Tavien St. Clair

Committing To Ohio State Brings New Levels Of Attention, Different Pressures

All eyes are on you before you even know you’re being looked at. When you walk onto a field, there is a spotlight pointed at you that could be more aptly described as a targeting system.

That is life as an Ohio State football commit.

On and off the field, the label carries weight. It also carries expectations.

Most who have played high school football in the state of Ohio have had some kind of thought about what it would be like to be a Buckeye, but very few of those dreamers have spent time thinking about the attention, pressure, and responsibility that comes long before ever stepping a single foot onto the Ohio Stadium turf.

Just the act of committing to Ohio State brings a level of attention that can be a lot for any teenager to handle. That’s one of the reasons the Buckeyes don’t recruit just “any teenager.”

“As always, it’s a blessing,” 2025 quarterback commit Tavien St. Clair said after some contemplative sighing. “Some people from the outside think it would be a lot of pressure, but this is what I’ve wanted for a long time, so all eyes on me is okay with me. I think it just helps you be a better person. You’ve got to do the right thing at all times. That’s just the main thing.”

This was the first weekend of high school football in the state of Ohio, and St. Clair and his Bellefontaine High School Chieftains lived up to expectations Friday night as he threw five touchdown passes in a 46-19 win over Sidney High School.

St. Clair committed to Ohio State back in June, and as a quarterback he is in the spotlight even more. He is easy to find, for both the defense and the judgment-wielding onlookers.

Every throw conveys an expectation of being Ohio State worthy, despite Ohio State never once fielding a high school junior at quarterback. The earliest St. Clair would see the field at Ohio State is in two years, but outside expectations don’t allow for timetables. They only exist in the here and now.

“Eyes are going to be on me from now on for the rest of my life,” St. Clair said. “It feels a little bit different when that type of pressure is on you.”

Friday night was St. Clair’s first game as an Ohio State commit, and while he said it didn’t add to the pressure, it definitely brought a different feel.

“There are kids that will want to wave at you during the game, or after I’m done here, I’m sure kids will want me to sign their footballs. More comes with it,” he said. “But at the same time, it’s a challenge that if you take on, it’s going to benefit you for sure because you have to be on your game every game or people will say things. But at the end of the day, it is what it is.”

The challenges on the field are going to be unavoidable, but if on-field challenges were that much of an issue, Ohio State never would have even been in the picture.

The ability to turn challenges into opportunities is the key to success in just about anything, and that is especially true on a football field. But once somebody commits to Ohio State, those challenges are ramped up because some of the people doing the challenging understand that this isn’t going to be your typical contest.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a lot of pressure but it’s a lot of attention,” said Glenville senior cornerback Bryce West, who committed to Ohio State three days after St. Clair.

Being a Glenville Tarblooder mandates its own level of expectations, especially in the secondary. Past Buckeye greats like Ted Ginn, Jr. and Marshon Lattimore were lockdown High School All-Americans as Tarblooders, and anybody who plays that same position at Glenville will have his own pressures.

Those expectations and pressures haven’t seemed to bother West yet, who happens to wear that same No. 2 jersey that both Ginn and Lattimore wore at Glenville. But even that kind of notoriety kicks into another stratosphere when you are an Ohio State commit.

“Everybody will be coming to games and coming to scrimmages and everybody wants to try to expose you because they’re all thinking that you’re a big Big Ten commit, so they try to go at you a lot,” West said.

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Glenville opened their season on Saturday in Canton, Ohio as part of the NE Ohio Vs. America Football Showcase. The Tarblooders came away with a 36-13 win over Dinwiddie (VA). Dinwiddie is a run-focused team, so West was employed more as a nickel defender on the edge, allowing him to get more involved with the defense as a whole.

Once the Tarblooders begin facing teams this season that throw the ball more, West will be back outside expecting everybody’s best shot because that’s what he saw this summer.

“You’ve just got to keep your head straight,” he said. “A lot of teams will try to go at me in 7-on-7s in one-on-one situations, but you’ve just got to be able to play the ball in the air. But you definitely get a lot of attention.”

There can also be quite a bit of chatter from the opponents who know they are competing against a future Buckeye.

“It’s a lot of talk but I don’t usually go back and forth with guys,” West said. “I just let them talk to me and I just walk away. I feel like you’ve gotta beat me before you can just talk to me any type of way you want.”

It’s not all bad, however.

“A lot of guys don’t say anything,” West said. “A lot of guys have got a lot of love and respect to show to me.”

Love and respect probably aren’t mentioned enough, because many of the same people eager to judge or hold a player to a higher level of expectation, are also rooting for them to get there.

For those Ohio State fans who follow recruiting, a committed player has already become part of the family. And nobody should want better for you than family.

“Oh yeah. Just being a highly recruited player, we were somewhat used to [the attention],” Lakewood St. Edward offensive lineman Devontae Armstrong said. “But as soon as we committed, it was like a whole different aspect in itself. I mean, everywhere we’d go, whether it just be a restaurant or anywhere near the Dublin or Columbus area, 5-10 people would come up to us and talk to us.”

The “we” that Armstrong uses is in reference to himself and his twin brother Deontae, who are both committed to Ohio State. Saturday afternoon, they were in Canton as well. The Eagles overpowered Center Grove (IN) 27-10, thanks in large part to the efforts of Devontae at left guard and Deonte at left tackle.

“Every single time we’re on the field, they expect us to play our 100% best,” Devontae said of life as an Ohio State commit.

But really, those expectations are no different than what the players have for themselves. To even get to this point doesn’t happen without the kind of drive that is fueled by expectations for something better.

None of this is accidental, but it can change a person if they’re not careful. There is going to be a lot said about them, and there isn’t much of it that is beneficial. That is why athletes are always warned not to pay attention to the outside noise because either that noise could convince a player that he is the best thing since the skip intro button, or the worst thing since autoplay ads.

Devontae Armstrong credits keeping any of this from going to his head to his lack of time spent on social media and his family keeping him humble. He also has the understanding that no matter what is said, the play on the field will be what produces the most volume.

“I don’t really pay attention to what everybody else is talking about,” he said. “I just let my game speak for itself.”

Pressure and expectations aren’t new for the kinds of players being recruited by the major universities. When those players pick up a Buckeye hat and say that they are committing to Ohio State, however, a new level of awareness is achieved. The kind of awareness where more people know who a player is, and also what he can become.

Opportunity can feel like pressure until you realize that one without the other cannot exist. There cannot be pressure where there is no opportunity, and what kind of opportunity is worth a damn without the pressure to perform?

It is a lot to bear, but responsibilities have the tendency to do that.

“At the end of the day, it’s still in the back of your mind that you’re an Ohio State commit,” St. Clair said. “Ohio State’s excellent in football and you’ve got to be excellent as well.”

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