Tracking Ohio’s Top Prospects: A look back at the last decade


Chris Wells was an All-American for Akron Garfield and now suits up for the Arizona Cardinals (Photo by Gary Housteau)

We look back at the last 10 years to see Ohio’s positions of strength,
which schools have produced talent and where the state’s best have

We look back at the last 10 years to see Ohio’s positions of strength, which schools have produced talent and where the state’s best have signed.

This story initially appeared on our sister site,
Last month in the Daily Battle Cry, I did a survey on where Ohio’s top prospects of the last 23 years ended up. I looked back at all of the state’s No. 1-ranked prospects. We found that in 23 years Ohio State had signed the state’s No. 1 prospect 17 times.

That column got me to thinking. I began to wonder about expanding the research out to the top 10 for the last 10 years. That would give us an even 100 recruits to look at.
By studying that elite group, we will see what position groups the state of Ohio has been strongest in producing. We also see what schools and what counties have been the most productive in terms of football talent. And we also see what kind of job Ohio State has done in keeping the best prospects at home.

The last decade also coincides with Jim Tressel’s arrival as the OSU coach in January 2001 and covers his first 10 recruiting classes.

So let’s go back over the last 10 years and look at where the state’s top 10 prospects in each year ended up.

* 2001 –
1. Redgie Arden, LB, Ironton, signed with Ohio State; 2. Pat Massey, DE, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Michigan; 3. Dustin Fox, DB, Canton GlenOak, Ohio State; 4. Maurice Hall, RB, Columbus Brookhaven, Ohio State; 5. Simon Fraser, DE, Upper Arlington, Ohio State; 6. Pierre Woods, DE, Cleveland Glenville, Michigan; 7. Angelo Chattams, WR, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, Ohio State; 8. Chad Anderson, LB, Canton McKinley, Kentucky; 9. Isaac Smolko, TE, New Middletown Springfield, Penn State; 10. Brandon McKinney, DL, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, Michigan State.

* 2002 –
1. Mike D’Andrea, LB, Avon Lake, Ohio State; 2. Maurice Clarett, RB, Warren Harding, Ohio State; 3. Justin Zwick, QB, Massillon Washington, Ohio State; 4. Doug Datish, OL, Warren Howland, Ohio State; 5. Quinn Pitcock, DL, Piqua, Ohio State; 6. DeShawn Wynn, RB, Reading, Florida; 7. Roy Hall, WR, Lyndhurst Brush, Ohio State; 8. Tim Schafer, DE, Upper Arlington, Ohio State; 9. Bryan Andrews, LB, Lima Senior, Wake Forest; 10. Bobby Carpenter, LB, Lancaster, Ohio State.

* 2003 – 1. Prescott Burgess, DB, Warren Harding, Michigan; 2. Donte Whitner, DB, Cleveland Glenville, Ohio State; 3. David Patterson, DT, Warrensville Heights, Ohio State; 4. Louis Irizarry, TE, Youngstown Ursuline, Ohio State; 5. Shawn Crable, DE, Massillon Washington, Michigan; 6. Dareus Hiley, WR, Cleveland Glenville, Ohio State; 7. Brady Quinn, QB, Dublin Coffman, Notre Dame; 8. Anthony Gonzalez, WR, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Ohio State; 9. Ray Edwards, DE, Cincinnati Woodward, Purdue; 10. Devin Jordan, WR, Massillon Washington, Ohio State.

* 2004 – 1. Ted Ginn, Jr., CB, Cleveland Glenville, Ohio State; 2. Fred Davis, WR, Toledo Rogers, Southern California; 3. Ben Person, OL, Xenia, Ohio State; 4. Erik Haw, RB, Columbus Independence, Ohio State; 5. Brian Hoyer, QB, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Michigan State; 6. Chad Hoobler, LB, Carrollton, Ohio State; 7. Marcus Freeman, LB, Huber Heights Wayne, Ohio State; 8. Delbert Ferguson, RB, Warren Harding, Cincinnati; 9. Miles Williams, WR, Austintown Fitch, Michigan State; 10. Gary Russell, RB, Columbus Walnut Ridge, Minnesota.

* 2005 – 1. Alex Boone, OL, Lakewood St. Edward, Ohio State; 2. Javon Ringer, RB, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, Michigan State; 3. Alex Daniels, LB, Columbus Brookhaven, Minnesota; 4. Jamario O’Neal, DB, Cleveland Glenville, Ohio State; 5. Todd Denlinger, DL, Troy, Ohio State; 6. Jimmy Cordle, OL, Lancaster, Ohio State; 7. Mario Manningham, WR, Warren Harding, Michigan; 8. Lawrence Wilson, DE, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Ohio State; 9. Andre Amos, WR, Middletown, Ohio State; 10. Brandon Harrison, Dayton Chaminade-Julienne, Michigan.

