While Western and Central Michigan have been blazing a trail of early commitments, Ohio has been biding its time waiting for its first verbal for the 2015 class. That was until Tuesday, April 22, when Olentangy Liberty (Powell Ohio) long snapper and defensive end Jake Hale committed to the Bobcats.
Head coach Frank Solich and the 'Cats offered Hale after he took a visit to Athens on Friday, April 18. Three days later they offered him and he accepted the next day.
"I just liked the feel of everything there," Hale told Hustle Belt. "I really loved what the campus was like ... I really liked the coaches and the football facilities and everything."
Ohio was the first team to offer the 6-foot-1, 205-pound prep defensive end and long snapper, who said several MAC schools have been communicating with him. He's visited Akron a few times, attending some events at the Zips' campus, but it was the atmosphere of Athens and its students, as well as the facilities that led to him making his commitment almost right away.
Ohio recently opened its indoor practice facility, which seems to have already paid dividends on the recruiting trail.
"We got to see (the indoor practice facility)," Hale said, adding that he was impressed with the way the facility, which isn't completed yet, looked.
Hale, who plays defensive end and snaps for Olentangy Liberty, says he was recruited to be just a long snapper for the Bobcats, adding that he knows at his size, his odds of playing defensive end aren't likely. His slender frame backs that up. Though small players have found success on the defensive line in the MAC, they still had serious weight on Hale. However, his athletic build makes him perfect for the long snapping position, where he'll need to be able to not only deliver a clean snap, but explode out of his stance and contribute in punt coverage.
The 'Cats have made moves recently to bolster up their special teams play, including signing a kicker and a punter in their 2014 class. Hale's commitment continues with that trend, especially considering current 'Cats long snapper Miles Chapman is a senior. Ohio's had issues in both the kicking and punting game, and while some of that surely falls on those players actually kicking the ball, a long snapper is equally as important to the process. One bad snap can spell disaster in a close game.
"I'm just going to give it all I've got and see what happens," Hale said of his expected role with Ohio.
As for fans who may be worried about losing such an early commitment later down the road, Hale confirms his commitment to Ohio is solid.
"I don't think I'm going to be going to anything," he said in regards of potential plans to visit other schools. "I'll probably get back down to Athens a few more times, but that's it."
Follow all of our MAC Football recruiting coverage here. Also follow us on Twitter to get the latest news on all things MAC recruiting: