Some made 'tough' call to change course
Dublin Coffman High School senior James Walsh couldn’t have been happier a few weeks ago when he received a phone call from Boston College with a scholarship offer for football.
It was the call he had to make shortly afterward that he dreaded.
The 6-foot-1, 187-pound quarterback who threw for 2,038 yards and 16 touchdowns last fall had made a verbal commitment to Ohio University in June and, until receiving the late offer from Boston College, had intended to sign with the Bobcats on Feb. 6, which was national signing day.
While Ohio went 9-4 last season and competes in the Mid-American Conference, Boston College went just 2-10 but is a BCS school from the Atlantic Coast Conference and will move Walsh closer to his father, who works in the Boston area.
“I pretty much knew that if I did get an offer (from Boston College) that it was in the best interest of my family to take it since my dad works out there,” Walsh said. “It was tough because OU was so good to me. I felt terrible about it actually because it’s probably the best school around in the MAC.”
Walsh was among a small number of central Ohio football recruits who switched their commitment during the weeks heading into signing day.
Westerville South’s Marcus Ball (WR/DB) had made a verbal commitment to Wisconsin before announcing Feb. 6 that he was signing with Arizona State, and Pickerington North’s Chris Huhn (OL) had verbally committed to Western Kentucky but switched to Marshall on Jan. 20.
And then there’s Reynoldsburg’s Mykel Traylor-Bennett (WR/DB), who originally made a verbal commitment to Cincinnati but switched to Kent State in early January before changing his mind again and signing with Akron after verbally committing to the Zips on Jan. 31.
The only other area football player to verbally commit in January or February was Whetstone’s Dezwan Polk, who signed with Purdue.
In the cases of Ball, Huhn and Traylor-Bennett, the schools they initially committed to underwent a coaching change at the end of the 2012 season.
Bret Bielema, who coached Wisconsin to a 68-24 record and two bowl wins in seven seasons, left Dec. 4 to take over at Arkansas.
Even though Ball’s older brother, Ray, is a 2011 Westerville South graduate who is an offensive lineman for Wisconsin, it wasn’t enough to dissuade him from re-opening his recruitment.
Last fall, the younger Ball, a 6-3, 205-pound wide receiver and defensive back who had played quarterback as a junior, had 53 catches for 779 yards and seven touchdowns and made first-team all-district and third-team all-state on defense.
Arizona State, which is in the Pac-12, beat Navy 62-28 in the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl on Dec. 29 to finish 8-5.
“It was a pretty tough call,” Marcus Ball said. “After the Wisconsin coaches left, I just went out (to Arizona State) and just fell in love with it. They were the first BCS school to offer me, so they’ve been on me since day one. I have a family member out there, but it doesn’t matter how far away you are, you’re always going to miss home. I’ll always be consistently busy grinding with the football team, but you can always come back to Ohio.”
•OP STRIKES AGAIN – Of the 33 players on the Ohio Premier girls soccer team’s U18 roster, 19 signed Feb. 6 to play at the college level, including 13 from central Ohio who signed with Division I schools.
Headlining the class is Dublin Jerome’s Lindsay Agnew, who signed with Ohio State.
Watterson’s Emily Byorth and Gabby Byorth, both of whom signed with Clemson, and classmate Emily Geyer, who signed with Notre Dame, didn’t play for their high school team.
Other signees from OP were Coffman’s Kaitlin Miller and Hilliard Darby’s Ashleigh Riddle, both of whom will play for Kentucky.
“Personally, I can’t thank OP enough for what they have done for me and I know all the other girls on my team feel the same way,” Agnew said. “The college exposure you get from playing on OP is second to none.”
•CREW CELEBRATION – The Columbus Crew Academy boys soccer club had nine players sign Feb. 6, including Canal Winchester’s Matt Appel, Hilliard Davidson’s Alex Bumpus, Gahanna’s Alex Crognale, Pickerington North’s Tommy Harr, Jerome’s Tyler Kidwell and Worthington Kilbourne’s Charlie Reymann.
None of those players competed for his high school team last season after the Academy switched to a 10-month season last fall.
Among the other area signees in boys soccer was Olentangy Liberty’s Sam DeRoy, a Wright State signee who helped the Patriots win the Division I state championship last fall.
•ON TO THE BCS – Of the 46 area football players who signed with Football Bowl Subdivision or Football Championship Subdivision programs, 15 are headed to schools in BCS conferences.
Ten of those players will be playing for Big Ten schools, as Michigan and Illinois both signed three recruits from central Ohio and Ohio State, Northwestern, Purdue and Wisconsin each signed one.
A year after five area players signed with Ohio State, the only player from central Ohio to sign with the Buckeyes was New Albany’s Darron Lee (athlete).
Hartley’s Ja’Wuan Woodley (RB/LB), who was named ThisWeek Super 25 captain and the Division IV state Offensive Player of the Year last fall, signed with Toledo.
Pickerington North’s Godwin Igwebuike (RB/DB), who was the Division I district Offensive Player of the Year last fall, signed with Northwestern. He verbally committed to Northwestern last August and stuck with that commitment despite getting scholarship offers from numerous other schools during and after the season.