly coveted national prospect, ranked as one of the Top 100 college prospects in the nation and many people thought that he was destined for Columbus and the Ohio State Buckeyes.
Instead, the 6-foot-5, 260-lbs. defensive standout will get a chance to earn a Blackshirt, which are given to the Cornhuskers defensive players, instead of Buckeye leaves that adorn OSU's helmets.
He likened his choice to dating, having visited the Nebraska campus on four occasions.
‘’After the fourth date,’’ he said during a phone conversation late Thursday night, ‘’it’s official.’’
His decision could come back to haunt Buckeyes quarterbacks in the near future. The Cornhuskers will begin play in the Big Ten this fall and should McMullen blossom, as many experts believe he will, his rare blend of size and speed (he runs 4.5 in the 40-yard dash) could prove troublesome. If that happens, OSU could have no one but themselves to blame.
‘’I haven’t heard from them. I get emails from all over,’’ he said. ‘’If I really am one of the top defensive players in Ohio and Ohio State wants me (they should stay in touch).’’
He contrasted that with Nebraska who he said has maintained contact – within NCAA rules – throughout the recruiting process.
“It just feels right,’’ he said. “It’s more like a friend I see in them. That’s how I feel when I talk to Nebraska. I know what’s going on there.’’
If it’s true that OSU lost contact, that could be due to the imbroglio that surrounds the football program currently. Coach Jim Tressel resigned his position Memorial Day Weekend and the school remains under investigation and is expected to receive significant sanctions from the NCAA after a hearing in August.
‘’It’s like a black hole,’’ McMullen said. ‘’I don’t want to get caught up in that mix.’’
Hoban coach Ralph Orsini didn’t seem surprised about the decision when he spoke to the Beacon Journal about it earlier Thursday evening. He said McMullen sought his counsel earlier in the day Thursday regarding his choice in colleges.
''All indications were (Nebraska) was going to be his decision,'' Orsini said. ''I told him to go over everything and make sure it's what he watns to do and go ahead.''
While getting his education is a top priority, the reality is that Divison I athletes go to schools such as Nebraska to compete and part of that desire is wanting to win rings.
‘’I don’t know what’s going to happen there and I don’t think I want to know,’’ McMullen said. “I can’t go to that school.”
It will be the second top-tier recruit that the Buckeyes have lost in the course of the week as Canton McKinley’s Se’Von Pittman, who was considered a lock for the Buckeyes also, reversed course and headed up north to Michigan State.
McMullen said that his decision doesn’t come without some sense of relief.
“It relieves some stress of me. It allows me to relax and just get ready to play this year,’’ he said.
In short: the expectations of being one of the top recruits in the state of Ohio for the better part of two years were starting to affect him with people trying to exert influence. McMullen said he declared his independence with his decision.
“I got tired of people telling me what to do,” he said. “It’s ultimately showing what I want.”