National Signing Day 2023: A look at central Ohio athletes heading to the next level

Even with football's early signing period in December, the traditional National Signing Day in early February still holds a special significance and prestige for countless athletes.

Here is a list of central Ohio football players who signed Wednesday to play at all levels, as well as athletes in other sports who signed with Power 5 schools. Names were submitted by high school athletic departments in central Ohio.

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Joseph Abbiw, Pickerington North/Ashland

The 6-foot-3, 265-pound defensive lineman had 19.5 tackles and 1.5 sacks for the Panthers, who went 7-5 and advanced to a Division I, Region 3 quarterfinal. Abbiw earned honorable mention all-district in Division I.

Abemekezi Akih, Westerville Central/West Virginia State

A 6-0, 245-pound outside linebacker, Akih finished with 75 tackles. He was special mention all-OCC-Ohio.

Collin Ansel, Upper Arlington/Dayton

A 6-1, 235-pound linebacker, Ansel was one of the defensive centerpieces of the Golden Bears’ resurgence the past two seasons. One of three returning starters from the 2021 regional championship team, Ansel had 25 tackles — 6.5 for loss — despite missing three games because of illness. Ansel earned second-team all-OCC-Central and honorable mention all-district as UA went 10-3.

Logan Baker, Grandview Heights/Denison

The 6-0, 166-pound quarterback threw for 1,414 yards and 12 touchdowns in 12 games as a starter the past two seasons before his senior season was cut short by a foot injury in the third game in 2022. Also a cornerback, Baker took over as the Bobcats’ starter and managed their run-oriented offense out of the wing-T during the first game of his junior season.

Maddox Baker, Grandview Heights/Denison

It fell to the 5-10, 170-pound Baker, Logan’s twin brother who also plays outside linebacker, to lead the Bobcats’ offense after several key injuries. Baker rushed for 377 yards and five touchdowns on 76 carries and caught 22 passes for 231 yards and a score, earning second-team all-MSL-Ohio and special/honorable mention all-district in Division VI.

Buba Bangura, Westerville Central/Tiffin

The 6-2, 200-pound linebacker led Central in tackles with 99.5 and was first-team all-OCC-Ohio and second-team all-district in Division I.

Chase Balser, Olentangy Orange/Olivet Nazarene

The 6-1, 190-pound Balser handled long-snapping duties for Orange.

Terrion Barbour, Hartley/West Virginia State

The 6-5, 175-pound wide receiver and safety thrived thanks to speed and range, helping the Hawks to five wins in eight games after a 0-3 start. Barbour, who has been clocked at 4.41 seconds in the 40-yard dash, was a regional track and field qualifier last spring in the 110-meter hurdles and high jump.

Colton Baumann, Dublin Jerome/Washington and Lee

The 6-2, 250-pound Baumann, who started at right tackle the past two seasons, helped the Celtics earn their first top seed (Division I, Region 2) in program history on their way to a 9-3 finish.

Carson Bopp, Westerville North/Findlay

The 5-9, 168-pound Bopp is moving to safety in college after excelling at linebacker for the Warriors (3-8). He made a team-leading 60 tackles last fall to earn honorable mention all-OCC-Capital and all-district.

Ian Browning, Delaware/Ohio Dominican

A 6-7, 320-pound offensive tackle and nose guard, Browning helped pave the way for an offense that averaged 25.4 points and 269.1 yards per game as the Pacers went 7-4 and earned the program’s third playoff berth. Delaware improved by four wins from a season ago and averaged almost 200 yards passing.

Tyler Cain, Worthington Kilbourne/Tiffin

A versatile threat on offense who also came up big on defense when needed, the 6-0, 165-pound Cain had 35 carries for 215 yards and a touchdown, 28 catches for 325 yards and two scores and two interceptions at safety. Cain was named honorable mention all-OCC-Capital and all-district in Division I.

Jakivion Calip, Olentangy Orange/Central Michigan

A 6-0, 192-pound running back, Calip was a key contributor offensively, rushing for 764 yards and nine touchdowns on 156 carries, and added a team-high 42 receptions for 324 yards. He was first-team all-district and all-OCC-Central and third-team all-state in Division I.

Elijah Carter, Pickerington Central/Ashland

The 6-0, 210-pound linebacker made 78 tackles this season as the Tigers won the OCC-Buckeye championship and advanced to a Region 3 semifinal. A four-year letterwinner, Carter earned second-team all-league.

Thomas Worthington quarterback Will Cooper will play for Tiffin.
Thomas Worthington quarterback Will Cooper will play for Tiffin.

