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Monthly Archives: February 2015
Veteran RB Coach Tony Alford joins Ohio State staff
Former Notre Dame assistant called an “exceptional” person and coach by Meyer
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Tony Alford, who has coached collegiate running backs for 18 years and who is called an “exceptional” person and coach by Ohio State head coach Urban Meyer, was named assistant head coach for offense/running backs coach at Ohio State today by Meyer. Alford has been an assistant at Notre Dame the past six seasons.
“I’ve known Tony Alford for a long time and I am very pleased to be adding him to our staff,” Meyer said. “He is an exceptional person and coach who is going to work really well with our staff and who will be an outstanding mentor and teacher for this football program.”
Alford and Meyer’s relationship dates to Meyer’s first year as an assistant coach at Colorado State University in 1990. Alford was a senior running back on a team coached by Earle Bruce. Meyer was in his first year as a receivers coach for the Rams.
Alford has numerous coaching ties with a number of Ohio State coaches. He and offensive coordinator Ed Warinner and tight ends coach Tim Hinton were on the Notre Dame staff together in 2010 and 2011. He and Chris Ash spent five seasons together at Iowa State (2002-06), where they worked under Dan McCarney, a close friend of Meyer’s.
“I am excited for a number of reasons,” Alford said. “I am looking forward to working for Coach Meyer, someone I’ve known for a long time. I know his family. And I know his coaches. I’ve worked directly with three of them and I’ve recruited against all of them.
“Plus, the history of the Ohio State program speaks for itself. I am extremely humbled and flattered that I was the guy who Coach Meyer wanted. And for that, I feel deeply indebted to Notre Dame … to Brian Kelly, Jack Swarbrick and Father Jenkins, and to the many players who I was able to work with, build relationships with and know. They were all great to me.
“And now I look forward to the new challenges and experiences and growth opportunities at Ohio State, and I’m excited to start helping them win another championship.”
Alford, a finalist for 247Sports’ 2011 national recruiter of the year and also one of the top 25 recruiters in the nation that year by Rivals, was born in Akron and lived in Ohio for over 16 years before moving to Colorado Springs as a high school senior. His father, Robert, was a three-year letterman in football at Kent State and coached high school football in Ohio for 10 years. Thus, most of his 22 years in coaching has been in the Midwest and central United States, including his first two collegiate jobs at Mount Union, in 1995, and at Kent State the following season.
In 1997 Alford joined McCarney’s staff at Iowa State as running backs coach and spent the next four seasons in Ames developing running backs and helping the Cyclones to be one of only three Division I schools to produce a 1,000-yard rusher for six consecutive seasons between 1995-2001. The Cyclones improved their national rushing from rankings of 103rd to 17th in Alford’s four years and won their first-ever bowl game to cap a 9-3 season in 2000.
Following one season – 2001 – as running backs coach at Washington under Rick Neuheisel, Alford returned to Ames as McCarney’s assistant head coach and running backs coach, a position he held for the next five seasons. During this tenure with the Cyclones, Alford guided Stevie Hicks to a 1,000-yard rushing season, the fifth running back to do so under Alford’s tutelage.
When McCarney was let go following the 2006 season, Alford moved on to the University of Louisville where he spent two years as running backs coach under Steve Kragthorpe. In 2008, Cardinal running back Victor Anderson topped 1,000-yards rushing and was named the BIG EAST Conference rookie of the year and a freshman All-American.
Alford’s 1,000-Yard Rushers
2008 Victor Anderson, Louisville – 1,047 yards
2004 Stevie Hicks, Iowa State – 1,062 yards
2000 Ennis Haywood, Iowa State – 1,237 yards
1999 Darren Davis, Iowa State – 1,388 yards
1998 Darren Davis, Iowa State – 1,116 yards
1997 Darren Davis, Iowa State – 1,005 yards
In 2009 Alford joined Charlie Weiss’ staff at Notre Dame as running backs coach and the next season he was the only coach retained by new Irish coach Brian Kelly. Alford worked with Notre Dame’s wide receivers his first two seasons under Kelly and helped Michael Floyd to consecutive 1,000-yard receiving seasons and a subsequent first-round selection by the Arizona Cardinals in the 2012 NFL Draft.
In 2012 Alford returned to coaching running backs with the added responsibility of slot receivers and recruiting coordinator. This past season he was running backs coach and recruiting coordinator. Six different Irish running backs topped 500 yards during a season in Alford’s four years as RBs coach, including four with more than 700 yards.
