Vandalia Butler tackle Decker commits to OSU

Events lead local player from Notre Dame to Ohio State.

VANDALIA — Taylor Decker verbally committed to play football at the University of Notre Dame as quickly as it takes him to flatten a defender.

At 6 feet 8 and 315 pounds, he had become a much-sought-after recruit while excelling at Vandalia Butler High School. Recruiters liked his feistiness and potential. Big and mobile, he fit the extra-large presence that anchors an offensive line at left tackle.

That’s a key position. Most quarterbacks are right-handed and favor their line of sight that way. It’s on the left tackle to make certain his QB isn’t crunched from the blind side.

Decker had his choice of being that guy for many programs except the place he coveted most: Ohio State. The Buckeyes feigned interest, but didn’t offer a scholarship.

Already weary of recruiting, Decker bit when Irish coach Brian Kelly offered a scholarship last spring. He verbally committed to ND in March 2011, nearly 18 months before he would graduate and almost a year before he could sign a binding national letter of intent.

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He could see himself relocating to the South Bend, Ind., campus and playing for the Irish. He was free from the unrelenting recruiting pitches to focus on his upcoming senior season with the Aviators.

That was the plan.

“I thought I had everything figured out,” he reflected.

Big mistake.

A series of improbable events at OSU led Decker down a beaten path that has crisscrossed the country in recent years. He eventually would “flip,” nixing his verbal commitment to Notre Dame to instead pledge with the Buckeyes. And he isn’t the only high-profile recruit to do so.

Decker’s decision is a reminder of how recruiting keeps college football in the offseason headlines. Unexpected reversals, transfers and coaching changes are as much the lifeblood of programs as touchdowns and bowl games. It can be a wild ride for everyone involved, fans included.

“The Buckeye fans embraced me right away,” Decker said. “It’s going to be great to see where that goes.”

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