A Cincinnati-area list of 50 high school football players to watch this upcoming season

CINCINNATI -- The NFL Draft is over. College football spring games are complete.

With the high school football season right around the corner, WCPO.com gives you 50 high school football players to watch for this upcoming season.

Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana start football official football practice in three months (July 31 for Ohio and Indiana, Aug. 1 for Kentucky).

Our list takes into consideration several factors, including 2016 statistics, college commitments and scholarship offers, team success, a representation of the Tri-State area and coaches’ recommendations.

This list is in alphabetical order. An asterisk denotes a verbal commitment.

Josh Anderson, New Richmond: The 2019 quarterback was an Associated Press Division III second-team all-state selection as a sophomore last season. "He's special," New Richmond Athletic Director Doug Foote said. Anderson threw for 2,068 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. He rushed for 1,195 yards and 20 touchdowns, according to TriStateFootball.com. He also played defense.

*Blake Bacevich, St. Xavier: The 2018 defensive end verbally committed to the University of Cincinnati at the Bearcats’ spring practice March 25. He was the area’s first verbal commit to UC in the 2018 class. He also had offers from Pittsburgh, Miami University and Mid-American Conference programs. He’s listed at 6 feet 3 and 235 pounds.

Brenden Bates, Moeller: The tight end verbally committed to Kentucky and became the area’s first 2018 commit overall when he gave the Wildcats his pledge March 10. He also had offers from UC, Iowa, Indiana and Pitt among others. He’s listed at 6 feet 5 and 230 pounds.

Tyler Bentley, Lakota West: The 2018 defensive tackle is one of the area’s most recruited players in the 2018 class. He has offers from UC, Alabama, Florida, LSU, Wisconsin, Boston College, Michigan State, Tennessee, Louisville, West Virginia, Kentucky, Minnesota and several others. He’s listed at 6 feet 3 and 297 pounds.

Parker Bisek, Ryle: The 2018 offensive lineman has offers from Toledo, Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Marshall and Murray State. He’s also received interest from UC, Louisville and Army. He’s 6 feet 4 and 285 pounds.

Daniel Bolden, Colerain: The 2018 inside linebacker has offers from Iowa State, Washington State, Army, Purdue, Toledo, Florida Atlantic, Bowling Green and Ball State. He’s listed at 6 feet 1 and 235 pounds. He is the nephew of Colerain coach Tom Bolden and cousin of UC signee Kyle Bolden.

Colerain 2018 linebacker Daniel Bolden

Spencer Bono, Elder: The 2019 defensive end was one of just four sophomores on the Greater Catholic League South division first team in 2016. He had six sacks last season. “He’s a really good defensive end,” Elder coach Doug Ramsey said. “I think he will be pretty highly recruited.” Bono is 6 feet 4 and 220 pounds.

Jowon Briggs, Walnut Hills: The 2019 defensive tackle has offers that include UC, Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan State, Minnesota, Toledo, Kentucky, Iowa State, Miami University, Michigan, Rutgers, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Purdue. He will certainly be considered for the All-American games his senior season. He’s listed at 6 feet 3 and 280 pounds.

Kam Butler, CovCath: The 2018 defensive end/outside linebacker has offers that include Vanderbilt, Marshall, Army, Air Force, Ball State, Miami University and Eastern Kentucky. He’s 6-3 and 237 pounds.

Jack Carman, Fairfield: The left tackle is already committed to the 2018 U.S. Army All-American Bowl and is rated the nation’s No. 2 player overall in the 2018 class by Rivals.com. In 2016, he was named to the MaxPreps Junior All-American team. He’s been considering Ohio State, Clemson, Alabama, Florida State, Wisconsin, LSU, UCLA and the University of Southern California.

Fairfield 2018 offensive lineman Jack Carman (right) with Fairfield coach Jason Krause.

Zach Carpenter, Moeller: The 2019 offensive lineman has offers from UC and Louisville. He’s 6-4 and 295 pounds. He’s a tackle at Moeller and projected to be a guard in college.

Zeke Correll, Anderson: The 2019 guard/center added an offer from Iowa State last week. He earned offers from UC and Kentucky on March 24. He’s 6-3 and 278 pounds.

Jake Chisolm, Ryle: The senior running back is a Kentucky Mr. Football candidate. He rushed for 1,681 yards and 22 touchdowns and had 31 receptions for 605 yards and four touchdowns. He's also a very impressive return man.

Caden Clark, Moeller: The 2020 tight end transferred to Moeller from Akron Archbishop Hoban in early March. He was named a MaxPreps Freshman All-American last season and was a starter for Division III state champion Knights. He is the brother of University of Kentucky freshman quarterback Danny Clark, a former Ohio State verbal commit. Caden Clark has scholarship offers from UC and Kentucky.

