Football: Recruiting process filled with tough choices for 2021 class
Since the NCAA added a December signing period for football in 2017, most of central Ohio’s top college recruits have decided there’s no reason to wait any longer than that to formalize their futures.
Unlike in past years, though, the later signing period didn’t prove to be plentiful for area players looking to catch on in college’s highest division.
While a handful of players signed with Football Championship Subdivision, Division II and NAIA programs Feb. 3, some of the area’s top unsigned players, such as Westerville Central quarterback Judah Holtzclaw, Westerville Central linebacker Zeke Healy and Dublin Coffman defensive back Sheron Phipps, elected to reclassify to the 2022 class and plan to attend prep school in the fall.
Because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the NCAA announced in August that it was giving all fall sports athletes an extra year of eligibility.
In addition, the NCAA dead period has been extended to April 15, which means that athletes haven’t had the opportunity to visit colleges for more than a year.
“It’s just with COVID and colleges bringing back seniors that get to have another year of eligibility, they can’t offer as many kids,” Holtzclaw said. “We weren’t able to visit or to go to as many camps (in the offseason). I plan to go to camps this summer and hopefully pick up some more offers in the fall or summer and (sign) next December.”
Holtzclaw, who threw for 14 touchdowns as a senior as his team went 7-2 and was the Division I, Region 3 runner-up, was a first-team all-state honoree along with Healy.
Phipps, who played in only the first five games because of the OHSAA transfer rule, wants to keep his options open.
“Me and the family thought it’ll be good (to go to a prep school) after talking to some coaches at other Division I universities,” Phipps said. “I’ve been in touch with lots of schools, and they’re ready to see me this fall.”
Many of the 127 FCS programs pushed their seasons to the spring because of the pandemic, including Butler, which competes in the Pioneer League and signed Upper Arlington defensive back Adam Cipriano.
Ready wide receiver Tyrese Hudson signed with Marist, which also competes in the Pioneer League but opted out of the spring season.
“The people (at Marist) are awesome (and the kind) that you want to build a future with, and that can’t be found at every school,” Hudson said. “Marist is a very good academic school, which will help me in the work field.”
>>Our commitment list for all sports:National Signing Day: Where they’re going<<
Beechcroft linebacker Muhammad-Ali Kobo has committed to Cornell.
The Ivy League opted out of having a fall season and ultimately decided not to play in the spring, either.
“I’d like to start out by saying I don’t feel like I chose Cornell; Cornell chose me,” Kobo said. “They will not be playing in the spring. They’re planning on playing the fall of 2021. I see this as a plus because everyone gained an extra year of eligibility and I’ll have a chance to be around some great players and leaders.”
Also committing Feb. 3 to the FCS level was Harvest Prep linebacker Phillip Gibson-Perry, who signed with Southern. The Southwestern Athletic Conference is having a spring football season.
“I’ve always wanted to go to a Division I school and as I got older, I started really wanting to go to an HBCU (historically black colleges and universities),” Gibson-Perry said. “Southern checks both of those boxes.”
Below are area players who have announced their commitments to FBS, FCS, Division II and NAIA programs:
FBS – Jamarius Dinkins (Walnut Ridge) Kentucky; Elijah Hawk (Pickerington North) Western Michigan; Will Jados (Westerville Central) Miami University; Connor Jones (Hilliard Darby) Toledo; Casey Magyar (Dublin Coffman) Kent State; Nick Mosley (Pickerington Central) Bowling Green; John Motton (Groveport Madison) Ohio University; Shawn Munnerlyn (Independence) Rutgers; Jack Pugh (Hilliard Bradley) Wisconsin; Quintell Quinn (DeSales) Ohio University; Hammond Russell (Coffman) West Virginia; Jack Sawyer (Pickerington North) Ohio State; Giovanni Scales (Marion-Franklin) Ohio University; Jake Skelly (Hartley) Ohio University; Lorenzo Styles Jr. (Pickerington Central) Notre Dame; Mitchell Tomasek (Worthington Kilbourne) Eastern Michigan; Bryon Threats (Coffman) Cincinnati; Garner Wallace (Pickerington Central) Northwestern; Daniel Warnsman (Coffman) Eastern Michigan; Bradley Weaver (Darby) Ohio University; Devon Williams (Coffman) Minnesota; Julius Wood (Walnut Ridge) East Carolina
