Ohio State football: 5 things to know about Urban Meyer’s latest recruiting class

Published: Wednesday, February 07, 2018 @ 10:51 AM

Ohio State signed five players on National Signing Day, including five-star offensive tackle Nicholas Petit-Frere

Ohio State wrapped up most of its 2018 recruiting class in December, but Urban Meyer saved plenty of action for the traditional National Signing Day. 

Nicholas Petit-Frere gave the coach of the Buckeyes something to smile wide about Wednesday morning when the five-star offensive tackle from Tampa (Fla.) Berkeley Prep announced he will wear scarlet and gray next season. 

“Everybody in the country is looking for the tall, athletic elongated guys that can bend and they're hard to find,” Meyer said. “That’s why they're paid so well in the NFL because those body types are hard, hard to find. And you throw a 3.8 GPA on top of that, a very intelligent guy, a very mature guy, and he's a great finish to that class.” 

He is the No. 3 player in Florida, No. 7 overall and the highest-rated player at his position in the country according to the 247Sports Composite rankings. 

His commitment also makes up for the biggest disappointment of the early signing day in December — Fairfield offensive tackle Jackson Carman surprisingly deciding to sign with Clemson instead of Ohio State or USC. 

Before Petit-Frère’s announcement, Ohio State received letters of intent from New Jersey defensive end Tyler Friday, California receiver Chris Olave and Cleveland Heights defensive end Tyreke Smith. 

Before noon, Javontae Jean-Baptiste, another New Jersey defensive player who could play end or linebacker, sent in his letter to close out a 26-player class. 

Here are things to know from National Signing Day at Ohio State: 

1. As great as Ohio State’s class looks on paper, it did not end up the No. 1 class in the 247Sports Composite rankings. 

Ironically, some bad news for Michigan hurt Ohio State’s chances to finish on top. Georgia flipped four-star linebacker Otis Reese, who had verbally committed to Michigan, on signing day to move past the Buckeyes. 

“I have fun with the No. 1 class,” Meyer said, referring to previously acknowledging winning recruiting national titles is among his goals. “I don't want people to think that's what we recruit for, it's not at all. It's something we keep an eye on. At Ohio State you should — The coaches here have always recruited very well. If you can't recruit at Ohio State, you're not very good recruiter.” 

Jim Harbaugh’s Michigan class was ranked 19th as of this writing. 

2. Meyer confirmed Greg Schiano will remain a member of his staff. 

Reports earlier in the week indicated Schiano would become the defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, but he ultimately decided to stay in Columbus. 

“He's essential to our program right now, Coach Schiano,” Meyer said. “If he is not my best recruiter, he's certainly right there near the top. He manages so much for me off the field as well as being one of the top defensive coordinators in America. And he's a relationship person that — he's not one of those coaches that knows his position or that side of the ball and that's it, he knows every one. Because he's been a head coach before. So a very valuable member of our staff as many of the guys.” 

Schiano, who maintains deep recruiting connections in New Jersey after spending 10 seasons as the head coach at Rutgers, was considered a key component in the recruiting of Petit-Frere and Jean-Baptiste. 

3. Gene Smith confirmed Meyer is getting a contract extension. 

Two years will be added to the coach’s current deal, which is set to run out after the 2020 season. It has not been approved by the board of trustees, but that sounds like a formality. 

Smith and Meyer both made it sound like the extension is more procedural than anything else. Typically coaches prefer to have their contracts run beyond the end of the current four-year recruiting cycle to prevent opponents from using that against them when wooing top talent. 

4. Meyer said he was shocked when he found out Kerry Coombs is leaving for the NFL. 

The fiery defensive backs coach and special teams coordinator took a job with the Tennessee Titans after six years in Columbus with Meyer. 

“That took my breath away a little bit,” Meyer said. “Kerry is dear friend. Him and Holly are — for the rest of our lives will be very close. He was instrumental in our success we have had here. Great Ohioan, a great person. And I was shocked when he did that, but he's a friend and we obviously wish him all the very best.”

