Ohio receiver Thaddeus Snodgrass has hinted that he might soon make a decision about where he’ll play his college football, but Springfield coach Eric Gillespie doesn’t think his star junior is quite ready to make that choice just yet.
“I think he wants to make one (decision) before the season. I don’t think one real soon, though, is likely,” the coach said. “He is one of these kids who loves Facebook, Twitter. He likes to banter back and forth with guys and fans. That’s the world we live in. It’s cool to say a decision might happen now, but I don’t think he is quite ready to make a choice right now.”
He has plenty of scholarship offers, including one from Kentucky, whenever he makes a decision. Other offers include Cincinnati, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, South Carolina, Toledo and Wisconsin.
“I think he is a phenomenal talent. He went to a lot of camps and blew the doors out. But his best football is still definitely ahead of him,” Gillespie said. “The kid loves the game. He’s not afraid to work at it. The sky is the limit because physically he has special tools. He will eat up coaching in college and really blossom.
“As a sophomore, he missed half the season with a shoulder injury. Last season was his first full season of varsity football. But he has explosive speed. He ran like a 4.3 (second 40-yard dash) at Ohio State’s camp in front of coach (Urban) Meyer. He got offered right then. He works hard, his hands are good. He can beat you one on one. He’s a track kid, but he is finally having a good offseason in the weight room. His class has had three head coaches in three years. This is the first time he’s had stability in the offseason, and that has helped him.”
Gillespie calls him an “engaging kid” that coaches “fall in love with” when they recruit him.
“He’s very personable and very popular in school,” the coach said.
The 6-0, 180-pound Snodgrass likes the offense that coordinator Neal Brown ran at Texas Tech and will use at Kentucky.
“That staff has done things in the past with receivers that he really likes,” Gillespie said. “Obviously, Kentucky also plays in the SEC and is fairly close to home. From Springfield, it is only a couple of hours drive to play in the SEC. The Dayton area has so many schools within a four-hour drive for kids to consider, but it is unique for a kid in Big Ten country to be that close to a SEC school. That’s a big plus for UK.
“And that Kentucky offense is so appealing to a kid like him. A lot of schools are interested in him, but it usually comes down to a numbers game about how many guys a school can bring in or how many receivers they already have. I know one school that really loves him, but is only going to bring in one wideout next year. I definitely think Kentucky will stay in the running for him. He liked a lot about Kentucky (on a recent visit).”
Linebacker Davonte James is also firmly on Kentucky’s radar. He doesn’t have a scholarship offer (Cincinnati, Georgia Tech and Purdue have offered) but Kentucky is evaluating him along with other schools such as Ohio State, Michigan State, Notre Dame, Wisconsin and West Virginia. Gillespie said UK assistant coach Vince Marrow is recruiting James and he would not be surprised to see an offer come soon.
“He is a pretty versatile athlete. At 6-3, 220 pounds, he is a linebacker that can run and make plays,” Gillespie said. “He has some really good natural instincts and could play inside or outside in college.”
He’s so versatile that he might be Springfield’s quarterback next season. He played quarterback through junior high and even started one game as a sophomore when the No. 1 quarterback was injured.
“He is that good of an athlete,” Gillespie said. “He’s not going to be a quarterback in college, but it shows his versatility. The problem is he has these offers — and more to come — as a linebacker. If I play him full-time on offense, I still have to play him as much defense as he can play.”
Gillespie believes James will continue to have interest in UK just as Snodgrass will.
“UK’s football program is impressive for high school kids,” the coach said. “There are some bigger name schools, but what Kentucky has to offer is impressive. Kentucky’s new staff is doing a good job selling the program and has brought in a new enthusiasm. Kentucky is a basketball school, but when kids from this area hear UK they are excited about it. Kentucky has some lustre to it in part because it plays in the SEC and in part because of the (Mark) Stoops’ name.”