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Recruiting Blitz: Week 1

By 270 Gridiron Staff, 08/18/21, 9:45AM EDT

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The DJRS Recruiting Blitz provides an inside scoop into recruiting in the area

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- Welcome to the 2021 high school football season ladies and gentlemen! We have a bunch we are looking forward to covering this fall and it starts with talking about some of the most well known prospects in the central Ohio area.


Sonny Styles

Powerhouse Pickerington Central has a bunch of talent and looks to make another run at a state title which begins with dominating the regular season! They are loaded with seniors such as defensive lineman CJ Doggette, a young man who had offers from the Big Ten, SEC, and Big 12 programs but has committed to rising in-state program Cincinnati. Fellow lineman Dakari Frazier is another young man who had a bunch of MAC offers and some Power 5 interest, but ultimately decided to commit to MAC power Ball State. Along with offensive lineman Kwabena Asamoah, who had many Power 5 offers and has been committed to Rutgers since February. 

The main attraction for the Tigers is 2023 stud safety Alex “Sonny” Styles a 5-star prospect who has offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Clemson, Notre Dame, Florida, and many other Power 5 programs. Styles is regarded by many as a top 10 prospect in America and is currently ranked as the top athlete in Ohio. And last but not least is 2023 defensive lineman Kobi Gorman who has multiple offers from schools such as Indiana, Cincinnati, and a few others. 

Central has plenty of dawgs on the line and that will be the biggest matchup advantage they'll have all season as no other team in the area will be able to match their size, strength, athleticism and talent up front.

Olentangy Liberty looks to have a great season after a weird COVID-19 year and it starts up front with the highly known Carter Smith, a top 5 linemen in the state of Ohio. Smith is an Indiana commit, choosing the rising Hoosiers over a host of other Power 5 programs. His partner in crime is going to be the head honcho on defense and that’s defensive lineman Dylan Graber, who was under-recruited but did earn two MAC offers, committing to Ball State over Eastern Michigan.

Jaylen Jennings of Harvest Prep is rated the No. 6 running back in the state of Ohio. He had offers from the likes of Indiana, Purdue, Marshall, Bowling Green, Buffalo and a host of Ivy League and military programs. He will be looking to lead Harvest Prep to another playoff run after losing to Ironton last year in the fourth round. Jaylen committed to Bowling Green over the offseason.

Pickerington North is looking to have a solid season with a stacked team led by senior linebacker Eli Coppess who had multiple offers from military academies, Ivy League schools, and Miami (OH), ultimately committing to the Redhawks. He will be playing both ways this year but will be the lead man on the defensive side of the ball. Landon O'Connell will be taking over as the quarterback on the offensive side of the ball, as he is just a rising sophomore but has an offer from Bowling Green already.


Gabe Powers

Gabe Powers and Marysville are going to be a very competitive team. The Ohio State commit linebacker is regarded as a top 50 prospect in America and sets the tone with his effort and intensity. The Monarchs are a tad young but that won’t bother them. They play their best guys both ways like a bunch of the good teams in the area. After winning the OCC-Cardinal last season, Marysville will look to go back-to-back behind the play of Powers.

Canal Winchester lost their head coach after the season last year so they have a new staff, but they still have the most powerful running back in the state of Ohio and that is Cincinnati commit Stephan Byrd. Byrd will be doing much more than just running over wouldbe tacklers, as he will be playing on both sides of the ball for the Indians this fall. Byrd had many Power 5 options to choose from, but like Doggette, he chose the in-state Bearcats, as Luke Fickell’s staff continues to recruit Central Ohio at an elite level.


Ahmad Armstrong

Eastmoor Academy always has a disciplined and well-rounded team and this year is no different. For the Warriors, it starts up front with senior offensive lineman Jalen Slappy. The big man on campus holds seven Division I offers and is not yet committed. Slappy is high on Marshall, enjoying the way they treated his family the last time he visited. After falling to Walnut Ridge in the City League championship last season, Slappy and Eastmoor are ready to get revenge in 2021. Keep an eye on junior dual-threat quarterback Ahmad Armstrong, who had a terrific season in a 2020 campaign that ended prematurely due to COVID-19. 

One of the newer upstart programs in Central Ohio is Olentangy Berlin. The Bears have one of the more under the radar prospects in the area in offensive tackle Jonathan Harder. While not maintaining a major social media presence, Harder had a few Division I offers from MAC programs before Cincinnati pulled the trigger on the 6-foot-5 bookend. With Harder up front, the Bears will look to make another run in the state playoffs, as all four Olentangy schools continue to pump out successful teams and scholarship prospects. 

While a little bit outside of the area, Washington Court House is a program with plenty of Central Ohio connections. Head coach Chuck Williamson spent a long portion of his coaching career on the west side of Columbus, most notably leading the resurrection of the Central Crossing program, helping engineer two Comet offenses that went to the state playoffs in 2014 and 2015. Now with the Blue Lions, Williamson has a five-tool weapon to work with on offense in 2023 tight end Tanner Lemaster, who is regarded as Ohio’s best at his position. Lemaster has seen a recruiting blowup over the last year, holding offers from Indiana, Tennessee, Kentucky and Cincinnati, among others. Outside of his biggest offers, Lemaster has received strong interest from Ohio State, North Carolina, NC State, Michigan State and Rutgers, among others. The anchor on defense is senior linebacker Tyler Tackage, who holds an offer from FCS Marist. Tackage and junior hybrid linebacker/safety Trevaughn Jackson are the key cogs for Court House. 

Gahanna Lincoln has always had a solid collection of talent, but has been stuck in the same league as powerhouses like Pickerington Central, Pickerington North and now Westerville Central. The Lions have reason to believe 2021 could be a rebound year, as linebacker Jaden Yates, ranked No. 2 at his position in the 2023 class, leads a defense with plenty of promise. Yates holds offers from Kentucky and Marshall, and will have plenty of chances to show college coaches what he can do this season as long as he stays healthy. 

Bloom Carroll made a huge run last year in the playoffs finishing in the final four, which was a major accomplishment for the program. But this year they are bringing back more and look to win it all in Division IV. A name to know is 2023 linebacker Andrew Marshall, who holds a D1 offer from Marshall and added 40 pounds of muscle this off-season. His frame is all there at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds. Marshall is a high ceiling athlete who will play on both sides of the ball for the Bulldogs.

Grove City hasn’t been known for their winning culture as of late but last year their freshmen team went undefeated led by a well-known name in Matthew Papas. Papas is a true dual threat sophomore quarterback that can throw a beautiful ball and move around in the pocket with ease. He will be taking the reins of the varsity offense this year and looks to duplicate last year's success at a higher level. With the help of Trevor Mills and Christian Isaacs, both 2023 running backs and hybrid safety/linebackers, the Greyhounds will have a greater chance than in prior years to get back to simply winning games.