Ohio State football: Wayne’s Robert Landers looking to lead deep line in 2018

Published: Thursday, March 08, 2018 @ 3:48 PM

Ohio State defensive tackle Robert Landers, a Wayne High School graduate, is back for a third season on the field this year. But he will have some new responsibilities off the field, as coach Larry Johnson can attest.

If you watched the NFL Scouting Combine last week, you might have gathered that Ohio State lost a lot of a talent up front on defense. 

Three Buckeye defensive linemen were part of the annual talent evaluation event in Indianapolis — Tyquan Lewis, Jalyn Holmes and Sam Hubbard — so coach Larry Johnson must have a lot of work to do this spring to rebuild what was one of the strongest units in the country last year. 

Well, yes and no. 

Yes, those three were productive players for multiple years, but no, the cupboard is not close to bare. 

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Big Ten Defensive Lineman of the Year Nick Bosa leads a talented group returning that also includes regulars Dre’mont Jones, Robert Landers, Jashon Cornell and Davon Hamilton. 

A fourth-year junior from Wayne High School, Landers has been a regular contributor on a deep Ohio State defensive line for two seasons already. 

He was credited with five tackles for loss last season after tallying 7.5 during his redshirt freshman campaign in 2016. 

Landers fielded questions Thursday about potentially becoming a starter, but Johnson figures to continue heavily rotating his players to keep them fresh. 

Where things are different for Landers might be off the field. 

“It really hit me after our last game when we got back and were in winter workouts,” Landers said. “We’re in the weight room and I looked around and I was like, ‘We’re missing people. Where’s Tyquan? Where’s Jalyn? Where’s Sam?’ And it hit me like, ‘They’re gone.’ 

“It took me a week or two to really wrap my head around that, but I’m glad I’m now the old head of the room and excited to see how much of a leader role I take and how I can impact the guys on the team.”

Johnson is pleased with what he has seen so far. 

“That’s the key: Those guys have to be leaders now. They have to stack. They can’t look behind ‘em,” Johnson said. “It’s a big challenge for those guys now because they are the horses. They are the guys leading the pack, and to lead the pack you’ve got to be good every day.” 

Giving consistent effort is one of Landers’ strengths. It sort of has to be when you go 6-foot-1, 283 pounds in a world full of longer, taller and heavier athletes. 

He led the defensive line in tackles for loss per play participated in two seasons ago, a testament to his relentlessness. 

The competition to compile numbers figures to be fierce again this fall as sophomores Haskell Garrett and Malik Barrow, redshirt freshman Jerron Cage and newcomers Antwuan Jackson, Tommy Togiai and Taron Vincent join the party inside. 

“We’re fast. We’re young. We’re athletic. We’re agile. We go hard. We’re tough,” Landers said. “So we’ve got some very big shoes to fill.

“The goal is always to enhance, but we’re a lot further along than I would have expected.” 

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What to know about the Dayton area’s best basketball prospects

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 12:18 PM

Xenia junior Samari Curtis talks about how it felt to score 50 points for the Buccaneers in a loss at Tippecanoe on Jan. 5.

To find out what most of the area’s best basketball players are up to this spring and summer, one needn’t make many phone calls. 

Quincy Simpson has the scoop. 

Fans in northwest Ohio know Simpson as the head coach at Lima Senior, but he’s pulling double duty as the director of the C2K Elite AAU program. 

That roster happens to include a handful of the top senior-to-be prospects from schools in the Cox Media Group Ohio coverage area, so we gave Simpson a call to get an update on their progress. 

Here’s what he had to say: 

Samari Curtis, Xenia guard 

“Samari is kind of like a bully, but in a good way,” Simpson said of the GWOC’s two-time leading scorer. “He’s a guy you need on a team that is going to challenge the other team’s best player. He’s gonna challenge anybody on the team verbally He’s gonna do all those things.” 

Curtis is a four-star prospect and the top-rated player in the area per the 247Sports Composite rankings.  

"Samari can score at all three levels — he can get right to the basket, he’s got a nice mid-range and he can shoot the 3-ball. There’s a lot to his game,” Simpson said. 

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Curtis committed to Xavier during his junior season but re-opened his recruitment in May

“He’s gonna have a lot of interest coming in July,” Simpson said. 

