Eastmoor Academy has produced a large number of college-caliber athletes the last several years, and the 2012 class of boys includes five who signed earlier this week to play at the next level.
Football players Jabari Howard, Khalil Hairston, Jalen Crosby and Terrell Hudson all signed with Urbana University and Deshawn Marshall will compete in track at Indiana Tech.
The football team went 10-3 last fall, losing to Elida 37-10 in the Division III, Region 10 championship game, as Howard, Hairston, Crosby and Hudson all were key contributors.
Then during the winter season, the boys basketball team won a Division II district championship as Crosby and Marshall were among the key players.
Marshall is competing in the 400 and on the 1,600 and 3,200 relays at the state meet that will be held Friday, June 1, and Saturday, June 2, at Ohio State.
Both football and boys basketball at Eastmoor are coached by Jim Miranda, who fits the definition of multi-faceted coach. He previously coached the Warriors' girls basketball and football teams to state runner-up finishes.
*According to a press release I received from the College of Mount St. Joseph in Cincinnati, Reynoldsburg's Tahkael Holland from the 2012 class will play football for the program next year.
Holland is a 5-9, 165-pound defensive back and wide receiver. On defense for the Raiders, he had four sacks while splitting time between safety and outside linebacker.
Mount St. Joseph is an NCAA Division III school that plays in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference and is coached by Rod Huber.
As the 2011-12 high school sports season winds down, there is one final chance for fans to watch some of their favorite football players before getting ready for their summer vacations: The state track meet.
In addition to athletes who will compete collegiately in track like Gahanna's Jake Blankenship (Tennessee) and Lancaster's Brannon Kidder (Penn State), two of the area's top junior football prospects also will be in attendance at the state meet along with a slew of senior football recruits.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but here are a few to watch.
Pickerington North junior Godwin Igwebuike will run on the 800 and 1,600 relays. The talented running back and defensive back now has 21 offers, including from BCS schools such as Boston College, Duke, Minnesota, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa, Wake Forest, West Virginia, North Carolina State, Pittsburgh, Michigan State and Nebraska.
Hilliard Darby junior Caleb Day of Darby will be running the 110 hurdles. He has offers from Ohio State, Arkansas, Illinois, Louisville and Marshall.
One of the most exciting seniors to watch at the state meet will be Thomas Worthington sprinter Nana Kyeremeh, who will play for West Virginia. He's running at state in the 100, 400 relay, 800 relay and 1,600 relay.
Dublin Coffman senior Taylor Williams will run the 100, 200 and on the 400 relay. According to his page on ScoutingOhio.com, he has offers from Miami, Toledo, Kent State, Central Michigan, Ball State, Akron and Ohio University.
Beechcroft senior James Duncan won the regional long jump. He should end up with a Division II or III program. The last I checked in with him about it, he was considering Urbana and Santa Barbara City College in California.
Brookhaven senior Tajuan Green will run the open 100 and also is on the 400 and 800 relays. He will play football for Ohio Dominican
Pickerington Central senior Sebastian Smith, who just began competing in track and field this spring, is at state in the 400 relay. He will play for Ohio University
Reynoldsburg senior LaVonne Gauthney is competing in the shot put for the second consecutive season. He has an offer on the table from Youngstown State.
I've always been impressed when I've seen some of the numbers Taylor Agler has put up as the Olentangy Orange girls basketball team's point guard the last couple years.
Obviously a lot of people have taken notice, as the daughter of former Columbus Quest coach and current WNBA coach Brian Agler verbally committed to Indiana late last week.
Agler, who was the OCC-Capital Player of the Year, a first-team all-district selection in Division I and a member of the ThisWeek Super 12, helped the Pioneers go 22-2. They lost to Northland 50-49 in a district championship game.
The 5-9 star who had 25 points in the tournament loss to the Vikings seems like the prototypical point guard, averaging 15.6 points, 6.8 assists and 3.5 steals.
According to Orange coach Mary Ann Grimes, Agler went to Indiana early this month and has an appreciation for the school's academics. It didn't hurt that the Hoosiers hired Curt Miller as their coach in March after he compiled a 258-92 record in 11 seasons at Bowling Green.
Miller had been after Agler when he was still Bowling Green's coach.
Indiana went just 6-24 last season, losing in the first round of the Big Ten tournament.
"Indiana is a great fit academically, and for her I think it's a great fit," Grimes said. "When you look at his whole style of play when he was at Bowling Green and how he can develop players, it's great for her."
Orange also has three other juniors who could end up playing Division I women's basketball, according to Grimes. Tori Davis, Maddy Joseph and Mya Walker all are receiving interest from mid-majors.
"I think it would be a big reward for their efforts," Grimes said. "I tell my girls that if you've found it, you've found it. You can tell them to hold off (on verbally committing), but with Taylor she has found what she's wanted."
*An area boys basketball player who likely will sign with a Division I program over the coming months is Gahanna junior Aaron Jackson.
He recently added offers from Bowling Green and Kent State to a list that already included Akron, Miami, Ohio U. and Toledo, and he texted me that he even has some interest from Cincinnati and Minnesota.
