Ohio Building a Brand Through Recruiting

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Sitting at 5-0, the Ohio Bobcats are off to their best start since 1968, but that isn’t going to stop head coach Frank Solich from focusing on the future by continuing to build a strong recruiting class for next season. While the official signing day when players can sign the binding National Letter of Intent for NCAA Football isn’t until February 6, 2013, players are permitted to verbally commit to schools until then. Ohio has already started racking up an impressive list of verbal commits just a few weeks into the season.

So far there have been 13 verbal commits to the 2013 football recruiting class, with the prize jewel of this bunch being Dublin Coffman quarterback James Walsh. The 6-foot-2-inch, 185-pound southpaw is ranked as the 36th overall quarterback in the nation according to A dual threat with a cannon of an arm, accurate touch and a sub 4.6-second 40-yard dash, Walsh is a great fit for the high-tempo offense that recent ‘Cats quarterbacks have perfected under Coach Solich.

Walsh is looking forward to learning from current ‘Cats starter Tyler Tettleton.

“He’s exciting to watch, he can run and throw.  I’m excited to learn from him because I’m considered a dual threat as well,” he said.

Walsh, the only quarterback likely to sign with Ohio for the 2013 class, will get the opportunity to learn from Tettleton for one year and eventually compete with red-shirt freshman Derrius Vick and true freshmen Greg Windham and J.D. Sprague for an opportunity to be the leader of the ‘Cats potent offense in the future.

Of course Walsh isn’t the only commit Ohio has landed so far, they also have added some talented offensive pieces including a promising young group of dominating offensive linemen. Tate Leavitt of Thornville Sheridan, Zach Murdock of Dublin Coffman and Durrell Bristol of Groveport Madison have all committed to come to Ohio along with Walsh, something he is very appreciative of.

“It feels great (knowing that they are committed to Ohio). There is nothing better than a quarterback feeling safe, having a good offensive line,” Walsh stated.

Leavitt is a 6-foot-7-inch, 300-pound lineman who has impressive footwork. Murdock is slightly smaller at 6 foot 4 inches and only about 290 pounds, but is still a solid offensive lineman who has experience blocking in an up-tempo offense and currently protects Walsh’s blindside at Dublin Coffman. Murdock and Leavitt provide Ohio with an imposing set of bookend tackles that have the potential to develop into key members of the o-line in the span of their careers at Ohio.

The giant of the group is Bristol, though, who at 6 foot 4 inches, weighs over 320 pounds and explodes off the line at the guard position.

“I felt Ohio was the best fit for me because they pride themselves on their offensive line and (they have) great coaches,” Bristol stated. “They all seem to play as a unit, they are a family, no individuals.”

The group of young big fellas should allow Ohio to continue to have an explosive offense, as it all revolves around dominant line play.

Ohio has landed commits from some possible future deep threats in wide receivers Cedric Brown of Martinsburg in West Virginia and Branden Cope, who can also play quarterback, of Warren Howland. Both are tall, fast receivers with good hands and route running skills. Brown has recently been named to the roster for the 2013 JuniorRank Semper Fidelis All-American Bowl, a nationally televised High School All-Star game that features many of the nation’s top recruits. It will be broadcast live on NFL Network at 9 p.m. January 4.

“(They’re) outstanding athletes, I won’t mind throwing to them,” Walsh said laughing. “I hope they don’t mind catching balls from a left handed quarterback.” 

Tight end Troy Mangen, whose father, Mike and uncle, Doug played at Ohio in the 1980’s, has also verbally committed to Ohio. Able to line up at defensive end as well, the 6-foot-5-inch, 230-pound Northmount High School senior will likely play exclusively at tight end as he is a bit undersized compared to other Division-I defensive linemen in college. Mason Morgan, a 6-foot-6-inch, 235-pound tight end from Cincinnati Sycamore is the most recent recruit to commit to Ohio. Morgan, ranked as the 77th overall tight end according to national recruiting database, has the potential to develop into a great red-zone option with the size to be a contributor on the line in the running game. These four provide a great core of future options down field behind an already young corps of receivers.

Of course it’s not all about the offense. As the old football adage goes, “Defense wins championships,” so the Ohio coaching staff has also been hard at work recruiting a young group of defensive studs.

Ohio has already received verbal commitments from some promising young defensive linemen, two of which are out-of-state. The most notable of these is Casey Sayles from Omaha, Neb., who at 6 foot 4 inches and 265 pounds possess excellent speed—he ran a 4.7-second 40-yard dash—and can also play tight end. Sayles just committed to Ohio late last week and is a huge signing for the ‘Cats not only for his skills and value on the field but also because he is another player in the growing list of guys Coach Solich has convinced to come to Ohio from the Cornhusker state, where Solich was once an assistant and head coach at the University of Nebraska. The recruiting pipeline to Nebraska provides Ohio with a talent pool that other MAC schools don’t have access to.

Tony Porter from Suwanee, Ga., who at 6 foot 2 inches and just 285 pounds has room to grow while possessing decent speed for a defensive tackle, has also committed to Ohio. Trent Smart of Clinton Massie, who Walsh describes as a “big, big guy,” is projected to be a solid defensive end for the ‘Cats in the future. It adds up to a promising young group of guys who will likely help Ohio’s defense—which before last weekend was one of the better rushing defenses in the nation—continue to improve into the future.

Also on the defensive side, are outside linebacker Quentin Poling, a hard-hitting, 6-foot-2-inch, 220-pound senior from Elida and Leon Alexander from Detroit, Mich., who is a versatile defensive back with the ability to play wide receiver as well. Walsh had plenty of good things to say about the defensive guys, raving about their athleticism and skill. “(Quentin) Poling is super athletic. I saw his junior tape, it’s amazing,” Walsh stated.

Ohio is still looking at many more players with heavy interest including Kareem Hunt, a 5-foot-11-inch running back from Willoughby South who already has received offers from five other MAC schools including Toledo and Ball State. As more players commit, this class has the potential to be one of the best in Ohio Football’s history. The way the team is playing can’t hurt either as it builds more buzz around a program on the rise.

“Honestly, it makes me prouder that I’m committed to Ohio every week we win,” said Walsh about the Bobcats’ season so far.

The recruiting process is just starting to heat up, and with the official signing day not coming until February, there is still a possibility for any one of these guys to de-commit from Ohio for any reason. However, with the way the current ‘Cats are playing and a possibility for them to be BCS busters in 2012, things are looking bright for the future of Bobcat Football.