Will Cooper, Thomas Worthington/Tiffin

The 5-9, 180-pound quarterback and first-team all-state honoree in Division I led the Cardinals to their best season in 23 years, completing 228 of 338 pases for 3,147 yards and 34 touchdowns with eight interceptions. Thomas went 6-5, its first winning season since 1999, and averaged 35.5 points during a 6-2 start.

Isaiah Crozier, Pickerington Central/Youngstown State

A two-year starting defensive back, the 6-1, 185-pound Crozier helped lead an aggressive unit as the Tigers reached a Region 3 semifinal. Crozier was named honorable mention all-league and will play for one-time Ohio State assistant Doug Phillips in college.

Tanner Domyanich, Buckeye Valley/Wittenberg

A three-year letterwinner, the 6-0, 205-pound Domyanich caught 15 passes for 172 yards and a touchdown in 2022 at tight end and at linebacker had 56 tackles, including 23 solo, and two interceptions. He was named first-team all-MSL-Ohio and special/honorable mention all-district in Division IV.

Kaedyn Dunbar-White, Pickerington North/Walsh

A 6-2, 206-pound safety and outside linebacker, Dunbar-White made his presence felt at the line and downfield with 34 tackles — 27 solo — six stops for loss and two interceptions. A special mention all-OCC-Ohio and honorable mention all-district selection, Dunbar-White also is a two-year starter for the boys basketball team.

Ivan Ermlich, Pickerington North/Ohio Dominican

The 5-8, 180-pound Ermlich averaged 34.2 yards per punt, placing 11 of 35 kicks inside the 20-yard line, and made 27 extra points and five field goals as the Panthers (7-5) made a Region 3 quarterfinal. Ermlich was a two-year starter, during which time North went 16-9.

Mason Fry, Canal Winchester/Ohio Dominican

The 6-3. 280-pound center and three-year starter anchored the offensive line as the Indians went 7-5 and advanced to the second round of the Division II, Region 7 playoffs. Fry was named second-team all-OCC-Capital and second-team all-district and earned honorable mention all-state for the second time in three seasons.

Marcus Gipson, Worthington Kilbourne/Ohio Dominican

A fullback and linebacker, the 6-0, 240-pound Gipson rushed 33 times for 146 yards and a touchdown, caught four passes for 81 yards and a score and had two tackles for loss as the Wolves went 4-7. Hampered by turf toe, Gipson still was second-team all-district in Division II and Kilbourne’s only first-team all-OCC-Capital honoree.

Grant Glaser, Westerville Central/Tiffin

The 6-2, 200-pound Glaser saw time at quarterback and linebacker for the Warhawks, passing for 130 yards and two touchdowns.

Josh Goldman, Gahanna/Ashland

The 5-8, 287-pound Goldman will be a long snapper for the Eagles after helping the Lions win their first regional championship in 40 years as well as the OCC-Ohio title. Goldman also is a wing for the Gahanna hockey team.

Jordan Hall, KIPP Columbus/UAB

The 6-8, 335-pound lineman is a three-star recruit, according to On3, and reportedly fielded double-digit offers before becoming a part of new coach Trent Dilfer's first recruiting class for the Blazers.

Westerville Central's Jacob Harris will play for Bowling Green.
Westerville Central's Jacob Harris will play for Bowling Green.

Jacob Harris, Westerville Central/Bowling Green

The 6-3, 190-pound Harris split time at tight end and wide receiver. He led Central in receiving with 46 receptions for 659 yards and 12 touchdowns, and was first-team all-OCC-Ohio and second-team all-district. Harris’ father, Josh, played quarterback at Bowling Green.

Brayden Hatcher, Olentangy Orange/West Virginia State

At 6-4 and 242 pounds, Hatcher split time at tight end and on the defensive line for Orange. Defensively, he recorded 12 tackles.

Asher Hayles, DeSales/Ashland

A three-year letterwinner for the Stallions, the 6-3, 220-pound defensive lineman recorded 27 tackles for loss as a senior. He was named first-team all-CCL, second-team all-district in Division II and honorable mention all-state.

Jace Henry, Watkins Memorial/Bowling Green

A preferred walk-on at BG, the 6-0, 175-pound Henry did everything for the Warriors, catching 28 passes for 382 yards and three touchdowns while making six interceptions at defensive back. He also blocked five punts and two field goals as Watkins shared the LCL-Buckeye championship and was named first-team all-district and second-team all-state in Division II.

Justin Henry, Olentangy Berlin/Ashland

The 6-5, 295-pound Henry helped anchor the offensive line and lead Berlin to the program’s first OCC-Cardinal title. He was first-team all-state and all-district in Division I, along with first-team all-league.

