Posted: 5:49 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 6, 2013
By Marc F. Pendleton
HUBER HEIGHTS —
Reon Dawson a “Michigan Man?” Say what?
“I never did see that,” said the Trotwood-Madison High School senior cornerback who “flipped” from a verbal commitment to Illinois to eventually sign with Michigan on Wednesday.
“Until I die, I’m gonna be a Buckeye fan even though I’m going (to Michigan). When we play (OSU) I’m gonna still bring my ‘A’ game. But, I love Ohio State.”
If all that is taxing to follow, welcome to the zig-zag path that the highest level of high school football recruiting has taken.
Wednesday was National Signing Day throughout the country, featuring football. It might as well be labeled Make-or-Break Day for college programs. Recruiting websites and ESPN are just a few of the national media outlets that bank extensive coverage on such meandering recruiting tales.
Players like Dawson, and seven other Greater Western Ohio Conference standouts who signed with Big Ten schools, are being counted on to make a difference at the next level. Most will have signed for full athletic scholarships; all will receive financial aid.
Fifteen of 17 GWOC football players who signed huddled at the Huber Heights Athletic Foundation Center for a mock signing ceremony. Only Trotwood’s Cameron Burrows (OSU) and Wayne’s Javon Harrison (Cincinnati) were missing. Each graduated early and has already enrolled in college.
Many players formally signed early Wednesday morning, then recreated a signing for family and friends. Incredibly, in an era dependent on instant communication from a variety of sources, signed letters of intent are stuck in old-school; most are faxed to colleges. None could be sent prior to 7:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Scores of area players who signed for football already had announced their choices. But there are always surprises. This time it was who didn’t sign: Wayne lineman Lovell Peterson reneged on Kentucky and instead is headed to Grand Valley State in Michigan to throw the discus.
If Dawson realigning with Michigan sounds familiar, it should. Trotwood grads Michael Shaw and Roy Roundtree bucked Penn State and Purdue on signing day in 2008 to join Rams teammate Brandon Moore at UM. That ignited a firestorm of recruiting finger-pointing. It also led to GWOC Commissioner Eric Spahr mandating that no one pulls a similar switch during the conference’s ceremony.
Initially, Dawson was set to join Rams teammate and defensive lineman Jarrod “Chunky” Clements at Illinois. Instead, Dawson announced three weeks ago that he would team with T-M linebacker Michael McCray as a Michigan recruit.
“Mike and ‘Chunk’ talked to me constantly,” Dawson recalled. “Stay, don’t go, stay, go, stay, go. All I did was sit down and I prayed on it and fasted. At the end of the day, I had to do what was right for me.”
Trotwood is the GWOC leader with five players signing with BCS programs, including four in the Big Ten. Centerville sent three to the Big Ten – defensive lineman Brant Gressel (Iowa), offensive lineman Evan Lisle (OSU) and linebacker Jake Replogle (Purdue). Springboro lineman Sean Welsh is bound for Iowa.
Replogle is the fourth and final brother to play for the Elks and in the Big Ten. Tyler, Adam and Mike Replogle all played for Indiana.
“If everybody’s players were like those four, everyone would want to be a coach,” said Elks coach Ron Ullery.
The early football signing period runs for a week. Last November was the early signing period for basketball.