Alford was a 1,000-yard rusher and a Doak Walker Award nominee while at Colorado State from 1987-90. He gained 1,035 yards in 1989 as a junior under first-year Rams coach Earle Bruce. He had an 80-yard run that year vs. Hawai’i and also set the conference record with 310 yards vs. Utah, a school mark that stood for 24 years. Alford was named first-team all-Western Athletic Conferernce that season and honorable mention All-America by USA Today. During Alford’s senior season Colorado State went 9-4 and went to its first bowl game in 42 years.
A 1992 graduate of Colorado State with a degree in exercise and sport science, Alford went on to play for the NFL’s Denver Broncos in preseason action and the Birmingham Fire of the World League prior to entering the coaching profession.
Alford and his wife, Trina, have three sons: Rylan, Kyler and Braydon.
Another fine recruiting class for Meyer & Buckeyes
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Coach Urban Meyer and the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes had another outstanding national letter of intent signing day with a class that will rank among the top classes in the nation and that includes 23 new student-athletes to go along with four who have previously enrolled in classes at Ohio State.
The class includes an even split of 13 players on offense, 13 on defense and a long snapper. Twelve of the new Buckeyes are from the state of Ohio with three from Florida and two apiece from the states of Michigan and Virginia. Others are from Utah, Minnesota, New Jersey, Arkansas, Indiana, Georgia, Maryland and a football program first: South Dakota.
This Buckeye class is heavy on the offensive and defensive lines with six and five student-athletes, respectively. Five are also classified as defensive backs and three are linebackers.
The group also includes two wide receivers, two tight ends, two quarterbacks and one running back, Mike Weber, the 2,000-yard, four-star prospect from Detroit’s Cass Tech, who was the final prospect to officially sign with the Buckeyes.
The class also included two prospects – each rated as four-star players – who kept their college intentions public until today: WR K.J. Hill, from North Little Rock, Ark., and OL Isaiah Prince, from Greenbelt, Md.
The early enrollees: LB Nick Conner, from Dublin, DL Jashon Cornell, from St. Paul, Minn., DB Jamel Dean, from Cocoa, Fla., and OL Grant Schmidt, from Sioux Falls, S.D.
2015 Ohio State Recruiting Class
Branden Bowen OL 6-7 320 Draper, Utah / Corner Canyon
Matthew Burrell OL 6-5 310 Woodbridge, Va. / Hylton
Kevin Feder OL 6-9 305 Ramsey, N.J. / Don Boscoe Prep
Mirko Jurkovic OL 6-5 285 South Bend, Ind. / St. Joseph’s/IMG Academy
Isaiah Prince OL 6-7 280 Greenbelt, Md. / Eleanor Roosevelt
Grant Schmidt OL 6-6 285 Sioux Falls,S.D. / Roosevelt
Joshua Alabi DT 6-5 295 Detroit, Mich. / Cass Tech
Jashon Cornell DE 6-2 261 St. Paul, Minn. / Cretin-Derham Hall
Davon Hamilton DT 6-3 290 Pickerington, Ohio / Pickerington Central
Dre’Mont Jones DE 6-4 265 Cleveland, Ohio / St. Ignatius
Robert Landers DT 6-2 295 Dayton, Ohio / Huber Heights
Damon Arnette DB 6-1 190 Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / St. Thomas Aquinas
Jamel Dean DB 6-2 200 Cocoa, Fla. / Cocoa
Eric Glover-Williams DB 5-9 170 Canton, Ohio / Canton McKinley
Joshua Norwood DB 6-0 175 Valdosta, Ga. / Valdosta
Denzel Ward DB 5-11 175 Macedonia, Ohio / Nordonia
A.J. Alexander TE 6-4 235 Burke, Va. / Lake Braddock
Rashod Berry TE 6-4 235 Lorain, Ohio / Lorain
K.J. Hill WR 6-0 190 North Little Rock, Ark. / North Little Rock
Alex Stump WR 6-3 193 Lakewood, Ohio / St. Edward
Nick Conner LB 6-3 234 Dublin, Ohio / Scioto
Justin Hilliard LB 6-2 230 Cincinnati, Ohio / St. Xavier H.S.
Jerome Baker LB 6-2 206 Cleveland, Ohio / St. Benedictine
Joe Burrow QB 6-3 215 The Plains, Ohio / Athens
Torrence Gibson QB 6-4 195 Plantation, Fla. / American Heritage
Liam McCullough LS 6-2 230 Columbus, Ohio / Worthington Kilbourne
Mike Weber RB 5-10 215 Detroit, Mich. / Cass Tech
Defensive Line / 6-5, 295
Detroit, Mich. / Cass Tech
Joshua Alabi is rated as the No. 1 defensive line prospect in the state of Michigan by Scout and a Top 30 strong side end by both Rivals (No. 26) and 247Sports (No. 30) … he, along with teammate Mike Weber and current Buckeye Damon Webb, gives Ohio State three recruits in the past two years from the prominent Cass Tech program that has won a state title in 2012 and back-to-back Detroit Public School League championships in 2013 and 2014 … Alabi has started along the defensive line since his sophomore season when Cass Tech made the state championship game … he accumulated more than 100 tackles in his career … was also an accomplished offensive lineman who helped his team rush for over 3,000 yards 2014 … was named Division 1-2 first-team All-State in 2014 as well as Detroit News all-metro, Public School League all-city, PrepStar all-Midwest Region and a member of MLive’s 2014 Dream Team … called a “quiet giant” by his mother, Felicia Jones … father is Charles Alabi.
