Signing Day

Big Ten football entices central Ohio recruits

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Of the nearly 100 central Ohio high school seniors who have committed to play college football, just 18 have signed letters of intent to compete for a Power Five conference program.

To break it down even further, only 11 from the area signed with one of the 14 programs in the Big Ten, with Michigan State having three signees and Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State and Wisconsin all having two.

Those five programs went a combined 51-15 last season.

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It's a prestigious group that players such as Reynoldsburg's Mark Gooden, who will play for Northwestern, don't take for granted.

"The Big Ten is the best conference in college football," Gooden said. "The combination of a great education and top competition makes the opportunity unique."

Olentangy's Luke Campbell didn't commit to Michigan State until January, but he believes that he, DeSales' Austin Andrews and Olentangy Liberty's A.J. Arcuri can make an impact with the Spartans.

"I've gotten to know several guys from central Ohio either through camps, visits or just playing against them," Campbell said. "There are two (other) central Ohio guys going to MSU and I got to know them a little bit on my official (visit) there."

Andrews is most excited about playing for a Michigan State program that has joined Ohio State as the strongest programs from the Big Ten in recent years.

While Ohio State won the inaugural College Football Playoff in the 2014 season, the Spartans won the Big Ten title and reached a semifinal of the event this past season.

"The biggest appeal about playing for a Big Ten program is the education that you're going to receive and the tremendous opportunities you'll have after football," Andrews said. "Then you look at things (like) championship contention or winning a lot and truly becoming a man."

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Below is a look at players from the ThisWeek coverage area who have signed to play with FBS programs:

*Austin Andrews, DeSales -- The 6-foot, 180-pound Andrews, who rushed for 715 yards and nine touchdowns but missed four regular-season games last fall with injury, projects as a defensive back for Michigan State. He helped the Stallions finish 10-2.

*Obi Anunike, Olentangy -- The 6-4, 215-pound Anunike could see time at tight end or wide receiver for Toledo. He had 61 catches for 672 yards and seven touchdowns last season as the Braves went 11-2.

*A.J. Arcuri, Olentangy Liberty -- The 6-7, 250-pound Arcuri likely will be an offensive tackle for Michigan State. He was first-team all-district last season as the Patriots went 7-4.

*Jaylin Bannerman, Pickerington Central -- A second-team all-district selection at linebacker last season, Bannerman (6-5, 215) also played wide receiver as the Tigers went 8-3. He will play for Kentucky.

*Emmanuel Beal, Reynoldsburg -- After playing for Lackawanna College in Scranton, Pa., the last two seasons, Beal (6-2, 220) signed with Oklahoma as an outside linebacker. He had 14 sacks as a senior for the Raiders in 2012.

*Luke Campbell, Olentangy -- Originally a Purdue commit who recently switched to Michigan State, Campbell, a 6-4, 275-pound offensive lineman, was second-team all-state last season.

*Brandon Chapman, Grove City -- An early enrollee at Wake Forest, Chapman (6-5, 250) battled injuries last season for the Dawgs but was considered a three-star recruit at tight end.

*Jonathon Cooper, Gahanna -- Also an early college entrant, the 6-4, 238-pound Cooper is part of Ohio State's highly ranked class as a defensive lineman. He played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl in January.

*Chris Crumb, Olentangy -- Crumb, a 6-1, 265-pound defensive tackle, finished with 30 tackles for loss and 12 sacks and made first-team all-state for the Braves last season. He will play for Ball State.

*Seth Currens, Pickerington Central -- Although he saw time at wide receiver and was forced into action at quarterback because of injury, the 6-3, 205-pound Currens projects as a safety for Wisconsin. He was first-team all-state on defense last season.

*Seth Dawkins, Franklin Heights -- With 66 catches for 944 yards and 22 total touchdowns, Dawkins (6-3, 205) was named Division II district Offensive Player of the Year last season even though the Falcons went 1-9. He will play for Louisville.

*Alex Gellerstedt, Dublin Coffman -- A first-team all-district and all-state offensive lineman for the Shamrocks, the 6-7, 285-pound Gellerstedt projects as an offensive tackle after being an early enrollee at Penn State.

*Mark Gooden, Reynoldsburg -- Before sustaining a season-ending fractured left fibula in week 6 last season, Gooden (6-1, 220) had 42 tackles and 12.5 tackles for loss. The defensive lineman/linebacker will play for Northwestern.

*Griffin Grady, Dublin Coffman -- A second-team all-district selection last season, the 6-3, 210-pound Grady is expected to play inside linebacker in Wisconsin's 3-4 defense.

*Malik Harrison, Walnut Ridge -- Harrison (6-4, 215) joined Cooper on Feb. 3 as the only central Ohio seniors to commit to Ohio State. He could see time at wide receiver, linebacker or strong safety.

*Gunnar Hoak, Dublin Coffman -- An early enrollee at Kentucky, the 6-3, 200-pound quarterback passed for 2,572 yards and 30 touchdowns while earning Division I district Offensive Player of the Year honors as a junior. Last season, Hoak battled injuries but passed for 1,811 yards and 14 touchdowns.

*Dakota Holtzclaw, Worthington Kilbourne -- At 6-7, 215 pounds, Holtzclaw projects as a tight end for Kentucky. He had 28 catches for 421 yards and one touchdown last season as the Wolves went 11-2.

*Trezden Johnson, Pickerington North -- Johnson (6-0, 190) will join former North teammates Roland Ladipo and Zeph Miller at Air Force. He projects as a defensive back after playing at both wide receiver and in the secondary for the Panthers.

*Jake Long, Hamilton Township -- The Division III district Defensive Player of the Year last season, Long (6-1, 183) scored 21 touchdowns on offense and had three interceptions as the Rangers finished 8-3. He is expected to be a cornerback for West Virginia.

*Adam Notestine, Pickerington North -- Notestine will take his 6-4, 320-pound frame to Ohio University as an offensive lineman.

*Antonio Shelton, Westerville North -- Having originally pledged to Illinois, Shelton (6-3, 280) recently switched to Penn State, where he'll likely play on the defensive line. He was first-team all-district last season.

*Benny Snell, Westerville Central -- The 6-0, 212-pound running back ran for 1,826 yards and 26 touchdowns and was named Division I district Offensive Player of the Year last season. Snell will play for Kentucky.

*Josh Stoner, Worthington Kilbourne -- Stoner (5-11, 190) is expected to play running back for Air Force after setting program records for all-purpose yards (1,897), punt return yards (426), total points (126) and receptions (39) for the Wolves last season.

*Tyrece Speaight, Upper Arlington -- Speaight (5-11, 188) had 35 catches and six touchdowns on offense last season but projects as a defensive back at Miami University. He was second-team all-district on defense last fall.

*Ethan Tucky, Delaware -- Tucky (6-3, 232) had 102 tackles, including 21 for loss, and 11 sacks and was the Division II district Defensive Player of the Year last season. An early enrollee at Boston College, he projects as an outside linebacker.

*Gunnar Vogel, Westerville South -- The 6-6, 290-pound offensive lineman helped South rush for more than 2,100 yards last season and made first-team all-district. Vogel will play for Northwestern.