With family, schoolmates, friends, administrators and media looking on, Westerville South High School junior Jaelen Gill ended months of speculation March 1 by committing to play football at Ohio State.
Gill, an all-purpose player for the Wildcats, chose the Buckeyes over UCLA. He received offers from about 20 schools.
Seated with parents Rod and Shelly Gill on the school’s auditorium stage, Gill announced his decision in a video that featured schoolmates.
Near the end of the video and simultaneously on the stage, Gill removed his sweat jacket to reveal a UCLA T-shirt and then removed that shirt to reveal an Ohio State T-shirt.
“I’ve always wanted to do something different for myself, but at the same time it’s really hard to pass up an opportunity like this and play for one of the best programs in the country, if not the best,” Gill said. “Overall, it’s just a great school. Growing up an Ohio State fan, it’s hard not to (go there), but at the same time there’s that possibility that you want to leave and you want to go do something different and start something different in your life.”
Gill thanked the South community and family and friends for their support throughout the process.
Gill said his grandfather, Eddie Bennett, played a key role in his decision. Bennett, a longtime Ohio State fan, died in April 2016.
Gill, who also is a standout baseball player for South, indicated he has no plans to transfer for his senior year, also ending months of speculation.
Last season, Gill was lost for the year after breaking his right leg in a 23-6 loss at Gahanna in week 2. In limited time, he had 30 carries for 213 yards.
As a sophomore, Gill rushed for 1,553 yards and 19 touchdowns on 189 carries and caught seven passes for 224 yards and three scores. He was named first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division as well as first-team all-district and second-team all-state in Division I.