COLUMBUS — Gee Scott believed from the first time he stepped onto campus at Ohio State that there was something special happening in Columbus.
That feeling is what led Scott to commit to Ohio State on Christmas Day in 2018 and what kept him from taking any college visits to other schools from the day he did.
“It’s not just one thing. It’s so many things,” Scott, speaking of why he wanted to come to Ohio State, said in early February. “From [receivers coach Brian] Hartline and the kind of relationship we have, and how young he is, his ability to relate with his receivers. And coach [strength coach] Mick [Marotti] and the way he pushes us to be better on a regular basis. And [Ryan] Day. The whole program is just great.
“I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.”
The truth is that the 6-foot-3, 210-pound freshman wideout could’ve been anywhere else. Most top-ranked recruits from his neck of the woods — he played high school ball at Eastside Catholic High School in Sammamish, Washington, just outside of Seattle — choose to go somewhere else. Scott became just the second Buckeyes signee from Washington in the last 50 years: the other was Archie Griffin’s nephew, Kevin. The addition of a player, and a person, like Gee Scott could provide Ohio State with an inside edge for players in the Pacific Northwest, an area that has seen a steady increase in Division 1 players in recent years.
Scott has, in a short period of time in Columbus, emerged as a leader among the early-enrolled freshmen at Ohio State. That’s not a role he’s unfamiliar with and it’s not one he’s shying away from, either. He’s happy to take on the role of Pied Piper for any young players, like Egbuka, who are interested in the Buckeyes.
“I’m the second recruit ever from the area,” Scott told Lettermen Row in February. “I hope I’m the first of many to come. We have a lot of young talent up there and I’m close with a lot of them and I hope I can provide a little leverage, and give them a reason to come. If I am here, and — I don’t even need to have a standout year — they see me developing, that’s what recruits should be focus on. Winning is great, don’t get me wrong, but if you’re not developing as a player? What are you really doing it for?”
One of the guys that Scott has in his sights to join him with the Buckeyes is 5-star wide receiver Emeka Egbuka, the country’s No. 1-ranked receiver in the Class of 2021. They play the same position, sure, but as two kids from Washington state, the similarities go beyond their athletic talents. Egbuka is looking for a program that will provide him a path to total development, on and off the field and he’s watching Scott closely because of that.
“Gee has had an influence on a lot of guys in our area,” 5-star prospect Emeka Egbuka, the country’s No. 1-ranked 2021 receiver, told Lettermen Row. “He carries himself very well. How he develops [at Ohio State] is something I will look at for sure.”
Egbuka isn’t alone. Scott is also playing a major role in the interest that 5-star defensive lineman J.T. Tuimoloau has in the Buckeyes. Tuimoloau, the country’s No. 1-ranked player according to 247Sports.com and No. 4-ranked prospect according to the composite recruiting rankings, has been getting the full-court press from Scott. Dom Daste, who leads the Eastside Catholic program, told Lettermen Row two weeks ago about the type of impact Scott can have on other people.
“We have a program at our school, and he is probably the most popular person among our options kids, those who face challenges,” Daste said. “He just hangs out with them; he’s their biggest friend. He’s our friend, not because he’s a football player. That’s what I’m most proud of him for. It just kind of restores your faith in young people a little bit.”
Scott isn’t pushing guys like Egbuka or Tuimoloau, he’s just providing them a path to something else. Something he believes in fully and that passion is contagious.
“I’m just telling those guys, like, ‘Hey, bro you’ve got to come check this place out’ and letting it go from there,” Scott said of his efforts to recruit his home. “J.T. is going to fall in love with it as soon as he gets here, just like I did. I knew this was where I wanted to be and I think he’ll see it too.”
Egbuka has visited Ohio State twice since Scott committed, Tuimoloau is expected to make his first visit sometime in the near future. If Gee Scott’s got anything to say about it, they’ll both be playing their college football in Columbus with him and helping kick open a door that was previously closed to Ohio State on the recruiting trail.