Sport: Men’s soccer
Hometown: Hilliard (Darby H.S.)
Question: As a Hilliard native, you are uniquely qualified to answer this: Are two roundabouts, one after the other in the middle of town, a good thing?
Answer: That’s a tough question. In my opinion it may not be the best thing but it seems to work most of the time.
Q: And this: At what time of day is it possible to quickly get from one end of Hilliard-Rome Road to the other?
A: Well, I’ve lived in Hilliard my whole life and I have yet to figure that one out so I don’t have the answer.
Q: And lastly: Approximately how many hours do you suppose you’ve spent at the Hilliard Soccer Complex on Scioto-Darby?
A: Honestly, this year was the first time I’ve been there since I was a little kid. My little brother decided to play soccer this year and one of his games were hosted there so I had to go back to the old stomping grounds to watch him play.
Q: Let’s try to get a handle on your soccer journey; for how many years did you play for Darby?
A: Just two seasons, my freshman and sophomore years.
Q: And then you spent time with the Columbus Crew Academy and IMG Academy, right?
A: Yes, the Academy system went to an all-year thing so you had to choose between high school or academy soccer. I did the Crew Academy for five years starting at the end of eighth grade and finishing at the end of my senior year of high school. I also was selected among 30 of the best youth soccer players in the country to participate in the residency program in Bradenton, Florida. That led me to miss my junior year of high school at Darby to live at the IMG Academy with the U.S. National Team.
Q: Did you miss being part of the high school experience?
A: There were parts of me that missed it because it is always cool to represent your school. But I knew what my end goal was for soccer and the Crew Academy was something that led me one step closer.
Q: How did you end up at Michigan?
A: A close family friend was my coach at the Crew Academy and he left to become an assistant coach at Michigan. He got me to visit and I actually loved Ann Arbor — great atmosphere, beautiful campus, amazing facilities and an outstanding academic institution. We had a great opportunity to be a phenomenal team with my class being ranked the No. 1 recruiting class in the country. It all shaped up to be perfect so that help make my decision to go there pretty easy.
Q: What was your experience up there and how did you end up back at Ohio State?
A: I went to Michigan still being an Ohio State fan. As for being a student-athlete at Michigan, I loved it. I loved the guys, who are still close friends of mine, as well as the people there. I definitely don’t regret it but I am unbelievably happy that I’m home where I belong. You could say there were other factors that prompted my decision to transfer.
Q: On a scale of 1 to 10, how much did you miss playing soccer in 2015, your transfer year at OSU?
A: Definitely a 10. That year was a great year for us, winning the Big Ten as well as making it to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA tournament. It was awesome to watch a great group of guys play but it would have so much better to be out there with them.
Q: Should I assume last year’s highlight was your goal in double overtime to beat your old team?
A: I guess you could say that! The atmosphere was great and both teams were hungry to win. The crowd didn’t let me forget where I started, that’s for sure! It was a back and forth, physical game and I was trying to keep my head and focus on the task at hand, to win. I had a few opportunities during the game but none like the one in overtime. I think I speak for everyone on both teams when I say we were all exhausted after a full 90 and then overtime. But I got a second wind in the last overtime which helped me make that last run and last shot to give us the win.
Q: Besides all the Big Ten hotspots, where else has soccer taken you?
A: Soccer has taken me to places not many people my age can say they’ve gone. The great thing about soccer is that it’s popular all over the world. I have been all over the world and I couldn’t be more thankful for my opportunities.
Q: Is it true that you have a Golden Boot award? When and where and how?
A: That is true! There is a tournament could the Generation Adidas Cup that the Academy puts on every year and I had the privilege to go a few times. The year I won the golden boot was my sophomore year of high school and it was held in Seattle at the Sounders facilities. Our team that year was a talented group of guys and we ended up making it to the semifinal and losing in PKs. I won the golden boot because I scored seven goals in five games.
Q: I’m told your brother Cameron plays linebacker for the football team at Ohio Dominican; which of you is tougher?
A: He may tell you differently about who’s tougher but in the back of his head he knows that I’m way tougher than he’d ever be.
Q: And you have two other brothers, right? Where are they and what do they do?
A: My 12-year-old brother, Brayden, is at Hilliard Station and my 9-year-old brother, Keegan, is at Scioto Darby in Hilliard. Brayden plays football and basketball and when it’s all said and done, he will more than likely be the biggest out of all of us. Keegan plays soccer and basketball and is a video game fanatic. I hope they both stick with their respective sports and continue on after high school like Cameron and I did.
Q: What’s it mean to be OSU’s representative for this year’s Senior CLASS award?
A: It’s very humbling. The guys who have won it were great guys on and off the field and that’s what I have tried to do since I have been here.
Q: Part of the criteria for that award is based on community service. Yours includes a trip to Ecuador for Soles4souls this summer; how was that experience?
A: It was like no other trip I had ever been on. It was an eye-opening experience for me and the 12 other student-athletes on the trip. Each day we got to put smiles on so many little kids’ faces, and that is something I will cherish for the rest of my life.
Q: What are your thoughts about Crew SC’s announcement that they intend to leave Columbus?
A: It’s sad. I grew up a Crew fan before I even knew I wanted to pursue soccer as I got older. Ever since I can remember, I always wanted to play for the team and city I grew up in. It’s unfortunate to see something like this happen.
Q: Last thing on soccer, and it’s the great divider: Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo?
A: Oh, that’s easy. Cristiano Ronaldo, for sure. He is my favorite player and the best player in the world without a doubt!
Q: And last thing on Hilliard: When you drive past the Dairy Queen in town, do you honk at the kids sitting outside?
A: Yes! I was one of those little kids at some point in my life so it’s only right to honk.
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