Jacob Borcila’s commitment to play for a Football Bowl Subdivision program with a head coach who has won a national championship came down to the wire.
Based on a recommendation by his kicking coach, Adam Tanalski of Hammer Kicking Academy, the Westerville Central High School senior spoke with the University of Kansas coaching staff for the first time Jan. 29.
After also receiving scholarship offers from Arizona, Arkansas State and Cincinnati, Borcila visited Kansas during the first weekend of February and announced the day before the latest signing period began Feb. 6 that he was committing to the Jayhawks.
Les Miles, who coached LSU to the 2007 national championship and has a career record of 142-55 in 16 seasons, was named Kansas’ coach Nov. 18.
“I sent in my film, they liked my film and I got down there for a visit … so it was real quick,” Borcila said.
While most of central Ohio’s FBS commits made their choices official during the December signing period, Borcila, Pickerington Central’s Jason Betts and Northland’s John Branham Jr. were among the area players who pledged to FBS programs last week.
Betts was a contributor for Central’s Division I state championship team in 2017 and will play for the Naval Academy.
Branham committed to Eastern Michigan, where he’ll join Northland teammate Mark Lee, who signed with the Eagles in December.
Branham had offers from several other Mid-American Conference programs and also had offers earlier in the recruiting process from Power Five programs such as Boston College, Georgia Tech, Kentucky and Pittsburgh.
Ultimately, he chose to join an Eagles program that has posted winning records in two of the past three seasons.
“For me, it was more about the honesty of things,” Branham said. “They’ve been honest with me for four years now. With the connection I had with the coaches, this was where I needed to be. It’s real exciting.”
Below is a look at area players from the 2019 recruiting class who have signed to play with FBS programs:
•Jay Amburgey, Reynoldsburg – Projected to be an offensive tackle for Ohio University, the 6-foot-5, 280-pound Amburgey was first-team all-district on the defensive line as the Raiders went 10-2 last fall. He recorded 57 pancakes on offense last season and closed his defensive career with 132 tackles, 28 tackles for loss, 12 sacks and two blocked field goals.
•Alex Azusenis, Olentangy Liberty – Despite offers from nearby MAC programs such as Akron, this 6-6, 290-pound offensive tackle who helped Liberty reach a third consecutive Division I state semifinal chose to continue his career in the Mountain West Conference at Colorado State. Azusenis was first-team all-state last fall as the Patriots went 9-5.
•Jason Betts, Pickerington Central – The 6-1, 196-pound Betts, who served as a key contributor for Central the last two seasons at defensive back, received an appointment to the Naval Academy. After recording 54 tackles as a junior, Betts had more than 70 tackles with four tackles for loss last season for the Tigers, who finished 11-3 and reached a Division I state semifinal.
•Cannon Blauser, Hilliard Bradley – A two-time OCC-Cardinal Division Defensive Player of the Year and two-time first-team all-district honoree, the 6-1, 225-pound linebacker signed with Ohio University in December. Blauser finished his prep career with 280 tackles, 33.5 tackles for loss and 11 sacks, each of which ranks first in program history.
•Jacob Borcila, Westerville Central – During a press conference introducing Kansas’ signing class, Miles called Borcila a “kicker that can kick it 60” yards. Last fall while helping the Warhawks make the Division I playoffs, Borcila made seven field goals and 33 extra points and also averaged 37 yards per punt. He made six field goals as a junior.
•John Branham Jr., Northland – The 5-9, 215-pound running back and Eastern Michigan signee rushed for 1,196 yards on 155 carries, had 12 receptions for 160 yards and scored 22 total touchdowns and was first-team all-state last fall as the Vikings went 8-2 and won the City League-North. Branham rushed for 1,129 yards and 18 touchdowns as a junior.
•Jeremiah Burton, Reynoldsburg – After spending three seasons at Westerville North, the 6-2, 280-pound defensive tackle excelled for Reynoldsburg last fall and signed with Ohio University in December. He had 75 tackles, 13 tackles for loss, six sacks and one interception as the Raiders won a playoff game for the second time.
•DeWayne Carter, Pickerington Central – The 6-4, 275-pound defensive lineman and Duke signee had 83 tackles, eight tackles for loss, five sacks, four pass breakups and one interception and was first-team all-state last fall. Carter had 60 tackles and eight tackles for loss as a junior when the Tigers won the Division I state championship.
•Tyler Connolly, Marysville – The 6-5, 275-pound offensive tackle who committed to Toledo helped Marysville produce 2,616 yards rushing while allowing just four sacks last season as the Monarchs went 5-5. Connolly was third-team all-state.
•Cam Craig, Dublin Jerome – The OCC-Cardinal Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-state honoree last fall, this 6-5, 280-pound offensive lineman signed with Purdue after helping the Celtics make the Division I playoffs in 2016 and 2017. Craig also started at nose guard for Jerome last season when it went 5-5.
