But when Norwalk senior offensive lineman Trey Leroux finally put pen to paper on Wednesday, it was nothing but appreciation and excitement.
Leroux signed his national letter of intent to continue his academic and football career at Ohio State University. The 6-foot-8, 325-pound tackle is going to finish high school this week and early enroll at the university, where he begins classes officially on Jan. 6.
“I’m very excited to start my journey as a Buckeye,” Leroux said. “It’s all been a little fast and crazy with signing early, but it’s the best feeling in the world at the same time.
“I’m actually very excited to be done with high school and be able to move on to college so quickly with no downtime,” he added. “The university is going to be a big change for me, but this allows me to be able to get a head start on that change that is coming.”
After a few days of classes, Leroux will begin workouts on Jan. 8.
“There will be things that I’lll struggle with at first, but their coaching staff and players will help me through that,” he said. “It’s a big reason why I decided to go to Ohio State — the support group that they have.”
Leroux chose OSU over offers from Kentucky, Pitt, Purdue, Cincinnati, West Virginia, Indiana and Rutgers, along with Mid-American Conference schools Bowling Green, Buffalo and Toledo.
After being offered by the Buckeyes on March 8, Leroux quickly gave his verbal to the program less than 48 hours later. Nothing could have prepared Leroux for the attention he’s received in the nine months since.
It will only intensify in the years to come if things go as planned.
“I think I’ve adjusted,” he said. “I’ve done a lot better with involving myself with a bigger group of people. I don’t know that I’m used to it yet, but I’ve definitely adjusted to it now.”
Leroux is a three-start prospect according to the 247Sports recruiting website. The site ranks him the No. 89 offensive tackle and the No. 44 player in the state of Ohio.
Norwalk head coach Todd Fox said much gets made of Leroux’s stature, but it takes much more than that to get a full scholarship to Ohio State — a program that is currently preparing for a third College Football Playoff game in a six-year span.
“Ohio State doesn’t just offer a scholarship to someone who is big,” Fox said. “They have a limited number, and they’re not just going to say, ‘Here is a scholarship because you’re big.’
“They know they are going to put in work with Trey and they have high expectations for him,” he added. “Trey is just even keel. He doesn’t get too high or low, he just keeps at a steady pace. You match that up with his natural size and abilities, and that’s what makes him pretty special to sign with an elite Power Five school.”
Fox, who has led the Truckers to a 19-7 record in two seasons with Leroux as his left tackle, talked about what the day meant for the large crowd gathered in the Reagan Athletic Complex at Norwalk High School.
“I’m excited for Trey and the Leroux family,” he said. “It’s a lot of time, work and sacrifices they have put in. It’s exciting for them to have this moment today and it’s exciting to see what his future may have in store.
“As a program, it’s always a great day when you have have all the kids here supporting a teammate who is signing with the Buckeyes,” Fox added. “For Trey, it’s the gratification of knowing he could do this — and it puts out a bar for our other guys and how they can achieve something like this. To see what you have to do, here it is right in front of them. It’s real. For our kids, right here is proof that your dreams can happen with hard work and belief. It’s a great day for everyone.”
Out of all the things that has happened to Leroux since his commitment to Ohio State, one moment stands out about others.
About two weeks after his verbal, he received a phone call from a past Ohio State offensive lineman. But it wasn’t just any past lineman. It was College and Pro Football Hall of Famer Orlando Pace wishing him well.
“Everything that has happened involving Ohio State since I committed has been kind of crazy and surreal,” Leroux said. “Something that you don’t believe can happen to you coming from a small town in Norwalk is suddenly real. But hearing from Orlando Pace, it was hard to put together words when we spoke.”
Pace grew up just 15 miles north in Sandusky (1994 graduate) and also played left tackle at Ohio State prior to his NFL career with the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears. He was of course, also a similar size to Leroux coming out of high school.
“We talked about the work it’s going to take to put in and if I have any questions to call him anytime and I’ll be able to talk to him throughout the whole process,” Leroux recalled of their March conversation. He later saw him on the sidelines at the 34-10 win over Michigan State on Oct. 5 in Columbus.
“He told me if I ever need anything, he’ll be there,” Leroux said. “I think him being a hometown guy from Sandusky, with us being bigger kids out of high school at the same position, it’s crazy I get to kind of follow — not the same path, obviously — but a similar one at least.”
In two seasons at Norwalk, Leroux was selected to the All-Sandusky Bay Conference Lake Division first team. He was the Ohio Prep Sportswriters Association’s Northwest District Lineman of the Year in Division III in both 2018 and 2019, which ultimately led to being a two-time All-Ohio first team selection as well.
The Truckers went 10-4 in 2018, earning the program’s second-ever appearance in the state semifinals. This past season, Norwalk went 9-3, winning a share of the SBC Lake championship as well as winning a first-round playoff game.
“The move to Norwalk is the best thing I could have done,” Leroux said of transferring to the school after his first two years of high school were at nearby Monroeville. “It’s been unbelievable to get the amount of support from the community, and being a part of league and regional championships and success on the field was special.”
With all that being said, Leroux is also clamoring to get busy in Columbus. He’s taken several sideline visits to home games this season for an up close look at the No. 2-ranked Buckeyes (13-0), who face Clemson (13-0) at 8 p.m. on Dec. 28 in the Fiesta Bowl.
“It’s been amazing to see the things I got to see, from pregame to the locker room afterwards,” he said. “It’s a pleasure to be a part of, and they obviously have an awesome team this year. I can’t wait to get there and start building toward next year and beyond with a lot of the guys.”