Alonte Hewston, London/Ohio Dominican

The 6-5, 315-pound Hewston anchored the offensive line for the Red Raiders, who went 8-4 and advanced to the second round of the Division III, Region 11 playoffs. Hewston was named second-team all-district.

Derek Hole, Dublin Jerome/Findlay

A 5-11, 225-pound offensive and defensive lineman and linebacker, Hole had 78 tackles and was second-team all-league and special mention all-district in Division I.

Kyle Jackowski, Olentangy Berlin/Ashland

At 6-0, 205 pounds, Jackowski recorded 81.5 tackles, including eight for loss, and two sacks. The linebacker was first-team all-OCC-Cardinal and second-team all-district in Division I.

Sean Johns, London/Ashland

The 6-0, 205-pound linebacker had 90 tackles last fall, including 57 solo, 6 ½ sacks, a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries as the Red Raiders won their second consecutive Central Buckeye Conference championship. Johns was named first-team all-district and second-team all-state in Division III.

Griffin Johnson, Marysville/Columbia

The 5-11, 185-pound running back led Marysville in rushing with 1,404 yards and eight touchdowns on 211 carries and added 14 catches for 245 yards and three touchdowns. He was first-team all-district and all-OCC-Cardinal and second-team all-state in Division I.

Kyler LaRosa, Dublin Jerome/Walsh

A 6-3, 290-pound offensive and defensive lineman, LaRosa capped his prep career by being named second-team all-district and special mention all-OCC-Cardinal.

Caden Lockwood, Dublin Jerome/Ohio University

A 6-2, 225-pound defensive end, Lockwood was named first-team all-OCC-Cardinal, second-team all-district and honorable mention all-state in Division I. He finished with 93 tackles.

Davvion Long, Watkins Memorial/Notre Dame College

The 5-10, 160-pound Long was a multipurpose threat for the Warriors. He ran for 1,029 yards and 11 touchdowns, caught 24 passes for 160 yards and a score and added a punt return for a touchdown to help his team to its first league title in 16 years.

New Albany's Christian Manville will play for Limestone.
New Albany's Christian Manville will play for Limestone.

Christian Manville, New Albany/Limestone

A 6-0, 200-pound running back, Manville amassed 1,904 yards and a single-season program-record 29 touchdowns to lead the Eagles to the Region 3 final and earn first-team all-district and all-state. Also a receiving threat with 11 catches for 234 yards and three touchdowns, Manville finished with 3,008 career rushing yards and 45 touchdowns.

Kendrick Mensah, Pickerington Central/Ashland

The 6-4, 220-pound Mensah, a linebacker in high school who is expected to play defensive end in college, totaled 50 tackles as a senior and was named second-team all-league and honorable mention all-district.

Elijah Mitchell, London/Ashland

The 5-11, 175-pound Mitchell ran for more than 1,000 yards in high school and is projected to be a receiver in college. Mitchell earned first-team all-league and special/honorable mention all-district as a senior.

Jerijah Moore, Dublin Scioto/Walsh

The 6-1, 180-pound Moore was a key contributor at wide receiver and defensive back. He led Scioto in receiving with 22 catches for 334 yards and three touchdowns. Defensively, he had 67 tackles and two interceptions. He was first-team all-OCC-Capital and second-team all-district in Division II.

Anthony Murphy II, Hartley/Howard

The 6-4, 230-pound linebacker amassed 141 tackles, 10 sacks, three forced fumbles and six pass breakups and was named Division IV district Defensive Player of the Year and first-team all-state. Murphy previously had been committed to Air Force.

Philip Murray Jr., Hartley/Wheeling

A key member of the defensive line, the 6-2, 285-pound Murray played mostly defensive tackle but also saw time at offensive tackle as Hartley overcame a 0-3 start to make the second round of the Division IV, Region 15 playoffs. The Hawks scored 39 or more points four times and allowed two touchdowns or fewer five times during a 5-3 stretch.

Olentangy Orange's Bobby Ogles will play for Ohio Dominican.
Olentangy Orange's Bobby Ogles will play for Ohio Dominican.

Bobby Ogles, Olentangy Orange/Ohio Dominican

The 5-11, 195-pound running back rushed for 555 yards and six touchdowns on 112 carries and caught 20 passes for 227 yards and two scores. He was first-team all-OCC-Central and special mention all-district in Division I.

