May 20, 2008

Hitman talks about his love

The Hit-man has become a hot commodity nationally. Vladimir Emilien is up over 30 offers and has recently picked up offers from schools from coast to coast (Southern Cal to South Carolina) and north to south (Wisconsin to Auburn). The 6-foot-1, 186-pound hard-hitting safety believes that he is blessed to receive all of the attention and will have a busy summer trying to check out several schools.

For now schools have been coming in to check out Emilien's Lauderhill (Fla.) Plantation high school and the Buckeyes recently made the trip to south Florida to check in on a pair of top targets (Emilien and teammate Brandon McGee.)

"They came on (a week ago) Tuesday," Emilien said. "I really like coach (Paul) Haynes as a coach.

Vladimir was one of several Florida prospects to make the trip to Columbus for the Ohio State spring game and like everyone else Emilien came away from his trip more than impressed.

"When I went up there I already felt like I was a part of the team when I really wasn't (as a recruit)," Emilien said. "I think the coaches are really nice and I felt that the coaches were very comfortable around me and talking to me like I am one of the guys."

Emilien felt a strong connection with the Ohio State staff and has had an opportunity to see them working with the current players during the spring practice period.

"I have seen them work with the players," Emilien said. "I felt that like they are the realest (coaches) I have come across right now. They are really up front what they are doing and I love coach Tressel. He is really down to Earth and he actually interacts with the players and that is something that really stands out to me the most."

Emilien wants to focus on both parts of being a student athlete and the academic part of the equation means a lot to him. While in Columbus Emilien had a chance to sit in on a class with friend and current Buckeye Etienne Sabino and also had a chance to ask about academic expectations and opportunities for the football team.

The south Florida star would like to pursue a degree in business and finance and is impressed with Ohio State's academic support system and if Emilien did end up selecting the Buckeyes know they will help him succeed in his degree studies and prepare for life after football whenever that might be in Vlad's life.

"What I want to do after my football career is done is be a sports agent," Emilien said. "I have to do something with sports when I get out of football (laugh). So I will have to go to law school (after that) and the business and finance is what I want to major in."

Emilien has had a chance to speak with a pair of Florida high school standouts that made the decision to play in Columbus with both Sabino and Michael Brewster. What did the pair told Emilien about the recruiting process?

"They have told me to try and gave fun because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity," Emilien said. "You just can't look at the surroundings and you have to look at who is coaching you and look at the environment and if you can live there for four years.

Emilien would like to try and get his decision over with before the start of his senior season but also admits that he might like to take his official visits.

"I could make a silent commit (and take visits) but I just might make it public because I might want to end it," Emilien said.

The senior-to-be is saying all of the right things about the Buckeyes but don't chalk him up as a done deal.

"(Ohio State is) really at the top of my list but at the same time I need to keep myself open to make sure that I am making the right decision," Emilien said.

An unlikely opponent also rates very high on Emilien's list. With a player coming out of the state of Florida one would expect it to be one of the Big Three from within state but rather than being a Big Three school it is the Big Blue of Michigan. Emilien is intrigued by the new coaching staff up in Ann Arbor (Mich.) and the tradition of the program and the opportunity with the Wolverines. Despite all of that there is a clear favorite at this point.

"Michigan interests me but not as much as Ohio State," Emilien said. "As of right now Ohio State is on top of everything. Ohio State showed me the love first and you know you will always remember your first love."

With the Buckeyes pursuing teammate McGee and fellow south Floridian Jaamal Berry as well, is it a dream to play on the same team as his two good friends?

"I really want to go with Jaamal and really want to play with Brandon because I played all the way through high school so he is one of my good buddies," Emilien said. "If I end up going to school with those two guys I will be happy anywhere because I will have my friends from back home. It would be an honor to play with Jaamal Berry because he is one of the top high school running backs and Brandon is one of the top prospects too so I would just love to play with them."

Emilien knows that the trio would be a dangerous group for opponents to deal with.

"We will be a triple threat if we go to the same school, honestly," Emilien said.

Would it be difficult to leave the state of Florida to go to college?

"Honestly for me some Florida players if they have the opportunity to leave (the state) will leave because not everything is all great in Florida," Emilien said. "Some people like to be close to home but some people just want to try something new. For me the thing is if I want to go to the NFL I will have to deal with the cold and humidity and all of that if I really want to go to the NFL. What happens if I get drafted by the Green Bay Packers, then what will I do? (laugh)"

With a busy summer of traveling to college campuses one thing is for sure.

"Ohio State is always going to have that edge over everybody else right now," Emilien said. "Until someone impresses me more."

Tressel and the Buckeyes are hoping that the bar has been set out of reach and that a commitment will follow sooner or later.

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