The state of Ohio has its share of high school football talent and the Ohio State Buckeyes do their best to make sure those prospects stay home.
Eleven players from the Rust Belt state are on The Associated Press East Region 25 list of prospects _ with several saying they are headed to Ohio State.
It’s a major reason the Buckeyes are perennial Big Ten contenders and this year ranked No. 2 in the Top 25 preseason poll.
Coach Jim Tressel has a verbal commitment from one of the top quarterbacks in the region _ Braxton Miller, a standout at Huber Heights (Ohio) Wayne High School. Miller, who has the Ohio State block “O” tattooed on his left shoulder could replace star Terrelle Pryor if the Buckeyes’ signal-caller decides to leave for the NFL after his junior year.
The 6-foot-3 Braxton has been a starter since his freshman year and the duel-threat QB already has 22 passing touchdowns and 28 rushing TDs.
“Braxton had this unique way that he handled himself, to go along with his unbelievable athletic ability,” said Wayne coach Jay Minton. “After seeing him in action for a short time, we knew that he had that ‘it’ factor.
Among the other Ohio prospects staying in-state are Michael Bennett, a defensive lineman from Centreville also interested in a career in medicine; and defensive back Ron Tanner, the Columbus (Ohio) Eastmoor Academy senior who doesn’t plan to leave town for college after earning a reputation as a devastating hitter his junior season with 80 tackles and three interceptions.
But Ohio State didn’t keep everyone in state.
Among the top talent heading elsewhere is Troy DePriest, a senior linebacker from Springfield who is friends with Miller but has chosen to go to top-ranked Alabama.
At 6-foot-2 with a 40-yard dash time of 4.79 seconds, DePriest is coming off a big junior year, when he had 101 tackles and seven sacks, plus 812 rushing yards.
And for good measure he punts, too, with a 37.7 punting average.
“It just felt comfortable there,” DePriest said of his visit to Tuscaloosa prior to making a decision. The Crimson Tide are No. 1 in the Top 25 preseason poll.
DePriest will be joined in Tuscaloosa by fellow Ohio product, West Chester Lakota West senior Ryan Kelly. The 6-foot-5 offensive lineman is projected as a center but also has experience at guard and tackle.
Further east, Philadelphia Northeast High’s Deion Barnes is considered one of the region’s top defensive line recruits after 64 tackles and eight sacks as a junior. He’s looking at Penn State, Georgia and Pittsburgh among his college choices.
The rest of the East Region 25 includes: