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A Cincinnati-area list of 100 high school football players to watch this upcoming season

Posted: 7:00 AM, May 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-21 10:51:54Z

CINCINNATI – WCPO and TriStateFootball.com present 100 area high school football players to watch for the 2018 season.   

The selections are based primarily on last season’s statistical performances, all-district nominations, postseason honors, team highlights and reported college recruiting information. Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana schools are considered in this list. 

The player’s class (senior, junior, sophomore, freshman) reflects the upcoming season.

The players are listed in alphabetical order:

David Afari, Lakota West: The junior running back was a first-team all-Greater Miami Conference selection and led the conference in rushing yards during the regular season. He rushed for 1,109 yards and seven touchdowns in 2017. He has scholarship offers from the University of Cincinnati, Louisville and Toledo.

Erick All, Fairfield: The senior tight end is one of the state’s top recruits in the 2019 class and verbally committed to Michigan. He also had scholarship offers from Louisville, Minnesota, Duke, Wisconsin, Pittsburgh, Kentucky, Maryland, Boston College, Wake Forest, Iowa, Purdue and Mid-American Conference schools. All, who is 6-feet-5 and 223 pounds, had 28 receptions, 338 yards and three touchdowns during the regular season. He also returned punts and was the punter. He was flexed as a wide receiver.

Drew Altemuehle, Sycamore: The junior quarterback was first-team all-GMC. He threw for 1,346 yards and 11 touchdowns and rushed for 258 yards and three touchdowns as a sophomore.

DJ Ames, CHCA: The senior running back, a Wilmington transfer, ran for 1,222 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2017. He had 22 receptions for 353 yards and three touchdowns.        

Josh Anderson, New Richmond: The senior quarterback threw for 2,030 yards and 21 touchdowns with a 59 percent completion rate during the regular season. He had 1,096 yards rushing on 174 carries with 13 touchdowns in the regular season as a three-year starting quarterback.      

Alex Barnard, CHCA: The senior running back/defensive back had 530 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. An excellent cover cornerback, he had a forced fumble and an interception on defense.

Eric Beck, Elder: The senior defensive back was first-team all-GCL South in 2017. He had 45 tackles (26 solo).  

Jacob Berkemeier, Oak Hills: The senior wide receiver was first-team all-GMC. He had 52 receptions for 551 yards and four touchdowns.

Michael Bittner, Elder: The senior quarterback threw for 893 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 466 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. He was second-team all-GCL South.

Carter Black, Covington Catholic: The senior offensive lineman helped to lead the Colonels (15-0) to the 5A state title.

Hasan Black, Wyoming: The senior linebacker had 106 tackles including three sacks last season. He also had a forced fumble and an interception. Black, who is 6-feet-2 and 230 pounds, is also an offensive lineman. He is the younger brother of former Wyoming standouts Jibreel Black and Larry Black.

Garrett Bledsoe, La Salle: The senior linebacker was Division II honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district. He had 100 tackles including four sacks for the Lancers. He was first-team all-GCL South.

Luke Bolden, Colerain: The senior linebacker was a Division I second-team all-district selection and first-team all-GMC. He is the son of Colerain head coach Tom Bolden. Luke had 109 tackles including three and a half sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery last season. He has offers from Miami University, Central Michigan and Holy Cross.

Spencer Bono, Elder: The senior defensive end is verbally committed to Boston College. He was a Division I honorable mention all-state selection and first-team all-GCL South. He had 40 tackles (18 solo) including six and a half sacks last season.

Anthony Booker, Winton Woods: The senior defensive end has offers that include Kentucky, Rutgers, Ball State and Toledo, according to 247Sports. He is listed at 6-feet-5 and 280 pounds.

Demarco Bradley Jr., Taft: The senior running back/cornerback rushed for 591 yards and five touchdowns. He had 28 receptions for 362 yards and three touchdowns. He had 78 tackles, seven interceptions and two fumble recoveries on defense.

Jowon Briggs, Walnut Hills: The senior defensive tackle has verbally comitted to Virginia. He laos had scholarship offers to Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan State, University of Cincinnati, Michigan, Notre Dame, Penn State and several others. Briggs, who is listed at 6-feet-2 and 275 pounds, is ranked the state’s No. 2 player overall in the 2019 class, according to the 247Sports Composite. He is ranked the nation’s No. 4 defensive tackle in his class.

Kayvon Britten, Western Hills: The junior running back rushed for 1,255 yards and 12 touchdowns during the regular season. He had 356 yards on kickoff returns including a 96-yard return for a touchdown.