Brody Parsley, Grandview Heights/Wilmington

The 5-10, 165-pound Parsley played virtually the entire season at quarterback, throwing for 456 yards and two touchdowns in the Bobcats’ run-heavy offense, after being injured for almost all of 2021. Parsley also will play lacrosse for the Quakers.

Gabe Pence, Olentangy Liberty/Ohio Dominican

The 6-2, 200-pound linebacker had eight sacks and 14 tackles for loss among his 89.5 total stops, pacing the Patriots to eight wins in 11 games after a 0-3 start and Division I, Region 2 runner-up finish. Pence, who had 76 solo tackles, was named first-team all-OCC-Central and second-team all-district.

Langston Ragland, Westerville Central/Akron

A 6-6, 210-pound defensive end, Ragland registered 15 tackles this past season.

Saimir Refatllari, Hilliard Bradley/Tiffin

The 6-2, 250-pound Refatllari was a force on both sides of the ball as a lineman. Defensively, he had 44.5 tackles and was honorable mention all-OCC-Central.

Jack Rickert, Grandview Heights/Case Western Reserve

The 6-0, 220-pound offensive lineman and linebacker provided stability on both sides of the ball for the Bobcats (2-8 overall, 0-5 MSL-Ohio). Rickert was named league Lineman of the Year and first-team all-district as a linebacker.

Brady Ridder, Buckeye Valley/Wittenberg

A first-team all-MSL-Ohio and special/honorable mention all-district selection in Division IV, Ridder caught 23 passes for 387 yards and a score and made 65 tackles at free safety with two interceptions, one of which he returned 72 yards for a touchdown.

Dylan Rosser, New Albany/Wheeling

The second-leading rusher in the Eagles’ wing-T attack, the 5-10, 188-pound Rosser rushed for 1,150 yards and nine touchdowns on 212 carries and caught six passes for 67 yards to help New Albany go 10-3 and finish as Region 3 runner-up. Rosser was named special mention all-OCC-Ohio and all-district.

Brayden Sanders, Gahanna/Ohio Dominican

The speedy 5-10, 160-pound Sanders caught 23 passes for 272 yards and three touchdowns as one of quarterback Brennen Ward’s top targets en route to the Division I state semifinals.

Dillon Schaub, New Albany/Wheeling

A 6-0, 200-pound linebacker who also pitched into the running game on occasion, Schaub had 97 tackles, four sacks, four forced fumbles and an interception while breaking up five passes. He earned honorable mention all-OCC-Ohio as the Eagles went 10-3 and reached the Region 3 final.

Trevor Schuler, Hilliard Bradley/Wittenberg

A three-year starter, the 5-8, 185-pound Schuler rushed for 1,580 yards and 10 touchdowns and added 43 receptions for 357 yards and two scores for his career.

Brady Sestili, Dublin Jerome/Ohio University

The 6-3, 195-pound Sestili was a key player defensively at linebacker as he led the Celtics in tackles with 152 and added four sacks and two interceptions. He was first-team all-state and all-district in Division I, along with first-team all-OCC-Cardinal.

Ethan Shipps, Dublin Scioto/Ohio Wesleyan

At 5-11, 175 pounds, the kicker and punter led Scioto in scoring with five field goals and 26 extra points for 41 points. He was second-team all-OCC-Capital and special mention all-district in Division II.

Robert Snyder, Hilliard Bradley/Ashland

At 6-2, 285 pounds, Snyder contributed on both sides of the ball at offensive tackle and nose guard. He was a three-year starter.

Ty Staples, Gahanna/Limestone

The 6-0, 172-pound wide receiver was a key threat as the Lions won their first regional championship in 40 years, with 14 catches for 239 yards and three touchdowns. Gahanna went 13-2, losing to Lakewood St. Edward in a Division I state semifinal.

Zane Swackhammer, Worthington Kilbourne/Ashland

The 6-3, 235-pound offensive guard and defensive end earned special mention all-league and second-team all-district thanks to his work on the offensive line. The Wolves scored 30 or more points three times but struggled to a 4-7 record in a season that included injuries to several key players.

C.J. Swanson, East/Notre Dame College

The 6-4, 245-pound Swanson was recruited as a tight end but earned first-team all-district and honorable mention all-state in Division IV as a defensive end after helping lead the Tigers (10-2) to the program’s first playoff win and a Region 15 semifinal.

Dylan Taynor, Dublin Scioto/Lawrence Tech

The 6-4, 240-pound Taynor was a key contributor at left tackle, helping Scioto rush for 1,463 yards and 13 touchdowns on 355 carries. He was second-team all-OCC-Capital and special mention all-district in Division II.

