After reaching a Division I state semifinal last season, the Pickerington North football program added seven players via transfer, including senior running back Ron Brown, during the offseason.
Brown rushed for more than 1,000 yards a year ago for Imani Christian Academy in Pittsburgh and was expected to use his 5-8, 189-pound frame as a key weapon in the Panthers' running game.
According to coach Tom Phillips, however, Brown elected to move back to Pittsburgh last week because of a family situation.
Brown, who would have been attending his third school in as many seasons if he'd stayed at North, has offers from Temple as well as several FCS programs.
Pickerington Central senior wide receiver Andrew Meyer missed the first three games of his junior season with an injury and again has run into some bad luck this fall.
A 6-foot-1, 185-pounder, Meyer hauled in a 49-yard touchdown catch with 1:12 left in week five of the regular season as the Tigers rallied to beat Reynoldsburg 21-20 last year. The victory ultimately helped Central make the Division I, Region 3 playoffs and kept the Raiders on the outside of the postseason.
Meyer, who finished with six receptions in Central's multiple-front offense that featured a first-year starting quarterback, has a broken collarbone and could be out until midseason.
Meyer has a Division I scholarship offer from Ohio University.
Things are starting to heat up for Gahanna senior boys basketball standout Javon Bess.
After playing for Pickerington Central for his first two prep seasons, Bess transferred to Gahanna last season and blossomed into a first-team all-OCC-Ohio Division and second-team all-district selection.
A 6-5 swingman, Bess averaged 18.1 points while helping the Lions survive a season in which they had several players dealing with off-the-court issues and earn a Division I regional runner-up finish.
The offers have continued to flood in for Bess, and he told me this weekend that Kansas State, Texas Tech, Xavier, Dayton and Toledo are among the college programs he is considering.
"I'm just now starting to take some visits, so I really don't know when I will commit," Bess said. "I'm just going to take my time."
Gahanna should be one of central Ohio's top teams this coming season despite losing Aaron Jackson and two other key players to graduation.
Also back should be post player Nick Ward and a few role players.
The Lions also could benefit from sophomore Matthew Moyer, who transferred into the district after playing for Whetstone last season.
Senior Alonzo Saxton is one of a large group of standout athletes who have walked the halls at Hartley the last few years, and he secured part of his future in April when he verbally committed to play football for Duke.
At 5-11, 165, and with 4.85 speed, Saxton should develop into a fine player in the defensive backfield in college.
During his final prep season this fall, he also should find himself in a key role on offense, although preseason practices and scrimmages have done little to help the Hawks know the best way to utilize his talents. He could see time at running back, wide receiver or both.
Saxton didn't play in any of Hartley's scrimmages because of what coach Brad Burchfield called "pulled muscles."
He is expected to be in uniform for the Hawks' opener Aug. 30 at Amanda-Clearcreek, although it's uncertain what role, or how much, he'll play.
If the game gets out of hand quickly like it did last year when Hartley beat Amanda 42-0, don't be surprised if Saxton's action on the field is limited so as not to test his conditioning too much.
"We'll try to move him wherever we can to get him the ball," Burchfield said.
It has been an eventful few months for Walnut Ridge stud defensive lineman Robert Bowers.
After reporting a few days ago that Bowers verbally committed to Michigan State on Aug. 3, I have it confirmed from Scots coach Byron Mattox that Bowers likely will miss at least half of this season with an injury.
During the offseason, Bowers decided to have surgery for a shoulder injury and is in the recovery process.
Although Mattox said he isn't sure when Bowers will be able to return, Bowers' goal is play at least the second half of the season.
If Bowers could somehow return by week five, he'd be back in time for Walnut Ridge's Thursday night game Sept. 26 at Marion-Franklin which could end up having City League-South title implications.
Last season, the Scots lost 7-6 to the Red Devils in week six in a game that also was held on a Thursday. Walnut Ridge won its next four and ended up 7-3, but that loss, along with a 21-20 loss to Groveport in week three, kept the Scots from making the Division II, Region 7 playoffs.
Bowers is a 6-5, 211-pounder who also should play tight end as well as defensive end if he gets back on the field this season.
On the weekend before two-a-days started at Walnut Ridge, defensive lineman Robert Bowers called the Michigan State coaching staff to tell them that he was verbally committing to be a part of their 2014 recruiting class.
He also made a call that weekend that he'll likely never forget.
On Aug. 2, the day before he made his verbal commitment official, he told his cousin, Tommy Butler, over the phone that he was getting close to committing to Michigan State.
On Aug. 4, the day after he talked with Michigan State, he found out that Butler had passed away.
"I called my cousin and told him that I was wanting to commit," Bowers said. "He was my best cousin in the world and helped out a lot when I was younger. He's originally from Chicago but died in Columbus the (day after I verballed). I couldn't breathe when I found out."
