November 23, 2014

Elyria
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College football: Tracy Sprinkle latest Pioneer to go D-I; picks OSU

ELYRIA — Elyria High has another lineman going to a Division I college. Junior defensive end Tracy Sprinkle committed to Ohio State on Tuesday, turning down 13 other offers to play for Urban Meyer and the Buckeyes.

“It’s a big relief because now I can focus on the upcoming season,” he said. “I can train, lift and not worry about the recruiting process.”

Sprinkle narrowed his choices to Michigan State, Arkansas, Penn State, Syracuse and Ohio State before ultimately choosing the Buckeyes. The new coaching staff, the feeling he got when he visited the campus and the fact that it wasn’t too far from home all factored into Sprinkle’s decision. It also helped that he’s been a Buckeyes fan all his life.

Elyria High has been a hotbed for Division I linemen the last four years. Isaiah Byler (offensive tackle) started his career at Bowling Green in 2010, Chase Farris (defensive end) redshirted with the Buckeyes last season and Tad France (offensive tackle) will attend Kent State this fall.

“The linemen work the hardest in our weight room and this sure makes them work harder,” coach Kevin Fell said. “Kids realize that all that work pays off when they see others going to Division I. When you get a little tradition like that it starts to snowball.”

It also helped to have Farris at Ohio State for questions Sprinkle had about the program. He could always count on Farris to give him an accurate response.

Sprinkle initially came to Fell seeking assistance with a highlight reel for the recruiting process, but Fell told him he wouldn’t need one because he’d be able to sell himself. Based on defensive line coach Mike Vrabel’s reaction when he found out he got him, Sprinkle made an impression.

“When we called Ohio State and told them Tracy was committing, Coach Vrabel was yelling through the phone,” Fell said. “It felt good to know how excited they were.”

At 6-foot-5 and 260 pounds with explosive speed on the line, Sprinkle recorded a team-high 94 tackles and eight sacks, good enough for third team All-Ohio honors.

“A lot of kids think it’s easy, but they quickly realize they have to work hard to get a Division I scholarship,” Pioneers offensive line coach Steve Hamilton said. “A lot of it is genetics and Sprinkle is a big kid who is very fast and works hard to improve himself. Kids put in a lot of time to get to that level and deserve every accolade they receive. Our kids see success and it motivates them to work hard.”

Fell says Sprinkle needs to continue working on his technique during his senior year and his natural progression will prepare him to play at Ohio State. Sprinkle, however, still has unfinished business at Elyria.

“My main goal is to lead Elyria to a championship,” Sprinkle said. “I haven’t set any minor goals yet and I don’t measure myself by statistics because I’m not a selfish player. I just want to get better.”

Contact Chris Sweeney at 329-7135 or ctsports@chroniclet.com.