FCS – Adam Cipriano (Upper Arlington) Butler; Reece Dykstra (Thomas Worthington) Long Island; Phillip Gibson-Perry (Harvest Prep) Southern; Joey Guagenti (Olentangy Orange) Dayton; Tyrese Hudson (Ready) Marist; Collin Johnson (New Albany) Lehigh; Muhammad-Ali Kobo (Beechcroft) Cornell; Kevin Roberts (Hilliard Davidson) Dayton; A.J. Sanders (Pickerington Central) Eastern Illinois; Joe Trent (Dublin Scioto) Youngstown State
DIVISION II – Ricky Alli (Gahanna Lincoln) Ashland; Billy Cain IV (DeSales) Ohio Dominican; P.J. Daniels (Ready) Findlay; Braedon Elwer (New Albany) Walsh; Vince Francescone (Westerville Central) Hillsdale; Jaylen Gilbert (Pickerington North) Tiffin; Clarence Gossett (Groveport) Tiffin; Dalton Hall (Reynoldsburg) West Virginia State; Ethan Hand (Olentangy) Indianapolis; Will Hast (DeSales) Walsh; Jorden Howard (Pickerington Central) Wheeling; Jordan Johnson (DeSales) Grand Valley State; Brandon Kennedy (Westerville Central) Walsh; Idris Lawrence (Pickerington North) Notre Dame College; Javarus Leach (Walnut Ridge) Tiffin; Cole Matthews (Ready) Wheeling; Jacob Moeller (Olentangy Berlin) Walsh; Manny Mullens (Harvest Prep) Lake Erie; Darius Parham (Ready) Lake Erie; Marcelis Parker (Hartley) Tiffin; Justin Rader (Berlin) Ashland; Chance Roberts (Bradley) Tiffin; Elijah Smith (Westerville Central) Lake Erie; Isaiah Smith (Westerville Central) Lake Erie; Landon Smith (Olentangy Liberty) Ashland; Sirron Smith (Pickerington Central) Findlay; Quanaire Tatum (Marion-Franklin), Tiffin; Mason Toomey (Westerville Central) Ohio Dominican; Jason Velazquez (DeSales) Ohio Dominican; Shemar Watson (Northland) Findlay; Dorian Weaver (Coffman) Findlay; Vernon Williams (Scioto) Findlay; Raquan Williams-McGee (Pickerington North) Tiffin; Quinn Wills (Pickerington Central) Grand Valley State
NAIA – Devin McShan (Pickerington North) Siena Heights
Below are players from the ThisWeek coverage area who have signed with FBS programs:
•Jamarius Dinkins, Walnut Ridge – A 6-foot-6, 270-pounder who was the Division II district Defensive Player of the Year and a starter on the offensive line, Dinkins is headed to Kentucky. He helped the Scots go 6-3, including recovering a fumble a 14-6 win over Eastmoor Academy in the City League championship game.
•Elijah Hawk, Pickerington North – The 6-4, 239-pound Hawk is a defensive lineman who signed with Western Michigan. He was a first-team all-district honoree last season and finished with 29 tackles, 2.5 sacks and five tackles for loss as the Panthers went 6-2 and won the OCC-Ohio Division title.
•Will Jados, Westerville Central – Listed at 6-7, 285, Jados was a first-team all-district offensive lineman who has signed with Miami University. He also played on the defensive line and was a first-team all-league honoree who helped the Warhawks go 7-2 and earn a Division I regional runner-up finish.
•Connor Jones, Hilliard Darby – The 6-2, 230-pound Jones signed with Toledo after earning first-team all-district honors in Division I at linebacker. Also a running back who had 405 yards and three touchdowns, Jones finished with 87 tackles and one sack as the Panthers went 4-4 and reached the second round of the Region 3 playoffs.
•Casey Magyar, Dublin Coffman – Magyar will kick for Kent State after being a first-team all-state and all-district honoree in Division I last fall, when he made three field goals, went 38-for-38 in extra points and had 39 touchbacks on 55 kickoffs. Magyar was second-team all-state as a junior.
•Nick Mosley, Pickerington Central – The 5-11, 205-pound running back signed with Bowling Green after earning first-team all-district and second-team all-state honors. He rushed for 1,003 yards and 29 touchdowns on 187 carries as the Tigers went 11-1 and were the Division I state runners-up.
•John Motton, Groveport Madison – Motton signed with Ohio University after helping the Cruisers go 5-3. A 5-10, 190-pound defensive back, he had 31 tackles and one interception. He also had three interceptions as a junior, when the Cruisers went 10-3 and were Region 3 runners-up.
