Eli Woodard changes name to Eli Apple

Ohio State didn’t pick up another commitment. There aren’t two Elis in the 2013 recruiting class for the Buckeyes either.

It’s just one individual honoring the man who has raised him for most of his life.

Eli Woodard has changed his last name to Apple and the change will take effect immediately.

“A wise man once stated, ‘Fatherhood is not biology. Fatherhood is responsibility,’” Apple said in a statement. “From the time I was 2 years old, my dad, Timothy Apple, has been my father. He’s nurtured, provided and protected our family.

“I am the man I am today because of his tireless love and commitment to our family. So it is with great pride and honor I carry his last name. I am truly blessed to be Eli Apple. Go Bucks!”

Tim Apple, 41, has been a part of Eli’s life for almost 15 years. He married Eli's mother, Annie, when Eli was very young. Tim has seen the budding star mature not only on the football field, but in life as well.

The name change didn’t come suddenly as Eli has thought about doing it for a while, but didn’t know exactly when he wanted to make it public.

Now that the change is out there, it’s an honor Tim hasn’t taken lightly.

“It’s something that was 1,000 percent his own decision and I think I feel how most people would feel,” Tim said. “I think with everything we’ve done over the years together, it tells me it has had a good impact on my son. As a parent, I couldn’t ask for anything more than that.”

The change is something Tim is not only humbled by but something he takes tremendous pride in as he has seen his son stay grounded in an atmosphere where those on the outside are always telling him how great he is.

That -- as much as anything else -- is something Tim beams about as Eli will head off to start college early in January.

“He’s always been a very old man in a lot of ways” Tim said. “It’s something we always joke about. He’s very even-keeled and mature about a lot of things. To know him, it’s not a surprise.

“We joke about this, too. You put a basket of laundry in front of him and he might not be as mature as you think. But really when it comes to dealing with the world and dealing with the situation that he’s earned and worked his way into at the high school level, it does take a lot of maturity, a lot of sacrifice.

“He has never been one to chase around a group of individuals or anything like that. He’s very comfortable in his own skin and making his own decisions. And really, he could not have ended up with a better group of friends in high school. It’s not a large group of people, but they’re all successful in their own right.”

He will take the field for the first time as Eli Apple at the U.S. Army All-American Bowl on Jan. 5.

After that, it’s over to The Horseshoe for what the ESPN 150 cornerback -- he’s ranked third at his position and sixth overall -- hopes will be a great career.

Tim Apple has many reasons to look forward to that first time Eli steps through the tunnel at Ohio Stadium.

“Just seeing him have the opportunity to earn the right to be called a Buckeye is going to be emotional enough, let alone everything else,” Tim said. “It’ll definitely be a big moment just because I know how huge it will be from his perspective looking out of that helmet and into his surroundings. I’ll be so happy for him more than anything.”