Jaelen Gill has been to Ohio State many times since March when he committed to the Buckeyes’ 2018 recruiting class, but that doesn’t mean he’s in a hurry to get there for good.

The versatile running back/receiver/quarterback — who also is playing a little defense in first-year coach Matthew Christ’s reconstruction program at Westerville South — won’t be an early enrollee. He plans to finish out his high school career in baseball, from which he could be high pick in the 2018 Major League Baseball draft.

“I wanted to play my senior season, and my plan is to start baseball back up my sophomore year at Ohio State,” Gill said. “Everybody has a plan, of course, and lot of times it doesn’t work out. But I just want to get a year under my belt at OSU, get football and everything covered, and after that be able to play baseball, too. So we’ll see.”

He emphasized that he does plan to play football for the Buckeyes. But coming off a 2016 season that was cut short at two games because of a broken leg, he has approached his senior season as unfinished business.

Christ said what has stood out as much as Gill’s talent has been his attitude. Christ, who was an assistant at Grandview, walked in with a blank slate in February to try to reverse the fortunes of South, 1-9 in 2016.

“Honestly, when he made that commitment to Ohio State in the spring, I think that was a big weight off of his shoulders,” Christ said. “His work ethic and things of that nature have been consistent since I’ve known him.”

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And on the field, “Obviously, getting recruited by Ohio State, he’s got a tremendous amount of talent; those guys don’t miss too often on guys they’re recruiting,” Christ said. “I knew that he was going to be an explosive playmaker, but if anything, watching him go full speed now for a couple of months, wow, that’s different from anything I’ve been used to being around.”

That’s why Christ has used Gill nearly everywhere in the offensive scheme instead of just at running back.

“Our offensive coordinator has done a good job of putting him in positions that are more advantageous” in terms of matchups, Christ said. “Jaelen’s obviously very fast. We just try to get him out in open space and let him be a playmaker.”

Gill’s talent was on full display during his second straight trip to The Opening, an invitation-only skills camp in midsummer in Oregon. He was named to the first team offense along with fellow OSU commitment Jeremy Ruckert, a tight end.

“It shows who separates themselves from other athletes, who performs under the lights,” Gill said of The Opening. “That’s what I did. I went out there and showed what kind of player I am.”

He has been trying to do the same thing with the pads on this season, helping lead an improved South team that entered Friday night at 3-3.

Again, he’s not coasting to Ohio State.

“I would do anything for this team, for my brothers on this team,” Gill said. “I love this community. Westerville South hasn’t been in the playoffs since 2012, and my job as a leader and a captain is to help put the program back where it was, back on the map.”



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