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OHIO STATE FOOTBALL Troubled Tressel lands 18 recruits



Published: Thu, February 3, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The NCAA investigationdidn't matter to the newBuckeyes.

COLUMBUS (AP) -- After months of NCAA investigations, allegations of payoffs to football players and academic fraud, Ohio State coach Jim Tressel was more than a little relieved that he was able to convince 18 players to sign with the Buckeyes on Wednesday.

"No question in these kids' minds this is where they want to be," Tressel said after unveiling the class on the first day for the signing of national letters of intent. "It's not like they didn't hear a lot of different things, whether it be investigative things, NCAA things ... That stuff didn't override to these kids [that] this is where they want to be."

The highlights included Alex Boone, a 6-foot-8-inch, 315-pound offensive lineman from Lakewood St. Edward High School, and linebacker Freddie Lenix and Jamario O'Neal, a fleet cornerback, both from Cleveland Glenville High. That's the same school that gave Ohio State Ted Ginn Jr., the record-setting kick returner/receiver.

Ohio State has been under fire for most of the past two years because of charges that football players were given high-pay, low-work summer jobs, received money from boosters and did little work for their grades.

Starting quarterback Troy Smith was suspended for the Alamo Bowl last year and will likely be held out of at least the season-opener against Miami (Ohio) on Sept. 4 for accepting money from a team booster.

Tressel spoke with reporters near a sign which read, "The desire to win is translated to TEAM CONDUCT: Woody Hayes."

Predicted good news

Tressel said he was confident that the current NCAA investigation in his program would come out favorably.

"The NCAA's not an ogre out there," he said.

He was asked if other schools used Ohio State's troubles against it during the highly competitive recruiting season. Tressel said there are not guarantees or promises when it comes to the whole process.

"We have to come short of saying, just like any school, 'Hey, Johnny, I promise you in the next four years there won't be any problems in my school.' You can't make that promise," Tressel said.

The 18 scholarships were fewer than Ohio State could have handed out. Most likely the extras will be "banked" and used next year or on walk-ons or transfers this season.

Among the incoming Buckeyes is James Laurinaitis, a linebacker from Wayzata, Minn., whose father was "Animal," a renowned professional wrestler who was part of the WWE's Legion of Doom.




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