As my 4-year-old son sat playing in a pile of dirt (unbeknownst to me) over by the butter cow at the Ohio state fair last weekend, I ran into Gahanna girls basketball coach Rick Hauser.
The veteran coach, who led the Lions to their third Division I district championship last winter, told me that over the summer a couple members of his talented senior class, Zenobia Bess and Quiera Lampkins, had made their verbal commitments.
Lampkins, a 5-foot-9 point guard who made the ThisWeek Super 12 last season, verbally committed to Ohio University. Bess is a 6-foot post player who has verbally committed to Illinois State.
They join senior teammate Maddison Blackwell, a 6-footer who verballed a few months ago to Xavier.
Lampkins was Gahanna's leading scorer at 12.8 per game and made first-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.
Bess averaged six points and made honorable mention all-league last season.
The Lions obviously should be pretty good again this winter, considering senior teammates Chrishna Butler and Reyna Montgomery also should be back. Bess, Butler, Lampkins and Montgomery have been key players since their sophomore seasons, and Montgomery saw significant action as a freshman. Blackwell transferred to Gahanna before her junior season after previously attending Hilliard Davidson.
Lampkins plays for the All Ohio girls basketball AAU program, which also includes 2013 college recruits such as Olentangy Orange's Taylor Agler (Indiana) and Africentric's Marley Hill (Cincinnati).
Although the Groveport football team stumbled to a 3-7 finish last season, a pair of linemen provide hope that this season could be an improvement.
According to Cruisers veteran coach Tim Brown, defensive end Dawuane Smoot verbally committed to Illinois and huge offensive lineman Durrell Wood verballed to Ohio University earlier this summer.
Smoot, who made first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division last fall, also received scholarship offers from Indiana, Ball State, Ohio and Eastern Michigan before becoming the 14th member of the Illini's recruiting class. He joins Olentangy's Austin Schmidt, an offensive lineman, as a central Ohio player who has verballed to Illinois.
Also known as D.J., the 6-3, 225-pound Smoot impressed at a camp in early June and was offered by Illinois at the event.
Depending on what recruiting website you click on, Durrell Wood also is known as Durrell Bristol. When I talked to Brown a few days ago, he called him Durrell Wood, so we'll go with that when referring to the prospect. He verballed in mid-July.
Wood is 6-3 and on some sites is listed as 320 or 325 pounds, so the framework should be there for Ohio to mold him. He also considered Ball State, Bowling Green and Western Michigan before verbally to play for the Bobcats. He was second-team all-league last season.
Hilliard Darby senior Caleb Day will be going to a Big Ten school after all -- it just won't be at Ohio State.
Among the scholarships offered by the Buckeyes under 2011 interim coach Luke Fickell was to Day, but it's not clear whether that interest continued under the new regime headed by Urban Meyer.
All accounts are that Day received several other Division I offers, with schools such as Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisville, Cincinnati, Indiana and Purdue among those who showed interest, but Day inevitably verbally committed to play for Illinois on June 21 according to Panthers coach John Santagata.
A 6-foot, 188-pounder who played running back and wide receiver on offense and returned punts and kicks last season for Darby, Day is considered a four-star recruit by Rivals.com for his abilities in the defensive backfield.
His athleticism has been a big plus in his recruiting process: He finished 11th in the state in the 110 hurdles as Darby's only state qualifier.
Day's numbers last year on offense (19 catches) and defense (23 tackles, six pass breakups) weren't necessarily exceptional, but he did make first-team all-district on defense. It will be interesting to see if he takes a big step forward this fall.
*In addition to the return of 'On the Recruiting Trail,' my Twitter feed, @UlreyThisWeek, also is back. Please be sure to follow me, as well as @ThisWeekSports, throughout this coming fall for all of the latest recruiting news regarding central Ohio athletes.
Dec 06, 2013 | Currently: 30° Light Snow