Pickerington North's 2013 senior class is up to four Division I football recruits.
Jake Butt already has early-enrolled at Michigan and Godwin Igwebuike (Northwestern) and Chris Huhn (Marshall) are expected to sign letters of intent to play collegiately Feb. 6.
Joining them will be Roland Ladipo, a WR/DB who will commit to an appointment to Air Force.
Ladipo had 18 receptions for 176 yards on offense and made second-team all-district at defensive back last fall as the Panthers went 12-2 and advanced to a Division I state semifinal.
He also considered Cornell, Dartmouth and Holy Cross.
"The degree you get (at Air Force) really means something," Ladipo said. "You get a guaranteed job right out of college with a nice salary. ... You're playing at one of the highest levels of college football there, given a chance to win big games against big schools. The players are great. The coaching staff treats you like family."
Air Force lost to Rice 33-14 in the Armed Forces Bowl on Dec. 29 to finish with a 6-7 record. Considering that's a down season for the Falcons, Ladipo should find his time there enjoyable.
Despite being in the Mountain West, Air Force has hooked up with numerous players from central Ohio in recent years. Johnstown's Riley Cannon, Hilliard Davidson's Connor Dietz, Westerville Central's Miles Fisher and DeSales Josh Kusan all were on the Falcons' roster last season.
The Whetstone football program hasn't celebrated many wins in recent years, but there have been a few great athletes walk through the halls at the school in recent years.
The latest is senior Dezwan Polk, a 6-4, 210-pound outside linebacker who verbally committed to Purdue last week.
Last season, Polk had 65 tackles (35 solo), 10 tackles for losses, four sacks, two fumble recoveries and an interception as the Braves went 4-6 overall and 3-4 in the City League-North Division.
The Braves haven't had a winning season since going 6-4 in 2009 and never have qualified for the playoffs.
"I love that it's in the Big Ten and that it's a good academic school," Polk said. "I took my official over the weekend and fell in love with the campus."
Polk joins a Purdue program that lost to Oklahoma State 58-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl on Jan. 1 to finish 6-7.
The Boilermakers, whose roster also includes Jonathan Alder graduate Josh Davis, won their last three of the regular season to become bowl-eligible. Purdue lost to Ohio State 29-22 in overtime on Oct. 20.
The most famous athlete to come from Whetstone in recent years is Akwasi Owusu-Ansah, who was a fourth-round draft pick by the Dallas Cowboys in 2010 and also has spent time in the NFL with Jacksonville and Oakland.
Marcus Penn and Jordan Mitchell are other standout athletes who have come through the program in recent years.
With a defense that gave up an average of just 13 points during the regular season, the Dublin Coffman football team advanced to the Division I, Region 3 playoffs for the fourth consecutive season last fall.
One of the mainstays of that defense, lineman Miles McCollum, also happens to be smart -- smart enough that he'll play college ball in the Ivy League.
McCollum took an official visit to Harvard last November and since has verbally committed to play for the Crimson.
"Harvard has lots of tradition, and there were very high expectations among coaching staff and the team, which really reminded me of Coffman," McCollum said. "I love the business-like approach they have about getting work done on and off the field. On my official, I felt really comfortable with the guys I met. The campus and the Cambridge/Boston area was really vibrant and historical at the same time and (I) definitely could see myself living there. And the education I will get was a big part of it for me, because you can't get any better than Harvard."
Harvard will be getting a first-team all-district player who was the OCC-Central Division co-Player of the Year last season with Hilliard Davidson's E.J. Jennings. He had 34 tackles (16 for losses), seven sacks and one fumble recovery as the Shamrocks went 9-2.
Dublin Scioto senior swimmer Liz Harty will sign a letter of intent to compete at the University of Michigan on Jan. 25, ThisWeekSPORTS.com has learned.
The signing is expected to take place at 2:45 p.m.
Last season, Harty was eighth in the 100-yard butterfly (56.57 seconds) and 16th in the 100 freestyle (53.66) at state as the Irish tied Sandusky for 35th (12 points).
Harty also advanced to state in each of her first two prep seasons. As a sophomore, despite battling illness for much of the postseason, Harty finished 11th at state in the 100 fly (57.91).
She was fifth in the 100 free (52.53) and eighth in the 100 fly (57.45) as a freshman at state.
There are no central Ohio athletes on the Wolverines' women's swimming team, but Upper Arlington's Zach Kelch competes for the boys squad.
You won't see a regular season girls basketball game of much higher quality than the one played Jan. 14 between Reynoldsburg and Olentangy Orange.
The Raiders, who rallied from a nine-point halftime deficit to win 63-58, have three Division I signees in Destini Cooper (Ohio University), Yamonie Jenkins (Ohio University) and Shiloh Murphy (Morehead State). Orange has one in Taylor Agler (Indiana).
In addition to those standouts, Reynoldsburg's Natalie Orr and Alyssa Rice and Orange's Mya Walker, Kierstynn Myers and Maddy Joseph all could end up playing at some level collegiately.
So which of those players had the best game?
Probably Murphy, with respectful nods to Agler and Rice.
The Raiders looked like they might be ready to run the Pioneers out of the gym during the first few minutes because of their advantage down low, but Reynoldsburg led just 4-0 midway through the first quarter.
Agler then found her stroke, making six 3-pointers and leading Orange to a 30-21 halftime lead.
"We controlled the ball and controlled the speed of the game in the first half," Agler said.
In the second half, it was Murphy who got the hot hand, making two 3s and scoring 18 of her team-high 23 points. The Raiders retook the lead at 47-41 on a 3-pointer by Jenkins and didn't trail again.
"Basically we weren't getting up in our trap enough on defense in the first half but in the second half we were better on defense," Murphy said.
Expect big postseasons from both teams a few weeks from now.
The Olentangy Liberty football team had another solid season last fall, finishing 7-3 overall and tying for third in its first season in the always tough OCC-Central Division.
Although the Patriots were led by players such as Joey Longhino and Bryson Wray, at least two other players will play college football for FBS or FCS programs from the 2013 senior class.
Zach Shank recently verbally committed to play for Dartmouth and senior classmate Ryan Seibert will sign with Kent State.
Shank, who made second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district last season, projects to be a defensive lineman in college. He also had an offer from Air Force and interest from Brown, Colorado State and Harvard.
"As a student-athlete, I wanted to attend a school where I will be pushed to my limits both academically and athletically, so the multiple Ivy League schools really stood out to me," Shank said. "All in all everything about Dartmouth appealed to me as a football team and as a school. (They seem) to really have the team headed in the right direction and the environment. ... It become official in December when I received my official acceptance letter."
The 6-foot-4, 200-pound Seibert missed last season with an injury but was special mention all-league as a junior when Liberty won a share of the OCC-Cardinal title.
"I decided to go there because of the coaching staff there," Seibert said. "They really care for the players and I liked the campus and that it wasn't too far away. I'll be playing outside linebacker.
"I also considered Western Michigan, Buffalo, Central Michigan and Akron."
May 18, 2013 | Currently: 64° Partly Cloudy