July 14, 2007

Ayles amazed with Ohio State visit

When Orange (Calif.) tight end Blake Ayles came to Columbus he wasn't really quite sure what to expect. The 6-foot-4, 245-pounder came into town with some expectations of what he might see from Ohio State but left town on Friday morning impressed with everything that the Buckeyes had to offer.

"It was really good and I liked it a lot," Ayles said. "Coming out of it after meeting (Coach) Tressel and everything it's definitely going to be a tough decision for me to make."

Ayles was in town with his family and had the chance to take a leisurely visit around town with a couple of days blocked off to check out the Buckeyes.

"The first day my dad and I just kind of walked around and met the coaches and checked out a couple of the campus sights," Ayles said. "We checked out the locker room and went to the (Fisher) Business College. It was unbelievable, that place was huge."

After a busy first day, Ayles picked up right where he left off on the second day and had a chance to meet with some more of the coaching personnel and have a chance to see what every player wants to see when they make it to the Ohio State campus.

"The second day we came back and met with a couple of the other coaches and me with (Butch Reynolds) the speed and conditioning coach as well as (Eric Lichter) the strength coach," Ayles said. "We also checked out the Horseshoe that day and it was just unbelievable, it was huge. On the last day I hung out with Jake Ballard a little bit."

Was there anything that really stood out to Ayles about his trip to Columbus?

"Definitely the 'Shoe and coach Tressel," Ayles said. "He's a great guy. He's just a lot like my coach right now. It's more about what's after football than what's going on just only on football. He had a lot of values that he was talking about which is a lot like my coach right now."

Ayles did connect with another one of the Ohio State coaches though and would love to have a chance to learn under the training of former Olympian Butch Reynolds.

"He was probably my second favorite coach," Ayles said. "(He is ) a real down to earth guy."

Ayles made his trip to Columbus after spending the first half of the week in Madison (Wis.) and having a chance to see the Badgers and what Wisconsin was all about. Ayles admits that both trips went very well and it will give him a lot to think about.

"They were both actually really good," Ayles said. "That's what I am going to be doing over the next couple weeks, breaking it down and see where I would fit in at both of them. But I had a blast on both trips and both trips were completely different than California."

Ayles was the only recruit in town for his visit and didn't have a chance to meet with any of the commits that frequent Columbus, especially when a big-tim target is in town. That didn't keep Ayles from getting contacted later by one of the commits.

"No, I was the only one up there," Ayles said. "I did talk to (Jake) Stoneburner a little bit and he asked me how my trip was going and everything."

With Ohio State, Wisconsin, Southern Cal, Miami, Cal and Arizona State all on his list did this trip help Ayles make heads or tails of his recruitment?

"Right now I have no clue," Ayles said. "It's just that everything was so great that I really need to sit down and compare them. All schools are equal right now."

Ayles had mentioned before that he wants to get his recruitment done sooner rather than later and even with the confusion over a college destination, wants to maintain the same timeline as before.

"(I want to get it done) before the season and get it out of the way so I am not worried about it," Ayles said. "Anytime over the next couple months and can go with my gut (feeling) and have a really good decision. "

Is Ayles scared off by the fact that just the night before he arrived in town that the Buckeyes had another tight end prospect in town with Kevin Koger checking out the Buckeyes one final time before a likely decision within a week?

"That's just competition and I like competition," Ayles said. "That's no problem with me."

Ayles had the chance to talk more with his host in Jake Ballard and the current tight end painted a picture of what the four-star tight end could expect if he decides to don the Scarlet and Gray.

"One thing that I noticed when I was out there is that they had some pretty big guys," Ayles joked. "I was talking to Jake (Ballard) and he said the big difference is that the practices are harder than the games just because you are physical 100-percent (of the time) on every play in practice and I really like that."

Ayles also noticed that the Buckeyes have some big guys on the roster. Tackle Alex Boone made a big impression on the smaller tight end prospect. Then again Boone has four inches of height and around 80 pounds on the high school senior-to-be.

"He (Boone) has this tattoo on his back that would wrap around my whole body," Ayles joked.

Ayles caught 43 passes for more than 600 yards and three touchdowns during his junior season. Ayles is also an accomplished member of the track and field team in the shot put and discus.

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