While four-star running back Jaelen Gill didn’t originally intend on committing to Ohio State, it was the Westerville native’s longtime love of his hometown Buckeyes that proved to be the ultimate deciding factor.
Gill received nearly 30 scholarship offers, choosing OSU over the likes of Michigan, Notre Dame, and USC.
Despite sustaining a fractured fibula last September near the beginning of his junior season, the 6-foot-1, 187-pound back is finally healthy. Taking a break from preparing for what he plans on being a special senior year, Gill spoke with us about his recruitment, why he chose OSU, and if Kevin Durant is really better than LeBron James.
Land-Grant Holy Land: You were recruited early and made your decision relatively late. What was the whole recruiting experience like for you?
Jaelen Gill: It started off really early. Ever since I got my first offer, it was just heavy. Around this time for a lot of people, there's nothing really happening, but I feel like it was just 24/7 with me. It's something you dream of growing up, just to have opportunities to go places and go where you want. I'm just blessed that I was able to do that.
LGHL: You had close to 30 scholarship offers and have said the Buckeyes weren’t in your original plans until last December. What changed your mind?
Gill: I grew up a Buckeye fan, so I was always going to have some sort of bias towards that school. Coach Meyer and Coach Alford started recruiting me real hard. I was talking to them every single day and I was seeing them a lot more. It's a great school, not only for sports, but academically. OSU is about 20 minutes away from my family and friends, so I just feel like I'd be missing out on a lot if I didn't stay home and play for the team I grew up watching.
LGHL: So what has you most exited to play for the team you grew up rooting for?
Gill: To be coached up and taught by some of the smartest people in the world. Coach Meyer is the best coach in college football, the people around him are great and I'm excited for them to help build me into a man.
LGHL: There’s been a fair amount of speculation as to what position you’ll actually play at OSU. Is it safe to say H-back?
Gill: I think I'll be an H-back. That'll probably be the best way for me to utilize all of my abilities. I'm versatile and that's the position for the kind of guys that can do it all, but I’ll still be getting carries out of the backfield. Who knows, maybe I'll split out wide, but I'm definitely an H-back.
LGHL: You fractured your fibula last September near the start of your junior season. Almost a year later, how are you feeling?
Gill: I feel great, I feel about 99.9% healthy. There are times when I'll cut a certain way and I'll feel it a little bit, but that'll just come with time. Running wise, I'm back to full speed and I think I'm actually faster now. Overall, I feel back to normal and I'm just blessed to be active again.
LGHL: You play baseball and run track on top of playing football. Is football going to be the only sport you play at OSU?
Gill: Coach Meyer and I have talked about playing baseball. I told him I might want to start that sophomore year so I can get a year of school and football under my belt. That's the plan so far and he's open to it. We’ll just see how my schedule is and that'll determine if I play or not.
LGHL: You were named the most valuable running back at Rivals' Five-Star Challenge. You were also invited back to Nike Football's The Opening Finals for the second-consecutive year. What does that say about you as a player?
Gill: It definitely shows that my hard work is paying off. My injury was just a minor setback for a major comeback. Hopefully, the people are seeing that I'm the same player and that I might even be better. There’s not too many players that are good year after year and get invited to these camps in consecutive years.
LGHL: The Golden State Warriors beat the Cleveland Cavaliers to win the NBA Finals for the second time in three years. Ohioans obviously aren’t too pleased about it. What did you think of the Finals?
Gill: First off, I'm a Houston Rockets fan, but I’m a huge LeBron James fan, too, so I was disappointed. The Cavs should've won Game 3 and when they lost, I was heated. I can't stand all the fake Warriors fans.
LGHL: Kevin Durant was named the Most Valuable Player of the Finals. Some now believe he’s passed LeBron as the best basketball player in the world. Who’s the best in your mind?
Gill: Obviously, Kevin Durant is a great player, but he’s second behind LeBron. He averaged a triple-double the whole finals and would've up until Game 7 if the series continued. All he does is be great on and off the court. Durant's time will definitely come, though, it's just not now.