The blow from his exit is softened to some extent by the hiring of Alex Grinch, the former defensive coordinator at Washington State. His background is in coaching defensive backs (as is Schiano’s), but his exact title and responsibilities have not been determined yet. 

Meeting with reporters for the first time since Grinch was hired, Meyer said he had targeted the northeast Ohio native before the season when he knew he was likely to be able to expand his staff by one this year. 

5. Ohio was not well-represented. 

Signing Smith left the class with five Ohioans — Wayne receiver L’Christian “Blue” Smith, Toledo St. John’s linebacker Dallas Gant, Westerville South slot back Jaelen Gill and Pickerington North athlete Alex Williams signed in December. 

That’s the lowest total and lowest percentage (19) of Ohioans in an Ohio State recruiting class since at least 1985. 

The previous low was the previous class. Meyer’s 2017 class had seven in-state signees out of 21 (33 percent). 

Since 2013 (Meyer’s first full-year class), Ohio State has signed 54 Ohioans out of 146 players, a percentage of 36.9. 

The previous two coaches — Jim Tressel and John Cooper — signed classes that averaged 60.4 and 59.5 percent Ohio natives, respectively. 

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Wright State rallies to win Horizon League baseball title in historic fashion

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 2:11 PM

Wright State’s Peyton Burdick celebrates after scoring one of five Raiders runs in the first inning of the Horizon League championship game against UIC on Saturday at Nischwitz Stadium. JOSEPH CRAVEN/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO
Wright State’s Peyton Burdick celebrates after scoring one of five Raiders runs in the first inning of the Horizon League championship game against UIC on Saturday at Nischwitz Stadium. JOSEPH CRAVEN/CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Wright State’s offensive onslaught reached historic proportions Saturday as the Raiders beat UIC 11-9 in the Horizon League championship game at Nischwitz Stadium.

Peyton Burdick’s two-run home run in the bottom of the seventh gave WSU a 10-9 lead, capping a comeback victory that sends the Raiders to the NCAA tournament for the third time in four years.

Burdick’s homer, his ninth of the season for the HL tournament MVP, also marked the first time in program history WSU has scored in double digits in six consecutive games.

The Raiders outscored their three opponents 31-12 in tournament, winning their first two games easily before surviving a wild championship game.

Wright State scored five runs in the first inning to jump out to an early lead, but UIC put up seven in the fourth to go ahead 8-5. The seven runs came via extra-base three hits, four walks, two WSU errors and a hit batter.

The Raiders got back within 8-7 on a Seth Gray single in the bottom of the sixth, but UIC’s Aaron Ackerman led off the seventh to push the lead back to two.

Zack Weatherford’s solo home run in the bottom of the seventh made it 9-8 before JD Orr walked and Burdick blasted an Alex Padilla fastball over the fence in left center to set off the celebration.

Weatherford added an RBI double in the eighth as part of a four-hit day.

HL Player of the Year Gabe Snyder was 4 for 4 with an RBI and two runs scored, while Burdick was 3 for 5 with two RBIs and three runs scored.

Jeremy Randolph earned the win with 3.2 innings of relief work, while Ryan Weiss pitched the ninth to earn the save.

The Raiders will find out whom they are playing and where when the NCAA announces the 64-team field at noon Monday. The top 16 teams will host a regional in which four clubs play a double-elimination format.

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Wayne sprints to Division I boys regional track title

Published: Saturday, May 26, 2018 @ 11:26 AM


            Wayne teammates Justin Harris (left) and Zarik Brown celebrate after they helped win the 1,600-meter relay and clinch the team title over Centerville at Friday’s Division I regional track and field meet at Wayne High School. JEFF GILBERT / CONTRIBUTED
Wayne teammates Justin Harris (left) and Zarik Brown celebrate after they helped win the 1,600-meter relay and clinch the team title over Centerville at Friday’s Division I regional track and field meet at Wayne High School. JEFF GILBERT / CONTRIBUTED

Zarik Brown was walking near the podium next to the Wayne High School track Friday night when his teammate Joel Craig turned around and said, “You’re so loud over there.”