Simpson identified Dayton, Ohio State, Florida and Virginia Tech as schools who have shown interest recently. 

“I’ve taken a lot of calls on him,” Simpson said. “Those teams haven’t watch him a lot because he was already committed, so now they’re looking forward to seeing him in July. I think if he plays well, which I believe he will, he’s gonna have something very special for himself.” 

Before committing, Curtis had offers from Akron, Toledo, Kent State and Cincinnati along with XU. 

Xenia jr. Samari Curtis addresses a 67-60 defeat of Olentangy Liberty in the 16th Annual Premier Health Flyin to the Hoop at Trent Arena in Kettering on Sat., Jan. 13, 2018. MARC PENDLETON /

Amari Davis, Trotwood-Madison guard 

“He is a left-handed kid that can finish really, really well in transition,” Simpson said. 

“I like coaching all the guys, but he’s very coachable. Extremely coachable. That’s just kind of what he brings to the table for our group. Left-handed, transition guy, can finish well around guys bigger than him.” 

Davis has already displayed a strong midrange game, but he is working on adding the 3-pointer to his arsenal before his senior season for the Rams. 

In May, Davis told CMGO he had offers from Miami University, Cleveland State, Akron, Toledo and IUPUI while receiving interest from Ohio State, Cincinnati and Xavier

Trotwood junior Amari Davis addresses a 60-51 loss to Akron SVSM in a boys high school basketball D-II state final at OSU’s Schottenstein Center on Sat., March 24, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Andre Gordon, Sidney guard (transferring to Huntington Prep) 

“He constantly amazes people with what he can do at his size,” Simpson said of the 6-foot-2 combo guard. “He can shoot the ball, he’s tough, he’s athletic and he can score at all three levels.” 

Simpson also praised Gordon’s ability to handle the ball, his shooting and his competitiveness and coach-ability. 

Next season Gordon will suit up for Huntington Prep, a school in West Virginia that attracts some of the country’s best players and faces squads made up of the same. 

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“Huntington Prep will do wonders for him just from a competition standpoint,” Simpson said. “That school is going to have some of the best players there, so you’re playing against those guys every day. That means you have no choice but to get better. 

“Not taking anything away from Sidney, but he needed to go where he could improve as fast as he can.” 

Dayton and Wright State are among schools who have offered Gordon

Sidney jr. Andre Gordon addresses a 56-45 defeat of Beavercreek in a boys D-I high school basketball sectional semi on Tue., Feb. 27, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

RaHeim Moss, Springfield guard 

“He’s kind of another Samari when it comes to toughness and an edge,” Simpson said.

He compared Moss to former high school teammate Danny Davis, a four-year starter for the Wildcats who is a receiver at Wisconsin. 

Although Moss led the Wildcats in scoring last season (14.9 points per game), his ceiling is likely higher in football, where Cincinnati, Kentucky, Eastern Kentucky and Bowling Green have already offered

He has dual offers (football and basketball) from Cincinnati. 

“Whatever he chooses, he’s gonna be fine,” Simpson said. 

Springfield jr. Raheim Moss addresses a 77-60 defeat of Springboro in a boys D-I high school basketball sectional semifinal at Centerville on Tue., Feb. 27, 2018. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Sam Towns, Springfield forward 

Towns wasn’t a primary option for a loaded Wildcats team last season, but he’s an intriguing prospect at 6-foot-7. 

“He’s very skilled,” Simpson said. "He shoots the ball well. He’s long and agile — wiry.” 

The coach praised him for being willing to attack the glass and noted he will have to play on the perimeter at the next level. 

“Strength is his No. 1 factor,” Simpson said. “If he gets stronger, he’s gonna be a hell of a player at the collegiate level. 

Aside from those five, there’s one more player on Simpson’s roster who might be of some interest to local basketball fans. 

Jeremiah Davenport signed a letter of intent to play at Wright State, but requested and was granted his release after helping lead Cincinnati Moeller to the state championship in March. 

With his stock on the rise, he decided to reclassify as a member of the class of 2019 and spend a year in prep school. 

“He was probably by far the kid that improved the most during the season. He made a big jump and people got an opportunity to see what he could do,” Simpson said. "I think he kind of wanted to play at a higher level. It was nothing at all against Wright State. They’re a tremendous school, but he’s young age-wise, and he felt another year of developing, another year of getting better could only enhance his chances to play at that higher level.” 

