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Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Watch List OL feels the spotlight early

By Chantel Jennings

ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- A lot of athletes don’t hit the public eye until they get onto a college campus and play on Saturdays. But for football players at high-profile programs throughout the country, that spotlight comes a bit early.

Watch List offensive guard Sam Mustipher (Olney, Md./Our Lady of Good Counsel) is in that position. He knows that anytime he wears a football shirt or his varsity jacket, he’s representing more than himself.

“Pretty much anywhere in Maryland,” Mustipher said, regarding where Good Counsel gets recognized. “It’s pretty cool and a humbling experience. With that, you know you have a spotlight on your back at all times. If I’m wearing something with Good Counsel on it, people are going to look to me to set the example.”

And considering his 20-plus offers from the likes of Alabama, Florida, Michigan, Ohio State, Florida State and Notre Dame, coaches have noticed a lot more than a shirt. Recently, his game film has him being recognized further west at schools such as Oregon, USC and Stanford -- all of which he hopes to get offers from soon.

With that much interest, it might be difficult for most players to keep things under control, but Mustipher has decided that he’ll see how the rest of this school year plays out and then try to narrow his list to five or 10 schools during the late spring or summer.

“I want to get a feel for the coaches who’ve shown a lot of interest and schools where I’d fit in best at,” he said. “That’s what I’ll base my top five or top 10 off. I’ll then focus on those schools, getting second or third visits in during the summertime.”

Of the schools that have offered, six stand out because of how much the coaching staffs have shown interest. Those schools are Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Northwestern, West Virginia and Maryland.

Several things are important to Mustipher as he thinks about narrowing down his list, and tradition is definitely one of those.

At Notre Dame, he was impressed with the legacy that players embrace on campus. He liked that they’re not an endorsement-heavy team that decorates its field or buildings with obnoxious logos. At Ohio State, Mustipher is impressed with how coach Urban Meyer has brought back and recreated the tradition of the Buckeyes.

On top of the interest from coaches, Mustipher has heard even more about Michigan than others because of his friendship with Michigan sophomore cornerback and Good Counsel alum Blake Countess. Countess was a senior when Mustipher was a freshman, and Countess’ younger brother attends Good Counsel now.

“We’re close family friends,” Mustipher said. “His father is the one who really sold me on Good Counsel and now he’s trying really hard to sell me on Michigan as well.”

During his spring break Mustipher will have the chance to visit Countess at Michigan, as he plans to stop by April 4. It will be a part of a weeklong tour of the Midwest, as he’ll also stop by Northwestern (April 1-2), Notre Dame (April 3) and Ohio State (April 6).

Mustipher knows there are a lot of different elements playing into his recruitment and that he doesn’t control all of them. He is planning these trips and keeping in touch with coaches, but at the end of the day -- specifically as an offensive lineman -- his decision timeline might be dictated by something other than the player himself.

“With the schools I have offers from, a lot of offensive linemen want to go to these schools,” he said. “For me, I want to take official visits but I feel like my decision will probably be spontaneous. Maybe I’ll wake up one morning and be like, ‘This is the right school for me.’ ”

And at this point, with 20-plus offers, Mustipher could likely have the pick of the litter.