Guiton-Herman reunion pays off

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- The hometown recruit got away.

The rising star of a coach, who had tried to land him, was lured to another program as well.

With each heading in a different direction out of Houston, the chance for Kenny Guiton to make a little magic at quarterback in Tom Herman's spread offense seemed to have slipped out of reach in 2008. Instead, all that changed was the location, as they both swapped out Rice for Ohio State and ultimately combined for a moment that was about four years in the making -- and unforgettable for many more to come.

"Oh, yeah," Herman said. "Me and Kenny go way back."

The opportunity to reunite took more dominoes falling into place than either could count.

Herman went off to Iowa State and added to his impressive resume, putting himself in position for a prime gig like the one Urban Meyer had to offer after he was hired to take over Ohio State in the wake of an NCAA scandal.

Guiton was already on campus through all of that, though he had largely been an invisible reserve at quarterback heading into his fourth season with the program. Even with Herman around and well aware of what the new Buckeyes playcaller could do with a versatile weapon taking the snaps, Guiton was still stuck behind Braxton Miller on the depth chart.

But with Miller in the hospital for the entire fourth quarter last week against Purdue, Guiton finally had his shot to lead the offense in a meaningful situation on the field. Up in the press box, Herman was dialing up the plays for a player he recruited for a different program. And a relationship that started in a living room in Houston suddenly produced 47 breathtaking seconds of football with a late rally to force overtime and keep the No. 9 team in the nation undefeated in Ohio Stadium.

"That was an amazing moment," Guiton said. "Me and Coach Herman are real cool. We're real good friends and everything, on the field or off the field, and I think that's a relationship he really tries to get with all his players.

"But you know, we really met in Houston. It's where I'm from, he coached at Rice, and I think that's pretty cool. It kind of linked us before he even got here, so once he did get here, it has all moved along well from that."

It hasn't been such a smooth ride since then, though, particularly since Meyer has made it well known that Guiton needed to make some significant changes after a rocky start with the new coach. But Guiton did have an ally in Herman, who was well versed in the quarterback's background -- from his SAT scores to his passing stats.

That alone wasn't going to be enough to win over Meyer, but it certainly didn't hurt as Guiton altered his approach to the game, invested himself more fully into the program and wound up becoming one of Meyer's favorite success stories.

And it seems those early chapters in Texas only add to the fairytale.

"I knew he was a coach's kid, a sharp kid," Herman said. "His testing scores were really, really good. It's hard to find athletic kids like that who also can score well enough to get into Rice, and he was one of them. Plus he was in our own backyard, so we definitely recruited the heck out of him.

"Did I always know [he was a good fit for the offense]? Absolutely, yeah."

Turns out the only real questions were where and when.