Zach Carpenter, Moeller: The senior offensive lineman has verbally committed to Michigan. He also had offers from Clemson, Nebraska, UC, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisville and several others. He is ranked the state’s No. 16 player overall in the 2019 class by the 247Sports Composite. He is the nation’s No. 17 guard by the 247Sports Composite. He was named the Anthony Munoz Foundation Division I offensive lineman of the year.

Logan Castleman, Beechwood: The senior running back/wide receiver/defensive back had 427 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. He had 36 receptions for 479 yards and eight touchdowns. He had a kick return for a touchdown and three interceptions.

Matt Centers, Franklin: The senior plays inside linebacker, outside linebacker and some safety depending on the scheme. He also plays special teams and some tailback. He was Division III second team all-state last season. He needs only 56 tackles to break the school’s career tackles record. He has 341 career tackles.

Jack Coldiron, Covington Catholic: The wide receiver/athlete was first team all-Northern Kentucky. He had 28 receptions for 683 yards (24.3 ypc) and 11 touchdowns. He has 45 receptions for 1,102 yards for his career.

Luke Collinsworth, East Central: The sophomore offensive tackle (6-6, 275) is a blue chip prospect for the reigning Class 4A state champions.

Zeke Correll, Anderson: The senior offensive lineman is rated the state’s No. 6 player in the 2019 class by the 247Sports Composite. He is rated the nation’s No. 10 guard in his class. Correll, who is 6 feet 4 and 285 pounds, had offers from Alabama, Clemson, Ohio State, Notre Dame, Penn State, Stanford and several others. He recently committed to Notre Dame.

Charlie Cowart, Mariemont: The senior wide receiver/linebacker had 539 yards receiving and eight touchdowns. He also had three rushing touchdowns. He had 79 tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery on defense.

Tanner Cromer, Reading: The junior defensive lineman/tight end had 144 tackles including 17 sacks. He was Division V second-team all-district and first-team all-CHL.

JJ Davis, Colerain: The senior running back rushed for 1,038 yards and eight touchdowns. He had 17 receptions for 264 yards and four touchdowns. He has offers from Miami University, Youngstown State and Middle Tennessee State.

Adam Derry, Beechwood: The senior defensive tackle/guard helped to lead the Tigers to the Class 1A state title.

Jack Dobrozsi, Lakota East: The senior running back averaged 139.1 yards and scored 19 touchdowns in seven games last season.

Brady Evans, Wilmington: The junior missed half the season due to injury in 2017. He enters this season with 3,054 yards passing and 30 touchdowns along with 616 rushing yards and seven touchdowns for his career.

Chase Evans, Mason: The senior offensive lineman/defensive end had 52 tackles (27 solo) last season. He was second-team all-GMC. He is 6-4 and 255 pounds.

Cleveland Farmer, Taft: The senior quarterback/outside linebacker had 1,283 passing yards and 12 touchdowns last season. He also had 482 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns.

Steven Faucheux, Lakota West: The senior defensive lineman is rated the state’s No. 5 player overall in the 2019 class by the 247Sports Composite. He is rated the nation’s No. 12 defensive tackle in his class. He has offers that include Penn State, Tennessee, Nebraska, UC, Boston College, Florida, West Virginia, Louisville, Maryland, Kentucky, Iowa State, Indiana and several others.

Rusty Feth, Colerain: The senior left tackle verbally committed to Miami University in March. Feth, who is listed at 6-5 and 307 pounds, was a second-team all-district selection and first-team all-GMC player in 2017.

Connor Foster, Milford: The senior tight end is verbally committed to Northwestern. He was recruited by Northwestern to play offensive line. Foster, who is 6 feet 7 and 280 pounds, also had offers from UC and Kentucky.

Kymetrius Gates, Winton Woods: The senior cornerback/running back is one of the Warriors’ top returning players this season.

Trey Heidlage, Batesville: The senior quarterback threw for 1,863 yards and 16 touchdowns. He rushed for 1,278 yards and 18 touchdowns. He had 21 tackles and an interception on defense.

Darrion Henry, Princeton: The junior defensive end is one of the most sought-after players in the state’s 2020 class. He has offers that include Ohio State, Michigan, Georgia Tech, Notre Dame, Nebraska, Louisville, West Virginia, Penn State, Michigan State, UC, Kentucky, Pittsburgh, Iowa and others.

Jacob Hensley, Fairfield: The senior offensive lineman was a second-team all-district selection. He was first-team all-GMC. He has offers from Toledo and Urbana. He was a guard last season and will play center this season. He is 6-3 and 297 pounds.

