Glenville to Glendale: Buckeyes rooted in Cleveland

Updated: January 4, 2007, 3:32 AM ET
Associated Press

CLEVELAND -- Painted in large letters on a cement wall outside coach Ted Ginn Sr.'s basement office at Glenville High School is the inscription: "Glenville -- Home of the Mighty Tarblooders."

Maybe "And future Ohio State Buckeyes" should be added.

When top-ranked Ohio State takes the field on Monday against No. 2 Florida in the BCS national championship, the scarlet and gray will be sprinkled with seven former Glenville players.

Troy Smith, the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback, is a Tarblooder (a nickname taken from railroad workers whose job was to smear tar on railway ties). So is Ted Ginn Jr., the Buckeyes' blur of a wide receiver and dangerous kick returner.

Both will soon join Glenville grads Pierre Woods of the New England Partiots and Donte Whitner of the Buffalo Bills in the NFL.

Buckeyes sophomore safety Jamario O'Neal, junior linebacker Curtis Terry, freshman wide receiver Ray Small and defensive lineman Robert Rose and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Bryant Browning all came from the school on the city's near east side.

Without Glenville, a trip to Glendale, Ariz. -- site of the BCS title game -- may have never happened.

There are others who have made their way down Interstate 71 to Columbus. There will be more.

"I'm going to be a Tarblooder and then I'm going to Ohio State," 13-year-old Jihad Callier claimed shortly before a celebration at Glenville for Smith's Heisman victory.

"Me too," said 9-year-old Diamond Russell.

As the youngsters dreamed aloud in the hallway outside Ginn's closed office door, Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz was on the other side trying to tap into the Glenville-to-Ohio State pipeline.

On any given day, college coaches from every corner of the country flock to the Glenville campus, hoping to land players not only being developed into excellent football players, but kids, some of them troubled, who are being taught responsibility, poise and love.

Ted Ginn Sr. shows them the way.

"He is an angel here on Earth and without him a lot of kids wouldn't be in some of the positive situations that they've been in," said Smith, who considers Ginn Sr. a second father. "He continues to bless us and be a part of our lives."

Since taking over at Glenville in 1997, Ginn has transformed a football program going nowhere into a powerhouse. But he doesn't measure his success by Senate League wins or state titles in track and football.

Ginn records victories in the lives he has touched -- and saved.

"This is my business," he said.

Ferentz has come across few who do it better.

"He's one of the most unbelievable humans I've ever met," he said. "And I'll be honest. At the outset, I wasn't sure what Ted was or who he was."

It was during Ginn Jr.'s recruiting trip to Iowa a few years back when Ferentz learned more about Ginn Sr.'s commitment and integrity. By that time, the younger Ginn had decided he was going to Ohio State, but following a Tarblooders' game on a Friday night, Ginn and his wife, Jeanette, drove Ted Jr. to Iowa City for his scheduled visit.

After Iowa's game, the family waited 45 minutes in Ferentz's office to meet with the coach. They talked about football and life.

"That gave me an insight to not only how he was with his own son, but how he is with other people," Ferentz said. "He does the right thing. He's totally about others. The work he does goes so far beyond football."

Ginn, whose main job is as a security guard at Glenville, isn't just sending players to Ohio State, either.

In 1999, he began the Ginn Bus Tour, taking time during the summer to drive local kids to college campuses around the Midwest to meet with coaches and to see what opportunities exist outside their rough, urban surroundings.

Last February, 21 Glenville players signed college football scholarships, 15 with Division I schools.

"There are a lot of teams around the country that have gotten better because they have had his kids," Ohio State coach Jim Tressel said, "and we certainly have been fortunate because our kids have done a great job that have come from Glenville."

Ginn's next goal is to open the Ginn Academy, an academics-only school for at-risk boys. His plans for the charter school have been slowed by a lack of funding.

But if Ginn has a vision, nothing will stop him until it becomes a reality.

At his emotional homecoming, Smith remembered the man who helped turn his life around.

"This is the same guy who was laughed at in terms of Glenville High School football coming up," Smith said. "It was a joke at one time. I was told not to go (to Glenville) because they didn't have a good football program.

"And look at it now."

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AP Sports Writer Rusty Miller in Scottsdale, Ariz., contributed to this report.


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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