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Ohio State football: Tavien St. Clair embracing opportunity to represent Bellefontaine and the Buckeyes

Jun. 6—Almost one year after verbally committing to Ohio State, Tavien St. Clair wouldn't have it any other way.

"You know, it's really just been it's been a major blessing," the Bellefontaine quarterback said Tuesday. "I've gotten to meet former players and former coaches from Ohio State and really just build relationships with some of the players I grew up watching" including C.J. Stroud, Troy Smith and Braxton Miller.

The senior-to-be has become recognizable throughout not only Ohio Stadium but Columbus and beyond as potentially the next quarterback of the Buckeyes.

"Even at like the spring game, I actually had autographs to sign and things like that, so it was just a pretty cool moment just to know that people notice you," he said.

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound St. Clair has been on the rise as a prospect for the past year, moving all the way up to No. 2 in 247Sports national rankings of all prospects in the class of 2025, but he was noticed locally long before that.

"I think he was going into the seventh grade and the middle school was throwing seven or seven out on our field," BHS head coach Jason Brown recalled. "Some of the coaches came into the building and said, 'Hey, you got to come out here and look at this young guy that's throwing right now.' And when we all went outside and and watched what was going on, and we all looked around shaking our heads like, 'Wow, this kid is really talented.'"

St. Clair was on the national recruiting radar by his sophomore season, but the big-time offers started adding up early last summer: Michigan, Florida, Illinois, Iowa State, Louisville and more.

Then came Ohio State in May followed by Alabama and LSU in early June.

He shut it down in June 22 when he announced he had verbally committed to be a Buckeye, fulfilling a lifelong dream that first appeared it could be a reality when then-Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson chatted with him following his freshman season.

"He was not necessarily recruiting me, but he had taken attention and just wanted to talk to me about how recruiting is and how it works," St. Clair said. "I think it's the first time that I really was like, 'You know, I can really take this thing and turn it into something big.

"I think for some guys getting that kind attention kind of makes them ease up and let off the gas and really just not feel like they might have to do as much since they've already made it.

"And for me, it was just I've never felt like I've made it, and I still feel like there's a lot of things I can get better on. So I feel like just getting that attention motivated me even more."

He is set to be the first in-state quarterback signee for Ohio State since Joe Burrow of Athens in 2015, but St. Clair has other business to take care of before that.

He's playing the dual-role of team leader for the Chieftains and class builder for the Buckeyes, who have the No. 2 recruiting class in the country entering summer.

"I'm trying to take an approach this offseason to be another coach," St. Clair said. "We have young team this year so I really want to help the younger guys develop, learn the game.

"That's going to help me as well just with my leadership skills and knowing the game of football and the IQ part of it. So I've really just been working, whether that's when we don't have practice going out there to the field and doing routes on air, showing them where their spots should be, where they should be set up before the play and things like that."

He threw for 3,083 yards and 37 touchdowns last season with six interceptions. He also ran for 352 yards and four touchdowns as the Chieftains went 11-3. They advanced to a regional final in Division III before falling to Columbus Bishop Watterson 19-13.

This season they hope to go on another run, but St. Clair is happy to be able to represent his hometown no matter what.

He has pride in where he comes from, and he sees it as an asset when Ohio State head coach Ryan Day and his staff were evaluating him as a recruit.

"I think what helped me to catch their eye was just like my homegrown-type of mentality," St. Clair said. "Here in Ohio, I think we just have a different level of football, just some grit and toughness that goes into it. We're constantly aching to be the best, and we really want to be the best that we can be."

St. Clair also suggested being somewhat raw as a prospect might have been appealing to OSU.

"I was really coachable," he said. "I've never had a QB coach, so they've really thought I'm just a blank slate. They can mold me into the person and quarterback that they want, and I think that's what they were most attracted to."

With St. Clair's profile steadily rising, his current coach said he has been a great ambassador for the program while remaining true to himself.

According to Brown, Bellefontaine's last Big Ten alumni were Gail Clark and Jesse Williams, who chose Michigan State over Ohio State (and others) in 1969.

The last Buckeye on scholarship from BHS was Howard Lambert, a senior fullback on the 1961 national championship team, but St. Clair is poised to end that drought.

"He's obviously very honored and humbled to be chosen by Ohio State as the guy for the '25 class as the quarterback, but at the same time, that also carries with it expectations," Brown said.

"Now what I would tell you is nobody's built for that better than him. He's built to carry those expectations. It's how he's wired. It's what he wants. The price of greatness is responsibility, and he does not back down from any of that responsibility."