Zaire checks out top two schools

Malik Zaire couldn’t have asked for a better game -- and not just because of the exciting ending.

The junior quarterback from Alter (Kettering, Ohio) got a chance to see Ohio State and Wisconsin – his top two teams – and varying offenses, a close finish and an Ohio State win. He wasn’t rooting for either team, but said he was happy Ohio State won, since the game was in Columbus.

“It was definitely a good game to see how both teams play and run their offenses,” Zaire said. “It gave me a real good look at both schools.”

Ohio State and Wisconsin, along with Cincinnati, have offered Zaire, a dual-threat quarterback for 10-0 Alter, which runs a triple-option based offense.

“They ran a lot of the same type of formations,” Zaire said. “[Ohio State quarterback] Braxton [Miller] was in the spread a lot, which wasn’t a surprise coming out of Wayne, where they do it 99 percent of the time. It definitely fits the description of what I can run in college.

“Wisconsin had a lot of what I’m looking for with under center and play-action and going spread. A lot of diverse formations. Ohio State seemed to do a little more spread.”

Zaire wasn’t surprised by Miller’s late-game heroics. He grew up watching Miller, a fellow Dayton-area product. Zaire said he has seen Miller do that more than once in his life.

“It was nothing out of the normal for me,” he said with a laugh. “I watched him growing up in high school and doing that – making big plays passing and running. I knew it was coming, I knew he would make something happen.”

Problems with traffic and parking kept Zaire from getting to the game as early as he would have liked, but he still had a chance to talk to the coaches, including quarterbacks coach Nick Siciliano and head coach Luke Fickell.

“It was welcoming, talking to Coach Fickell,” Zaire said. “It wasn’t real long. I just wished him the best of luck.

“… Talking to the coaches, they were real fired up about the game.”

Zaire led Alter to an undefeated regular season, and Alter will play Thurgood Marshall (Dayton) on Friday in the first round of the Division III Region 12 playoffs.

Zaire does not plan to make any more visits until after the season.