Brown just smiled. The four medals clanging around his neck were making all the noise. But not as much noise as Brown and his Wayne teammates made at the Division I regional. The Warriors won their eighth regional title and first since 2012 on the legs of Brown, Justin Harris, two relay teams and Craig, the shot put champion.

“(Friday) was one of their best efforts of the year and we’re peaking at the right time,” said longtime Wayne coach Mike Fernandez.

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Harris and Brown, both juniors, will compete in four events at next weekend’s state meet at Ohio State as will Springfield sprinter and long jumper Quincy Scott. Wayne will try to add an outdoor team title to the indoor title they won earlier this year.

Harris won the 110-meter hurdles (14.13) and the 300 hurdles (37.61), denying runner-up Joshua Byars-Mason of Trotwood-Madison in both races.

“It was a pretty good day overall,” Harris said. “I should be dropping more times coming into the state meet, so I feel good coming into next week.”

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Brown and Scott raced each other to the finish three times. Scott won the 100 (10.80) and Brown was second (10.86). Brown won the 200 (21.31) and Scott was runner-up (21.61). They ran anchor in the 400 relay and Wayne’s team of Jaden Roberts, Diante Lesperance, Harris and Brown (41.69) held off runner-up Springfield.

“It really pushes me to go to my max,” Brown said of his races against Scott. “Every meet we see each other we know it’s going to be tough. We usually end up PR’ing a lot.”

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»PHOTO GALLERY: D-I district track at Wayne

The race for the team title was completed (Wayne 83, Centerville 68, Springfield 41) in the 4x400 relay. Wayne’s team of Harris, Davontae McKee, Lucas Houk and Brown won (3:17.90) and Centerville was third.

“The fours, they call it a man’s race, so you gotta finish it through all the way,” Harris said. “I love the 400.”

So does Brown. He took the baton for the last leg in fourth place and started to gain ground immediately.

“That’s his best race, and the irony is I took him out of the open 400 because I needed him for the 4x400, 200, 4x100 and 100,” said Fernandez, who made that decision to maximize team points. “Our goal is to see if we can win next week as a team.”

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Craig will be a big part of that effort. He won the shot put (56-0.25). His finished seventh at state last year at 56-11.5.

“I know I’ve got way more energy in my body,” said Craig, who also placed fifth in discus. . “I’ve been practicing for it, I’ve been wanting it, I’ve been thirsty, I’ve been hungry, I’m going to get it.”

Wayne will also be represented in the girls meet by Taylor Robertson and the 400 relay. Robertson placed second in the long jump and fourth in pole vault.

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Beavercreek sophomore Eileen Yang won her second regional pole vault title (12-4). She placed ninth at state last year.

“Last year’s regionals I was kind of a nervous wreck and pacing a lot and breathing really hard,” she said. “This year I got used to it and it was familiar territory because I practice here a lot.”

Troy sophomore Lenea Browder won the discus (149-2) to go with her runner-up shot put finish on Wednesday.

“I did not imagine coming in my freshman year doing it and then my sophomore year doing so much better,” Browder said. “This has been truly a blessing. I’m so happy and I’m so thankful.”

Centerville senior Andrew Craig won the 800 to return to state, where he placed fourth last year. Miamisburg senior Jason Hubbard won the high jump (6-7).

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• Minster won four events, including a distance sweep by Emma Watcke, to win the girls team title in the D-III regional at Troy’s Memorial Stadium on Friday, 85-60 over runner-up Columbus Grove.

