Four OSU Signees In Ohio North-South Classic

This year's rosters for the Ohio North-South Classic were announced today at a ceremony in Columbus. Four Ohio State players will play in the game, while three will be playing in the Big 33 game being held on the same night. Read on for more on the game as well as rosters. (NOTE: This story updated at midnight with comments from Tyler Moeller, Connor Smith and Robert Rose, pictured.)

Over 60 of Ohio 's top football players were in Columbus Thursday as the rosters were announced for the 61st annual Grange Insurance Ohio North-South Classic.

The game is set for June 17 at Columbus Crew Stadium. But because of a change in date with the Hershey, Pa.-based Big 33 Football Classic, which moved from its typical July date to June 17, both of the state's top all-star games will be played on the same night.

That caused the Ohio High School Football Coaches Association to have to do some fancy footwork. According to North-South Classic game director (and West Carrollton head coach) Bob Brigati, the coaching staffs for the North and South squads as well as the Big 33 coaching staff got together Dec. 30 at Ohio State's Woody Hayes Athletic Center to, in effect, draft players for each of the all-star games.

As a result, four OSU signees will play in the North-South Classic. Springboro TE Jake Ballard and Cincinnati Colerain LB Tyler Moeller and OL Connor Smith will be on the South squad, while Cleveland Glenville DE Robert Rose will be on the North.

Three more signees – Cleveland Glenville OL Bryant Browning and Ray Small and Euclid LB Thaddeus Gibson – will be on the Ohio team in the Big 33 Football Classic. (OSU's three other Ohio signees – RB Chris Wells, LB Ross Homan and CB Kurt Coleman – are ineligible for the all-star games because they will enroll early at Ohio State .)

Brigati said this will be done on a one-year experimental basis and the coaches association will entertain permanent solutions that will allow them to maintain their game – the nation's longest continuous high school football all-star game – and participate in the prestigious Big 33 game.

"We'll see," Brigati said. "With the NCAA changing the rules and allowing players to go in (for summer school) on scholarship, it has changed things. Our game was already June 17. The Big 33 game had to move to June 17 to accommodate the colleges. A number of our players are going on to colleges in the summer.

"In the past, the North and South staffs met separately and used nominations from the eight regions to make up their teams. The Big 33 staff also met separately. They could take players from both rosters for their game because it was always in July.

"This year, we met Dec. 30 and basically had a player draft."

According to Brigati, the North and South squads each chose 22 players to fill their rosters. The Big 33 staff then selected 22 players. Then each staff rotated picks to fill out the remainder of their rosters.

"The problem is when a player drops out," Brigati said. "The South coach may call and say, ‘My quarterback dropped out. I want to pick this kid up.' I say, ‘Fine.' Then, the Big 33 coach calls and says his quarterback dropped out and he wants to pick the kid up and he's gone. It's become a whole new hassle. It's like being a general manager trying to keep track of this.

"Ohio is big enough that we felt we had enough players to have three quality teams. We feel if you look at the rosters, they're pretty strong.

"We're taking this as a one-year thing. In the words of coach Clint Eastwood, ‘We'll adapt, we'll improvise, we'll overcome' the best we can and go from there."

 Brigati said the future of the all-star games will be determined by the coaches association board of directors.

The North-South Classic moved to Columbus in 2001. Television details for both games will be resolved later on.

Player Comments

Here are comments from three of the OSU signees ticketed for the Ohio North-South Classic:

* Rose on playing in the game -- "It will be a great experience. It will be just like playing in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl. I'll get to meet some new people. I see a few of the guys I already know like Joe Thomas and Connor Smith. I am excited to play with them."

* Rose on signing with OSU -- "I already know what's going on down there. That's where I want to be. I am looking forward to getting down there."

* Rose on being one of 21 college signees at Glenville on Wednesday -- "It was a great experience. Our coach has a real good relationship with a lot of universities. It was great to be with those guys signing."

* Rose on fellow signee Chris Wells -- "Me and Chris talk all the time. He comes up to Cleveland (to the Euclid Sports Plant) all the time to work out. We chill and have fun."

* Smith on playing at Ohio State -- "I am looking forward to it a lot. It will be a great opportunity. I am really excited to get up there and have a chance to compete at the highest level. I just want to go in and compete and do my best and just do what they want me to do."

* Smith on playing in this game -- "I feel very honored to be selected with the best players in Ohio. I feel fortunate to play against a bunch of the state's best players."

* Smith on being denied a chance to play in the Big 33 -- "I think it is kind of weird they are held on the same day. My coach didn't tell me which one to play in. I guess it's good in a way because a lot of players who would not get a chance to play in one of these games will get that chance."

* Smith on following in his father's footsteps at Ohio State -- "I loved going to games when I was little. That had a lot to do with it, going up there and experiencing that atmosphere and the people."

* Smith on playing for offensive line coach/coordinator Jim Bollman -- "Coach Bollman, first of all, I like him as a person. He is a Christian man and that is important to me. On a personal level, he is a great guy. From the variety of his coaching resume and everything else, he knows his stuff. The things he teaches work, obviously. You see all the experience they have, I am looking forward to working with Coach Bolls."

* Moeller on playing in this game -- "It will be neat to play alongside Cobrani Mixon one more time. He is one of my (Colerain) teammates who is headed to Michigan."

* Moeller on his team's 10-2 season at Colerain -- "We had a good year. We definitely wanted to repeat (as state champions). It didn't turn out like we wanted it to, but we still had a good year."

* Moeller on not playing in the Big 33 -- "It would be neat to get to play in both games. I like to play football, so getting to play in two games is better than just one. But then you think how most guys don't even get selected to play in one, so I guess it's OK."

