On The Trail: Game Observations of Ohio State Commitments and Targets The Halfway Point of The Ohio High School Football Season

By Mick Walker on October 3, 2019 at 3:45 pm
Jack Sawyer

We're at the midpoint of the Ohio high school football season, and Eleven Warriors has been in-person to see five talented high school prospects. Here's what we saw at those five games.

Week 1: Pickerington North at Olentangy Liberty

Player: Jack Sawyer

Position: Defensive end

Recruitment: Committed to Ohio State

Stat line: 14 Total Tackles, 6.5 Tackles for Loss, and 5 Sacks

Five-star 2021 Ohio State defensive end commit Jack Sawyer has been on a tear through the first four weeks of his junior season and it all got started week one.

Olentangy Liberty was fresh off a state final four run in 2018 and featured three-star Northwestern commit Ben Wrather along the offensive line. All of that meant nothing to Sawyer, who went on to record five sacks and 6.5 tackles for loss in the first game of his junior year.

Sawyer has a very unique level of athleticism which was on full display against the Patriots. He used that athleticism to beat opposing offensive tackles around the corner with ease a number of times. However, the most eye-catching thing about Sawyers game were his refined techniques.

Though he is only a junior in high school, hie uses his hands like a seasoned veteran. One play in particular sticks out and that was when he used a tight spin move to slide passed the left tackle for a sack to close out the first half.

While there is still plenty of time until Sawyer suits up for the Buckeyes, as he's just a junior, he has all the makings of an instant-impact player. In the meantime, Sawyer still has to work on adding weight and muscle to prepare himself for the college game along with continuing to refine his pass-rushing skillset.

Here is Sawyer's week 1 highlight tape: 

Week 2: Massillon Washington vs. GlenOak

Player: Jayden Ballard

Position: Wide Receiver

Recruitment: Committed to Ohio State

Stat Line: 2 receptions for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns 

Four-star receiver Jayden Ballard finished his sophomore season with 36 catches for 851 yards and 12 touchdowns and pledged his services to Ohio State and wide receivers coach Brian Hartline this summer.

Ballard kicked off his junior season with a modest 5 catches for 63 yards and a touchdown to go along with a free-kick he returned to the end zone. He had an even better performance week two where he had 2 catches for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

Both of Ballard's touchdown catches were quite spectacular.

The first catch was on a scramble play where Ballard saw his quarterback in distress and got himself open in the back of the end zone. His second was on a beautiful deep post where he used his elite speed to blow past the defensive back, make the catch and then jog into the end zone.

Similar to Jack Sawyer, Ballard is very polished for his grade and age. He runs some of the best and most precise routes you will see at the high school level. He also game-breaking speed at the wide receiver position. With his elite speed and precise routes, Ballard has the ability to affect the game in a variety of ways.

Because of the depth, Brian Hartline has built in the wide receiver at Ohio State don't expect Ballard to play right away but when he does step on the field watch out.

Week 3: Revere at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy

Player: Ben Christman

Position: Offensive Tackle

Recruitment: Committed to Ohio State

State Line: Led an offense that had 393 total yards (154 rushing, 239 passing)

Ben Christman is a rare player at 6-foot-6 and 299 pounds with great agility. But at the high school level, he has such a unique effect on the game. 

Often when fans talk about game-changing players they mention quarterback, wide receiver, cornerback, and just about all other skill positions. Christman has the talent and leadership to change the game from the left tackle position. Whether it be plowing over his man to convert a first down or hustling down the field as a lead blocker, Christman is the unquestioned leader on his offense.

Ironically, Christman's importance to the team could best be seen in his absence. Following a second down and short play, Christman went down on the field. Luckily it was only cramps but Christman still had to miss a few plays, and his team struggled mightily without him. He missed a third-down and short attempt. Revere could not run behind him and was unable to convert and from that play on the game changed. 

Following the injury, to Christman, you could see the energy of Revere faded because their star and leader was hurt. By just being on the field Christman's raises the play of everyone on the around him.

When he is in the game he is as dominant a player as there is on Friday nights. He has great feet and agility that allows him to move at an elite level for an offensive tackle.

But Christman is not just a finesse player, he has a tremendous amount of power for his young age. The main area for improvement in Christman's game ahead of college is working on his endurance, but that will come with time.

Week 4: Archbishop Alter at St. Francis De Sales

Player: CJ Hicks

Position: Athlete

Recruitment: 15 Offers including Cincinnati, Purdue, and Miami (FL)

Stat Line: None Reported.

CJ Hicks is the top sophomore in the state of Ohio and the first uncommitted prospect we saw this season.

Needless to say, he did not disappoint. Hicks is a lockdown cornerback and very talented return man for his high school team. However, he projects best as a strong safety or even outside linebacker at the college level. 

As only a sophomore, there is still plenty of time for Hicks to continue developing. He has a great frame at 6-foot-4 and 200 pounds to go along with very good speed. Hicks' upside is sky high and after watching last Friday it was clear why Hicks is one of the best sophomores in the country.

As for his recruitment, it is still very much in its infancy. He holds 15 offers from schools all across the country and is hearing from many other schools. He went to several camps this summer along with a few game visits this fall.

In the end, Ohio State is the offer he wants and it is coming eventually it's just a matter of time.

Here is Hicks' highlight tape from week 4:

Week 5: Pickerington North vs. Dublin Coffman

Player: Chris Scott

Position: Wide Receiver

Recruitment: 11 Offers including Cincinnati, Kentucky, and West Virginia

State Line: 8 receptions for 169 yards and 2 touchdowns

This was a primetime matchup in central Ohio riddled with Division I college football talent including 2021 five-star Ohio State defensive end commitment Jack Sawyer, but 2020 three-star wide receiver Chris Scott stole the show.

His stat line alone is impressive, but when you consider that Dublin Coffman had 2021 three-star outside linebacker Devon Williams at the line jamming Scott with Jameel Williamson – an Ohio state champion sprinter playing 10 yards back – his performance looks even better.

We have been live to see Pickerington North play twice this year and both were against some of the best teams in central Ohio. Both games Scott had over 100 yards receiving and at least one touchdown. Scott looks like the top senior wide receiver in the state of Ohio and may only be behind 2021 four-star Ohio State commitment Jayden Ballard and 2021 four-star Ohio State target Lorenzo Styles Jr. for the best wide receiver in the state.

As for Scott and his recruitment, he has some high caliber offers from Big Ten, Big 12, and SEC schools. He very much likes Ohio State but is on the short end of the Buckeyes landing four stud wide receivers in the 2020 class.

There was some hope that Scott may sneak into this class as a defensive back but with the new developments in 2020 four-star Ohio State target Ryan Watts recruitment, Scott is once again on the outside looking in when it comes to the Ohio State's 2020 class.

Nonetheless, Chris Scott was the star in this week five high school football game and whoever lands him is getting a very good player.