Considering the Ashland football team has made the Division II playoffs three of the last six seasons, I think it's a big deal for athletes who eventually sign there.
On Feb. 12, the Eagles released a list of 37 players from the 2013 class who have committed to play there, with six of those athletes from central Ohio.
According to ScoutingOhio.com, Ashland since that time has added another player from Columbus to its program in Northland senior Robert Darnell.
Ashland now has two of the best WR/DB-types from the City League from the 2013 class in Darnell and Eastmoor's Daivon Barrow, a trio of solid linemen in North Union's Isaiah Blevins, Whetstone's Joel Paige and Ready's Luke Hackney, a talented RB in Hilliard Davidson's E.J. Jennings and Whitehall DB Paulus Thomas.
According to Walnut Ridge coach Byron Mattox, DB Jason Hawkins also has committed to Ashland although he's not listed on the school's official website.
Congratulations to all of these athletes on continuing their football careers.
Eastmoor Academy has produced numerous memorable track and field athletes over the last several years, including an unforgettable runner in Ayrizanna Favours (try spelling that name from memory like I just did ...).
Favours, who won four consecutive 400 meters titles from 2002-05, went on to help Ohio State's 4x400 relay win a Big Ten outdoor championship as a senior in 2009.
The Buckeyes have decided its time to dip again into the Eastmoor well of athletes.
Senior Aaliyah Barnes, who will begin her final prep season a few weeks from now, signed with Ohio State on Feb. 16.
Barnes captured Division II state titles in the 100 and 200 as a sophomore.
Then last spring, Barnes defended her state title in the 100 (12.06 seconds), added a championship in the 400 (55.4) and helped the 800 relay place first in a meet-record 1:39.37. The 100 and 800 relay are back-to-back events at the state meet.
Barnes helped Eastmoor earn a state runner-up finish, their best since winning back-to-back Division II titles in 2004 and 2005.
Barnes has an easy enough name to remember (and to spell), so there's no excuse for Ohio State fans not to remember her over the next few years.
Now that 2013 national signing days is in the books, the recruitment of central Ohio's top football players from the 2014 class is in full swing.
So who are this year's combo DL/LBs like Jake Butt and Taco Charlton?
Are there are any stud TEs like Jacob Matuska or Nick Vannett, or any future Big Ten RBs like Warren Ball or Godwin Igwebuike in our midst?
According to several published reports, Lancaster OT Kyle Trout (6-6, 280) verbally committed to Ohio State earlier this month. Considering he's from central Ohio, most recruiters have crossed him off their list.
Over the coming weeks, I'm planning to get in touch with some of central Ohio's other hot football recruits and check in about their recruiting process.
To get things started, I'll throw out two names to chew on in addition to Trout, followed by a list of others to watch.
Also headlining the 2014 class of central Ohio players are Westerville Central offensive tackle Nick Richardson and Hartley cornerback Alonzo Saxton.
According to his page on Rivals.com, Richardson has offers from five BCS schools and eight offers total. Although he doesn't yet have an offer from Ohio State, the 6-foot-4, 285-pounder reportedly is on Urban Meyer's radar.
Saxton has been somewhat in the shadow of Ja'Wuan Woodley and Jacob Matuska the last couple years at Hartley, but the 5-11, 165-pounder has the kind of electric athleticism that could make him more of an impact college player. He has offers from seven BCS schools.
DISCLAIMER: This is NOT an exhaustive list. If you know of an area athlete who gets an offer from a Division I school, feel free to e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I'll include Trout, Saxton and Richardson on this chart below of who I think are going to be some of the hottest recruits from central Ohio from the 2014 class:
Kyle Trout, Lancaster -- OT verbally committed to Ohio State
Nick Richardson, Westerville Central -- OT with 5 BCS offers and eight total
Alonzo Saxton, Hartley -- Speedy DB with 7 BCS offers and eight total
Darryl Long, Westerville South -- 6-4, 220 TE with BCS offers from Illinois, Indiana and Pitt and 6 offers total
Chris Frey, Upper Arlington -- 6-2, 210 LB with BCS offers from Syracuse and 4 offers total
Martesse Patterson, Marion-Franklin -- 6-5, 280 OL offer from Illinois and 4 offers total
Jake Grant, Reynoldsburg -- 6-4, 290 OL with offer from Akron
Robert Bowers, Walnut Ridge -- 6-5, 210 DL with offer from Cincinnati
Andrew Meyer, Pickerington Central -- 6-0, 185 WR with offer from Ohio U.
