Irizarry switches to Miami



The Ursuline senior tight end had verbally committed to Ohio State in August.
By JOE SCALZO
VINDICATOR SPORTS STAFF
YOUNGSTOWN -- Louis Irizarry stood inside the Ursuline High locker room on Thursday wearing a University of Miami hat, a Miami sweatshirt and a half-smile.
The Irish senior tight end had just made the biggest -- and maybe the best -- decision of his life, but he couldn't help but have mixed feelings.
"I wish I could have stayed home and I would have loved to go to Ohio State," Irizarry said. "But when you have a better opportunity somewhere else, you owe it to yourself to take it."
Irizarry, who verbally committed to the Buckeyes last August, changed his mind on Wednesday, committing to Miami.
It wasn't a rash decision -- he had been thinking about it for the past few months -- but it was definitely a difficult one, he said.
Irizarry wanted to join an offense that featured the tight end. Miami's offense has showcased Jeremy Shockey (now with the New York Giants) and Kellen Winslow Jr. the past two years.
"I just sat down and watched every college game of every team I was considering and I can't say I was satisfied with Ohio State," Irizarry, who visited Miami in late-December, said. "I watched Kellen do his thing and if he steps out [to the NFL], I feel like I have the talent to fill in for him."
Making the switch
Irizarry called Ohio State coach Jim Tressel Wednesday night to tell him of his decision, then called Miami coach Larry Coker.
"[Tressel] was very understanding -- surprisingly understanding," Irizarry, who will major in engineering, said. "Of course he was telling me that they don't have a guy like me and they need a guy like me and I don't think he was lying. But it still isn't close to what the facts are showing compared to other teams."
Irizarry made sure to give Ohio State as much notice as possible.
"I like those guys and I wanted to give them a chance to find someone else if they wanted to," he said.
Miami has other positives -- a private-school education, a better climate and a smaller campus. Irizarry, an honors student at Ursuline, said the education was a factor but not the famed "Miami lifestyle."
"Going down to South Beach in December doesn't hurt, but I'm not that stupid that I'm going to make a decision based on some babes on a beach," he said. "I hung out with Kellen on my visit and we didn't even go out at night. We just played some games and visited some other guys in the dorms. They're too busy anyway [to party]."
His decision didn't thrill his parents, Louis Sr. and Evelyn, but they understood.
"We just told him to take his visits and that once he was there, he'll know where he's supposed to be," Evelyn said. "I'm a little sad that it's going to be so far away, but I'm very proud of him."
Ohio State's win over Miami in the Fiesta Bowl didn't affect his decision -- "I had made up my mind before that," Irizarry said -- but he was uncomfortable about switching his commitment.
"I felt terrible," he said. "But when it was over, it was like someone took a squat bar off of me."

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