Bowers, a 6-5, 210-pounder who is one inch taller and weighs the same as 2011 Walnut Ridge graduate Austin Traylor did when he verballed to Wisconsin, also will probably see some time at tight end this fall.
He also considered Purdue, Pittsburgh, West Virginia and Louisville.
"I liked everything about it," Bowers said. "I liked how (Michigan State) was a football atmosphere and I liked the way the players had a good relationship with a couple of the coaches. They've got a good academic school and they have one of the best defenses in the country."
Including players like Ready's Brady Taylor and Westerville Central's Nick Richardson, central Ohio has produced a vast number of talented offensive line prospects in the 2014 recruiting class.
One of the last members of that class to make his verbal commitment just before preseason drills began to heat up was Hilliard Bradley's Skylar Hartley, who verballed to Buffalo on Aug. 3.
Hartley is about 6-2 and weighs about 300. He started all 10 of Bradley's games each of the last two seasons on the offensive line and also plays nose guard.
He has even thrown the shot put more than 51 feet, according to his profile on ScoutingOhio.com.
"Before we went up there, we heard a lot of great things about Buffalo," Hartley said. "They showed a lot of interest in me. The facilities absolutely blew me away."
A typical conversation while waiting for players and coaches to come into the interview room at the state basketball tournament has to do with what the winning or losing team might or might not have returning next season and can that team make it back to the same level a year from now.
It's a conversation that's held often regarding the Africentric girls program considering the Nubians make it into a state semifinal or final just about every year.
When some journalist colleagues and I started talking about that after Africentric's 67-49 loss to Anna on March 16 in the Division III state final, we knew almost immediately that the Nubians will be just fine next season.
Africentric was losing just one senior from that team in Cincinnati-recruit Marley Hill, who at 6-3 towers over many players and showed an extreme amount of improvement this season.
Not every team can replace a Division I talent with another, but that's what the Nubians will be doing this coming season in 6-3 senior Alexa Hart, who recently verbally committed to play for Ohio State.
Hart was ineligible last season after transferring from North Ridgeville Lake Ridge Academy but practiced with the team all season.
Can you imagine if she'd been eligible to play the second half of the season as she might have considering the changes to the transfer rule that take affect this school year?!?!
The Nubians return seniors Darianne Seward, Sierra Harley, Kyra Jones, Alexis Parks and Ayrielle Stith and juniors Dayuna Johnson and Dejanique Franks who each saw key minutes last season.
I had heard Hart was a pretty good player before she came to Africentric and I'm looking forward to seeing her with the Nubians in a couple months.
Hart recently committed to OSU on the same day as two of her AAU teammates, sisters Kelsey and Chelsea Mitchell from Cincinnati Princeton.
"It's really excited because I like playing with the two twins," Hart said. "They're great motivators on the court. I was ineligible last year, but this year I'll be able to play with (Africentric). It's great to be able to be a part of that program."
Ready offensive lineman Brady Taylor's work in the weight room the past few months paid off in a Division I scholarship to Virginia Tech.
On July 29, the 6-5, 264-pound left tackle announced to a group of friends and family that he'd be signing to play for the Hokies, selecting the school over a list of Division I offers that also included Kentucky and West Virginia.
I can't remember the last time a Ready football player was as hyped as Taylor will be entering his senior season.
"It's everything I have ever wanted in a school," Taylor said. "It's close to home, they've got great coaches, great academics, crazy fans, national contention. I couldn't go wrong."
Virginia Tech is an interesting choice in itself. There haven't been a lot of players from central Ohio who have landed at that school, but since it plays in a BCS conference, it's tough to knock the choice.
If he would have chosen Kentucky, the new regime the Wildcats have started under Mark Stoops would have had an even bigger central Ohio feel to it.
Westerville Central OL Nick Richardson and Westerville South TE Darryl Long are among the players from the area who have verballed to UK.
The Hilliard Davidson football team could be in for a memorable season considering how many seniors is has that picked up playing time a year ago.
One of the athletes that seems destined to shine this fall is senior cornerback Phillipie Motley, who recently verbally committed to play for Pittsburgh.
Motley, who ran on the Wildcats' 1,600 relay that was fifth and also was fifth in the 100 and 10th in the 200 at the state meet in June, had 10 Division I offers.
Pittsburgh was the only BCS offer he had, with the others coming from Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Kent State, Marshall, Miami, Ohio and Toledo according to his Scout.com page.
"I loved Pitt when I went to visit the coaching staff," Motley said. "They really showed a lot of interrest in me and there was a lot to offer there from the academics side and also athletic so it just seemed to be the best fit for me. I had a top four I was picking from and that was Pitt, Bowling Green, Toledo and Ohio U."
There have been several standout offensive linemen to come through the Olentangy school district over the past few years, and the latest could be Liberty offensive guard Luke Callahan.