Tight End / 6-4, 235
Burke, Va. / Lake Braddock
A.J. Alexander has been described as having a “unique blend of size, power and speed” and as a result has received national rankings as a tight end and wide receiver … he has 4-star ratings by both ESPN and 247Sports despite missing most of his senior season with a knee injury … he had six receptions and scored two touchdowns as a senior, including a 95-yard kickoff return, before the injury … he is rated as high as the No. 16 tight end nationally by ESPN and 247Sports and he is considered a Top 100 receiver by Scout … a Virginia all-state honoree in 2013 after catching 41 passes for 650 yards and seven touchdowns, plus intercepting five passes on defense … also chosen all-Metro as a junior and helped Lake Braddock to the Class 6A North Region state semifinals … second-team all-state in basketball as a junior … parents are Katrina and Anthony Alexander.
Defensive Back / 6-2, 185
Fort Lauderdale, Fla. / St. Thomas Aquinas
One of the last in this class to commit to attending Ohio State, Damon Arnette carries a 4-star rating from ESPN and comes from the strong St. Thomas Aquinas program that will have seven of its seniors sign Division I scholarship offers this year and that is the prep alma mater of Buckeye All-American Joey Bosa … Aquinas, coached by Rocco Casullo, has captured two of the last three Florida 7A state championships, including in 2014 with a 15-1 record … Arnette provided length and strength as a roving defensive back with most of his time spent at cornerback … he is ranked as the No. 24 safety by ESPN and the No. 51 cornerback by Rivals … the 247Sports composite ranks him No. 60 at cornerback … he is ranked as the talent-rich Florida’s No. 83 prospect … Arnette had three interceptions, five additional pass break-ups and three quarterback sacks as a senior … he earned honorable mention all-defensive team honors on Broward County’s Class 8A-7A-6A list.
Linebacker / 6-2, 206
Cleveland, Ohio / Saint Benedictine
Jerome Baker is a Top 10 linebacker prospect nationally whose last high school game was a state championship game win over Kettering Alter, 21-14, in Ohio Stadium … Baker scored twice, including the winning score early in the fourth quarter, to cap a 14-1 season and give St. Benedictine its seventh state title and coach Joe Schaefer state crowns as a Bengal player (2003) and coach … Baker also had 11 stops on defense to earn MVP honors … his outstanding senior season included being named first-team Division IV all-state by the Associated Press and earning co-defensive player of the year honors … called an “absolute force from his linebacker spot on defense” and “one of the most disruptive players in the state,” Baker is a consensus 4-star prospect who is ranked as the No. 41 player nationally by Rivals and the No. 67 player on the ESPN 300 … earned impressive outside linebacker ratings by Rivals (No. 4) and Scout (No. 10) … a U.S. Army All-American, Baker was used sparingly on offense as a senior but still finished with 3,065 career rushing yards … parents are Theodora and Jerome Baker Sr.
Tight End / 6-4, 235
Lorain, Ohio / Lorain
Rashod Berry is a two-time Associated Press all-state honoree, including first-team Division I honors in 2014, for Lorain High School … helped Lorain, under coach Dave McFarland, to a 7-4 season in 2014 and the first state playoff appearance in school history … had 37 receptions for 578 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior, plus an additional 11 tackles-for-loss, including six sacks, plus six forced fumbles and an interception on defense … among the Top 40 defensive ends in the nation, Berry has national positional rankings of No. 20 by Rivals, No. 26 by Scout and No. 36 by 247Sports … had 6.5 sacks and earned second-team all-state honors in 2013 for coach Tony Shoulders … also plays basketball … adds to the list of Lorain County players to play football at Ohio State, including Raymont Harris and Matt Wilhelm, and current Buckeyes Chase Farris and Tracy Sprinkle … his Mother is Lashonda Berry.
