Nic Barber of the Newark High School football team is spending this weekend trying to finalize his plans for college.

Nic Barber of the Newark High School football team is spending this weekend trying to finalize his plans for college.

The 6-foot-4, 205-pound senior is waiting to hear back from Ohio University, which sent another assistant for a home visit last Thursday. Barber is on the MAC school's recruiting list as the top defensive end prospect, but the Bobcats also have other positions of need and as of early last Friday had not heard back about scholarship offers made to a safety from Maryland and a defensive tackle from Florida, Barber said.

If either of them goes elsewhere Barber is expected to accept the school's final available scholarship and sign a letter of intent Wednesday, he said.

"It's pretty stressful," Barber said. "It's so hard waiting."

Barber already has shown he can be patient. After starting as a sophomore he missed his junior season with a shoulder injury.

"He didn't have any junior-year tape to send out," coach Jeff Buchanan said. "But we always thought things would work out for Nic because he has a lot of upside."

The Wildcats finished 1-9 last fall in Buchanan's first season, but Barber, who has covered 40 yards in 4.6 seconds, became a defensive standout and saw some playing time on the offensive line.

"He played 100 mph all the time," Buchanan said. "I'm always telling the kids that in terms of recruiting, well, it's just become so competitive that you can't take a play off, and Nic never did. Playing in a league like (the OCC-Ohio Division) with schools like Pickerington Central, there's always a chance you'll get seen on somebody else's tape, and I think that's really helped Nic.

"And he's not just a great defensive player but he's also a very good special teams player, and that'll get you noticed, too."

Barber has other options. He was expected to visit Seton Hills College in Greensburg, Pa., last Friday but had to cancel a visit to Grand Valley State University in Allendale, Mich., last Wednesday because of bad weather. He's been heavily recruited by several other Divisions II and III schools, including Findlay, Tiffin and Walsh.

"It's nice knowing I've got a lot to fall back on. I appreciate the fact that so many smaller schools are really pressuring me to decide," Barber said. "But I'd like to go Division I and I think I can play at that level. When I visited (Ohio University) I just liked everything about it, and the academics are tremendous there."

Barber said he plans to study philosophy and political science and that someday he may run for public office.

"It's something I've been interested in for some time," he said. "I love watching CNN, and of course I've kept up on the election and Barack Obama taking office and everything."

HOCKEY -- Keenan McCloud's athletics career has been about playing defense for the most part. He was a starting defenseman with the Newark Generals club hockey team the past three years, and he became a Division II all-district goalkeeper last fall in his only season as the starter for the boys soccer team at Granville.

Still, his move to a forward line this season with the Generals has gone easier than expected. Centering a third line also featuring wingers Dillon Clouse and a combination of Jack Parker and Thomas Nichols, McCloud had five goals and five assists as the Generals were 18-5-2 overall and 9-5 in the Greater Columbus High School Club Hockey League entering last Friday's game at Athens.

"I love it," he said. "The biggest difference is you don't play the big, long shift at forward. You go hard for 30 seconds, take your shot and go back out."

Newark plays first-place PRPC today in the Dispatch Ice Haus hoping to avenge the only loss it had as it opened 13-1-2, a stretch that concluded with a 5-1 win over non-league Mason on Jan. 24. PRPC prevailed 4-1 on Jan. 4 and the teams will conclude their season series Feb. 12 at Newark, which had 18 points entering last Friday and trailed the Ice Prowlers by five with six league games remaining.

"Anytime you're on a hot streak like this you just want to keep it going," said McCloud, who is likely to play soccer in college but is keeping his hockey options open. "PRPC is very tough but we're still hoping to catch them."

WRESTLING -- The Watkins Memorial tournament Saturday will feature 10 teams, and newcomers Marysville and Central Crossing should make the field even stronger. The other participants are Marion-Franklin, Canal Winchester, Westland, Martins Ferry, Hartley, Licking Heights and Galion Northmor, which scored 207.5 points a year ago as runner-up to the host Warriors (209).

"It's the strongest field we've had since I've been coach here," said Eddie Jayne, who is in his fourth season at Watkins Memorial. "Some of the weight classes are really loaded, like (119 pounds)."

The contenders for the title at 119 include Watkins Memorial's Jay Kunzi, a Division I state alternate a year ago who went 9-0 and was named Most Valuable Wrestler at the Napoleon Duals on Jan. 23-24. The others include Northmor's Tyler Heminger, who was last year's Division III state runner-up at 112, and Licking Heights' Chandler Jones, a three-time state qualifier in Division II and III.

Tony Chase and the Generals were 9-5 in the GCHSCHL entering play last Friday.