Walk-on quarterback from Ohio State arrives at Arizonaby Anthony Gimino on Jul. 16, 2010, under Sports
Ross Oltorik, a former pitcher and walk-on quarterback at Ohio State, is getting a fresh start at Arizona.
Oltorik arrived in Tucson earlier this week after getting all the paperwork cleared and will start summer classes on Monday. He’s already settled in to a living situation, rooming with junior college transfer linebackers Derek Earls and Paul Vassallo, who arrived for the spring semester.
Oltorik is looking to dedicate himself to football after suffering a rotator cuff injury before the 2010 baseball season. He said he had been scheduled to be the Saturday starting pitcher for the Buckeyes.
“A week before the season started, I tore my rotator cuff. Once that happened, I came to the conclusion that it’s time to focus on being the best quarterback I can be … and do I want to do that at Ohio State or somewhere else?
“I had a couple of meetings with Coach (Jim) Tressel — he’s a great guy, he’s been very good to me — and he said he was full on scholarships until January.”
Oltorik, who is the career passing leader at Moeller High School in Cincinnati, first heard of Arizona from ex-Ohio State defensive tackle Willie Mobley, who spent last season at Orange Coast Community College in California before signing with the Wildcats.
“Once I got hurt, he gave me a call and said, ‘You’ve got to come out here and play, this offense is perfect for you,’” Oltorik said.
Arizona coaches Mike Tuiasosopo and Frank Scelfo followed up with phone calls — Scelfo being able to relate because his son, Anthony, was a quarterback and baseball player at Tulane.
“Coach Scelfo just seems like a winner and someone I wanted to play under,” Oltorik said.
Oltorik visited the Arizona campus last month and decided to be a Wildcat — on the same conditions he had at Ohio State. He said UA told him it doesn’t expect a scholarship to open up until January.
“My dad said he was willing to pay for a semester,” Oltorik said. “I have to prove myself because I have been hurt. I will do whatever it takes to do that.”
Oltorik said he committed early to Ohio State on a baseball scholarship while in high school, and he was an invited walk-on to the football team before his freshman year of 2008.
“I went early to go to summer workouts for football, along with all the other guys. Basically, I was treated like a football scholarship guy,” he said.
In a blowout of Youngstown State in the 2008 opener, Oltorik said he was going to go into the game, but somebody realized he shouldn’t.
If he had played, his baseball scholarship would convert to a football scholarship (it’s an NCAA rule that prevents teams from skirting the 85-scholarship limit), and Ohio State was already at its limit.
Oltorik, who is 6-foot-1 and 220 pounds, later hurt his shoulder and sat out football in 2009. Once he sits out this season, he will have two years of eligibility left, although he said that the NCAA told him he would qualify for an medical hardship year because the shoulder injury kept him out of two seasons.
In a best-case scenario, he would have three years to play, beginning in 2011.
Here is Arizona’s QB depth chart:
Nick Foles, Jr.
Matt Scott, Jr.
Bryson Beirne, Jr.
Andrew McDonald, So. (walk-on)
Ross Oltorik, So. (walk-on)
Cameron Allerheiligen, Fr.
(Committed recruit: Daxx Garman, Southlake Carroll High School in Texas)
Oltorik said he peeked at the depth chart to know what’s down the road (with the quarterback position apparently up for grabs after Foles leaves after the 2011 season), but he’s not too worried about that right now.
“I am definitely going to watch Nick Foles and learn from him and use my mind,” he said of this season. “Nick seems like a great leader and he seems like someone you can model yourself after.”
As for playing two sports, he said he has not talked yet to baseball coach Andy Lopez. Oltorik was 1-1 with a 9.58 ERA in 31 innings in the 2009 season, and he said he can also play the outfield. He said he would love to contribute in baseball if it doesn’t interfere with football spring practice.