Joseph Hocker, Deer Park: The senior tight end has offers from Akron, Austin Peay, New Mexico State, University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Bowling Green. He is listed at 6-5 and 235 pounds. He is also a Deer Park basketball standout.

MJ Horton, La Salle: The junior quarterback, a Lakota West transfer, has offers from Louisville and Kentucky. He is listed at 6 feet 1 and 200 pounds.

Alex Howard, Mount Healthy: The senior linebacker/tight end had six sacks, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He was Division III second-team all-district and first-team all-Southwest Ohio Conference. He has offers from Miami University, Buffalo and Toledo. Iowa is showing interest.

Brody Ingle, La Salle: The senior linebacker is verbally committed to UC . He is the Bearcats’ first commit in the 2019 class. Ingle was a second-team all-Greater Catholic League South division selection in 2017. He had 74 tackles (34 solo) including 2-1/2 sacks for the Lancers. He is a three-star recruit by the 247Sports Composite. He is listed at 6 feet 1 and 215 pounds.

Jakob James, Elder: The junior offensive tackle has offers from UC, Toledo, West Virginia, Marshall, Iowa State, Indiana, Boston College and Louisville. He is listed at 6 feet 5 and 265 pounds.

Paris Johnson, St. Xavier: The junior offensive lineman, rated the state’s No. 1 overall player in the 2020 class and the nation’s No. 7 player nationally in that class by 247Sports, has verbally committed to Ohio State. Johnson, who is 6 feet 7 and 285 pounds,  had offers from Alabama, Florida, Stanford, Michigan State, Southern California, Notre Dame, Auburn, Florida State, Georgia, Clemson, Penn State, Miami (Fla.) and others. He is committed to the 2020 All-American Bowl .

Daved Jones, Lakota West: The junior linebacker has offers from UC, Louisville, Nebraska, and Kentucky. He is listed at 6 feet 2 and 205 pounds.

Syncere Jones, Colerain: The senior running back/defensive back rushed for 340 yards and four touchdowns last season. He had 289 yards receiving and four touchdowns. He has offers that include Miami University and Ohio University.

Kyle Kelly, Newport Central Catholic: The senior running back/outside linebacker has offers from Ball State, Fordham, Eastern Kentucky, Eastern Michigan and Ohio, according to 247Sports. He had 1,162 yards rushing and 13 touchdowns.  He had 18 receptions for 294 yards and five touchdowns. He had 72 tackles.

Corey Kiner, Roger Bacon: The sophomore running back was Division IV honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district. He rushed for 1,226 yards and 15 touchdowns as a freshman. He has an offer from Kentucky. Florida State, Indiana, Utah, Arizona State, Purdue and Northwestern have shown interest.

RJ Khayo, Moeller: The senior wide receiver was honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district. He had 42 receptions for 418 yards and four touchdowns in the regular season. He had 13 punt returns for 178 yards and 13 kickoff returns for 366 yards. He has an offer from Ohio Dominican.

Thomas Kiessling, St. Xavier: The senior linebacker was second-team all-state and first-team all-district. He had 76 tackles (44 solo), three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery last season. He has offers that include Ball State, Bowling Green, Miami University, Ohio University and Massachusetts, according to 247Sports.

Jared Kreimer, St. Xavier: The senior wide receiver had 46 receptions for 596 yards and seven touchdowns. He had 12 kickoff returns for 334 yards and a touchdown. He was second-team all-GCL South.

Luke Lane, Lebanon: The senior offensive lineman was honorable mention all-district and is one of the top players returning for the Warriors.

Tanner Lawrence, Campbell County: The senior defensive end/tight end was first-team all-Northern Kentucky as a junior.

Chris Mangold, Colerain: The senior kicker proved to be one of the Cardinals’ greatest assets in his first year of playing football in 2017. He was named first-team all-GMC. He was 12 of 14 on field goal attempts including three from over 40 yards in the regular season. He also made 40 of 41 PATs in the regular season and had 12 touchbacks on kickoffs. 

Alex Maxwell, East Central: The senior quarterback is a three-year starter and was an all-state selection in 2017. He threw for 677 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for 1,161 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior in leading the Trojans to the 4A state title .

Michael Mayer, Covington Catholic: The junior tight end, one of the area’s most recruited players in the 2020 class. has verbally committed to Notre Dame. Mayer,  listed at 6 feet 5 and 230 pounds, had offers from Ohio State, Alabama, UC, Kentucky, Louisville, Arkansas, Tennessee and LSU among others.