•Shawn Munnerlyn, Independence – A Rutgers signee, Munnerlyn split time between running back, wide receiver and linebacker while helping the 76ers go 4-4 last fall. He had 13 receptions for 356 yards and five touchdowns, completed six two-point conversions and added 47 tackles, five sacks and two blocked punts.
•Jack Pugh, Hilliard Bradley – Pugh is a 6-5, 235-pounder who signed with Wisconsin as a tight end. A second-team all-district honoree as a defensive lineman, he had 16 receptions for 240 yards and three touchdowns along with 24 tackles, three sacks and three tackles for loss as the Jaguars went 3-6.
•Quintell Quinn, DeSales – The 6-2, 210-pound Quinn signed with Ohio University after earning first-team all-state honors. At running back, he had 1,566 yards and 27 touchdowns and leaves DeSales as its all-time leading rusher. At linebacker, he had 85.5 tackles, 10 tackles for loss and three sacks. The Stallions went 9-2 and were Division III state runners-up.
•Hammond Russell, Coffman – Russell signed with West Virginia after earning first-team all-state honors on the defensive line. The 6-4, 260-pounder had 52 tackles, nine tackles for loss, 1.5 sacks and two interceptions as the Shamrocks went 8-1 and were Division I, Region 2 semifinalists.
•Jack Sawyer, Pickerington North – Sawyer signed with Ohio State and enrolled in January after electing not to play his final prep season for the Panthers. A 6-5, 250-pound defensive lineman, Sawyer is a five-star prospect who as a junior was the OCC-Ohio Defensive Player of the Year and started at quarterback.
•Giovanni Scales, Marion-Franklin – A Division IV first-team all-district defensive back, the 6-2, 198-pound Scales signed with Ohio University. He had 11 receptions at wide receiver and two interceptions as the Red Devils finished 4-2 last fall.
•Jake Skelly, Hartley – Skelly, who signed with Ohio University, earned first-team all-district and all-state honors as a junior on the offensive line before missing his senior season while recovering from leukemia. He is listed at 6-4, 250.
•Lorenzo Styles Jr., Pickerington Central – The Division I district Offensive Player of the Year and a first-team all-state honoree who started at wide receiver and defensive back, Styles signed with Notre Dame. The 6-1, 190-pounder started a program-record 55 games and had nine touchdowns last fall between offense and special teams.
•Mitchell Tomasek, Worthington Kilbourne – Tomasek is a 6-3, 190-pounder who will punt for Eastern Michigan after earning first-team all-district honors with an average of 39.6 yards per attempt. Tomasek also threw for 1,756 yards and 18 touchdowns at quarterback as the Wolves went 6-4.
•Bryon Threats, Coffman – A 5-10, 195-pound running back who was the OCC-Central co-Player of the Year, first-team all-district and first-team all-state, Threats signed with Cincinnati. He had 1,124 yards rushing and 18 touchdowns on 141 carries and 21 receptions for 402 yards and four scores.
•Garner Wallace, Pickerington Central – Although he started at quarterback last fall, the 6-5, 185-pounder projects as a defensive back at Northwestern. Wallace combined to throw and pass for more than 1,500 yards and 14 touchdowns after playing at wide receiver and in the secondary as a junior when the Tigers won the Division I state title.
•Daniel Warnsman, Coffman – This 6-3, 285-pound offensive lineman signed with Eastern Michigan after earning first-team all-league and all-district honors. He was second-team all-district as a junior when the Shamrocks went 10-3 and were Region 2 runners-up.
•Bradley Weaver, Darby – A second-team all-district defensive lineman who also played tight end, the 6-4, 240-pound Weaver signed with Ohio University. He had 27 tackles, two sacks and 9.5 tackles for loss last fall while earning first-team all-league honors.
•Devon Williams, Coffman – Williams signed with Minnesota after earning first-team all-district and second-team all-state honors. A 6-1, 218-pounder, he had 50 tackles and 8.5 tackles for loss at linebacker as the Shamrocks held eight of their nine opponents under 20 points.
•Julius Wood, Walnut Ridge – A 2019 graduate, Wood signed with East Carolina after spending two seasons competing for Blinn College in Brenham, Texas. A 6-2, 185-pound defensive back, he had 36 tackles in 2019 for the Buccaneers. He was first-team all-state as a senior for the Scots.