Offensive Lineman / 6-7, 320
Draper, Utah / Corner Canyon
Huge offensive lineman Branden Bowen is one of the top players in the state of Utah this season and holds the No. 2 ranking in the state by Scout … rated No. 58 nationally among tackles by Scout and rated as a Top 100 offensive lineman by 247Sports … played 2013 and 2014 seasons at new school Corner Canyon after starting his prep career at Juan Diego … helped lead Corner Canyon to the Utah Class 4A state semifinals in 2014 with a 12-1 record and into the state quarterfinals in 2013 in its first year of football … named first-team all-state in 2014 by the Deseret News … coached by former Utah Ute offensive lineman Don Eck at Corner Canyon, and trained under former Ute John Madsen, who was a member of Urban Meyer’s 2003 and 2004 Utah teams … born in Tennessee and moved to Utah in 2005 … is the son of Natalie and Jordan Halling
Offensive Lineman / 6-5, 300
Woodbridge, Va. / Hylton H.S.
Virginia all-state offensive lineman Mathew Burrell is considered a Top 10 offensive line prospect in the class of 2015 with 4-star classification by ESPN, Rivals, Scout and 247Sports … he is a Top 100 player nationally overall as a member of the ESPN 300 (No. 94) and he also earned high overall rankings from 247Sports (No. 105) with Rivals and Scout each listing him among their top 175 players … he is the No. 1 offensive line prospect in his region with Top 10 lineman rankings nationally by 247Sports (No. 7) and Rivals (No. 9), and with a No. 12 ranking by Scout … Burrell spent his first two high school seasons at Chancellor before transferring to Hylton for the 2013 and 2014 seasons … played for coach Tony Lilly at Hylton and helped his team to 10-2 and 9-2 records in 2013 and 2014, respectively … a member of the PrepStar Top 150 Dream Team, Burrell attended The Opening in the summer of 2014 at the Nike World Headquarters … is the son of Nicky and Matt Burrell Sr.
Quarterback / 6-3, 215
Athens, Ohio / Athens H.S.
Joe Burrow was the third player to commit to Ohio State’s class of 2015 recruits … a 4-star prospect by ESPN, Scout and 247Sports, he led coach Ryan Adams’ Athens H.S. teams to three consecutive state playoff appearances (2012-14) and to all seven of the state playoff wins in school history … his 2014 team was state runner-up in Division III and Burrow was selected as Ohio Mr. Football, first-team Associated Press all-state and the Division III co-offensive player of the year after throwing for nearly 4,500 yards with 63 touchdowns and only two interceptions … threw for over 11,400 yards with 157 touchdowns in his career plus rushed for over 2,000 yards with 27 more TDs … ranked on the ESPN 300 (298) and a Top 25 quarterback by Scout (13) and Rivals (25) … named the 2013 Ohio Gatorade player of the year and AP all-state … is the son of Robin and Jimmy Burrow … father is the defensive coordinator at Ohio University … father and older brothers Jamie and Dan all played football at Nebraska and lettered.
Linebacker / 6-3, 234
Dublin, Ohio / Scioto H.S.
Dublin Scioto linebacker Nick Conner announced his commitment to Ohio State in the early summer of 2014 and he enrolled in classes at Ohio State in January 2015 … helped lead Scioto to the 2014 state playoffs and a regional final appearance, although missed second half of the season with a knee injury … still was invited to the Semper Fidelis All-American game … rated a 4-star prospect by Rivals, Scout and 247Sports … rated No. 123 on the Rivals 250 and its No. 5 inside linebacker … the No. 8 inside linebacker by 247Sports … a Top 25 linebacker prospect by Scout and the No. 4 linebacker in the state of Ohio … named second-team Division II all-state by the Associated Press as a junior after recording 129 tackles with 19 TFLs … MVP of the Rivals 5-Star Challenge Camp in Baltimore in the summer of 2014 … comes from a family of Ohio State fans and from a home with an Ohio State “room” … he is the son of Renee and Scott Conner.
Defensive End / 6-2, 261
St. Paul, Minn. / Cretin-Derham Hall
Jashon Cornell, who is enrolled at Ohio State for the 2015 spring semester, is from the powerful Catholic school on the west side of St. Paul that has produced outstanding athletes like Joe Mauer, Michael Floyd, Chris Weinke and Steve Walsh … committed to Ohio State on July 2, 2014 … Cornell is one of the highest rated prospects in this Ohio State class, with No. 7 strong-side defensive end ratings virtually across the board and Top 100 overall status by ESPN (No. 33), Rivals (No. 14) and 247Sports (No. 88) … a consensus 4-star prospect who was regarded as the No. 1 prospect in the class of 2015 by ESPN prior to his junior season … he twice was named a second-team Minnesota all-state pick by the Associated Press … the No. 1 defensive end in the Midwest according to Scout … the defensive line MVP of the Nike training camp in Columbus in the summer of 2014 and earned an invite to The Opening later that summer … capped career at the Under Armour All-American game … Mother is Sheena Cornell.
Defensive Back / 6-2, 200
Cocoa, Fla. / Cocoa H.S.
