DeSales trio heading out of state for college
A trio of out-of-state pipelines continued from the DeSales High School football program during National Signing Day on Feb. 2 when seniors Chris Rock, Nick Gentile and Evan Kendrick finalized their college decisions.
Rock was part of the first recruiting class for new Michigan coach Brady Hoke when he signed his letter of intent. Gentile received an appointment to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Kendrick received an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Md.
In all three cases, they'll join programs that have former Stallions already in uniform.
Rock and Gentile are Westerville residents and Kendrick resides in Gahanna.
"All of these guys have had great runs here," DeSales coach Ryan Wiggins said. "All of them made it through a season when we had some tough times with injuries. Chris is big, large and athletic. Nick Gentile has been our quarterback the last two years, but his athletic combination makes him an asset. Evan's another great student and a great athlete, and this past year he played every single snap for us."
Rock, who started three seasons for the Stallions, verbally committed to play for the Wolverines last May. He also considered Notre Dame but said that "nobody else was really close" to Michigan.
Rock, 6-foot-5, 240 pounds, made first-team all-district in Division III and was ThisWeek Super 25 honorable mention as a junior and made honorable mention all-district as a senior.
He will join a Michigan program that also includes 2008 DeSales graduate Patrick Omameh, who started at right guard last season.
Also signing Feb. 2 to play for Michigan from central Ohio were defensive back Tamani Carter (Pickerington Central) and defensive lineman Keith Heitzman (Hilliard Davidson).
The Wolverines finished 7-6 last season, including a 52-14 loss to Mississippi State in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1. Coach Rich Rodriguez was fired five days later after going 15-22 overall, including 6-18 in the Big Ten Conference, in three seasons.
"It's good to have a lot of central Ohio guys who will be on the team," said Rock, who plans to major in business. "Having a good defense starts with the coaching staff, and (Hoke) is a defensive line guy, which is good for me. He's real personable."
Gentile started at quarterback for the Stallions the last two seasons, including in 2009 when they were the Division III state runners-up. Last season, he was 46-for-121 passing for 650 yards with three touchdowns and seven interceptions and made special mention all-district.
Gentile, a 6-1, 200-pounder who also was recruited by The Citadel, believes his experience running the option offense will help him make the transition to playing linebacker for the Falcons. Air Force finished 9-4 last season, including a 14-7 win over Georgia Tech in the Independence Bowl on Dec. 27.
Ike Ariguzo and Josh Kusan, both 2009 DeSales graduates, also are part of Air Force's football program. Former Stallions such as 2006 graduates Chris Thomas and Justin Moore also have played for the Falcons.
Big Walnut linebacker Jacob Walaszek also has committed to Air Force.
"I visited there after the season, and when I was there I talked with Josh Kusan and Ike Ariguzo about it," Gentile said. "The football and academics are very strong. Going to the Air Force Academy is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I'm going to go to their prep school for one year and I'm going to go and learn to play defense. They want me to play linebacker, which is the weird thing about it. But I played quarterback in an option offense, which is harder than playing defense. The past four years have helped me a lot."
Kendrick, 5-10, 180 pounds, likely will play cornerback or safety for Navy, where he'll join 2008 DeSales graduate Josh Dowling-Fitzpatrick.
Kendrick made first-team all-district at defensive back last season after finishing with 33 tackles and four pass breakups. He also rushed for 272 yards and two touchdowns as a running back.
Navy finished 10-4 last season, including a 35-14 loss to San Diego State in the Poinsettia Bowl on Dec. 23. On Dec. 11, the Midshipmen beat Army 31-17, marking their ninth consecutive win over the Cadets.
Illinois State and Villanova, which are Football Championship Subdivision schools, also offered Kendrick scholarships.
"(Navy's) got a tradition-rich program," Kendrick said. "Academically, it's one of the best in the nation. As long as I'm on the field, I don't care what position they play me at."