The thing that's attractive about Jackson as a prospect is that not only is he about 6-5 or 6-6, but he's also shown some very good ball-handling skills.
He's been a key player with the Lions since his sophomore season and made the ThisWeek Super 12 last season.
The Xavier women's basketball program is looking to take a step up after struggling to an 8-20 finish in 2011-12, and a pair of players -- and possibly more -- from central Ohio should have an impact on that over the next few years.
According to ESPN HoopGurlz, Gahanna junior forward Maddison Blackwell verbally committed to play for the Musketeers in late April from the 2013 recruiting class.
Then on May 11, Reynoldsburg senior Aliyah Zantt signed a letter of intent to play for Xavier after previously signing with Eastern Michigan.
According to Northland coach Dean Washington, Xavier also has been hot on the trail for Vikings junior guard Alexis Peterson.
"Even though Aliyah and Alexis both are guards, their coach said, 'We have to check ourselves' and that them getting Aliyah had nothing to do with Alexis," Washington said.
According to Washington, Peterson has taken an unofficial visit to Indiana and also has been offered by Virginia Tech after being the ThisWeek Super 12 captain last winter. The 5-6 guard and three-year starter helped the Vikings win their first City League championship since 1998, capture their second consecutive district title and finish 24-2. She averaged 18.6 points, 4.3 rebounds, 5.2 assists and 4.1 steals and already has scored 1,092 career points.
Blackwell, meanwhile, is part of a talented junior class for Gahanna that produced a district championship and 18-7 record this winter. She transferred to Gahanna from Hilliard Davidson before the season and became an immediate contributor, averaging 8.2 points and making second-team all-OCC-Ohio Division.
Blackwell is 6-1 but does have good ball-handling skills for a big. Gahanna focuses much of its energy on defense, and she and fellow 6-footer Zenobia Bess made it hard for teams to do much in the paint this season. She was pretty much a guaranteed 6-8 points every game, and that's something she'll obviously have to improve on in college.
Blackwell told ESPN, "I chose Xavier because I was blown away with the campus and facilities on my visit there and I love the fact that it's a big-time school with a small-town feel."
Zantt, meanwhile, got out of her commitment with Eastern Michigan after coach AnnMarie Gilbert resigned in April. Eastern Michigan went 23-9 last season, but Zantt, according to Reynoldsburg coach Jack Purtell, felt more comfortable signing a late scholarship offer with Xavier.
Zantt made the ThisWeek Super 12 the last two seasons and averaged 11.1 points, 3.1 steals and 2.7 assists last winter.
The same day she signed with Xavier on May 11, Raiders teammate Adesuwa Aideyman signed with Cleveland State. Aideyman averaged 10 points last season as Reynoldsburg went 26-1.
*Both Northland and Reynoldsburg have other players who recruiters have been following.
Reynoldsburg juniors Destini Cooper, Shiloh Murphy and Yamonie Jenkins likely will "wait until the fall" to make their verbal commitments, according to Purtell. Sophomore Alyssa Rice is one of the nation's top prospects from the 2014 class.
The Raiders have been invited to a tournament in late July in Maryland where Purtell expects to see numerous college scouts.
According to Washington, Northland junior Jasmine Weatherspoon likely will receive some Division I offers over the coming months. Senior Brandie Curd-Watson will play for St. Joseph's College in Indiana and junior Kierra Simpson has been receiving Division I interest.
Senior Symone Denham will play for Michigan next year after signing last November.
The same night that he got a scholarship offer from Georgia Tech, Dublin Jerome junior running back Cameron Wilson verbally committed to play football for the Ramblin Wreck.
Wilson is a 6-foot, 205-pounder who is the younger brother of senior Cameron Wilson, an Iowa signee in February.
After recently visiting Georgia Tech, Wilson waited for an offer that finally came May 15.
"It's a good football program with a great coach," Wilson said.
Georgia Tech went 8-5 last fall and has gone 34-19 in four seasons with Bowl appearances each year under coach Paul Johnson. The Ramblin Wreck run a triple-option spread offense, and Wilson said he's not sure whether he'll be more of a tailback, called an A-back, or a fullback, referred to as a B-back in their offense.
Last season, Wilson rushed for 1,345 yards and 16 touchdowns on 235 carries and made first-team all-OCC-Cardinal Division and second-team all-district in Division I. The Celtics got off to an 0-3 start and finished 4-6 last season, running what Wilson calls a "jumbo" offense that is a mix of the spread and I-formation.
"I knew (Georgia Tech) was the place for me as soon as I visited there a while ago," Wilson said.
Wilson, who is considered a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout, also had offers from Air Force, Boston College, Ohio University and Purdue.
Pickerington Central senior Caris LeVert verbally committed to the University of Michigan on Friday, May 11, according to coach Jerry Francis.
Just a few days after helping the Tigers capture their first Division I state championship in March, LeVert was released from his letter of intent with Ohio University after coach John Groce left to take over at Illinois.
LeVert, who is considered a three-star prospect by Rivals and Scout and a two-star prospect by ESPN, was the ThisWeek Super 12 captain last winter. At 6-4, LeVert will probably play guard in college and would be in line for court time alongside former Northland star Trey Burke, who will return for his sophomore season at point guard.
