January 25, 2008

Gardiner getting close?

Linebacker Steve Gardiner of Dublin-Coffman High School in Ohio is one of the top uncommitted prospects in the Midwest for the class of 2008. With scholarship offers from schools like Michigan State, Ohio State, Northwestern, Pittsburgh and West Virginia, the 3-star prospect has plenty of options. Gardiner has over a dozen BCS scholarships at his disposal.

The 6-foot-1, 205-pound Gardiner is rated the #41 player in Ohio for the class of 2008 and the #67 linebacker in the nation by Rivals.com.

Gardiner just completed an outstanding senior season for teh Shamrocks. He helped lead Dublin-Coffman to a 13-1 record before they lost a heartbreaker to eventual state champion St Xavier in the semi-finals. On the season Gardiner racked up 180 tackles including 24 TFL's and 3 forced fumbles.

Head Coach Mark Dantonio and the Spartan staff have been evaluating Gardiner throughout his senior season and offered him a few weeks ago. SpartanMag.com spoke with Gardiner about Michigan State's recruitment of him.

"Michigan State offered me two or three weeks ago," he said. "Coach (Mike) Tressel was at my school on Tuesday. I like Coach Tressel, I have got to know him pretty well."

Having a good relationship with his potential position coach is one of the factors that Gardiner indicated is important to him.

Gardiner has already taken official visits to Ohio State, Pittsburgh and Northwestern. We asked him about his plans for the remaining 10-days until signing day.

"This weekend I am going to West Virginia," Gardiner said. "I still might visit Michigan State. I might try to get up thre during the week sometime."

Have the Spartans talked about setting up an official visit?

"Yes, but I have been up there several times," Gardiner said. "I am familiar with Michigan State so I don't need to take an official visit, but I know they want to have the same opportunity all the other schools I am looking at have had."

Gardiner is currently playing basketball for Dublin-Coffman and his commitment to his teammates has made fitting in all the official visits tough. Gardiner plays small forward for the Shamrocks and is known for his tenacious defense and solid rebounding skills.

One of the interesting aspects about Gardiner's recruitment is the fact that Ohio State has offered him a grey-shirt option. A grey-shirt is when a team asks you to initially enroll without a scholarship and then you will receive one the next year.

Grey-shirts often are effective when trying to attract players that only have MAC offers. Getting a player with the offers that Gardiner has to grey-shirt would be quite a recruiting coup.

SpartanMag.com has scouted Gardiner in person and on film and while he is not the biggest linebacker; he does run very well and is a sure tackler. Gardiner has clocked a 40-yard dash as fast as 4.44. seconds.

Gardiner is a 3-sport athlete and because of that he has not fully devoted his time to the weight room. Once he concentrates solely on football and lifting look for him to be in the 215-220 pound range.

SpartanMag.com will catch back up with Gardiner following his visit to West Virginia. Linebacker recruiting is still a critical need for the Spartans and if they are able to secure a visit fro Gardiner prior to signing day they could have a great shot at landing this hard-nosed Ohio product.

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