While the 2015 recruiting cycle is about to kick into full spring a couple of weeks down the road, when the 2014 cycle wraps up with National Signing Day, Ohio State and many other teams are keeping tabs on top prospects in the 2016 recruiting class.
One high school sophomore who is already receiving attention from some of the nation's powerhouse programs is Dade City (FL) Tampa Catholic wide receiver, Nate Craig.
The 6'2 195-pound wide receiver already has a very impressive offer list as he has been extended scholarships from the likes of Auburn, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Miami, Mississippi State, Ohio State, Ole Miss, Rutgers, Tennessee, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt, and Wisconsin.
Even though it's still extremely early in the recruiting process for the high school sophomore, he sill communicates with some of the nation's top program pretty frequently.
"The past couple of months have been very nerve wracking," Craig said. "I've been getting a lot of calls, some of them unexpected from a lot of different schools and coaches."
He has had the most contact with Florida, Florida State, Ohio State, Auburn, Tennessee, Vanderbilt, and a handful of other schools. Here's what the super sophomore had to say about a couple of the top schools who are recruiting him the hardest already:
Florida: "I'm in contact with Coach Joker and Coach White. They make you feel like family over at Florida and they also have great facilities and a good head coach."
Florida State: "I talk to Coach Dawson and really the same thing as with Florida, they make you feel like family.
Ohio State: "I talk to Coach Drayton quite a bit and am excited to visit. I would definitely consider leaving home if a place like Ohio State is the best fit for me."
It's not often recruits who are a little over two years away from national signing day have a lot of contact with college coaches, but Craig, who is already rated as a five-star recruit by Scout.com, is one of the exceptions to that. He has already built a very strong relationship with Ohio State running backs coach Stan Drayton, who is the area recruiter for him.
"We're building a very strong relationship," he said. "He doesn't even talk about football a lot when we talk. It's just about family life, school, and stuff like that."
Growing up in Florida, Craig got to experience Urban Meyer's Florida teams close up and personal. He's a big fan of Ohio State's head coach.
"He's a very good coach and always has good teams," continued. "He's not just a football coach though he's a good person and really cares for his players."
Craig visited three schools: Florida, Florida, State, and Auburn- this past football season and would like to see as couple of other schools as soon as he can.
"I took visits to Auburn, Florida and Florida State. Those visits went really well, I had a good time at all three schools," he told Land-Grant Holy Land. "I really want to get out and see Clemson, Ohio State, and Tennessee as well."
When he takes visits to college campuses, there are a couple of things he looks for, the first of which is the academic program at the school.
"First I want to see the education side of the school," Craig said. "Then I want to talk to the coaches to see where I would fit in their offense and how early I would be able to get on the field if I decided to go to their school."
Despite being over two years away from being able to sign a national letter of intent, Craig isn't afraid to pull the trigger on a commitment early if he knows where he wants to play his college football.
"I don't really know right now. I'll probably come out with a top ten towards the end of my junior season," he said. "If I knew where I wanted to play right now, I would probably commit, but I still need to explore all my options before knowing which school fits me the best.
It's pretty typical for high schoolers to have the desire to stay close to home for college. That's not necessarily the case with Craig. In fact, it may be the opposite.
"I would rather stay away from home for college because it's a distraction," Craig stated.
There are a couple additional factors that go into his decision when he sits down to make it a couple of years down the road.
"As I mentioned before, education always comes first. It's also important that the school is right for what I decide to major in."
Craig is already a force on the football field, but there a couple of things he would like to improve in between now and the start of his junior season.
"The strong parts of my game are probably my explosiveness and physicality," he told Land-Grant Holy Land. "The big thing I want to work on is my route running."
It's still very early, but I think the Buckeyes will be a big player in the race for Craig- especially since it seems like he wants to leave the state of Florida for college.
If you haven't seen him in action, make sure to check out his highlights below:
Note: Craig will be playing his first season at Tampa Catholic as it was recently announced that he intends to transfer from Pasco high school.
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