LeVert averaged about 20 points this winter and also had offers from Dayton, Michigan, Purdue and Xavier.
"He's going to go get acclimated to the Big Ten and hopefully he'll put himself in position to play right away," Francis said.
LeVert and sophomore Jae'Sean Tate led the Tigers to a 26-2 finish last season. Tate already has interest from Iowa, Michigan, West Virginia and Xavier, according to Francis.
What was impressive about LeVert this season was just how athletic and quick he is. It should be interesting to see if he can get some playing time right away with the Wolverines because he can really take it to the basket.
According to Watterson's official athletic site, senior wide receiver Jack Gammon will play for Marshall University.
A 5-11, 170-pounder who had offers from smaller schools such as Mount St. Joseph, Capital and Ohio Northern, Gammon finished with 15 catches last season as the Eagles went 3-7 during a rare down season.
At this point, I'm not aware of any other players from the Eagles' 2012 senior class who will be playing college football, although Craig Fada's ScoutingOhio page lists him as having an offer from Butler.
Watterson missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007 a year after winning the 2010 Division III state championship, but the positive thing for the Eagles is that they lost only 19 seniors. That's a relatively low number for a program like theirs.
The 2011 class included recruited players like T.J. Gilles (Ohio Dominican), Hunter Maynard (Bowling Green), Justin McCarthy (Dayton) and Matt Redfield (preferred walkon at Bowling Green).
*According to ScoutingOhio.com, Hartley junior Alonzo Saxton recently picked up offers from Toledo and Wisconsin to go along with previous offers from Illinois and Purdue.
The Hawks have put together an impressive stable of athletes the last couple years, and the 5-11, 170-pounder has only added to that. He made second-team all-district at defensive back last season but it wouldn't be surprising to see him in the mix for more carries out of the backfield in Hartley's run-oriented offense. He saw limited action at running back and wide receiver last fall and had three interceptions on defense.
This spring, Saxton is competing in track for the Hawks.
*Others who have picked up offers over the past few days according to ScoutingOhio are New Albany's Darron Lee (Minnesota), Pickerington Central's Nicholas Walter (Eastern Michigan), Westerville South's Marcus Ball (Boston College) and Dublin Jerome's Donovan Wilson (Boston College).
Junior two-way lineman Austin Schmidt added to the Olentangy football program's list of players who will play in the Big Ten when he verbally committed to Illinois on May 5.
Joshua Perry and Kenton Playko are Olentangy seniors who have signed with Ohio State and Northwestern, respectively.
Schmidt, who put on 25 pounds of muscle over the past year, is a 6-foot-6, 270-pounder who saw action last season at both right tackle and left tackle.
"I went there a while ago for Illinois' junior day and I really liked the campus," Schmidt said. "We toured their facilities and I really liked it and I really liked the coaches."
Tim Beckman took over as Illinois' coach on Dec. 9, 2011 after going 21-16 in three seasons at Toledo. He led the Rockets to back-to-back Bowl games his final two seasons.
Beckman also formerly coached cornerbacks at Ohio State from 2005-06 and played college football for the University of Findlay. Beckman took over for Ron Zook, who was fired after seven seasons last November.
Schmidt first got to know Beckman when he still was coaching at Toledo.
Last season, Illinois won its first six games but lost its final six of the regular season to ultimately seal Zook's fate. The Illini beat UCLA 20-14 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl to finish 7-6.
Schmidt's older brother, 2011 Olentangy graduate Garrett Schmidt, plays football for Dartmouth.
"Some of Illinois' coaches came from Toledo, so it was good knowing them," said Austin Schmidt, who also had an offer from Central Michigan. "(Next fall) I think I'm going to play offense and defense. I started at right tackle until Kenton Playko went down with an injury."
DeSales senior football player Marq Pannell will play for the College of Mount St. Joseph, a Division III school located in Cincinnati.
Pannell, who is a member of National Society of High School Scholars and has received $26,000 in academic scholarship and awards, likely will play at defensive back.
For the Stallions last season, Pannell returned an interception for 30 yards during a 31-14 victory over Cleveland Benedictine on Oct. 28 that helped the Stallions extend their state-best string of postseason appearances to 18. He also had two interceptions during a 52-7 win over Cincinnati LaSalle on Oct. 21.
Mount St. Joseph plays in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, whose membership also includes Bluffton and Defiance.
Other central Ohio players on Mount St. Joseph's roster include Nathan Blackwell from West Jefferson, Shane Fullerton from Thomas Worthington and Joseph Frakes from Hamilton Township,
*Hilliard Darby junior defensive back Caleb Day recently added an offer from Purdue, according to coach Jon Santagata.
Day, a 6-1, 186-pounder, also has offers from Arkansas, Illinois, Louisville, Marshall and Ohio State.
*Eastmoor tight end Devon Edwards is up to four Division I offers after recently receiving one from Boston College, according to ScoutingOhio.com.
Edwards, a 6-6, 235-pounder, also has offers from Nebraska, North Carolina State and West Virginia.
Dec 20, 2013 | Currently: 54° Overcast