St. Xavier linebacker and Ohio State recruit Justin Hillard does some training at Ignition in Mason Ohio.

There was no drama for Justin Hilliard on Wednesday morning. No hat displays, no social media consternation over which college football program the young man from Cincinnati St. Xavier High School would choose from the hundreds that had at one point or another expressed interest in him. All that was needed to do was hit the “send” button on the fax machine at 7:23 a.m.


After eight years of preparing players for what he calls this week’s “Underwear Olympics,” trainer Clif Marshall realizes the NFL draft process has delicate dance partners. There is the brute reality of the prospect’s college tape. Meanwhile, the NFL Scouting Combine that opens Wednesday in Indianapolis supplies sheer data that is seductive and dangerous eye candy for scouts.

Super Bowl Dreams Starting in Mason

The pinnacle of the world of professional football is this weekend. It will be played in Arizona, on the outskirts of Phoenix where desert begins meeting metropolis. It is where seemingly all attention is being focused this week on actual matters of the game between the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks or the multiple trivialities surrounding the United States’ unofficial winter holiday.