* 2006 – 1. Chris Wells, RB, Akron Garfield, Ohio State; 2. Thaddeus Gibson, LB, Euclid, Ohio State; 3. Ross Homan, LB, Coldwater, Ohio State; 4. Aaron Brown, OL, Cincinnati Princeton, Virginia Tech; 5. Connor Smith, OL, Cincinnati Colerain, Ohio State; 6. Ray Small, WR, Cleveland Glenville, Ohio State; 7. Kurt Coleman, DB, Clayton Northmont, Ohio State; 8. Justin Boren, OL, Pickerington North, Michigan; 9. Derrell Johnson-Koulianos, WR, Youngstown Mooney, Iowa; 10. Jake Ballard, TE, Springboro, Ohio State.

* 2007 – 1. Ben Martin, DE, Cincinnati LaSalle, Tennessee; 2. Eugene Clifford, DB, Cincinnati Colerain, Ohio State; 3. Brandon Saine, RB, Piqua, Ohio State; 4. Devon Torrence, DB, Canton South, Ohio State; 5. Solomon Thomas, DE, West Chester Lakota West, Ohio State; 6. Jermale Hines, DB, Cleveland Glenville, Ohio State; 7. Brian Gamble, WR, Massillon Washington, Illinois; 8. Antonio Jeremiah, DT, Hilliard Darby, Michigan State; 9. Nate Oliver, DB, Lakewood St. Edward, Ohio State; 10. Dane Sanzenbacher, WR, Toledo Central Catholic, Ohio State.

* 2008 – 1. Mike Adams, OL, Dublin Coffman, Ohio State; 2. DeVier Posey, WR, Cincinnati LaSalle, Ohio State; 3. Jake Stoneburner, WR, Dublin Coffman, Ohio State; 4. Cordale Scott, WR, Cleveland Glenville, Illinois; 5. DeVoe Torrence, RB, Massillon Washington, Akron; 6. Kyle Rudolph, TE, Cincinnati Elder, Notre Dame; 7. Nathan Williams, DE, Washington C.H. Miami Trace, Ohio State; 8. Brandon Moore, TE, Trotwood-Madison, Michigan; 9. Danny McCarthy, DB, Youngstown Mooney, Notre Dame; 10. Kevin Koger, TE, Toledo Whitmer, Michigan.

* 2009 – 1. Melvin Fellows, DE, Garfield Heights, Ohio State; 2. Storm Klein, LB, Newark Licking Valley, Ohio State; 3. Marcus Hall, OL, Cleveland Glenville, Ohio State; 4. John Simon, DT, Youngstown Mooney, Ohio State; 5. Jonathan Newsome, LB, Cleveland Glenville, Ohio State; 6. Chris Fields, WR, Painesville Harvey, Ohio State; 7. Justin Turner, DB, Massillon Washington, Michigan; 8. C.J. Barnett, DB, Clayton Northmont, Ohio State; 9. Jamie Wood, DB, Pickerington Central, Ohio State; 10. Cornelius Carradine, DE, Cincinnati Taft, junior college.

* 2010 – 1. Jordan Hicks, LB, West Chester Lakota West, Texas; 2. Andrew Norwell, OL, Cincinnati Anderson, Ohio State; 3. Matt James, OL, Cincinnati St. Xavier, Notre Dame; 4. Alex Smith, TE, West Chester Lakota West, Kentucky; 5. Darryl Baldwin, DE, Solon, Ohio State; 6. Andrew Hendrix, QB, Cincinnati Moeller, Notre Dame; 7. Tyrone Williams, WR, East Cleveland Shaw, Ohio State; 8. Spencer Ware, RB, Cincinnati Princeton, LSU; 9. Alex Welch, TE, Cincinnati Elder, Notre Dame; 10. Jibreel Black, DE, Wyoming, Michigan.

OK, as we gather all of the data, this is what we discover:

* Breaking this talented group of top-10 Ohio prospects down by position, we find that 18 of these 100 prospects were at the wide receiver position.

Next up is the secondary with 15 prospects. The rest of the position breakdown goes like this: Defensive ends, 14; linebackers, 13; offensive line and running backs, 11 each; tight ends, eight; defensive tackles, six; and quarterbacks, four.

To me, the two surprises are on the offensive line and at quarterback. It’s hard to believe that only 11 offensive linemen have been top-10prospects over the last 10 years.

And quarterback is almost an embarrassment with just four top-10 prospects in 10 years.

They were Zwick in 2002, Quinn in 2003, Hoyer in 2004 and Hendrix in 2010. That says in the five years between 2005-09 there were no quarterbacks in the state good enough to be top-10prospects.

* When we take this 100-player list and break it down by high school, we find one school as the clear leader. (Take a guess.)

Obviously, Cleveland Glenville has been the clear leader here with 10 top-10 prospects. That group includes Woods in 2001, Whitner and Hiley in 2003, Ginn in 2004, O’Neal in 2005, Small in 2006, Hines in 2007, Scott in 2008 and Hall and Newsome in 2009. All but Woods (Michigan) and Scott (Illinois) signed with Ohio State.

