Cleveland to Columbus. Glenville to Ohio State. The Buckeye pipeline from the northeast portion of the state is well known and well established. Ted Ginn, Jr., Troy Smith, and Donte Whitner all made the 2 hour trip down to put the Scarlet and Gray on for Jim Tressel and they aren’t the only ones. The Glenville Academic Campus is essentially Ohio State’s farm team, sending the most players to the Shoe than any other over the past 10 years.
Urban Meyer doesn’t much care for pipelines, at least as evidenced by his 1 ¼ recruiting classes so far in Columbus. Meyer prefers a more national approach, which has paid dividends so far in the commitments from guys like J.T. Barrett, Marcus Baugh, and Ezekiel Elliott. To date, no player that Meyer has directly recruited and landed hails from Glenville. Rather, they are spread out across the country, a mishmash of elite players from their respective regions.
I would not go as far as to say that Meyer is ignoring Glenville, as nothing shows that this is the case. Perhaps he just doesn’t see his type of player there. Perhaps he’s got a big board of fellas that he wants and it just so happens that none of them are from Cleveland’s Ohio State pipeline school. However, another feeder is emerging, putting players in Columbus on Saturdays. This school is a preparatory school, focusing on discipline, structure, and success.
Of course, I am talking about Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia.
Three of Meyer’s current players matriculated at Fork Union before joining the squad at the Woody. Cardale Jones – the third string QB, Michael Thomas – the breakout Freshman WR, and Carlos Hyde – interim starting Tailback were all products of the Fork Union system. Cardale has the distinct honor of attending BOTH pipeline schools, as he was enrolled at Glenville before moving over to Fork Union. Thomas came to FUMA via southern California, a temporary stop before fulfilling his dream of being a Buckeye. Hyde continued the tradition of big bruising backs to come from FUMA to OSU.
While Meyer may not adhere to the Glenville pipeline idea, he would be remiss if he did not acknowledge FUMA as a great place to prep for college ball. Some of the top talents in the country have come out of FUMA, not the least of which is current #1 QB in the country, Christian Hackenburg. The plain fact of the matter is not that FUMA produces quality talent, but rather it molds the talent already there into shapes that are amenable to US universities. Talent including such names as Ricky Dudley, Eric Moss, and Eddie George.
FUMA, as a prep school, has lived with two perceptions for as long as I can remember. One, that it is a place where players can go to get eligible to play NCAA ball. Two, that it is a strict, regimented atmosphere that serves their student body as one of the oldest military academies in the country. The perception is that players go there for one reason only – they can’t make the direct jump from high school to college for one reason or another. Whether it is grades, behavior, or attitude; FUMA seems to set people straight.
Of course, there is always the outlier. Sometimes, there is nothing that the faculty at FUMA can do to change a young man’s life. The job gets harder when the player in question refuses to let go of their previous life and what kept them from college in the first place. Take Jamel Turner for example. He was all set to come to Ohio State from FUMA when he was shot in his hometown. On two separate occasions. He never made it to Columbus. That is not to say that Turner did not benefit from the teachings of FUMA, but his circumstances led him away from implementing those teachings to their fullest at Ohio State.
However, Jim Tressel never gave up on him, in true Tressel fashion. Once you have committed to him, you join his family. And Tressel protects and guides his family. This much is evident to every Buckeye fan over the past 12 years. Jamel soon had the chance to repay that loyalty, signing with Akron to play college ball for the Zips. He is reunited once again with the coach that never let him down, even though The Vest won’t be roaming the sidelines with a headset on. However, you cannot deny the pull that Tressel had on Turner’s decision.
The lessons he learned at FUMA and through Coach Tressel have helped him to pull through a seriously difficult time in his young life. Whether this is a testament to FUMA or Tressel, I don’t know. I choose to believe that Tressel understood the importance of discipline, structure, and unwavering adherence to the core values of integrity, service, and excellence that is taught at FUMA. Meyer would do well to follow in his footsteps.
But, before you go thinking that FUMA is some great boon to Ohio State, remember that Charlie Bauman is a Fork Union product.