The Ohio State-Michigan rivalry's become quite the site for recruiting battles in the last year. Brady Hoke's ending of Ohio State's long winning streak first took things to the next level and Ohio State's subsequent hiring of Urban Meyer has only helped further serve to make things even more intense.
Just last month we saw DB/WR Gareon Conley exemplify the struggle between the two schools for some of the elite players nationally and OL David Dawson's de-commitment (and later recommitment) has additionally showcased how tooth-and-nail things can be.
Earlier in December OL Denzel Ward (from Chicago, IL), a 2014 Michigan commit, was offered by Mike Vrabel and the Buckeyes. We chatted with Denzel to get the lowdown on how his recruiting process has been going and what it's been like to be in the middle of one of the most storied rivalries in all of sports.
You've been a Michigan commit since late October after taking an unofficial visit. Does Ohio State's offer earlier this month change your mind at all about your commitment status?
The Ohio State offer does not change anything in my commitment status at the time. Michigan is the place for me right now. Many opportunities will come but only a few will be able to fit with my comfortability level like I have with Michigan.
We're still a long way from National Signing Day 2014. Michigan doesn't allow their verbal commitments to take offers elsewhere; what are your plans leading up to national signing day?
I understood the policies of being a Michigan commit before I did. I am comfortable right now just focusing on training for the Under Armour All-American combine but at the end of the day all final decisions are up to my mother who is in charge of my recruiting process.
In terms of next summer, are you planning on camping in Ann Arbor or taking any additional unofficial visits back to Michigan?
I do plan on going up to Michigan for at least two games this season. My buddy Mitch McGary, who is a freshman there, told me to be at the Ohio and Indiana game. I am a huge competitor so I also plan to camp at least once there this summer.
We've seen folks like Gareon Conley decommit from Michigan and change their minds to Ohio State and David Dawson decommit from UM and then sort of reopen process before recommitting. Any thoughts on that?
I can't speak on Gareon Conley too much because I don't know him well but with David Dawson I believe him and his family understood that he is a valuable and special player and they wanted to just make sure that Michigan had the best to offer him personally.
Has Coach Funk or Borges told you what specific position on the line they envision you playing?
The whole Michigan staff stressed that I am specifically a tackle. I will probably play both sides during my time there but when I'm all polished I will be an exclusive left tackle.
Do you have any specific goals for your senior year?
I really want to distinguish myself from other offensive tackles so I'm working on football IQ everyday and also trying to get my body to a level most offensive linemen are at. At the end of the day, I want to look somewhat like the Dallas Cowboys' Tyron Smith while also improving my own football knowledge to an elite level.
Finally, any words for the Michigan or Ohio State fans out there that might be reading this?
My final words to any fans of college football (not just Michigan or Ohio State fans) is that I want to be the best and I want to be the first offensive lineman to the Heisman Trophy. Follow me on Twitter, @DW75_.
Thanks again to Denzel for his time. You can check him out in action right here.