•Tyler Foster, Pickerington North – A second-team all-state honoree last fall when he had 32 receptions for 495 yards and five touchdowns at tight end, the 6-6, 225-pound Foster signed with Ohio University in December. He closed his prep career with 62 receptions for 825 yards and 11 touchdowns and helped the Panthers make two Division I playoff appearances.
•Sam Glover Pickerington North – The 6-3, 275-pound Glover was second-team all-district on the offensive line for the Panthers, who went 6-4 and missed the Division I, Region 3 playoffs last fall but averaged 28.9 points and lost two games by three points or fewer. Also a contributor on the defensive line, Glover committed to the Naval Academy.
•Camby Goff, Reynoldsburg – With the 6-1, 180-pound Goff as a starter in the secondary last fall, the Raiders held nine of their 12 opponents to 10 points or fewer. The Air Force commit had 27.5 tackles and two interceptions and was first-team all-state. He added 14 catches for 256 yards with three touchdowns at wide receiver.
•Zach Harrison, Olentangy Orange – Considered by numerous analysts to be central Ohio’s No. 1 recruit from the 2019 class, the 6-5, 253-pound defensive end committed to Ohio State in December. Harrison helped the Pioneers make the Division I playoffs for the third consecutive season last fall when he had seven sacks and 14 tackles for loss despite missing three games.
•Dorian Holloway, Marion-Franklin – The 6-4, 205-pound Holloway played only the first five games last season for Marion-Franklin after transferring from Africentric, but he still made second-team all-district. The Red Devils won four of their first five games with Holloway serving as a defensive back, but he’s expected to be a linebacker for Cincinnati.
•Zach Hummel, Hilliard Bradley – Likely to be a defensive lineman for Cincinnati, the 6-3, 239-pound Hummel had 81 tackles playing mostly at linebacker and was second-team all-district last fall for the Jaguars, who went 9-2. A three-year starter, Hummel also had five tackles for loss, one sack, one forced fumble and three pass deflections.
•Dontay Hunter II, Westerville Central – A second-team all-state selection, the 6-5, 240-pound defensive end signed with Purdue after helping the Warhawks return to the playoffs after a two-year absence. Hunter had 45 tackles, six sacks and 14 tackles for loss as a junior and 75 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and six sacks last fall.
•Ben Johnson, Pickerington North – Despite missing nearly three full games because of injury last fall, the 6-2, 190-pound linebacker had 95 tackles, 15 tackles for loss, 3.5 sacks and one forced fumble. Johnson, who ranks third in program history with 230 career tackles, signed with Ohio University in December.
•Karter Johnson, Pickerington Central – In his only season with the Tigers last fall, the 6-3, 270-pound defensive lineman made first-team all-district and all-league while helping the Tigers reach a state semifinal. Johnson, who signed with Texas Christian, had 80 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and five forced fumbles for Gahanna as a junior before transferring to Central.
•Rodas Johnson, DeSales – The 6-4, 285-pound defensive tackle transferred to DeSales after his sophomore season and became a two-year regular on both the offensive and defensive lines. Johnson, who had 32 tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks as a senior after contributing seven tackles for loss in five games as a junior, committed to Wisconsin.
•Mark Lee, Northland – After not playing football as a sophomore, the 6-0, 185-pound Lee had seven interceptions as a junior when Northland went 7-3 and was a leader on defense again last fall for a Vikings team that finished 8-2. Lee, who projects as a defensive back for Eastern Michigan, added 10 receptions and one touchdown last season.
•Jackson Ness, Upper Arlington – A starter the last two seasons on the offensive and defensive lines who was second-team all-state on defense last fall, the 6-5, 240-pound Ness likely will play on defense for Boston College. He had 12.5 tackles for loss, 10 quarterback hurries and seven sacks as a junior and had nine tackles for loss and five sacks last fall.
•Mershawn Rice, Reynoldsburg – During his three seasons as a regular, the Raiders went 23-9. The Purdue commit had 36 catches for 701 yards and eight touchdowns as a junior and 22 catches for 462 yards and five touchdowns last fall while making second-team all-state. The 6-2, 165-pound Rice added three interceptions and two touchdown returns on defense last season.
•Joey Velazquez, DeSales – Originally an Ohio State baseball commit, the 5-11, 195-pound Velazquez will play football and baseball for Michigan and is listed as an “athlete” on the Wolverines’ football roster. Last fall, Velazquez had 101 tackles and 21 tackles for loss and was named Division III district Defensive Player of the Year. He also rushed for 817 yards and 13 touchdowns.
•Julius Wood, Walnut Ridge – With this 6-2, 185-pound Miami University recruit leading the way, the Scots went 18-4 with back-to-back playoff appearances the last two years. Projected to be a defensive back, Wood had 82 tackles and 17 tackles for loss at linebacker and was second-team all-state last fall. He also had seven touchdown receptions.