E.J. Teah, Hilliard Bradley/Ashland

The 6-1, 195-pound Teah was a key to Bradley’s success last season. As a hybrid linebacker/defensive back, he had 96 tackles and two interceptions. At running back, he rushed for 210 yards on 33 carries with two touchdowns and added seven catches for 98 yards and one score. He was first-team all-district and all-OCC-Central and third-team all-state in Division I.

Zakk Tschirhart, Dublin Jerome/Findlay

The 5-11, 180-pound quarterback completed 238 of 360 passes for 2,428 yards with 20 touchdowns and five interceptions. He was first-team all-district and all-OCC-Cardinal and third-team all-state in Division I.

Armond Vickers, Beechcroft/West Virginia State

The 6-4, 295-pound Vickers had 12 sacks as a defensive end and 25 pancake blocks on the offensive line to earn special/honorable mention all-district in Division III.

Ridge Webb, Buckeye Valley/Otterbein

A two-year starting center who also has started at defensive end and long snapper, the 6-3, 230-pound Webb was instrumental in helping the Barons clinch a 6-5 record and the program’s second playoff berth. He was honorable mention all-MSL-Ohio.

Romearo Wells, Gahanna/Notre Dame College

A multipurpose threat at defensive back and sometime receiver, the 5-11, 170-pound Wells led the Lions defense with three interceptions. Wells earned first-team all-league and second-team all-district.

Westerville South's Jalen Wheeler will play for Wheeling.
Westerville South's Jalen Wheeler will play for Wheeling.

Jalen Wheeler, Westerville South/Wheeling

The 6-0, 200-pound wide receiver and defensive back was a key playmaker on both sides of the ball as the Wildcats went 11-2, won the OCC-Capital championship and advanced to a Region 7 semifinal. Wheeler caught 38 passes for 521 yards and four touchdowns, returned one of his three interceptions for a touchdown and broke up seven passes. He was named first-team all-OCC-Capital and second-team all-district.

Isaiah Wills-Jackson, Gahanna/Notre Dame College

The 5-11, 165-pound Wills-Jackson should be an all-around threat in college. He had two interceptions as a senior as well as a sack and tackle for loss, and also can play receiver.

Ashton Wilson, Dublin Scioto/Mercyhurst

At 6-4, 215 pounds, Wilson, a tight end, had 17 catches for 179 yards and two touchdowns. He also saw time at linebacker and was first-team all-OCC-Capital and second-team all-district in Division I.

Alex Wong, Olentangy Orange/Wheeling

The 5-10, 180-pound Wong contributed at split end and free safety, helping Orange improve to 4-7 after finishing 1-9 in 2021. Defensively, he recorded 14.5 tackles.

Joey Zalewski, Thomas Worthington/Tiffin

The 6-3, 200-pound first-team all-state honoree became the Cardinals’ premier big-play threat on both sides of the ball during their first winning season since 1999. Zalewski had 64 receptions for 1,188 yards and 17 touchdowns to earn OCC-Cardinal Offensive Player of the Year and, on the defensive line, had 54 tackles, 13 sacks and two fumble recoveries.

Other central Ohio high school athletes

Eric Albers, men’s swimming and diving, Wellington/Ohio State

Albers finished fourth in the 100-yard breaststroke and fifth in the 200 individual medley at last year’s Division II state meet. He is the defending district champion in the 100 breast and was runner-up last year in the 200 IM.

Sophie Bidwell, women’s track and field, Newark/Ohio State

A two-time defending Division I district champion in the discus, Bidwell was 10th at state in the discus as a sophomore in 2021 and has qualified for regional each of the past two years in both throwing events. She was 11th in the shot put and 16th in discus at regional a year ago.

Jayden Douglas, men's track and field, Beechcroft/TCU

Douglas became the Cougars’ first state track champion last fall, winning the Division I title in the 300 hurdles (36.72). He also finished fifth in the 110 hurdles and was district and regional champion in the 300.

Olivia Oiler, women’s track and field, Dublin Coffman/Ohio State

A four-time cross country state qualifier and two-time participant in the track and field state meet, Oiler is one of the area’s top distance runners. She was 10th in the Division I cross country state meet last fall and 13th in both the 1,600 meters and 3,200 relay last spring at the state track meet.

Jonna Spohn, women’s volleyball, Olentangy/Maryland

The third-team all-state and honorable mention all-American selection had more than 1,000 digs in her career, including 376 as a senior to go along with 60 aces. Spohn was OCC-Cardinal co-Player of the Year and first-team all-district.


This article originally appeared on The Columbus Dispatch: National Signing Day 2023 for Greater Columbus high schools