* Moeller on whether the linebacker openings at OSU impacted his decision -- "A little bit. But I knew that had great people already up there. Really, I just wanted to play at Ohio State."

* Moeller on following in A.J. Hawk's footsteps -- "Who doesn't want to play like A.J. Hawk and do the things he does and go to the NFL like he is? Hopefully, I will be as close to as good as he is."

Cincinnati Colerain will be represented by OSU-bound Connor Smith and Tyler Moeller (left, center) and Michigan-bound Cobrani Mixon

Below are the rosters for the North-South Classic:


Saturday, June 17, 7 p.m.

Columbus Crew Stadium


Head coach – John Magistro (Bellaire). Assistant coaches – Doug Frye (St. Marys Memorial), Andy Helms (East Clinton), Todd Knipp ( Rock Hill ), Jason Krause (Lemon-Monroe), Dale Martini ( Tuscarawas Valley ).

No.      Player                         Pos.     Ht.       Wt.      High School               

            Alex Albright                 DE        6-7       225      Cin. St. Xavier    

            Eric Arnett                    WR      6-5       210      Watkins Memorial

            Ryan Ault                     OL       6-2       311      Piqua

            Jake Ballard                 TE        6-7       268      Springboro

            Demeatrus Benjamin     DB       5-11     212      Steubenville

            Josh Chichester            WR      6-6       215      W.C. Lakota West      

            K.C. Christian              DB       5-11     195      Rock Hill

            Vince Corner                DB       5-10     195      Springfield North 

            Clark Crum                  OL       6-7       280      Dublin Scioto

            Jeff Cumberland           WR      6-5       228      Cols. Brookhaven

            Nate Davis                   QB       6-3       215      Bellaire

            Ryan Downard             DB       6-2       195      Lima Shawnee

            Alex Earley                   QB       6-1       195      Huber Hgts. Wayne

            Bo Frye                        RB       6-0       215      St. Marys Memorial

            Erik Gohmann              OL       6-4       255      Dayton Carroll 

            Aaron Huffman             DB       6-4       210      Newark

            Mark Jackson              OL       6-6       285      Cols. Brookhaven

            Erik Jones                    DB       5-9       161      Cin. Winton Woods

            Tad Kilburn                  K         6-0       170      Lemon-Monroe

            Casey Kjos                  DB       6-3       190      W.C. Lakota East

            Darius Lewis                RB       5-11     215      Ironton

            Kris Luchsinger            DL       6-4       226      Cols. Watterson

            Angelo Magnone          DL                               Steubenville

            Lamar Mapp                DL       6-4       255      Springfield South

            Don Matheny               DL       6-2       295      Lancaster

            Jake Miller                   OL       6-6       318      Tuscarawas Valley

            Cobrari Mixon              LB       6-2       230      Cin. Colerain
Tyler Moeller                LB       6-5       205      Cin. Colerain

            Trent Nwaru                 DB       5-11     182      Cols. Beechcroft

            Bryant Potter                LB       6-0       190      Centerburg

            Armand Robinson         WR      6-0       197      Reynoldsburg

            Connor Smith               OL       6-5       300      Cin. Colerain

            Jarrod Smith                 OL       6-5       275      Fairborn

            D.J. Svabik                   DE        6-6       225      Van Wert 


Head coach – Vic Whiting (Canal Fulton Northwest). Assistant coaches – Matt Duffy (Willoughby South), Keith Grabowski (Amherst Steele), Jason Hall (Lyndhurst Brush), Travis Moyer (Bucyrus Wynford), Joe Vassalotti (Tallmadge).

 No.      Player                         Pos.     Ht.       Wt.      High School               

            Angelo Babbaro           DB       5-9       184      Canfield

            John Bertsch                 LB       6-2       230      Canal Fulton NW

            Skylaar Constant          DL                               Bedford

            Jared DeWalt               OL       6-5       290      Lyndhurst Brush

            Peris Edwards              DB       6-2       190      Toledo Rogers

            Phil Evans                     RB       6-3       210      Bucyrus Wynford

            Matt Guhn                    DL       6-2       250      Clyde

            Brett Huffman               TE        6-4       235      Mass. Washington 

            Mark Jackson              DB       6-1       190      Canton McKinley

            Neil James                    DB                               Mass. Washington

            Daven Jones                 WR                              Clev. Glenville

            Yianni Karvounides      OL       6-3       276      Tallmadge

            Ross Kersey                 OL       6-2       286      Toledo SF DeSales

            Rudy Kirbus                 QB                               Clev. St. Ignatius

            Ryan Kish                    LB       6-1       235      Amherst Steele

            Alex Knipp                   RB       6-0       190      Amherst Steele

            Joe Knopick                 LB       6-0       200      Ravenna Southeas

            Marc Krauss                WR      6-3       210      Patrick Henry 

            P.J. Mahone                 WR      6-0       195      Elyria

            Justin McKissick          DB                               Willoughby South

            Jamel Miller                  RB       5-11     195      Tallmadge

            Anthony Mirando         LB                               Jefferson Area

            Josh Moore                  WR      6-2       190      Tiffin Columbian

            Joe Morgan                  WR      6-2       175      Canton McKinley 

            Bill Nagy                      OL       6-4       300      Hudson 

            Robert Rose                 DL       6-4       255      Clev. Glenville

            Nick Rousher               OL       6-2       265      Canfield

            Roger Safford               OL                               Bedford

            Dan Spring                    LB       6-1       227      Avon Lake

            Rick Stanzi                   QB                               Mentor Lake Catholic  

            Joe Thomas                  OL                               Lake . St. Edward

            Alexsey Tigay               DL                               Solon

            Scott Weber                 RB       6-1       225      Canal Fulton NW

            Bryan Wright                K         6-2       205      Salem 


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