A year ago, Fremd’s Brian Bobek didn’t know how he stacked up against other centers in the country.
“For a while, I don’t say I was getting worried, but I wasn’t getting that much attention,” the 6-foot-2 ½, 275-pound Bobek said. “That was one of the things, I wasn’t sure about what level I would be able to play on. I worried a little bit. I had gone to a few of those camps. I had played pretty well, but it’s hard to tell. It’s not really full football.
“I always had my doubts about myself. What kept my confidence up was people said, ‘You can be great if you keep working.’ That proved they were all right. It was a good choice to keep doing what they asked.”
The camps may not have validated Bobek’s skill, but Ohio State did when Buckeyes coach Jim Tressell decided to offer Bobek, the No. 3 center in the Class of 2011.
Bobek’s phone conversation with Ohio State offensive coordinator Jim Bollman on Feb. 16, 2010 will be one Bobek’s grandchildren will hear about one day. Home from school with the flu, Bobek was told by his father to call Bollman. Just moments after Bollman answered the phone, Bobek was told Ohio State was offering him.
“Honestly, I don’t know how to explain it,” said Bobek, whose only other offer to that point was from Ball State. “It was a big surprise to me. I just didn’t know I was on that level. I felt like I could compete with anybody, but it just didn’t seem real to me almost.
“I’m not an emotional guy. I don’t show much emotion. I pretty much had a smile on my face for the entire week.”
Life changed for Bobek. More schools called him. More offers arrived. His name quickly moved up the rankings. He was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl.
His father, Jeff Bobek, who played at Iowa, always believed in his son had ability, but even he couldn’t have dreamed of what happened.
“It’s been quite a year,” said Jeff, whose older son is a walk-on fullback at Michigan State. “I thought he was going to have a chance to be a college football player a long time ago, but I don't think anyone could have expected the honors and notoriety that have come his way.
“I put together his highlight films each of the last three years to send to colleges and recruiting analysts. In November of his junior year, I kept telling my wife that he was really good, and I just couldn't believe that schools wouldn’t be impressed with his play. And trust me, I’m a tough grader. Apparently, it takes a little longer to notice 6-2 offensive lineman, but once schools really started to examine his game films, it happened quickly.”
Bobek’s fate was aligned when Fremd’s coaches decided to move him from guard to center his sophomore year. The Vikings lacked a center at the time, and it seemed like the logical position for Bobek with him being undersized and possessing quickness.
The transition wasn’t flawless, but he held his own during his sophomore season. He improved greatly as a junior and was nearly impenetrable as a senior.
“I think it’s the ability to snap and move at the same,” Bobek said of what makes him a great center. “It takes awhile to perfect it, which is why developing centers is a process. It’s not as easy as people think. You have to be able to step at the same time as you’re snapping or the defensive line is going to be a step ahead of you.”
Few defensive linemen got past Fremd’s line the past couple seasons. In Fremd coach Mike Donatucci’s first 16 years of coaching he never had an offensive lineman sign a Division I letter of intent. By Wednesday, he will have three over the past two years.
“We’ve had good ball players come through over the years, but having three big guys together at one time, that’s once in a career,” Donatucci said.
Bobek felt special to be a part of that. Just a year ago, he was unsure of where he stood in recruiting. Now, he’s a major reason Fremd can be seen as an offensive lineman factory.
“We weren’t really known for producing offensive linemen,” Bobek said. “We will probably be known for it now because of the last few years we’ve had. It’s pretty cool.”
2011 PLAYER COMMITS
Here's a list of local players committed to play college football.