Over the summer, the 6-4-, 265-pounder verbally committed to play for Cincinnati.
Among the other schools who he garnered offers from over the past few months were Eastern Michigan, Buffalo, Akron, Ball State, Kent State, Ohio University and Toledo.
Cincinnati obviously would qualify as the biggest among his list of schools to offer considering it is the only one of those in a BCS conference.
"I was interested in Cincinnati a lot for their conference and competition," Callahan said. "I like the competition a lot and the coaching staff was very generous and liked me a lot. I went by myself on a general campus tour to get a look at the campus from a student point of view and I really enjoyed it. It just seemed like the best decision for me and my family."
The summer before their senior season has proven in recent years to be a great time for Division I recruits to nail down what college they'd like to play for, and this summer was no exception for some of central Ohio's top 2014 prospects.
One thing I find interesting about the time between when school lets out in May or June until the first day of two-a-days is what prospects emerge that most casual high school football fans have probably never heard of.
St. Charles has been an average, and sometimes slightly above average, team for most of the 18 years I've covered high school sports. You can count on the Cardinals to go at least 5-5, and occasionally they slip into the playoffs.
The great thing about college recruiting is that if you're good, you get discovered regardless of if your teams makes long postseason runs or not.
The Cardinals' top player this season might be senior safety Ben Hale, who verbally committed to Bowling Green over the summer.
Hale is 6-2, 187, and also had an offer from Toledo before settling on BGSU.
"I wanted to commit before the season to just focus on my senior year of football," Hale said. "I chose BG because it has a great business school. I like the coaches and players, and I will have an opportunity to have early playing time. What I like about the school as well was the layout. Everything was relatively close to one another."
It's not often that high school football players make first-team all-district as a sophomore like Hartley's Kalil Morris did a couple years ago.
After following that up with another first-team all-district season a year ago, Morris, who is listed at 6-3, 280, can enter his senior season focused solely on football after he verbally committed to Kent State last week.
Morris got recruited as a DL.
He also was offered by Marshall and Indiana State.
"I picked Kent State because it had a great home feeling to it, even though I was 2 1/2 hours away," Morris said. "The people were really friendly and the coaches really care about you. It reminded me of Hartley how everything was family and community first. The facilities were great. I just loved everything about it.
"To my understanding, there is a great opportunity of ample playing time and I wanted to jump at it."
Hartley has another Division I recruit among its senior class in DB Alonzo Saxton, who verballed a few months ago to Duke.
Some of the top girls basketball recruits from the Midwest in the 2014 class came off the board earlier this week when Ohio State secured verbal commitments from a group that included Africentric's Alexa Hart.
According to Nubians coach Will McKinney, Hart was out of the town earlier this week with her AAU team.
The next big-time recruit to make a decision from the 2014 class could be Reynoldsburg post player Alyssa Rice.
After having a list that included Ohio State and had as many as eight teams on it, Rice has shortened her list to two schools: Kentucky and Virginia.
Rice made the ThisWeek Super 12 last season and at 6-foot-3 is one of the most highly sought-after recruits in the country.
"I plan to take my officials in the next couple months to both (Kentucky and Virginia) and have a final decision made before basketball season," Rice said.
While the thing that makes Rice special starts with her height, she's also continued to develop her all-around game. I'd expect her to put up huge all-around numbers this winter, especially since she'll likely have the recruiting monkey off her back by then.
Things didn't go as smoothly for Gahanna girls basketball player Reyna Montgomery the last couple years as she would have hoped because of injuries, but that didn't keep her from earning a college scholarship.
In mid-July, Montgomery signed to play basketball and plans to be a part of the business program at the University of Detroit Mercy.
After helping Gahanna win three district titles in four seasons, Montgomery should step into another winning situation at Detroit.
The Titans beat McNeese State 73-62 in the championship game of the Women's Basketball Invitational on March 30 to finish 21-13. Several key players, including sophomore Shareta Brown -- who was the WBI tournament MVP -- are eligible to return. Detroit posted its second consecutive winning season.
"We are very excited to add Reyna Montgomery to our roster for the fall of 2013," Detroit coach Autumn Rademacher said in a press release from the school. "She comes from a winning program and will add depth to the perimeter position immediately."
Montgomery is one of five players from the 2013 graduating class for Gahanna to sign with Division I programs. The others are Zenobia Bess (Illinois State), Chrishna Butler (Cleveland State), Maddison Blackwell (Xavier) and Quiera Lampkins (Ohio).
Montgomery was a key player during each of her first three prep seasons. She missed the final three games of her junior season with a concussion and then was out for the first 19 games of her senior season with a knee injury before returning to average 5.2 points over the final eight games.
The Lions were 22-5 last season and 74-26 over the past four seasons.
Dec 08, 2013 | Currently: 31° Light Fog