That total of 10 from Glenville is almost double the next school on the list. Massillon Washington is next with six picks on the list. That group includes Zwick in 2002, Crable and Jordan in 2003, Gamble in 2007, DeVoe Torrence in 2008 and Turner in 2009.

Two schools have four prospects in this list. They are Dayton Chaminade-Julienne and Warren Harding. Four schools have three prospects on the list. They are Dublin Coffman, Cleveland St. Ignatius, West Chester Lakota West and Youngstown Mooney.

Schools with two players on the list include Cincinnati Colerain, Cincinnati Elder, Cincinnati LaSalle, Cincinnati Princeton, Clayton Northmont, Columbus Brookhaven, Lakewood St. Edward, Lancaster, Piqua and Upper Arlington.

* Now we get to the fun part of looking at which Ohio counties have produced the most prospects. Ohio’s largest county is Cuyahoga (Cleveland and suburbs) with a population of about 1.3 million. Led by the 10 Glenville prospects, Cuyahoga County has produced 21 top-10 Ohio prospects over the last decade.

Hamilton County (Cincinnati) is third in population (833,000) but second in top-10 prospects with 14. Franklin County (Columbus) is second in population (1.1 million) and third in top-10 prospects with 11.

Next is Stark County, led by the Massillon faction. Stark is seventh in population (377,000) but fourth in top-10 prospects with nine.

Montgomery County (Dayton) is fourth in population (554,000) and fifth in top-10 prospects with seven.

Mahoning County (Youngstown) is ninth in population (253,000) and sixth in top-10 prospects with six.

More counties with multiple top-10 prospects include: Trumbull, five; Butler, four; Lucas, three; Fairfield and Summit, two each.

You might say that Summit (fifth in population at 546,000) and Lucas (sixth in population at 453,000) have underperformed in producing top-10 prospects.

Each of the state’s 12 largest counties by population have produced at least one top-10 prospect in the last 10 years. There are 10 counties of over 100,000 in population that have not produced a top-10 prospect. The largest of that group is Clermont County (east of Cincinnati), which is 13th in population at 183,000.

The other counties with population over 100,000 without a top-10 prospect in the last 10 years include Medina, Portage, Clark, Richland, Delaware, Wood, Wayne, Columbiana and Jefferson.

* Now, looking at colleges who have signed Ohio top-10 prospects, it is obvious who the clear leader in this category is.

Ohio State has signed 57 of the 100 prospects who were chosen in the top 10 among their respective classes over the last 10 years. So, in any given year, you can expect Tressel and his staff to sign five or six top-10 prospects from the state.

Next on the list is Michigan with 11 Ohio top-10 prospects. Notre Dame is third with six. Michigan State has signed five. Illinois, Kentucky and Minnesota have each signed two Ohio top-10 prospects.

Amazingly, Cincinnati has won back-to-back Big East titles and been to two straight BCS bowls. But UC has done it without any Ohio top-10 prospects. Their only one in the past decade was running back Delbert Ferguson back in 2004, and he never logged a carry for the Bearcats.

Other schools with one top-10 prospect include Akron, Florida, Iowa, LSU, Penn State, Purdue, Tennessee, Texas, USC, Virginia Tech and Wake Forest.

* As you look back at the past decade, there were at least four key Ohio prospects who did not make the top 10 in their respective year but went on to big things at the college level.

Three of them were in 2002 with Cleveland Glenville QB Troy Smith (ranked 13th in the state), Kettering Alter OL Nick Mangold (16th) and Centerville LB A.J. Hawk (21st). Smith won the 2006 Heisman Trophy. Mangold was a three-year starter at OSU and has become one of the NFL’s top centers. Hawk was a three-time All-American at OSU.

The other prospect who was a notable omission was Massillon Perry OL Kirk Barton, ranked just 29th in the class in 2003. He was a four-year starter at tackle for OSU. His college career was better than at least half of the top 10 prospects that made the list in 2003.

* When you factor in our list of the state’s top 10 prospects for 2011, you see four new schools that have produced top-10 prospects.

Here is the updated 2011 top 10: 1. Braxton Miller, QB, Huber Heights Wayne, Ohio
State verbal; 2. Michael Bennett, DT, Centerville, Ohio State; 3. Kenny Hayes, DE, Toledo Whitmer, Ohio State; 4. Doran Grant, DB, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary; 5. Steve Miller, DE, Canton McKinley, Ohio State; 6. Trey DePriest, LB, Springfield; 7. Aundrey Walker, OL, Cleveland Glenville; 8. Ron Tanner, DB, Columbus Eastmoor Academy, Ohio State; 9. Cardale Jones, QB, Cleveland Glenville; 10. Nick Vannett, TE, Westerville Central, Ohio State.

The new schools are Centerville, Springfield, Eastmoor and Westerville Central.

OSU already has six verbals from that group for 2011 with offers pending to Grant, DePriest, Walker and possibly at some point Jones.

The two quarterbacks on this list – Miller and Jones – are half as many as Ohio has produced as top-10 prospects in the last decade.

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