Six from Massillon sign their letters of intent

Chris Easterling
Updated: Wednesday, February 6, 2013
Massillon football recruits Brody Tonn (Walsh), Joe Hallett (Baldwin Wallace), Kentrell Taylor (Kent State), Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Kyle Kempt (Oregon State) and Anthony McCarthy (Ashland) all signed with their respective colleges Wednesday.  INDEPENDENT GLENN B. DETTMAN<br /><div id="dfp-300x250" style="float:right;"><script type="text/javascript">googletag.display("dfp-300x250");</script></div>
Massillon football recruits Brody Tonn (Walsh), Joe Hallett (Baldwin Wallace), Kentrell Taylor (Kent State), Gareon Conley (Ohio State), Kyle Kempt (Oregon State) and Anthony McCarthy (Ashland) all signed with their respective colleges Wednesday. INDEPENDENT GLENN B. DETTMAN

MASSILLON  Kyle Kempt dropped into a chair in the Washington High School library on Wednesday afternoon, roughly 40 minutes after a National Signing Day ceremony for he and five of his Tiger teammates had concluded.

The Massillon senior looked like the weight of the world had been lifted off his shoulders. He also had the look of someone very content and happy with what the day had brought for him.

“It’s extremely satisfying,” Kempt said, a huge grin breaking out over his face.

Kempt, who signed with Oregon State University, wasn’t the only one with such a look on his face. It was a look shared by every other Tiger player who had finally brought an official end to the recruitment process.

The Tiger quarterback was one of three to sign with Division I schools on Wednesday, as did Gareon Conley (Ohio State) and Kentrell Taylor (Kent State). Brody Tonn (Walsh), Joe Hallett (Baldwin-Wallace) and Anthony McCarthy (Ashland) also signed with NCAA Division II or III programs.

All wore expressions that mixed happiness, pride and relief. The latter expression may have been most evident from Conley, Kempt and Taylor.

In this day and age where recruiting has become a 24-hour, seven-days-a-week, 365-days-a-year process thanks to social media and the Internet, players who are being pursued at the highest levels are constantly barraged with intrusions from coaches, other players, fans and media. And it can — and does — often leave players longing for Signing Day, when it all comes to an end.

Just how often did such thoughts cross the Massillon signees’ minds?

“Probably every day,” Conley said. “It’s annoying, but it’s fun, too, at the same time. Just to get it over with, it’s big off my shoulders.”

One thing working in all Taylor’s, Conley’s and Kempt’s favor is their collective demeanors. While all three brought a competitive attitude to everything, all also exuded an outwardly calm, almost laid-back attitude.

“It helped us a lot, because our blood would never get boiled,” Taylor said. “We never got impatient. We just went with the flow. If it comes, it comes. If it don’t, it don’t.”

That approach proved to be very important for all three as they advanced down the path to Signing Day. For all three, that path never was completely straight, even when it appeared it was going to be that way.

Take Kempt, who was headed to Cincinnati until head coach Butch Jones left in early December for Tennessee and his replacement — Tommy Tuberville — yanked his scholarship in late December. Less than two months until Signing Day generally isn’t the optimum time for a recruit to find his way back “on the market,” especially if they have eyes on a big-time program.

Yet, around 7 a.m. this morning — 4 a.m. in Corvallis, Ore. — Kempt signed his letter of intent to play for one of the Pac-12’s most consistent programs in Oregon State.

“I’m in the month of February now, and I felt like this day was going to be here a very long time before it happened,” Kempt said. “Now it’s here and now I’m signing with a college that I’m extremely happy with.”

Conley, meanwhile, didn’t even get his first scholarship offer until Northwestern offered him on National Signing Day 2012. In between then and now, his path took him to a verbal commitment to Michigan last March, before reopening his recruitment after a huge senior season for the Tigers.

That’s why Conley arrived Wednesday clad not in maize and blue, but in red. Ohio State red.

“It’s just satisfying ... just knowing I’m going to be a Buckeye,” Conley said. “It’s just knowing that all my success and all my hard work has paid off.”

For Taylor, the recruitment process didn’t involve a change in schools, per se. It did, however, involve a change in coaches at his ultimate choice.

Kent State had emerged by December as Taylor’s top choice. However, the Golden Flashes went through a coaching change when Darrell Hazell — who led them to a school-best 11-3 record and a bowl game last season — left for Purdue and was replaced by Paul Haynes.

“Coach Hazell was a real cool dude,” Taylor said. “But he just sat me down and told me that Coach Haynes was on his coaching staff at Ohio State, and he told me how good of a dude he was. ... It wasn’t no mystery. I still knew where I was going to go.”