Posted: Wednesday June 7, 2006 12:10PM; Updated: Wednesday June 7, 2006 6:15PM
Brandon Saine, a junior from Piqua (Ohio) High, is going to have his eyes on Ted Ginn Jr. this fall, and not just because Saine recently orally committed to play football at Ohio State. Ginn, who will be a junior at OSU this fall, is a versatile wide receiver who also runs sweeps and reverses and boasts tremendous speed. Saine has those same qualities. The powerful 6-foot 210-pounder can bench-press 305 pounds and recently was hand-timed at a blazing 4.2 seconds in the 40-yard dash.
"[Ohio State] told [our] coaches to watch Teddy this year," Piqua track coach Ron Pearson said, "because that's the way they want to use [Saine]. They sure do like his speed."
That means Saine will be more than just a running back for Piqua this fall. As a junior last season he ran for 1,308 yards. Most of his 297 receiving yards came in the last two games, when the Indians finally decided to utilize his soft hands and brilliant speed as a receiver. He also had 215 yards in kickoff returns. He scored 17 rushing touchdowns and four receiving.
For Saine, Ohio State was an easy choice.
"They have a great football program, it is close to home and I liked the coaches," Saine said. "It's the right fit for me. To replace Ginn is a great opportunity because he is one of the best."
But for all his achievements on the gridiron, Saine has made a much bigger name for himself thus far on the track.
Pearson first met Saine while coaching seventh-grade football. At the end of each season he would challenge his players to try out for track in the spring. Even though he knew that Saine's father, Anthony, had been a talented runner at Dayton Roth, Pearson admits he was surprised -- and extremely pleased -- to see the younger Saine come out for track.
"He was as fast as anybody I had on the varsity," Pearson said.
Pearson's encouragement opened a new world to the seventh-grader, who had played baseball in prior springs.
As a junior he broke the all-time Ohio state record with a time of 10.38 in the 100-meter dash. That time currently ranks No. 4 in the country for the 2006 outdoor season. His season-best 46.69 effort in the 400-meter ranks No. 3 in the country. Saine, who won state titles in both events as a sophomore, repeated as 100 and 400 champion last week. He took the 100 in a state-meet record of 10.5 seconds and the 400 in 46.88. He ran out of gas in the 200, however, finishing seventh in 22.08. One day earlier he had wind-aided times of 10.43 in the 100, 20.74 in the 200 and 47.08 in the 400.
"He got caught up in the awards and preliminary process," Pearson said. "He went from the 100 to the 400 with no recovery time. He was on his feet [receiving awards and conducting interviews] all the time. He didn't know how to handle it -- nor did I -- because he hadn't seen so much attention."
Said Saine: "I wasn't fully recovered from the 400 [for the 200]."
Regardless of the 200, Pearson is still amazed by Saine's state performance.
"I don't think anybody else could have done better," Pearson said. "It was an outstanding effort in the 100 and 400. I would have liked to have seen him run fresh [in the 200], but it was not to be. He's a powerful kid. He reminds me a lot of Justin Gatlin."
Saine's final track meet of the year will be the Nike Outdoor Invitational this weekend in Greensboro, N.C.
"He wants to try all three events," Pearson says. "He's convinced he can do it."
The confident Piqua star wants to shoot for state records in all three of his events next spring. But once he gets to college, Saine stresses that football will come first.