Jamel Dean was the second member of this class to commit to Ohio State, doing so Dec. 1, 2013 … already enrolled in classes (January 2015), he is a consensus 4-star prospect who was a two-time Florida first-team Class 4A all-state pick … one of the top cornerback prospects in the nation with rankings of No. 32 by 247Sports and No. 37 by Rivals … rated No. 138 on the ESPN 300 and a Top 10 defensive back in the state of Florida … totaled 975 offensive yards, including 22 receptions and 15 touchdowns, in 2014 to earn all-state honors as a receiver and had 38 tackles, two pass break-ups and one interception to earn all-state accolades in 2013 … also had seven PBUs as a senior and scored nine touchdowns as a junior … the 2014 Brevard County player of the year and the Florida Athletic Coaches Association’s District 12 MVP … also ran track and possesses “breakaway” speed … played on back-to-back 11-2 state playoff teams for coach John Wilkinson … a Semper Fidelis All-American … he is the son of Yolanda Kimbrough and Derrick Jefferson.
Offensive Lineman / 6-9, 305
Ramsey, N.J. / Don Boscoe Prep
Kevin Feder is from the powerful New Jersey program Don Boscoe Prep that was rated at one time in 2014 as the No. 1 team in the nation following a win over St. Thomas Aquinas … Feder has played three years for the Ironmen and coach Greg Toal and has started two years for teams that went 7-4 in 2013 and again in 2014 … a four-star prospect by Rivals and 247Sports, Feder is rated as high as the No. 16 offensive tackle prospect in the nation by Rivals and he is listed as the No. 54 tackle by 247Sports … he holds an overall player rating of No. 172 on the Rivals 250 … a PrepStar all-East honoree … also wrestled, and was a state qualifier in 2014 … attended Parsippany Hills as a freshman … is the fourth prospect from the state of New Jersey to sign a national letter of intent with Ohio State in the last three years after Eli Apple (Voorhees and Eastern H.S.) in 2013, and Noah Brown (Flanders and Pope John XXIII) and Darius Slade (Montclair and Montclair H.S.) last year … Father is Brian Feder.
Quarterback / 6-4, 195
Plantation, Fla. / American Heritage
Torrence Gibson is 5-star prospect according to ESPN and the No. 16-rated senior nationally on the ESPN 300 … Scout, Rivals and 247Sports all rank this dual threat quarterback as a 4-star prospect … Gibson’s national rankings also include him as the No. 2 athlete by ESPN, the No. 5 quarterback by Scout and the No. 13 dual threat quarterback by Rivals … he led American Heritage to consecutive 5A state championships, just the second time a Broward County school has accomplished that feat … he was a first-team Florida all-state pick in 2014 after leading his team to a 12-3 record while throwing for 1,815 yards and 19 touchdowns and rushing for 980 yards … career numbers include over 4,000 passing yards, 44 touchdown passes, 2,275 rush yards and 28 rushing touchdowns … a finalist for the Florida Football Award after earning the Class 5A distinction … a PrepStar Dream Team member … Mother is Joanne Seymour.
Defensive Back / 5-9, 170
Canton, Ohio / McKinley
Eric Glover-Williams was the first to commit to this Class of 2015, doing so nearly two years ago in Spring 2013 … played numerous offensive positions, but concentrated on running back as a senior … was named Division I Associated Press all-state as a senior after rushing for 1,149 yards and 14 touchdowns with 16 receptions … also had a punt return touchdown and a 100-yard interception return score … a consensus 4-star prospect with Top 100 overall rankings on the ESPN 300 (No. 90) and by 247Sports (No. 97) … also rated as high as the No. 7 athlete (Rivals) and the No. 12 cornerback (247Sports) … the third-leading rusher in McKinley history with 3,820 yards and the No. 7 scores in Stark County history with 56 touchdowns, which ties former Buckeye Jeff Logan’s prep total and is two more than current Buckeye Bri’onte Dunn … Glover-Williams was named second-team Associated Press all-state in 2013 as McKinley went 9-2 and advanced to state playoffs … from same school to produce Mike Doss and Tyler Everett … played for both Todd Filtz and Thom McDaniels … an Under Armour All-American, is the son of Ann and Jerry Williams.
Defensive Tackle / 6-3, 290
Pickerington, Ohio / Pickerington Central
One of the final commitments in this recruiting class, Davon Hamilton was a three-year starter on both sides of the ball for coach Jay Sherrett at Pickerington High School … he was named first-team Associated Press all-state in 2014 after a 67-tackle, 23-tackle-for-loss season while helping Pickerington to an 11-1 record and into the second round of the state playoffs … also named the Ohio Capital Conference’s Ohio division player of the year and the Division I Central District player of the year … the No. 54 defensive tackle nationally according to Scout, which also listed him as the No. 10 tackle in the region and No. 6 in the state of Ohio … named all-Metro by the Columbus Dispatch … is from the same high school that produced tougher-than-nails Ohio State starting center Jacoby Boren … is the son of Sabrina and Damian Hamilton.