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Reds’ Votto does bird a favor with grand slam

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 12:00 AM
Updated: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 10:27 AM

The Reds’ Joey Votto hits a grand slam against the Tigers on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff
The Reds’ Joey Votto hits a grand slam against the Tigers on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, at Great American Ball Park in Cincinnati. David Jablonski/Staff

Hours after the bird incident and a 9-5 Cincinnati Reds victory over the Detroit Tigers on Tuesday, a reporter asked Joey Votto if he was worried about a Randy Johnson moment.

“Of course,” Votto said. “Haunts you forever.”

Johnson had a hall-of-fame career. He will also be remembered throwing a pitch that blew up a bird, which happened to fly into the path of a pitch.

Votto was determined to avoid the same fate as he hit with the bases loaded in the third inning. He saw a black bird standing in the grass between the pitcher’s mound and home plate at Great American Ball Park. He decided to shoo it away, taking two steps toward the mound to get its attention.

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“A hitter would prefer things to be stable in their line of vision,” Votto said. “I wanted to let it know, ‘Go on. Scoot.’ I was a little concerned about PETA’s reaction, so I figured I’d back off. Then I had to make sure I got the ball in the air, and I had to make sure I didn’t hit the ball in the middle of the field on the ground. I was taking good care of the bird while I was also hitting.”

The bird did flee behind the pitcher’s mound, and two pitches later, Votto hit a grand slam that just cleared the wall in right, giving the Reds a 4-0 lead. He flapped his arms as he crossed home play to honor the bird.

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Votto hadn’t homered since May 13, a stretch of 30 games, though his numbers continue to climb. He’s hitting .302.

“I have felt good throughout,” Votto said. “I think I’ve been swinging well. (The home run) hasn’t shown up.”

Votto’s grand slam overshadowed a second straight dominant performance by Sal Romano. After allowing one run in eight innings in his previous start against the Royals, he threw seven shutout innings, lowering his ERA to 5.18.

“Two games in a row doesn’t take away what happened for a month straight,” Romano said. “I’ve got to take this as another good one and enjoy today and get back to work tomorrow.”

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Landon Donovan's support for Mexico sparks pitched battle off the pitch

Published: Sunday, June 17, 2018 @ 2:03 PM

Landon Donovan starred for Leon in Mexico this spring.
Hector Vivas/Getty Images
Landon Donovan starred for Leon in Mexico this spring.(Hector Vivas/Getty Images)

Landon Donovan’s support for Mexico at the World Cup has sparked a pitched battle between the most recognizable name in American soccer and his peers, ESPN reported Sunday.

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Donovan has been part of an advertising campaign for Wells Fargo to support Mexico, which opened its World Cup play in Russia with a stunning 1-0 victory against defending champion Germany on Sunday. Critics of the promotion have criticized Landon, calling his cheerleading inappropriate.

Donovan posted a photo on Twitter on Saturday holding a scarf that read “My other team is Mexico.”

Donovan played this spring for León, which is part of Mexico’s Primera Division. Still, some questioned Donovan’s motives.

“Watering it down for beer/banks won’t enrich the rivalry,” ESPN announcer Sebastian Salazar tweeted.

Carlos Bocanegra, the former captain of the U.S. national team, tweeted “Really?” 

Donovan tweeted back that Bocanegra should “remember where you came from.”

“Look around our country, are you happy with how we are treating Mexicans?” Donovan answered. “Open your mind, stand for something and remember where you came from.”

Donovan’s former teammate, Herculez Gomez, an ESPN analyst, criticized that exchange, ESPN reported, tweeting that it was “an incredibly terrible take.”

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Nashville Predators forward Austin Watson arrested on domestic assault charge

Published: Wednesday, June 20, 2018 @ 8:30 AM

Nashville Predators player Austin Watson is facing a domestic assault charge, police said Wednesday.
Franklin Police Department
Nashville Predators player Austin Watson is facing a domestic assault charge, police said Wednesday.(Franklin Police Department)

Nashville Predators player Austin Watson is facing a domestic assault charge, police said Wednesday.

According to WKRN, the 26-year-old NHL forward was arrested Tuesday at a gas station in Franklin, Tennessee, authorities said.

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Watson, who is free on $4,500 bond, is scheduled to appear in court next Thursday.


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