Ohio’s top gridders in national spotlight

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Ohio football players will be on stage in the national all-star games

College football
fans call it the best time of the year – bowl season. But the college
players are not the only ones taking the field this time of year.
High school players are getting in on the action as well.  With three
major national high school football all-star games on tap this week,
Ohio’s best are
well-represented in all three scheduled games.


College football fans call it the best time of the year – bowl season.

But the college gridders are not the only ones taking the field in this time of year as high school players are getting in on the action as well.

The national high school football all-star game has become an exciting phenomenon in the last decade and each passing year the fervor grows, as does the number of games that are showcased.

With three major national high school all-star games on tap this week, Ohio’s best are well-represented in all three games.

Reporting For Duty

The U.S. Army All-American Bowl (Sat., Jan. 3, 2009; 1 p.m. EDT, San Antonio) is the longest standing high school all-star game showcasing the nation’s top players since 2002 and four players from Ohio will be representing the East team this year in the Bowl game.

Offensive tackle Marcus Hall (6-5, 290) of Cleveland Glenville was a first team All-Ohio selection this season in Division I and an Ohio High/ONN All-Ohio team selection. Hall is rated as the No. 3 player by Ohio High magazine for the Class of 2009 and ESPN has Hall rated as the No. 11 offensive tackle in the country and No. 78 overall.

Hall is the highest rated player nationally from Ohio participating in the three all-star games.

He is considering scholarship offers from Ohio State, Michigan, Illinois, Miami (Fla.) and Tennessee. While the Army All-American Bowl has evolved into a stage for players to announce their college choices about a month before National Signing Day, Hall does not plan on announcing at the game wanting to take all of his official visits before he decides.

Glenville (12-1) finished the season a regional finalist with Hall anchoring the line.

Pickerington Central defensive back Jamie Wood (6-2, 190) is the second highest rated player from Ohio on the national level and is also an Army Bowl selection. He is the No. 93 ranked player in the country by ESPN and is the No. 10 rated safety.

The Ohio State recruit was a first team All-Ohio selection on defense and joined Hall on the Ohio High/ONN All-Ohio team. Ohio High has Wood ranked as the No. 9 player in the Buckeye State’s Class of 2009.

Wood had two interceptions and 80 tackles for Pickerington Central as the Tigers (13-1) finished in the Division I state semifinals.

Fellow Buckeye recruit John Simon (6-3, 274) joins future teammate Wood on the East squad. The defensive tackle was the cog on the Mooney defensive line and helped lead the Cardinals to a 9-3 season and a berth in the second round of the Division IV playoffs.

For his efforts, Simon was recognized as a first team All-Ohio defensive selection and was named to the Ohio High/ONN All-Ohio team.

Projected as a defensive back once he gets to Ann Arbor, athlete Justin Turner (6-0, 186) of Massillon Washington is representing both Ohio and Michigan in the Army All-American Bowl. He is rated as the No. 25 athlete prospect in the country by ESPN.

Turner, ranked No. 7 in the state by Ohio High, was a two-way standout for Massillon at running back and at defensive back. He rushed for 1,380 yards and 11 touchdowns on 207 carries on offense. Defensively, he had 29 tackles, three interceptions (two for touchdowns) and a forced fumble for the Tigers (6-5).

Turner was a first team All-Ohio selection on defense in Division I and was also a member of the Ohio High/ONN All-Ohio team.

‘Armoured’ Forces

Though only in its second year, the ESPN Under Armour All-American game (Sun., Jan. 4, 2009; 8 p.m. EDT, Orlando) is quickly becoming the premier high school football all-star game. From top to bottom this year, the Under Armour game has more top prospects nationally than the other two games.

Headlining the Ohio contingent in the Under Armour game is Youngstown Liberty safety Isaiah Bell on the Black Team. Ohio High ranks Bell (6-2, 200) as the No. 32 prospect in the Class of 2009 while ESPN has Bell as the No. 9 safety in the country and No. 91 player overall.

Bell will join Turner in the Maize and Blue next year selecting Michigan over Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Air Force and Bowling Green.

Two Ohio State recruits join future rival Bell on the Under Armour Black Team including Garfield Heights defensive end Melvin Fellows and Toledo St. John’s center Jack Mewhort.

Fellows (6-4, 245) is the top rated player in Ohio’s Class of 2009 and ESPN has Fellows rated as the No. 7 defensive end in the country and No. 108 overall.

Fellows had 79 tackles, 10 sacks and 11 tackles-for-loss earning first team All-Ohio honors in Division I and he was also selected to the Ohio High/ONN All-Ohio team.

He leaves Garfield Heights with a school-record 51 tackles-for-loss and 24 sacks in his career.

Fellows originally issued a verbal commitment to Illinois before changing his mind and committing to the home state Buckeyes last April.

On the offensive side of the ball for the Black Team, Mewhort (6-6, 285) was one of the first players selected for the Under Armour game getting the news last March that he had been chosen.

Mewhort is rated No. 21 by Ohio High for the Class of 2009 and ESPN has him rated as the No. 1 center prospect in the country. Overall, ESPN rates Mewhort No. 125 in the country.

Coming Into It’s Own

In its third year, the Offense-Defense All-American Bowl (Fri., Jan. 2, 2009; 5 p.m. EDT, Coastal Carolina’s Brooks Stadium, South Carolina) is gaining momentum as a legitimate national high school football all-star game and a couple of Ohioans will play in this year’s event.

Painesville Harvey wide receiver Chris Fields (6-0, 181) reeled in 61 catches for 810 yards and 12 touchdowns earning All-Ohio Special Mention recognition and was a member of the Ohio High/ONN All-Ohio team. Ohio High ranks the Ohio State recruit as the No. 6 prospect in the Class of 2009 and ESPN has him rated as the No. 39 receiver is in the country.

On defense, Westerville Central defensive back Michael Giresi (5-11, 178) joins Fields from the Buckeye State. Giresi is the No. 99 rate safety in the country by ESPN and he is considering Villanova, Penn, Purdue and Pittsburgh.

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