Ted Ginn Jr. can remember a time when he used to pick up Christian Bryant when he was in grade school, and give him a ride to various places.
“Now look at him,” Ginn Jr. told a crowd of more than 100 people at Sawmill Creek golf course Friday. “Today he stands here and he's with the St. Louis Rams. He's just one example.”
Ginn Jr., along with several other former Ohio State football standouts — including former head coach Jim Tressel — were speaking to a crowd at a luncheon and golf outing fundraiser for the Ginn Academy in Cleveland, run by Ted Ginn Sr.
Ginn Sr. — the head football coach at Glenville High School — founded the academy in 2007, which has about 350 male students in grades 9-12 from the entire Cleveland area and surrounding suburbs. The boys wear uniforms, while scholarship, leadership and service are the primary core values taught at the school.
Along with the Ginn father-son combination, Tressel and Bryant, joining the event Friday was two more Glenville graduates and Ohio State stars, Bryant Browning and Marcus Hall. Browning was a former offensive lineman for the Buckeyes (2007-10) and is on the Pittsburgh Steelers practice squad. Hall just wrapped up his Ohio State career this past season, and signed with the Indianapolis Colts as an undrafted free agent.
Bryant was drafted in the seventh round in April by the Rams, while Ginn Jr. is about to begin his first season with the Arizona Cardinals after spending three seasons with the Miami Dolphins (2007-09), three season in San Francisco with the 49ers (2010-12) and last season with the Carolina Panthers.
“They understand it's about scholarship, leadership and service,” Ginn Sr. said when he talked about his former players showing up at events like Friday's at Sawmill. “It's all about serving, they know that. It's all about giving and developing these young people and giving back. They've been raised off of that, and feel like it's their duty to come to events like this.”
Tressel, who won 94 games at Ohio State from 2001-10, including the 2002 National Championship and five other BCS bowl games, talked about why he made the trip from Youngstown to Huron on Friday. Tressel was recently hired as the school president at Youngstown State University, where he first became an Ohio coaching fixture from 1986-2000.
“Coach Ginn loves people, loves kids … he's in this world for others,” Tressel said. “Any time you are with him, even if it's only for 10 minutes, you are a better person. And of course it's great to see all the kids.
“I don't know how many kids I had throughout the course of my coaching career from Glenville, but it was in double-figures,” he added. “So it was good to see them, and to come out to a beautiful place like this and see good folks who knew kids like (Perkins gradutes) Tyson Gentry and Brandon Schnittker. This is just a chance to see some good people.”
Added Ginn Jr., “This is my dad's vision, it's what he lives for. He did so much in my life for me to be where I'm at, I'd be a fool not to come out here for help for another kid. It's just what we do … trying to keep the family name going and set a legacy for a new group of kids.”
After catching 36 passes for 556 yards and five touchdowns from Cam Newton in Carolina, Ginn Jr. is ready to join a Cardinals team that went 10-6 last season, but missed the playoffs. Seattle (13-3) won the NFC West and the Super Bowl, and beat San Francisco (12-4) in the NFC championship game. Add in the Cardinals and a 7-9 St. Louis, and Ginn Jr. said he can't help but be already ready for kickoff.
“I'm very excited, I've got a three-year deal to play out there, I'm established, and I don't have to move around,” he said. “I'm just happy to go out there and play for them. It's a fun division to be in with Seattle as Super Bowl champions, and of course San Francisco on the other end. And St. Louis isn't bad either, and they got Christian (Bryant) now, too.”
Given the turnout of Friday's fundraiser, Ginn Sr. was more than appreciative to the area golfers and avid Ohio State fans who participated.
“I'm just grateful and thankful that this community would embrace me and what we are trying to do with the kids,” he said. “Just a blessing. It shows what people pay attention to, and it's not about the sports. It's about the development of children, and trying to make a difference or an impact on them. It's what we're known for, and that's what people recognize, and I appreciate that.”
Ginn Sr. also reflected on what he is most proud of, and it isn't the yearly appearances in the state football playoffs, or multiple state track and field championships he's helped produce at Glenville.
“I'm most proud of the impact I've seen on young people today, because some of them couldn't see them becoming who they are as a person and as a man,” he said. “I'm proud of that. God has given me the ability to have that vision to do that, and sell it to not only the kids, but the adults, too.”