February 6, 2008

Buckeyes sign a pair of solid Rocks for 2008

Dublin Coffman football stars Mike Adams and Jake Stoneburner have known for quite a while where they were going to play their football at the next level.

A Columbus native, Adams was the second player to commit to coach Jim Tressel and Ohio State for the class of 2008, when he joined kicker Ben Buchanan back in March of 2007. The 6-foot-7 offensive tackle was a monster catch for the Buckeyes, maybe the biggest since two-time All-American Orlando Pace.

Two weeks later the Buckeyes added another Coffman product to the mix when Stoneburner joined Adams in the class. Since that day, the two have worked hard to help Tressel and the Buckeyes secure one of the top recruiting classes in the country. Adams in particular, is proud of the work he was able to do in helping to secure two important pieces of "Block-O."

"Michael Brewster and J.B. Shugarts, my fellow linemen," Adams said. "After the spring game they weren't so sure, but I told them I am having a big dinner tonight and you guys are going to come and be a part this class."

Brewster (Florida) and Shugarts (Texas) did join Adams in Columbus, and together the three have formed one of the best offensive line recruiting classes in recent memory.

"We talk about that all the time, the three of us," Adams said. "It's great people take notice, because linemen don't always get the recognition. I knew at Ohio State people were going to see me play.

So what made the two Rocks so sure of their commitments?

"Coach Tressel and his whole staff, coach (Darrell) Hazell especially," Stoneburner said. "Their facilities are top notch, who wouldn't want to play there."

Being able to announce a decision for their hometown school in front of friends and family, and alongside their high school teammates, is a dream come true for Adams and Stoneburner.

"It's always a dream to get all this attention, but the real world starts in two months," Stoneburner said.

Stoneburner plans to enroll at OSU in time to join the team for spring practice. Both he and Adams will start their first quarter of college in the spring.

"It's going to be a weird feeling," Stoneburner said. "March 24th will be my first day on campus and I pretty much have practice as soon as I step on campus."

When Adams and Stoneburner arrive at OSU they will join a number of their classmates, including Brewster and Shugarts, who enrolled in January and will be entering their second quarter of college.

Stoneburner and Brewster have developed a close relationship throughout the process, and Brewster has been giving him the heads up on what to expect once he gets to OSU.

"He says it's really not a whole lot different so far," Stoneburner said. "It's a lot of fun and a new experience, and his parents aren't around to tell him what to do."

It's been well publicized that this recruiting is very close off the field, but Stoneburner also built some relationships with current Buckeyes along the way.

"I became real close wtih Jake Ballard. I hung out with him pretty much every time I was there," Stoneburner said. "I hung out with Dane Sanzenbacher on my visit, and Robby Schoenhoft was cool when he was there."

What made Stoneburner want to enroll at OSU in the spring rather than waiting to until the summer or fall?

"I want to show I can actually compete as a wide receiver," Stoneburner said. "Show them I could make a good impact next year."

The Buckeyes return their entire receiving corps from a year ago, including starters Brian Robiskie and Brian Hartline, but they never really established a No. 3 receiver last year. Does Stoneburner think he can come in and compete for that spot right away?

"I definitely think so," Stoneburner said. "They have some good receivers right now, but I feel like they don't have anyone that's big like me. I could add a different dimension to their offense."

His head coach at Dublin Coffman, Mark Crabtree, also sees Stoneburner as big-time mismatch at the next level; too big for corners to cover, but too fast for almost any linebacker to check.

"I think coach Tressel and his staff are going to have fun trying to figure out where to put him and all the mismatches they can create," Crabtree said.

Stoneburner isn't the only one looking to play early. His former and current teammate Adams also has an eye on some early playing time, despite the fact OSU returns four of their five starting offensive linemen from a year ago.

"I definitely think so. Coach (Jim) Bollman talks to me all the time about learning the system early," Adams said. "I know I will have an opportunity to compete for that right tackle spot, that's a big reason I am enrolling early."

After watching Adams dominate the high school level for four years, could Crabtree see him stepping in right away at OSU?

"I could see it happening, but there is a lot of competition up there," Crabtree said. "If anyone can do it, though, Mike can. Take the athletic talent out of it - and that might be hard to do - he is everything you could want in a football players. He's a leader, he's competitive, he's tough; he's never missed a practice, never missed a game."

If Adams is does end up winning the right tackle job, the front five could look very similar to the one from a year ago, at least in terms of jersey numbers.

"Kirk Barton told me to get 74," Adams said. "So I've talked to coach Bollman about that already."

As for Stoneburner, he thought he had number picked out, but might be looking to go a different direction if can solidify himself as a wideout.

"I was thinking 85, but now I'm looking at 15," Stoneburner said. "Eight-five is more of a tight end number."

Although Stoneburner is listed as the No. 3 tight end in the country according to Rivals.com, he doesn't seem himself playing the position in a traditional sense at the next level.

"I really don't ever see myself playing the blocking tight end like they have now," Stoneburner said.

Considering the Buckeyes signed another tight end today, Nic DiLillo of Madison high school, how does Stoneburner expect to be used differently than DiLillo at Ohio State?

"As a slot type or an H-Back," Stoneburner said. "They don't really have that position right now, but I could see them using me kind of like the way Kellen Winslow is used."

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