Tuesday, August 23, 2011

A high school hotbed

Glenville coach Ted Ginn Sr. talks to his team. Ginn's rolling showcase helped make his team the top Big Ten recruiting factory since 2002.

By Dirk Chatelain

August 20, 2011

The best high school football factory in the Big Ten started when a security guard rented a seven-passenger van.

A decade later, Glenville Academic Campus in Cleveland is the most important place on every recruiting map. You want to build a Big Ten dynasty? You'd better start here.

With Ted Ginn Sr.

He has sent 31 players to Big Ten schools over the past decade. No other school in the country has produced more than 12.

How did it happen?

Ginn's mother moved him from New Orleans to Cleveland when he was 11. He played for Glenville in an era when Glenville didn't win anything.

Two years after he graduated, his mother died.

The head coach made Ginn volunteer on the football staff “so I wouldn't go astray.” In '97, Ginn took over the program. School security guard by day, head football coach by night.

Soon he established a bold plan to draw attention to his players. Instead of waiting for college coaches to call him, Ginn took his players on the road. He packed them in a van and spent most of the summer ushering them to college camps.

Sometimes seven or eight slept in the van. Sometimes they piled into one hotel room. The next morning, they showed up at a campus, spent an hour or two running through drills, then hit the road for the next stop. They drove as far as LSU.

Ginn recalls telling college head coaches like Nick Saban that he had five kids in his van who could run a 4.3-second 40-yard dash.

“Everybody used to laugh at me,” Ginn Sr. said.

Until they observed the talent in the van. Pierre Woods was the first Glenville player to take advantage of Ginn's recruiting showcase on wheels. In 2001, he signed with Michigan.

Why limit the journey to seven passengers, Ginn decided. He got a bus. Picked up kids all over Cleveland. Why limit it to Cleveland, Ginn decided. He picked up kids all over the state. Columbus. Dayton. Toledo.

“When you're driving around and putting on a show like that, word is going to travel,” Ginn said.

Now Ginn's teams regularly compete for state championships. Now the Glenville Tarblooders attract players from all over the city.

“It's kind of the all-stars of Cleveland,” said Bill Conley, a former Buckeyes assistant.

Ginn, who knows Bo Pelini, recalls days when eight or nine Big Ten coaches came to Glenville. The most frequent visitor: Ohio State.

Of the 31 Glenville players who signed with Big Ten schools the past decade, 17 landed at Ohio State.
Pretty good players, too. Troy Smith, Heisman Trophy winner. First-round draft picks Donte Whitner and Ted Ginn Jr.

In February, the Glenville pipeline continued. One player signed with Indiana, one with Michigan, one with Ohio State.

Ted Ginn Sr. doesn't need a van or a bus. Now the recruiters come to him.

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