Below are area football players who have announced their college commitments to FBS, FCS, Division II and NAIA programs:
FOOTBALL BOWL SUBDIVISION — Jay Amburgey (Reynoldsburg) Ohio; Alex Azusenis (Olentangy Liberty) Colorado State; Jason Betts (Pickerington Central) Navy; Cannon Blauser (Hilliard Bradley) Ohio; Jacob Borcila (Westerville Central) Kansas; John Branham Jr. (Northland) Eastern Michigan; Jeremiah Burton (Reynoldsburg) Ohio; DeWayne Carter (Pickerington Central) Duke; Tyler Connolly (Marysville) Toledo; Cam Craig (Dublin Jerome) Purdue; Tyler Foster (Pickerington North) Ohio; Sam Glover (Pickerington North) Navy; Camby Goff (Reynoldsburg) Air Force; Zach Harrison (Olentangy Orange) Ohio State; Dorian Holloway (Marion-Franklin) Cincinnati; Zach Hummel (Bradley) Cincinnati; Dontay Hunter II (Westerville Central) Purdue; Ben Johnson (Pickerington North) Ohio; Karter Johnson (Pickerington Central) Texas Christian; Rodas Johnson (DeSales) Wisconsin; Mark Lee (Northland) Eastern Michigan; Jackson Ness (Upper Arlington) Boston College; Mershawn Rice (Reynoldsburg) Purdue; Joey Velazquez (DeSales) Michigan; Julius Wood (Walnut Ridge) Miami University
FOOTBALL CHAMPIONSHIP SUBDIVISION — Evan Annis (Hilliard Davidson) Valparaiso; Chris Boyle (Columbus Academy) Brown; Payton Collins (Hartley) Eastern Kentucky; Griffin Crosa (Dublin Scioto) North Dakota State; Drew Davis (Watterson) Columbia; Ian Drummond (Olentangy) Elon; J’Vonte Edwards (Reynoldsburg) Robert Morris; Josiah Ezirim (Davidson) Eastern Kentucky; Tony Gyimah (Jerome) Georgetown; Ryan Hamilton (Dublin Coffman) Columbia; Eric Holsinger (Scioto) Bucknell; Jordan Kirkbride (Hartley) Dartmouth; Ben Krimm (UA) Pennsylvania; R.J. Mehan (Worthington Kilbourne) Bucknell; Joey Mitchell (Coffman) Albany; Dorrian Moultrie (Columbus Academy) Georgetown; Sam Schaedek (UA) Dayton; Jud Utgard (UA) Brown
DIVISION II — Jaylon Baylor (Pickerington North) Wheeling Jesuit; Raymell Byrd (Whitehall) Ashland; Walter Carreker (Hartley) Walsh; Tim Cheatwood (Pickerington North) Mercyhurst; Drysten Crallie (Hamilton Township) Ohio Dominican; Kris Day (Hilliard Darby) Ohio Dominican; DeShawn Evans (Westland) Notre Dame College; Ben Fitzgerald (Reynoldsburg) Urbana; Keon Freeman (Whitehall) Charleston; Elijah Hairston (Beechcroft) Urbana; Sam Hardenbergh (Ready) Findlay; Jayden Hill (Gahanna) Ohio Dominican; Corey Hise (Hamilton Township) Grand Valley State; Bo Hobgood (DeSales) Newberry; Derek Holston (Worthington Christian) Hillsdale; Jamir Jackson (Pickerington Central) Ohio Dominican; Day’Myrin Jones (Franklin Heights) Ohio Dominican; Anthony Kessler (Marysville) Ashland; K.J. King (Westerville North) Walsh; Percy King (Gahanna) Ohio Dominican; Will King (New Albany) Ashland; C.J. Kiss (Gahanna) Notre Dame College; Kenny Lawrence (Walnut Ridge) Ohio Dominican; Mike Lowery (Pickerington North) Mercyhurst; Larry Martin (Pickerington North) Ashland; Jimmy McBride (Pickerington North) Ohio Dominican; Ben McGue (Grove City) Ohio Dominican; Adonis Moore (Mifflin) Ohio Dominican; Ke’Shun Moorer (Reynoldsburg) Ohio Dominican; Isaiah Murphy (Walnut Ridge) Notre Dame College; Isaiah O’Connor (Pickerington Central) Notre Dame College; George Paesano (Jerome) Urbana; Josh Pittro (Coffman) Ohio Dominican; Jesse Prewitt III (Northland) Wayne State; Anthony Sciarroni (DeSales) Alderson Broaddus; Tariq Stewart (Westerville Central) Ohio Dominican; Micah Tillman (Westerville North) Urbana; Richard Turnbo (Pickerington Central) Urbana; Savion Turner (Reynoldsburg) Alderson Broaddus; Davion Upchurch (Marion-Franklin) West Virginia State; Deonte’ Wade (Marion-Franklin) Notre Dame; Devin Zinser (Coffman) Ohio Dominican; Zach Zinser (Coffman) Ohio Dominican
NAIA — Kaylyn Anderson (Walnut Ridge) Cincinnati Christian; Guy Cowans-Wright (Reynoldsburg) Siena Heights; Princeton Hoskins (Reynoldsburg) Siena Heights; Brady Kuhn (Liberty) Madonna