Brady Taylor, Ready -- 6-5, 264 OL with offers from Bowling Green & Toledo
Ramroth Finnegan, Whetstone -- 6-3, 205 QB
Devon Rogers, Hilliard Darby -- 5-10, 185 ATH
Charles Holland, Columbus West -- 6-2, 178 WR/DB/Kick returner
Geno Rollo, Pickerington North -- 6-2, 230 DL
Skylar Hartley, Hilliard Bradley -- 6-3, 290 OL
Elin Anu, Westerville Central -- 5-10, 260 WR/DB
Tawain Gordon, Pickerington Central -- 6-0, 187 RB
Curtis Mitchell, Westerville South -- 6-4, 230 DL
Kalil Morris, Hartley -- 6-3, 225 DL
Marshal Davis, Olentangy Liberty -- 6-1, 255 DL
Noah Spielman, Upper Arlington -- 6-1, 230 DL
Cory Beal, Reynoldsburg -- 6-1, 205 TE/DL
Solomon Grace, Reynoldsburg -- 6-0, 220 LB
Dylan Weigel, Pickerington North -- 5-11, 185 LB
Micky Crum, Hamilton Township -- 6-4, 220 LB
Seth Hill, Worthington Kilbourne -- 5-9, 155 DB
The ability to have patience is a virtue that has paid off for Reynoldsburg graduate LaVonne Gauthney.
A member of the 2012 senior class, Gauthney attended Hargrave Military Academy located in Chatham, Va., from Aug. 20 of 2012 through Jan. 10.
He also played football for the prep school last fall after being a solid player for the Raiders, and over the winter he landed a scholarship to play for the University of Akron.
Gauthney signed Feb. 6 and will be a freshman for the Zips next season.
"I went up on an official visit and I love the facility and where it's located," Gauthney said on a text message. "I could really see myself going there. ... I enroll sometime over the summer."
Gauthney was first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division as a senior in 2011 as the Raiders went 6-4 that season under Buddy White, who was in his first season as coach that fall.
Gauthney got a scholarship offer from Youngstown State before ending up at the prep school but credits White for helping him sign with Akron.
White with worked with Akron coach Terry Bowden years ago and considers Bowden one of his mentors.
According to the signing day release by Akron, Gauthney is 6-foot-2, 300 lbs., and will play defensive tackle.
Track and field fans also might remember Gauthney from the 2012 state meet when he placed sixth in the shot put (57-11 1/2).
"I ended up there (because of) my high school coach, Buddy White," Gauthney said. "If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have been able to go there. He kept telling them to take a look at me and they did."
In a round-about way, the DeSales football program fed one of the nation's service academies with yet another college prospect earlier this week even though there was no ceremony held at its school.
The only mention ThisWeek Community Newspapers has in its archive regarding Eli Dawson came in June of 2012 when he was among a list of juniors at DeSales who had made the honor roll for the third grading period of the school year.
Dawson also previously spent time with the Stallions' football program before transferring to Western Reserve Academy in Hudson for his senior year last fall, and he's apparently turned into quite a player.
The 6-foot-5, 230-pound defensive lineman and wide receiver who had 75 tackles, seven tackles for losses and six sacks on defense and 22 catches for 210 yards on offense last fall committed to play for the U.S. Naval Academy on Feb. 6.
This falls right in line with the Stallions' program, which has sent players like Chris Thomas and Josh Kusan to Air Force and Josh Dowling-Fitzpatrick to Navy in recent years.
"The Naval Academy stood out because it offered the opportunity to play Division I football, receiving a world-class education and being a part of a real football family," Dawson said on a questionnaire I was forwarded that he originally filled out for the Cleveland Plain Dealer. "Also, I wanted to surround myself with a community of individuals who are all committed to being successful, and my visits lead me to believe I would be successful not only over the next four years but moving forward after college."
Dawson, who has attended three high schools and also previously lived in Colorado, is planning to major in economics.
Looking for the latest on where central Ohio high school athletes will continue their careers?
ThisWeekSPORTS.com is collecting all the names and providing a handy list of all the area athletes who will compete on the next level.
Please visit ThisWeekSPORTS.com's National Signing Day page for the most up-to-date list.
The 2013 national signing day is here. Finally.
It's been almost an entire year since Jake Butt, Taco Charlton and Jaron Dukes made their verbal commitments to play for Michigan and Darron Lee verballed to Ohio State, and Butt and Charlton already have enrolled at their new school.
On Feb. 6, dozens of athletes throughout central Ohio will be making their college decisions known -- everywhere from Big Ten schools like those listed above to places like Otterbein and Capital.
I thought it would be a good time to put together a list of athletes that I'm aware of so far who will be signing tomorrow.
There will be others, so don't consider this a comprehensive list but just some food for thought.
If you know of a football player from central Ohio who will be playing at any level collegiately from the 2013 class that is not listed below, please e-mail me at email@example.com.
Gahanna -- Mike Taggart, Tiffin; Mitchell Rowell, West Virginia State; A.J. Butler, Marian
Groveport -- Durrell Bristol, Ohio U.; D.J. Smoot, Illinois; Ben Adkins, Findlay
Pickerington North -- Jake Butt, Michigan; Chris Huhn, Marshall; Roland Ladipo, Air Force; Godwin Igwebuike, Northwestern; Kody Kasey, Georgetown (Ky.)