A sophomore, Watcke placed first in the 1600 (5:01.59) and followed that with a win in the 3200 (11:13.08). Also winning for the Wildcats on Friday was jnior Madeline Magoto in the 800 (2:16.73).

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Minster added seconds in the 4x400 relay and senior Grace Butler in the pole vault. On Wednesday, Minster won the 4x800 relay (9:25.32).

Waynesfield-Goshen won the boys D-III team title, edging Fort Loramie 72-66.

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Chaminade Julienne baseball earns second straight trip to state

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 7:59 PM

Highlights: Chaminade Julienne beats CHCA in regional final

The goal for the Chaminade Julienne baseball team ever since it walked off the field at Huntington Park last June was to earn another chance to play for the state championship.

Last winter, in the weight room at the high school, the Eagles kept track of how many days remained until they would get the chance.

"They had a board in there, and they had a countdown," CJ coach Mike Barhorst said. "It was 78 or 80 days or whatever when we started it."

» PHOTOS: CJ vs. CHCA

On Friday before a Division II regional championship game against Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy, Barhorst reminded them of the countdown.

"One day left until we make it to Huntington," Barhorst said.

The Eagles really have to wait another week, but after beating CHCA 5-4 at Mason High School, they will get the chance to avenge that 4-0 loss to Tallmadge in the state title game, and this time, Tallmadge will be opponent in the semifinals. The teams play at 7 p.m. Friday in Columbus.

The other state semifinal in Division II will pit Circleville against Wapakoneta or Ontario, who play their regional final at 1 p.m. Sunday.

Tallmadge beat Canfield 17-0 on Friday to win its regional. Chaminade Julienne didn't have quite the same easy night. For the second straight day, it experienced a dramatic seventh inning in Mason.

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The Eagles gave up a game-tying run to Columbus Bishop Hartley in the top of the seventh inning Thursday before winning the regional semifinal on a walk-off single by Sebastian Gongora in the bottom of the inning. This time, after scoring two runs in the bottom of the sixth on a throwing error, CJ had a 5-2 lead entering the seventh.

Nick Wissman walked the lead-off batter but then struck out the next two batters. After another walk, CHCA’s Lucas Rotello doubled to left field, scoring two runs.

With the tying run on second, however, Wissman got a groundout to second baseman A.J. Solomon to end the game.

“With a three-run lead, I thought we were going to be in pretty good shape, and then the next thing you know ...,” Barhorst said. “I had a lot of confidence Nick was going to get out of that, but it’s a little too close for comfort.”

Wissman took over in the sixth inning after five solid innings by Gongora, who struck out four and allowed two earned runs. Wissman retired the side in order in the sixth and earned the save in the seventh.

“Sebastian didn’t have his breaking ball early on, but he was still fighting through with his fastball and making good pitches,” Barhorst said. “Nick came in, and I kind of wanted to change things up. I didn’t want to give them another look at Sebastian just in case they started figuring him out. Just to change their view a little bit, I brought in the right-hander, throwing a little harder. It worked out.”

Chaminade Julienne fell behind early for the second straight day but didn’t trail for long. Ryan Peltier hit a solo home run in the bottom of the first to tie the game.

“We gave them that one run in the first inning on another error,” Peltier said. “I watched a ball go by and was expecting fastball. I hopped on it and let it fly.”

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In the second inning, Chaminade Julienne took a 3-1 lead. A single by David Ernst scored Solomon. A double by Ben Thomas scored Ernst.

Chaminade Julienne had chances to extend the lead in the next three innings, stranding a total of eight runners and leaving the bases loaded in the fourth and fifth.

In the sixth, Andrew Simones and Peltier walked to lead off the inning. Wissman put down a sacrifice bunt, and the catcher threw the ball past first base, allowing two runs to score as CJ extended its lead to 5-2. It needed both runs to earn its second straight trip to Columbus.

“We wanted to get back,” Peltier said. “We knew we had the team to get back. We just had to take it game by game.”

