After reaching the pinnacle of Ohio high school football as a junior in 2008, Cleveland St. Ignatius linebacker Scott McVey suffered through a difficult senior year. A shoulder injury hampered his performance, but it didn’t dampen his spirits, which were lifted again today by signing his name on a LOI to Ohio State.
After reaching the pinnacle of Ohio high school football as a junior in 2008, Cleveland St. Ignatius linebacker Scott McVey suffered through a difficult senior year.
The 6-0, 225-pound McVey committed to Ohio State last April after attending the school’s spring game. The previous fall, he was a guiding force as St. Ignatius claimed a record 10th state playoff championship. He was a one-man wrecking crew in the 2008 state title game win over Cincinnati Elder, notching eight tackles, four sacks and an interception in that win.
Everything was set up for McVey, rated as the state’s No. 12 prospect by Ohio High, to have a big senior season. But he suffered a shoulder injury in the Wildcats’ season-opening win over eventual state champion Cleveland Glenville.
“I never felt 100 percent the whole year,” said McVey, who signed with the Buckeyes on Wednesday. “It frustrated me the whole year. It happened in that first game. I suffered a torn labrum. My shoulder popped out. My shoulder never got back to full strength.
“It was frustrating to not be able to play how you know you can play and make plays you know you should make.”
McVey underwent surgery Dec. 1.
“It feels great now,” he said. “My arm feels fantastic. I have full motion and full strength.”
McVey was nominated for Ohio’s two major all-star games, but will take a pass.
“I was talking to Coach Tressel about it and I told him I would let it rest,” he said. “I need to get back to where it was and make sure I am back to full strength for the fall. I want to be 100 percent when I enroll in the summer. I don’t want to risk it.”
McVey became a household name with his play for St. Ignatius as a junior. That season, McVey made 143 tackles, including 18 sacks, and intercepted a pass as he helped lead St. Ignatius to a 14-1 record.
“I was expecting to have a good year but I wasn’t necessarily expecting to have that type of year,” McVey admitted. “As the season progressed, I saw how we progressed and by the playoffs, I knew we were definitely going to win the state championship.”
McVey’s first start that season was a memorable one as he logged 22 tackles against Cincinnati St. Xavier. But that game almost pales in comparison to what McVey did against Elder in the state title game, where it seemed like he single-handedly shut down the Panther offense.
“Yeah it definitely was special. I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t expecting to play like that,” McVey said. “I just kind of went out there and let it loose and I tried not to think about anything and that’s what happened.”
At the very least, that incredible state championship performance by McVey certainly helped him earn a scholarship to Ohio State if it didn’t actually do it.
“I don’t really know exactly what (the reason) was but I guess it was from the state championship game, just playing on that big of a stage and doing as well as I did,” he said. “I don’t know. That’s probably what led to them giving me an offer.”
Just two days after the state championship game, McVey indeed got a verbal offer from the Buckeyes.
“It was the Monday after,” he said. “Saturday was the game and on Monday Coach (Taver) Johnson called me and told me I had a scholarship.”
Getting an offer from Ohio State was certainly something that McVey was somewhat reluctantly thinking about during the recruiting process.
“I’ve always loved Ohio State,” he said. “But I remember after my sophomore year I was thinking, ‘If only I could get an offer from a MAC school.’ I was thinking small because I’m not the biggest guy out there. But after I started playing in my junior season I realized that I could get something bigger. I wasn’t exactly sure I could get an Ohio State offer or something like that.
“But Ohio State has always been my favorite school and being down there, it just feels right for me to be down there. All of the coaches are very encouraging and I just love it down there. So it worked out great.”
McVey knew right away that he would become a Buckeye.
“Yeah, but I tried to convince myself that it wasn’t going to be that way and I would try to give other schools an opportunity,” he said. “But yeah once I got that (OSU offer) I knew I was going to be going to Ohio State.”
It’s rather hard, however, for McVey to pinpoint the exact reason why he committed to Ohio State back on April 25, the day of the Ohio State spring game.
“It’s just the tradition they have down there and just the feel I had when I was down there on campus,” McVey said. “And Coach (Jim) Tressel played a part in it, the things he believes in. And what we will do in my four years there like, hopefully, win a national championship.”
Playing for both Kyle and Tressel is a special privilege for McVey.
“No doubt they’re two great men in my life,” he said. “Both are really down-to-earth guys who have the big picture in mind. They realize that football isn’t everything but it’s definitely something. They’re both very similar, they’re both not the big yelling type of guys but they definitely can get you motivated to play for (them).”
And the McVey family has given Scott their collective stamp of approval on the decision.
“They love it. My dad’s side of the family has been Ohio State fans forever,” McVey said. “So once they heard that I committed to Ohio State they were really ecstatic. (The family) said they would support me wherever I would go but they definitely wanted me to go to Ohio State.”
So now he’s a Buckeye, but McVey doesn’t really feel any pressure to work any harder or prepare any differently than what he’s accustomed to doing.
“In all honesty, I have really high expectations for myself already so as long as I achieve and exceed those, then I’ll be happy,” he said. “And I believe that everyone else will be happy too.”
Fairly or not, however, some have already compared McVey, at least physically, to former Buckeye A.J. Hawk. McVey has heard some of those whispers and he’s certainly OK with that.
“It used to kind of make me frustrated to hear people say that I’m too short or something like that, but then I realized that there’s people who have done it before and I’m perfectly fine with it,” McVey said. “The game is played with speed now and I make up for (my size) with that. Yeah I’m not 6-4 and 250 or whatever but I’m fine with being my size and working with what I have and making the best out of it.”
And after listening to defensive coordinator, Dan Corrigan, talk about his highly-touted linebacker, some of the attributes that McVey is using to make the best out of thing are certainly things that he has in common with great football player like Hawk.
“Scott is just a 100 miles an hour all of the time,” the coach said. “He’s got a full motor and has a great nose for the football. He’s one of those guys that just keeps after it and it seems like he’s constantly trying to improve on different aspects of his game and things like that. And he’s going to be playing some offense this year too so he’s going to be busy and he’s going to be the foundation of our team and things like that.”
Like Corrigan, Kyle definitely thinks that McVey gets the very most out of what he’s blessed with.
“He’s a kid that plays with an extremely high intensity and he’s got God-given talent but he even takes that to a higher level,” Kyle said. “He’s very hard to block, he can pass rush, he’s all over the field in the running game. He’s just one of those guys.”