Wide Receiver / 6-0, 190
North Little Rock, Ark. / North Little Rock
Another signing day “reveal,” K.J. Hill is a consensus 4-star receiver who was named a U.S. Army All-American after an outstanding senior season for coach Brad Bolding … Hill helped the Charging Wildcats to an 11-2 season and to the second round of the Arkansas state 7A playoffs, catching 58 passes for 1,023 yards and 11 touchdowns plus rushing for 386 yards and seven more scores … he had 63 catches for 1,143 yards and 16 touchdowns as a junior as North Little Rock advanced to the state playoffs … the No. 1 player in the state, Hill is also considered a Top 20 receiver with a No. 16 rating by ESPN and 247Sports and a No. 18 rating by Rivals … is rated among the Top 150 players in the nation by all the rating services, including No. 153 on the ESPN 300 … advanced to the 7-on-7 finals at The Opening this summer … a highly regarded basketball player as well.
Linebacker / 6-2, 230
Cincinnati, Ohio / St. Xavier
Justin Hilliard is a 5-star recruit by both 247Sports and ESPN and one of the top linebacker prospects in this recruiting class … he is rated as the No. 1 outside linebacker by ESPN and No. 2 by 247Sports and the No. 1 inside linebacker by Rivals … also holds lofty overall rankings of No. 17 on the ESPN 300, No. 30 by 247Sports and No. 45 on the Rivals 250 … PrepSports ranks him No. 32 nationally and a member of its 150 Dream Team … Hilliard was a finalist as a senior for the Dick Butkus Award and he was an Associated Press all-state selection and its Division I defensive player of the year … helped lead coach Steve Specht’s St. Xavier team to a 10-3 record in 2014 and a state semifinals appearance after recording 71 tackles and five quarterback sacks … had 76 tackles, four sacks and seven passes defensed in 2013 … committed to Ohio State on July 3, minutes before Jashon Cornell committed to be a Buckeye some 800 miles away in Minnesota … named a U.S. Army All-American but did not play as he was recovering from a knee injury … is the son of Diane and Carl Hilliard … older brother, C.J., will be a third-year sophomore running back for Iowa in the fall.
Defensive End / 6-4, 265
Cleveland, Ohio / St. Ignatius
Dre’Mont Jones has just two seasons of high school football behind him but he certainly learned the game quickly: he was named first-team Division I Associated Press all-state as a senior for coach Chuck Kyle’s 6-4 team that advanced to the Ohio state playoffs … also picked up all-Northeast Lakes District honors as a senior after recording 47 tackles, 21 tackles-for-losses and four sacks with four forced fumbles … Jones, who also plays basketball at St. Ignatius, is considered a 4-star prospect by ESPN, Scout and 247Sports and he has overall rankings of No. 161 on the ESPN 300 and No. 169 by 247Sports … considered the No. 1 defensive line prospect in Ohio by Scout, Jones also has high positional rankings of No. 11 at strong side defensive end by 247Sports and Top 25 end status by both Scout and Rivals … a U.S. Army All-American … all-Midwest by PrepStar … from same school as current Buckeye Kyle Berger … parents are Schontina Jones and Sanderline Williams.
Offensive Lineman / 6-5, 285
South Bend, Ind. / IMG Academy
Mirko Jurkovic spent his senior season at IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla., after prepping for three years at St. Joseph’s High School in his hometown of South Bend, Ind. … he helped lead IMG to a 10-1 record in 2014, playing along a line that featured four prospects who are all expected to sign NLIs with Football Bowl Subdivision schools … coached by former Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke at IMG … in 2013 Jurkovic helped lead St. Joseph’s to an 8-4 record and a spot in the Indiana state playoffs … considered a Top 50 offensive guard prospect by both Scout and 247Sports … rated as the No. 2 guard in Florida by Scout and No. 11 in the South region … is the son of Angie and the late Mirko Jurkovic … his father, who passed away in 2013 after battling cancer, was a two-year starter, a team captain and an All-American guard at Notre Dame under Lou Holtz … an uncle, John Jurkovic, played at Eastern Illinois and then nine years in the NFL … has two sisters: Claire and Samantha … lived next door to Ohio State strength coach Mickey Marotti for a time while Marotti was in charge of the Irish strength and conditioning between 1998-2005.