Jack Cravaack, Madeira: The 2018 tight end/defensive lineman has several offers including Wake Forest, Purdue, Army, Yale, Holy Cross, Toledo, Central Michigan, Bowling Green, Kent State and several others. He’s listed at 6-5 and 230 pounds. “He is one of the hardest workers on the team,” Madeira coach Mike Shafer said. “I think he will have a big impact for us on both sides of the ball. We are definitely going to try to get him the ball on offense.”

Steven Faucheux, Lakota West: The 2019 defensive end has seen his recruiting stock rise quickly this spring. He has offers from UC, Kentucky, Tennessee, Florida, Indiana, Iowa State, Louisville, Maryland, Tulane and Miami University.

Tate Goodyear, Sycamore: The 2018 defensive lineman/offensive lineman has offers that include Kent State, Brown, Bucknell, Harvard, Mercer, Dartmouth, Eastern Kentucky, Yale and Albany, according to Sycamore coach Scott Dattilo. Goodyear is 6-4 and 270 pounds.

Zaid Hamdan, Mason: The 5-foot-11, 265-pound 2018 defensive lineman has offers that include Eastern Michigan and Mercer. He had 9 1/2 sacks last season. Ohio State has also expressed interest. He was a state placer in the wrestling tournament in March. He was first-team all-GMC in football in 2016.

Will Hausfeld, Turpin: The senior-to-be was an all-Eastern Cincinnati Conference selection last season at defensive back. He had six interceptions. He was Division II first-team all-district. He is expected to play running back and wide receiver this season. He’s 5-10 and 170 pounds.

Aeneas Hawkins, Moeller: The 2018 defensive tackle has offers from Alabama, Ohio State, Florida State, Iowa, Oregon Notre Dame, Clemson, Penn State, UC, Pittsburgh, Florida, Iowa State, Kentucky, Louisville, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina, Miami (Fla.), Michigan, Michigan State and Vanderbilt among others. He’s listed at 6-3 and 265 pounds. He is the son of former NFL player Artrell Hawkins.

*Ja’von Hicks, Colerain: The 2018 wide receiver became one of the latest area players to verbally commit to UC when he gave the Bearcats his pledge April 23. He also had Mid-American Conference offers. He was a second-team all-Greater Miami Conference selection in 2016.

Brody Ingle, La Salle: The 2019 linebacker was Division II second-team all-district last season. He had 68 tackles including four sacks. Ingle, who is 6-1 and 210 pounds, was one of only four sophomores named to the GCL South first team.

Bobby Jefferson II, St. Xavier: The 2018 defensive end has offers that include from Ball State and Mercer. He’s listed at 6-3 and 235 pounds and will be a key member of the Bombers’ defensive line which returns a solid front six.

Xavier Johnson, Summit Country Day: The 2018 wide receiver has offers from UC, Iowa State, Miami University, Bowling Green, Akron Toledo, Ball State and Kent State. Ohio State, Virginia and Northwestern haven shown interest. He’s listed as 6-3 and 205 pounds.

RJ Khayo, Moeller: The 2019 wide receiver/returner was a dangerous special teams threat last season as a sophomore. He broke his own school record with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in a game against Lakewood St. Edward. A month prior to that game he had a 98-yard return at St. Xavier. He was second-team all-district last season and one of only four sophomores named to the Greater Catholic League South division first team.

Kenny Mayberry, Winton Woods: The senior quarterback will be a leader once again for the Warriors. He is a three-year starter. He threw for 1,046 yards and 13 touchdowns as a junior, according to TriStateFootball.com. He is 6-2 and 215 pounds. 

*AJ Mayer, CovCath: The 2018 quarterback verbally committed to Miami University April 10. At 6 feet 3 and 195 pounds, he also had other MAC offers. He threw for 2,461 yards and 20 touchdowns and rushed for 531 yards as a junior in 2016.

Griffin Merritt, La Salle: The 2018 quarterback helped to lead the Lancers to the school’s third consecutive Division II state football title last December. He threw for 1,930 yards and 21 touchdowns. He was first-team all-GCL South.

La Salle 2018 quarterback Griffin Merritt was an All-Greater Catholic League South division selection in 2016. (WCPO file photo)

Mason Molique, Ryle: The junior kicker has been ranked in the top 10 nationally for the 2018 class, according to Ryle coach Michael Engler. He was 56 of 57 on extra points and 7 of 9 on field goals in 2016.

Ryan Montgomery, Franklin: The 2018 running back rushed for 1,609 yards and 30 touchdowns last season. He has offers that include UC, Iowa State, Kentucky, Purdue and Mid-American Conference offers. He’s 5 feet 10 and 191 pounds.

Danny Nieman, Elder: The 2018 quarterback threw for 1,573 yards and 10 touchdowns as a junior. He was 23 of 33 for 253 yards and four touchdowns against Moeller in October.