       

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Sampen gem carries Wright State into Horizon League tournament final

Published: Friday, May 25, 2018 @ 2:30 PM

Caleb Sampen takes no-hitter into seventh

Wright State coach Jeff Mercer used an unusual, yet thoroughly accurate word to describe his slight-framed starting pitcher Friday afternoon.

“That guy’s a monster,” Mercer said of Caleb Sampen after the lanky, 185-pound sophomore took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of the winners bracket final of the Horizon League tournament.

Sampen lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the seventh on a solid single to left, but WSU had a double-digit lead by then, well on its way to a 10-1 triumph of UIC at Nischwitz Stadium.

“Going in I knew they were a very well-pitched, well-coached team so it was going to be a pitchers’ duel,” Sampen said. “So we talked about mixing early all of my pitches and getting everything in the zone. Just make them beat you. Being able to throw all my pitches for strikes was probably the biggest thing today.”

›› Butler grad comes up big as WSU wins tourney opener

Sampen (5-0) allowed just one baserunner through 5.2 innings, but he issued back-to-back walks and hit a batter to load the bases and bring the tying run to the plate. But Sampen got UIC cleanup hitter Scott Ota to ground into an inning-ending force out to keep his no-hitter intact.

“Caleb Sampen was absolutely tremendous,” Mercer said. “He’s a guy you can really rely on, and he showed up today. Great players are tough and competitive, they love the spotlight and they love to be in the big moment, and Caleb’s that guy to a T.”

After Sampen got out of his only jam in the top of the sixth, the WSU offense scored six runs with two outs to blow things open with a 10-0 lead that marked the fifth consecutive game the Raiders have scored in double figures.

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“We know we’re capable of, and we had good at-bats all day,” said WSU No. 9 hitter Zach Weatherford, who was 2 for 3 with two RBIs.

Weatherford’s two-run single in the bottom of the fourth was the first hit of the game sparked the four-run frame.

Then his RBI bunt single with two outs in the sixth started the six-run onslaught.

“The call came from the dugout because the third baseman was back, and I just trusted it and put it down,” Weatherford said.

UIC manager Mike Dee, still stewing from a missed call a few minutes earlier on a pickoff throw to third base that would have ended the inning, earned an ejection just seconds after walking out to question whether Weatherford beat the throw at the first.

›› WSU offense in high gear

The Raiders added five more runs after the ejection on two-run singles by JD Orr and pinch-hitter Alex Alders and an RBI single by Peyton Burdick.

“We hammered balls the few innings and had nothing to show for it,” Mercer said. “Finally the competitiveness of our at-bats kind of wore on them and our ability to take balls and make (UIC starter Charle Cerny) be in the zone. And as good as he is, he eventually kind of lost feel.”

UIC scored its lone run on a play that put a scare into the WSU dugout. With the bases loaded and two outs, Raiders first baseman Gabe Snyder — the Horizon League Player of the Year — made a diving catch in foul territory in shallow right field and nearly threw out UIC’s Joshua Figueroa at the plate after he tagged up.

›› Snyder named Horizon League Player of the Year

Snyder hurt his left arm on the dive and had to come out of the game, but Mercer said he didn’t think the injury was serious.

“He just slammed the inside of his elbow and hopefully he just kind of hyper-extended it and kind of hit the funny bone,” Mercer said. “I almost yelled ‘don’t catch it.’ I didn’t care about that. We’re up by 10 runs. But players want to make plays. So you can’t take that competitiveness out of them.

“It was a great catch, but I just want to keep the best player maybe in program history healthy,” he added.

WSU goes into Saturday’s 12 p.m. game against the winner of the UIC-Milwaukee game needing to win one of two games to claim the title and advance to the NCAA Tournament for the third time in four years.

If the UIC-Milwaukee winner beats Wright State in the first game Saturday, there will be a winner-take-all final at 4.

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