THE RECEIVER might have been a senior at Ohio State this year, back to avenge that Jan. 8 title game loss to Florida. Instead, Cleveland native Ted Ginn Jr., a second-team All-America and a record-setting Big Ten punt returner, is a Miami Dolphin, signed for more than $13 million over five years. If the Dolphins (0--1 and hosting Dallas this Sunday) are to begin a revival, they'll do it with the 5'11" 178-pound Ginn cutting up some turf.
On his accurate pre--title game premonition
I had a feeling I was going to take back the opening kickoff for a touchdown—I just knew it! I knew their coverage like the back of my hand. We had, what, four weeks to study them? You really start to get the feel for who they are.
On spraining his ankle, being forced from the game and seeing Ohio State fall 41--14
I'm a grown man, and what happened happened. You move on. I could have come in [to the NFL] as a national champ, but it means nothing. You're back to being a freshman, a rookie.
On Dolphins fans booing when he was drafted at No. 9
I've been booed before, and I've gone through way bigger things than being booed. The team has been great to me. I've known Coach Cam [Cameron] for many years. I've known receivers coach [Terry] Robiskie for years too. I've known [wide receiver] Chris Chambers damn near my whole life. I don't see having this type of family, this type of support, anywhere else.
On his academic difficulties
I struggled right off the bat. I failed first grade. Teachers could never cope with how I learned so slowly. In sixth grade a teacher asked me to spell a word. I told him I couldn't spell it, but he kept badgering me. So I just didn't say anything. He told me, "Your life is going to be flipping hamburgers at Burger King."
On why he had such trouble
In eighth grade I got diagnosed with a learning disability. I just need more time. If it takes you two weeks to read a book, it will take me four. Or it might take three or four times of you telling me what's going on. High school [Glenville High] helped me get comfortable with where I was at. Sometimes I had two or three teachers to a subject, and they made a way for me to learn everything a regular student learns, just in more time. It was a major turnaround from almost failing almost every grade—seriously—to getting on the honor roll, finishing 16th in my class, and making it to college. Living through that makes things a lot easier for me now.
On his love for playing corner, which he did as a high school All-America
I've still got it. Backpedal might be a little rusty, but it's nothing that can't be fixed. I like that side of the ball. My first love. On offense, you know you're running a certain route. But on defense it's like, Where are you gonna go? There's nothing better than when you're on D and you shut someone down and pick it off. It's like, Yeah, what's up!
PHOTOGRAPH BY MICHAEL HEAPEA
TOM DIPACE (GINN PLAYING)