Christopher Oats, Winton Woods: The 2018 outside linebacker has offers from Ohio State, Miami (Fla), UC, Michigan State, Minnesota, Kentucky, West Virginia, Louisville, Oklahoma, Michigan, Nebraska, Pitt, Marshall and several others.

Lucas Patten, Little Miami: The 2019 running back rushed for 1,531 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. He was also the kick and punt returner.

Mason Parris, Lawrenceburg: The 2018 middle linebacker had 192 tackles, including seven sacks last season. He had three interceptions. He’s also been an Indiana state wrestling champion the past two seasons. He has offers from UC and Ball State, according to 247Sports.

Xavier Peters, Lakota West: The 2018 middle linebacker is one of the state’s most recruited players this spring. He has offers that include Alabama, Texas, West Virginia, UC, Louisville, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech, Kentucky, Iowa State, South Carolina, Penn State, Oregon and several others.

Lonnie Phelps, Mount Healthy: The 2019 defensive end had nine sacks and was first-team all-Southwest Ohio Conference last season. He's had interest from Ohio State, Michigan State and Iowa State. He's 6-1 and 195 pounds.

Cecil Singleton, Walnut Hills: The 2018 wide receiver has offers that include Western Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Ohio, Miami University, Toledo, Ball State and UC. He’s 6-1 ½ and 186 pounds.

Cameron Specht, St. Xavier: The 2018 wide receiver was a key player in the Bombers’ offense and on special teams last season. He had 68 receptions for 655 yards receiving and three touchdowns. He had six punt returns for 57 yards and two kickoff returns for 39 yards in the state final. He's the son of St. X coach Steve Specht.‪

St. Xavier’s Cameron Specht is a receiving and special teams threat for the Bombers.

Logan Storie, East Central: The 2018 running back had 1,832 yards and 21 touchdowns last season for the Trojans, who were an Indiana 4A state semifinalist.

Matt Sora, Mason: The 2018 running back rushed for 1,262 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. He was first-team all-GMC.

*Malik Vann, Fairfield: The 2018 defensive end verbally committed to UC April 18. One of the state’s top players in the 2018 class, Vann also considered Alabama, Michigan State, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Wisconsin. He is rated the nation’s No. 12 strong-side defensive end by 247Sports. Vann, 6-3 and 266 pounds, was an honorable mention all-state selection and first-team all-district in 2016.

Fairfield 2018 defensive end Malik Vann with UC coach Luke Fickell in April.

Danny Vanatsky, CHCA: The 2018 quarterback threw for 2,497 yards and 30 touchdowns last season for the Eagles.

Jay Volpenhein, Anderson: The 2018 quarterback threw for 3,541 yards and 43 touchdowns last season. He rushed for 929 yards and 10 touchdowns. He was Division II first-team all-district and the Eastern Cincinnati Conference co-offensive player of the year.

*Josh Whyle, La Salle: The 2018 tight end verbally committed to UC April 6 becoming one of the Bearcats’ most highly rated recruits in several years. He also had offers that included Louisville, Auburn, Oregon, Georgia, Iowa, Tennessee, West Virginia, Duke, Wisconsin and several others. He is rated the nation’s No. 13 tight end by the 247Sports Composite Rankings and Ohio’s No. 15 player overall.

Ryan Wichmann, CHCA: The 2018 offensive lineman has offers from Bowling Green, Mercer, Holy Cross, Brown and Dartmouth. He’s listed at 6 feet 5 and 280 pounds. He was Division V first-team all-district.

Tim Williams, Aiken: The 2018 quarterback/cornerback threw for 1,214 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 640 yards and eight touchdowns as the Falcons made the playoffs for the first time in program history last season.

Jake Woycke, Oak Hills: The 2018 quarterback threw for 2,500 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. He was first-team all-GMC.

Quintin Wilson, Walnut Hills: The 2018 offensive lineman has offers that include Duke, Boston College, Kentucky, UC, Minnesota, Rutgers, Ohio, Miami University, Virginia, Akron, Toledo, Western Michigan, Temple, UConn, Kent State, Ball State and Harvard. He’s listed at 6-3 and 293 pounds.

Chase Wolf, St. Xavier: The 2018 quarterback has offers that include UC, South Carolina, Maryland, Boston College, Pittsburgh, Iowa State, Wisconsin, Toledo, Akron, Central Michigan, Kent State, Western Michigan, Rutgers and Ohio University. He threw for 1,291 yards and 15 touchdowns last season. He threw for a season-high 247 yards and four touchdowns in the first-round win over Fairfield.‪

St. Xavier quarterback Chase Wolf is one of the most highly-recruited players in the area’s 2018 class.

Frankie Young, Harrison: The 2018 quarterback threw for 3,024 yards and 31 touchdowns last season. He was first-team all-Southwest Ohio Conference.

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