JuTahn McClain, Fairfield: The 2020 running back has offers from UC, Louisville, Rutgers and Kentucky. He rushed for 705 yards and seven touchdowns and had 13 receptions for 201 yards and two touchdowns in 2017. He was second-team all-GMC.

Jack McDowell, Summit Country Day: The junior linebacker/fullback was Division V honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district. He had 12 ½ sacks and two forced fumbles. He is listed at 6-1 and 225 pounds.

Avi McGary, Lakota East: The senior safety had 34 tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two interceptions in seven games. He was first-team all-GMC.  

Casey McGinness, Covington Catholic: The senior running back is on pace to become CovCath’s all-time leading rusher. He rushed for 1,418 yards and 22 touchdowns as a junior. He also had 24 receptions for 381 yards and four touchdowns.

Alex Merritt, Moeller: The senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman has offers from Kent State and Air Force. He was first-team all-GCL South.

Ryan Mullaney, Moeller: The senior defensive end had 50 tackles including 14 ½ sacks last season. He also had four forced fumbles and three fumble recoveries. He was second-team all-district and first-team all-GCL South.

Thomas Myers, Clinton-Massie: The senior defensive end had eight sacks last season. He was Division IV third-team all-state and first-team all-district.

Jake O’Brien, Elder: The senior defensive back was first-team all-GCL South. He had 70 tackles (45 solo), two interceptions, one sack, one forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Jimmy O’Toole, Anderson: The linebacker was second team all-state last season. He had 84 tackles (36 solo), four and a half sacks, three forced fumbles and a fumble recovery. He is listed as 6 feet 2 and 220 pounds.

Ivan Pace Jr., Colerain: The senior fullback/linebacker rushed for 984 yards and 17 touchdowns. He had 232 yards rushing and four touchdowns in a playoff win over Mason. On defense, he had 62 tackles including two sacks and a forced fumble.

Ross Parrish, Anderson: The junior tight end/wide receiver has offers that include Indiana and Akron. He is listed at 6-3 and 220 pounds.

Lucas Patten, Little Miami: The senior defensive back/running back was limited to just three games as a junior due to a lingering injury. A starter since his freshman year, Patten has run for 2,300 yards, amassed 2,931 all-purpose yards and found the end zone 32 times rushing as a Panther. He has gained 115 yards or more on the ground nine times during his career.

Jakari Patterson, Colerain: The senior defensive back was first-team all-GMC. He intercepted two passes, returning them both for touchdowns as a safety. He had 55 tackles (36 solo), two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.

Evan Prater, Wyoming: The junior quarterback has offers from UC, Akron, Pittsburgh and Howard. He is receiving interest from schools including Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan State, West Virginia, Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Central Florida, among others. Prater, who is 6 feet 5 and 185 pounds, threw for 1,638 yards and 23 touchdowns for the Cowboys last season. He also rushed for 760 yards and 11 touchdowns. He was a Division IV honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district selection.

Cole Pelgen, Middletown Madison: The senior defensive end was Division V second-team all-state and first-team all-district. He was the SWBL Buckeye Division Defensive Player of the Year. He had a school-record 18 sacks in 2017. He also had three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception.

Quincy Perrin, Scott: The junior running back is one of the top players in Northern Kentucky. Perrin is coming off a sophomore season where he ran for 1,441 yards and averaged 8.8 yards. He also had 16 rushing touchdowns. He has run for 100 yards or more nine times at the varsity level.

James Peters, Blanchester: The junior fullback/nose tackle was Division V honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district. He had 50 tackles including 10 sacks in the regular season. He had 409 yards rushing and four touchdowns in the regular season.

Lonnie Phelps, Mount Healthy: The senior defensive end is verbally committed to Miami University. He had 10 sacks, four forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and an interception last season. He was Division III first-team all-state.

Eric Phillips, Colerain: The senior defensive end/tight end has verbally committed to UC. He had offers from Miami University and Western Michigan. He is listed at 6-4 and 250 pounds.

Wade Phillips, Edgewood: The senior running back rushed for 1,358 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was Division II second-team all-district and first-team all-Southwest Ohio Conference.

Cam Porter, La Salle: The junior running back was Division II honorable mention all-district. He rushed for 924 yards and nine touchdowns. He was first-team all-GCL South. He has offers that include Louisville, Minnesota, Bowling Green, UC, Iowa, Iowa State, Toledo and Western Michigan. Ohio State also has shown interest.

