Jim Tressel’s newest assistant is much more to Cleveland area Buckeyes than just a former Florida assistant that helped Urban Meyer win a national championship. Stanley Drayton is coming home!
When Ohio State announced it had added Stanley Drayton to its football staff to coach wide receivers, the story in most parts led with the Buckeyes bringing in a former University of Florida assistant coach to its staff.
While Drayton was a part of Urban Meyer’s staff at Florida that won a national championship with a BCS title game win over the Buckeyes, his story starts well before he coached running backs for the Gators.
It really starts as a member of the Cleveland John Marshall High football team when the Cleveland Senate was among the lost and forgotten by most in the media and coaches on the college recruiting trail.
The Cleveland Senate dates back to the 1930s. And as late as the 1960s it produced players like former Nebraska player and head coach Frank Solich, who played at Cleveland Holy Name before it moved to Parma Heights and Brian Dowling, who quarterbacked Cleveland St. Ignatius before fame on the field at Yale and notoriety came his way in the comic strip Doonesberry as the character, “B.D.”
But when Federal Court Judge Frank Batisti forced bussing on Cleveland Schools in the late 1970s, the schools sunk to depths from which they have never recovered. And the athletic programs at the high school level in the system took an equal hit.
Only the recent success of Glenville under its coach Ted Ginn Sr.. has allowed the Senate to emerge as a place for college recruiters to stop and grab a look. And it didn’t hurt that among Ginn’s best players was his son, former Buckeye kick returner and wide receiver Ted Ginn Jr.
Drayton, who can add national champion to his resume as a player, having been a member of the Allegheny College football team that captured the 1990 NCAA Division III title, could be called the Ted Ginn Jr. of his day.
Among the very best in the Cleveland-area when he came out of high school in 1989, Drayton was not as highly recruited as some Cleveland Senate athletes today, especially those who somehow end up playing at Glenville.
Well after he attained success at Allegheny, which includes holding the NCAA Division III single season points-per-game record after scoring 27 touchdowns in 1991 and earning All-America honors, some asked how Drayton ended up at Allegheny.
Al Valenzisi, Drayton’s high school coach at John Marshall spoke of part of the reason.
“After Stanley had gone to Allegheny and they won a national championship, I had a recruiter ask me why I didn’t tell him about Stanley and other guys I had,” Valenzisi recalled.
Valenzisi is no stranger to quality football. His oldest son, Sam, went to Northwestern on an academic scholarsip and became a walk-on his sophomore year and became an All-America place kicker for the Wildcats and was a member of its Big Ten championship and Rose Bowl team in 1995.
“I reminded that recruiter that I told him about Stan but nobody would listen,” explained Valenzisi, who still keeps his hand in coaching as an assistant coach at Canton McKinley.
Valenzisi, who has always been his players’ best advocate, fought the good fight as a coach in the Cleveland Senate and has the credentials to prove it.
While coaching in the league in what may be its worst of times, Valenzisi can claim he has former players who were players or coaches on teams that won national championships at four NCAA division levels and another in the NAIA.
If you ask, Valenzisi will rattle off the names former John Marshall Lawyers who can put national championship rings on their fingers.
When Stanley Drayton’s career path has taken him from his alma mater, Allegheny to Easterm Michigan and Bowling Green in the Mid-American Conference, Pennsylvania of the Ivy League, Villanova of the Colonial Athletic Conference and SEC schools Mississippi State, Tennessee along with Florida. That doesn’t include a three-year stint with the Green Bay Packers who won a division title in each of the three years Drayton was with the NFL team.
And at all his stops, Drayton has carried a quality you can’t buy in a coach.
According to Valenzisi, Drayton will succeed at Ohio State on and off the field like he has at all other coaching stops along the way.
“Stan is a great recruiter,” said his former high school coach. “And when Stan goes into a player’s home and meets with his family, he is honest. There is nothing phony about him.”
While most Buckeye fans will see the addition of Drayton as a plus for the Buckeyes and a minus for the Gators, especially when it comes to recruiting, I think the guy who wins the most is Al Valenzisi. The former John Marshall coach was there at the beginning and helped Drayton and many other players find success in the Cleveland Senate when others coaches, recruiters and members of the media did not.