Few high school football programs have been as successful as Cleveland’s St. Ignatius, yet the Buckeyes and Wildcats rarely hook up for top players.

Ignatius has won a record 10 State Titles but has only sent one player to OSU on a scholarship in the last decade. Luckily, 6-foot-1, 225-pound linebacker, Scott McVey isn’t an ordinary player.

McVey will be the first Wildcat since wide receiver Anthony Gonzalez to wear scarlet and gray, and if his success is any indication, McVey should make quite the impact as a Buckeye.

Gonzalez was known for his deceptively quick speed, and while McVey isn’t a wideout, speed is something he has no problem with.

“The defense today is so based on speed. These huge middle linebackers who used to plug the off-tackle hole, that kid now has his hand on the ground playing defensive end,” St. Ignatius coach Chuck Kyle said. “The interesting characteristic that Ohio State and many other schools noticed right away is Scott’s excellent speed. He’s a regional finalist in the 110-meter high hurdles in track. You don’t find many linebackers who can do that and that also shows his athleticism.”

McVey caught scouts’ eyes with a dominant performance in the OHSAA playoffs his junior season, when he led Ignatius to a Division I State Title.

His disruptive nature on the field as a run stopper and his play as a pass rusher are why many schools quickly offered him a scholarship. While even the Buckeyes decided he was their kind of player, some believe questions still remain unanswered about McVey’s ability at the college level.

“Scott had all of the tools as a high school player, but there are some critics that want to see how he will perform at the next level,” said Kevin Noon, Buckeyegrove.com’s managing editor. “It is just a matter of the Ohio State coaches finding the best position on the field for him to excel at.”

One thing McVey has going for him is his intense love for the game. While his physical measurements may be lacking according to some, he doesn’t allow it to stop him from making himself known on the defensive side of the football.

“Scott plays in a very intense gear when he is out on the field,” Kyle said. “You watch a few videos on him, and you see he is always making a play. He is always running people down from behind and is just relentless. He is definitely a defensive player; he has the mentality of a hunter going after his prey.”

Height seems to be McVey’s one disadvantage according to scouts and recruiting analysts. It didn’t stop him at the high school level but seems to be a concern moving forward. McVey, however, has everything going for him other than the lacking inches.

“He is a smart football player [who] understands the game, and what he may lack in height he more than makes up for in the ability to anticipate plays and very strong fundamentals,” Noon said. “He has been coached well in high school and should continue to develop as a solid player.”

Kyle, who has sent a plethora of players to college and to the NFL, said he could tell from a very early time in McVey’s career that he was special. Ignatius isn’t the easiest place to make an early impact on the football field, but Kyle said by McVey’s freshman or sophomore year, he knew he could expect great things.

Off the field, McVey is also an asset to the Buckeyes. Kyle said he believes OSU is getting the kind of player who won’t look at college as a stepping stone to the NFL, but rather someone who will work hard in the classroom and wants a degree. He also believes all the fuss about McVey’s height is unwarranted.

“He is 6-feet-1-inch and sometimes you read things that he is a little short,” Kyle said. “He is the same height and is as big as [Ross] Homan is, the guy who led Ohio State in tackles.”

On signing day, when McVey was introduced to the media by the Ohio State coaching staff, the question of his height was raised. Assistant coach Taver Johnson compared McVey’s playing style and mentality to Homan and said he didn’t believe size will be a problem.

“I think he’ll be fine,” Johnson said. “You have Brian Rolle, he’s 5 feet, 11 inches. We’ll take those guys who are explosive and mean and will take your head off.”

Regardless, even after an illustrious high school career, McVey has something to prove at Ohio State. Luckily for him talent, heart and desire aren’t measured in inches.