Rae’Quan Prince, Winton Woods: The senior wide receiver was Division II honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district. He had 650 yards receiving and 11 touchdowns during the regular season. He had 200 yards rushing and two touchdowns. He had 300 yards on kickoff returns and two touchdowns.

Pierson Rogers, Wyoming: The senior running back/linebacker rushed for 1,306 yards and 22 touchdowns. He had 23 receptions for 371 yards and six touchdowns. On defense, he had 56 tackles including a sack, two forced fumbles and an interception. He was Division IV first-team all-state and first-team all-district.

Jeremiah Ross, Lakota West: The senior cornerback has offers from UC, Indiana and Kentucky. Minnesota offered him Monday after watching his workout. He was second-team all-GMC. He is 6 feet 2 and 190 pounds.

Jackson Saladin, Ryle: The senior outside linebacker is one of the top returning players in Northern Kentucky. He had 107 tackles (71 solo) as a junior. He had 60 tackles as a sophomore.

KieVaughn Sanks, Aiken: The senior running back/wide receiver/safety was a Division IV first-team all-state and all-district selection. He had 611 yards rushing and five touchdowns. He also had 16 receptions for 365 yards and four touchdowns. On defense, he had 46 tackles, four interceptions and two fumble recoveries.

Cooper Schwalbach, Highlands: The senior running back had 881 rushing yards and 17 touchdowns last season.

Jake Seibert, La Salle: The junior kicker/wide receiver was a second-team all-GCL South selection. He was 10 of 13 on field goals and 35 of 36 on extra points.

James Smith, Wyoming: The senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman was first-team all-CHL. He had 87 tackles including six sacks on defense. He was the Anthony Muñoz Foundation Division IV defensive lineman of the year.

 

Deante Smith-Moore, Colerain: The senior quarterback/running back rushed for more than 700 yards and had five touchdowns last season. He was second-team all-GMC.

 

Eddie Son, Sycamore: The senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman was first-team all-GMC.

 

Nick Straw, Lebanon: Injured in the preseason before his junior campaign, Straw still managed to start the last three games, recording 35 total tackles for the Warriors. He had 124 total tackles in 11 tilts as a sophomore.

 

Cameron Svarda, Middletown Madison: The senior running back rushed for 1,940 yards and 26 touchdowns. He was the Southwestern Buckeye League Buckeye Division Offensive Player of the Year. He was Division V second-team all-state and first-team all-district.

 

Luke Szabados, Moeller: The senior linebacker had 86 tackles (60 solo) for the Crusaders. He was first-team all-GCL South. Holy Cross offered last week.

Jaheim Thomas, Princeton: The junior linebacker has offers from Michigan, Wisconsin, Louisville, Nebraska, Michigan State, Pitsburgh, Purdue, UC, Rutgers, Georgia Tech, Toledo and Bowling Green. He is listed at 6-4 and 210 pounds.

Jalen Thornton, Indian Hill: The senior H-back/defensive end is verbally committed to West Virginia. He had 91 tackles including five sacks last season for the Braves. He was first-team all-CHL and had several other significant offers. He was Division IV third-team all-state and first-team all-district. He is listed as 6-3 and 250 pounds. He is the son of the former Bengals player John Thornton.

Kyle Trischler, Elder: The senior wide receiver had 66 receptions for 786 yards and four touchdowns. He was first-team all-GCL South. He was honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district.

Jarred Uran, La Salle: The senior linebacker had 109 tackles including three sacks and a fumble recovery. He was Division II second-team all-state and first-team all-district.

Malik Verdon, Lakota West: The sophomore quarterback has offers from Florida and Mississippi State. He was named to the MaxPreps Freshman All-American Team last season. He competed as the U.S. Army All-American Bowl Combine in January.

Derrian Wilkins, Aiken: The senior linebacker had 125 tackles including 13 sacks in the regular season. He also a 37-yard interception return for a touchdown.

Miyan Williams, Winton Woods: The junior running back rushed for 1,220 yards and 15 touchdowns in the regular season. He averaged over 160 yards a game against GCL South opponents during the regular season. He was Division II honorable mention all-state and first-team all-district. He has multiple scholarship offers.

Nak’emon Williams, Kings: The senior running back rushed for 1,195 yards and 17 touchdowns. He was second-team all-district and first-team all-Eastern Cincinnati Conference. He has offers from Ohio Dominican and University of Virginia College at Wise.

CJ Young, Harrison: The junior wide receiver had 41 receptions for 849 yards and six touchdowns. He was second-team all-district and first-team all-SWOC as a sophomore.