Pickerington Central -- Nick Walter, Miami; Taco Charlton, Michigan
Reynoldsburg -- Mykel Traylor-Bennett, Akron; LaVonne Gauthney, Akron (from the 2012 graduating class)
Olentangy Liberty -- Ryan Seibert, Kent State; Zach Shank, Dartmouth; Austin Mullins, Dayton; Sam Vucelich, Toledo (preferred walkon); Joey Longhino, Otterbein
Dublin Coffman -- James Walsh, Boston College; Zach Murdock, Ohio University; Miles McCollum, Harvard; Vinny Jones, Tiffin; Austen Rankin, Tiffin
Upper Arlington -- Nick Milo, Cornell; Ryne Frankenberry, Otterbein; Alex Husted, Dayton
Hilliard Davidson -- E.J. Jennings, Ashland; John Browning, Walsh; Tyler Doty, Case Western Reserve
Olentangy -- Austin Schmidt, Illinois; Buchi Okafor, Miami University; Andrew Horstman, Air Force; Ramal Iverson, Saginaw Valley; Francis Ramadhani, Otterbein; Michael Watkins, Otterbein; Zach Ries, Tiffin; Brian Raiff, Marietta; Christian Brett, Otterbein
Big Walnut -- Carson Chatterton, Dayton
New Albany -- Darron Lee, Ohio State; Allen Watson, Columbia
Hilliard Bradley -- Brad Spelman, Tennessee (preferred walkon)
Hilliard Darby -- Caleb Day, Illinois; Cameron Kohl, Ohio Dominican; Zach Williams, Ohio Dominican; Chase Longwell, Capital University or Georgetown College (Ky.); Kyle Kaplan, Notre Dame College or Lake Erie
Dublin Jerome -- Donovan Wilson, Georgia Tech
Dublin Scioto -- Mason Sawicki, Ohio Dominican; Evan DeMars, Dayton; William Houston, Ohio State (walkon)
Westerville South -- Marcus Ball, to be announced (NOTE: He originally verballed to Wisconsin); Nick Renzetti, Walsh; Noah Prentiss, Saginaw Valley; Myles Collier, Saginaw Valley; Gary Brown, California University (Pa.)
Westerville Central -- Graham Albright, Elon; Mohammed Sankoh, West Liberty
Marysville -- Al Thompson, Tiffin
Central Crossing -- Tori Clark, Findlay
Hartley -- Ja'Wuan Woodley, Toledo; Jacob Matuska, Notre Dame; Trevonn Brown, Urbana; Marcellus Calhoun, Marist
Ready -- Luke Hackney, Ashland
St. Charles -- Sean Fitzmartin, Dayton
Watterson -- Andrew Lorenz, Ohio Dominican; Andy Elberson, Butler
Beechcroft -- Maurice Hale, Lake Erie
Independence -- Vincent Rambo, University of Charleston
Whetstone -- Dezwan Polk, Purdue
Mifflin -- Javonte Bing, Urbana
Marion-Franklin -- Jaron Dukes, Michigan
Walnut Ridge -- Terry Cole, Lake Erie; Malik Robinson, Lake Erie; Nick Butler, Lake Erie; Jason Hawkins, Ashland; Rob Wheelwright, Wisconsin
Eastmoor -- Devon Edwards, Pittsburgh; Brent Granger, Clark Atlanta; Daivon Barrow, Ashland
Columbus South -- Lepaso Walker, Otterbein; Kelvin Bell, Otterbein; Maurice Neal, Otterbein; Shaquille Upchurch, Muskingum
Canal Winchester -- Ian Jones, Dayton; Deontaye Cosby, Malone; Jaquan Ransome, Tiffin; Zach Morehead, California U. of Pa.; John Franklin, California U. of Pa.; Patrick Bookman, Alderson-Broaddus
Bexley -- Jaxon Sher, Butler
Newark Catholic -- Kevin Bourne, Kent State
Johnstown -- Corbin Grassman, Buffalo
Harvest Prep -- Zach Yousey, Toledo; Ethan Brown, Air Force
Some of the top central Ohio football recruits from the 2013 class, like Jake Butt and Taco Charlton, have already enrolled at Michigan after verbally committing nearly a year ago.
Others, like Godwin Igwebuike, have known their decision for months and will be among those celebrated on national signing day Feb. 6.
Then there are guys like Dublin Coffman QB James Walsh, Pickerington North OL Chris Huhn and Reynoldsburg S Mykel Traylor-Bennett, who seemingly had made their choices long ago but have recently flipped.
Walsh told one of my fellow reporters that the offer to switch from Ohio University to Boston College was something he couldn't pass up, which makes perfect sense. If you've got a choice (and with no disrespect meant here) between a MAC school and the ACC to play quarterback, especially a school that produced Matt Ryan, you're not going to pass it up.
Huhn originally verballed to Western Kentucky but will now play for Marshall.
"I switched due to the new staff at WKU," Huhn said. "I love the players, coaches and the tradition at Marshall."
Then there's Traylor-Bennett, who originally verballed to Cincinnati before that school's coaching change. According to Scout.com, he switched to Kent State in early January.
But then on his Twitter page last night, he said he'll be going to Akron.
It's a crazy time for senior football players.
Who knows how much more might change over the next few days?
May 24, 2013 | Currently: 58° Partly Cloudy