Defensive Tackle / 6-2, 295
Dayton, Ohio / Huber Heights Wayne
Robert Landers was called a “disruptive force” throughout his senior season at Huber Heights and especially during his team’s run to the Division I state championship game … he totaled 153 tackles during his career for coach Jay Minton, including 16.5 tackles-for-loss … he was a second-team Associated Press all-state selection as a senior and an all-Southwest Ohio Team 25 honoree after helping Huber Heights to a 13-2 record … he was also named all-Southwest District and he was chosen as the all-area defensive player of the year … earned a 4-star rating from Scout and listed by that organization as the No. 4 defensive lineman in Ohio and the No. 6 lineman in the Midwest … also had a high national ranking of No. 29 at defensive tackle … 247Sports listed him as a Top 50 defensive tackle … Landers is the state’s 2014 track and field shot put champion, winning the title with a throw of just over 61 feet … Mother is Tracy Matthews.
Long Snapper / 6-2, 230
Columbus, Ohio / Worthington Kilbourne
Liam McCullough is believed to be only the second long snapper in Ohio State annals to earn a scholarship offer as a high school senior; the first being current Buckeye Bryce Haynes, who will be a senior in 2015 … McCullough had scholarship offers from two other Big Ten schools and one in the SEC … he is rated as the No. 1 long snapper in the country by 247Sports and No. 2 by the Rubio long snapping service … is called “dominant” on the Rubio long snapping website and “snaps with great power and accuracy” … has been Kilbourne’s long snapper since his freshman season, and he has been a long snapper since the fifth grade … helped coach Vince Trombetti’s Wolves to an 8-4 record in 2014 and to the second round of the Ohio state playoffs … was selected to play in the U.S. Army All-America game … talents also include teaching himself how to play the piano and trombone. … parents are Michelle and Mike McCullough.
Defensive Back / 6-0, 175
Valdosta, Ga. / Valdosta
Joshua Norwood was a three-year starter at Valdosta High School, one of the top programs in America in terms of wins and all-time championships … Norwood helped Valdosta, coached by Rance Gillespie, into the 2014 Georgia state playoffs for a sixth consecutive year in 2014 with a 9-2 record … he was named first-team Georgia Sports Writers Association all-state as a senior after recording 44 tackles, 11 tackles-for-loss, 10 pass-break-ups, six interceptions and forcing five fumbles for a defense that shut out four opponents and surrendered just 13.6 points per game … Norwood was also named 1-6A all-region and its co-defensive player of the year … earned Top 50 cornerback rankings nationally by Rivals (No. 44) with a No. 71 rating by 247Sports … also played basketball and ran track, and is the school record-holder in the 110- and 300-meter hurdles … he is the grandson of Geneva and Willie B. Knight.
Offensive Line / 6-7, 280
Greenbelt, Md. / Eleanor Roosevelt
Another pleasant surprise – at least publicly – on signing day is consensus 4-star offensive lineman Isaiah Prince, who made his commitment to Ohio State public when he signed his National Letter of Intent on Feb. 4 … a Top 10 offensive tackle prospect by Rivals (No. 4), Scout (No. 6) and 247Sports (No. 7) while ESPN rated him No. 22 … overall rankings include a No. 67 ranking by Rivals, No. 74 by Scout and No. 105 by 247Sports, and he is also listed on the ESPN 300 … Prince was considered the No. 1 player in the state of Maryland as a senior and he was a consensus all-state pick in 2014 in addition to earning Washington Post all-metro honors for three years … he helped his team to an 11-1 record in 2014, including advancing to a state 4A regional final … a U.S. Army All-American.
Offensive Lineman / 6-6, 285
Sioux Falls, S.D. / Roosevelt
Media guide rosters at Ohio State were checked for each year back to 1950 and Grant Schmidt certainly appears to be the first from the state of South Dakota to play football at Ohio State … an early enrollee (January 2015) in classes at Ohio State and a 4-star prospect by Rivals and 247Sports, Schmidt is rated as the No. 1 offensive lineman in his state and the No. 9 tackle in the Midwest … Rivals rated him the No. 26 tackle nationally while Scout had Schmidt as a Top 50 prospect … a four-year starter who helped coach Kim Nelson’s Roosevelt teams to back-to-back state championship games (2013 and 2014) in Class 11AAA and to 9-2 records … named a South Dakota Coaches Association first-team all-state pick and was a Semper Fi All-American … is the son of Sharon and Jay Schmidt.
Wide Receiver / 6-3, 193
Lakewood, Ohio / St. Edward
Alex Stump has size, speed and talent on top of a strong academics skillset that earned him scholarship offers from Harvard and Yale in addition to a host of other offers … despite injuring a foot in the fourth game of the 2014 season, Stump earned 4-star rankings from both Rivals and 247Sports as a senior … he was considered the No. 1 receiver in Ohio as well as the No. 3 receiver in the Midwest region while also earning national receiving rankings of No. 23 by Scout, No. 36 by 247Sports and No. 42 by Rivals … PrepStar named him all-Midwest Region … he had 11 receptions for 109 yards vs. Cincinnati Elder in his final game as a prepster … team lost that game and also its next before winning 10 consecutive games to win the Ohio Division I state championship … Stump had 57 catches as a junior, for 987 yards and 14 touchdowns to earn honorable mention all-state honors by theAssociated Press and all-district accolades … is the son of Laura and Mike Stump.
Defensive Back / 5-11, 175
Macedonia, Ohio / Nordonia H.S.
Denzel Ward helped lead Nordonia to a 14-1 record and the Division II state championship game in 2014 by starring on defense with nine interceptions and 18 pass break-ups and on offense with more than 1,300 total yards and 20 touchdowns … named the Division II co-defensive player of the year and a first-team Associated Press all-state selection for coach Jeff Fox … also named Cleveland.com’s defensive player of the year … totaled 14 interceptions in 2013 and 2014 combined plus had 93 receptions and 31 receiving touchdowns … is rated a 4-star prospect by Scout and 247Sports and is ranked respectively by those organizations as the Nos. 22 and 26 cornerback prospect … is rated as high as No. 171 among all players by Scout … a PrepStar all-Midwest Region …caught 37 passes for 658 yards and nine touchdowns for 8-3 team as a junior … possesses tremendous speed – including published reports of a hand-timed 4.31 40 – and is a multiple state qualifier in track and field as part of Nordonia’s 4×400-meter relay and as a long jumper … is the son of Nicole and Paul Ward.
Running Back / 5-10, 215
Detroit, Mich. / Cass Tech
Consensus 4-star prospect Mike Weber rushed for 2,268 yards and 29 touchdowns as a senior in 2014 despite missing three games for coach Thomas Wilcher’s state semifinalist squad … Weber was so good this year – he averaged 10.1 yards per carry – that Wilcher called him the best back in the Detroit Public School League in the last 30 years … is considered a Top 100 player nationally, with high overall rankings of No. 69 by Scout, No. 71 by Rivals, No. 80 by 247Sports and with a 140 rank on the ESPN 300 … considered the No. 1 player in the state of Michigan (Scout) and considered a Top 10 running back nationally by Rivals (No. 8), Scout (No. 9) and 247Sports (No. 9) … a first-team Associated Press all-state honoree as a senior and was twice named the Proud Strong Learner of the Week in the DPSL … rushed for a state record 404 yards and five touchdowns in a regional championship win over Clinton Township Chippewa Valley … rushed for 890 yards and 13 touchdowns in Cass Tech’s four-game run through the state playoffs in 2014 … a finalist for the Michigan state player of the year award and a co-recipient of the Detroit player of the year award … a U.S. Army All-American … parents are Toni and Mike Weber Sr.
Read the official statements on Josh Gordon being suspended from the NFL and the Cleveland Browns below.
Statement by an NFL Spokesperson on Josh Gordon:
“Josh Gordon of the Cleveland Browns has been suspended without pay for at least one year for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Gordon’s suspension begins immediately.”
[Note: The NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse is posted on nflmedia.com. From the home page, click on “Resources” and then “About the NFL.”]
Statement from Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer on Josh Gordon
“As we have conveyed, we are disappointed to once again be at this point with Josh. Throughout his career we have tried to assist him in getting support like we would with any member of our organization. Unfortunately our efforts have not resonated with him. It is evident that Josh needs to make some substantial strides to live up to the positive culture we are trying to build this football team upon. Our hope is that this suspension affords Josh the opportunity to gain some clarity in determining what he wants to accomplish moving forward and if he wants a career in the Nation Football League. We will have no further comment on Josh as he will not be permitted in our facility for the duration of his suspension.”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Feb. 2, 2015
Statement from Brad Beckworth, a Friend and Advisor to Johnny Manziel and his Family
Brad Beckworth, a friend and advisor to Manziel and his family, has confirmed that Johnny entered treatment on Wednesday. “Johnny knows there are areas he needs to improve on to help him be a better family member, friend and teammate, so he decided to take this step in his life during the offseason. On behalf of Johnny and his family, we’re asking for privacy until he rejoins the team in Cleveland.”
Statement from Cleveland Browns General Manager Ray Farmer on Johnny Manziel
“We respect Johnny’s initiative in this decision and will fully support him throughout this process. Our players’ health and well-being will always be of the utmost importance to the Cleveland Browns. We continually strive to create a supportive environment and provide the appropriate resources, with our foremost focus being on the individual and not just the football player. Johnny’s privacy will be respected by us during this very important period and we hope that others will do the same.”