Recruiting is said to be the lifeblood of college football. This series will countdown the top 100 high schools in Ohio that have provided the Buckeyes with football players. The rankings are based on how many times a player from each high school has been listed on Ohio State's roster between 1970 and 2018.
No. 75, Independence
Four players from Independence have been listed on 12 Ohio State rosters. Roger Harper (1989-92) was the first 76er to make an Ohio State roster. He entered the program as a wide receiver, but was redshirted his freshman season and switched to the defensive secondary. Harper intercepted 7 passes and returned one for a touchdown as a Buckeye. After his junior season, Harper was named to the All-Big Ten second team and was the Sports Illustrated Defensive Player of the Week after he had 12 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, a sack and a 42-yard interception return against Washington State.
The Atlanta Falcons selected Harper in the second round of the 1993 NFL Draft. At Independence, He earned first team All-Ohio honors in both football and basketball and was a captain for both teams. Harper gave back to his school with a scholarship in his name that was awarded to scholar athletes.
Rod Harper, Roger's brother, was a walk on in 1990. He left the team after one season due to injuries.
Joe Cooper (1997-2001) was the third player from Independence to make the Buckeyes' roster. He played outside linebacker and was known on the team as a vocal and emotional player. Cooper was a captain on the 2000 and 2001 teams and was named the Most Inspirational Player of the 2000 and 2001 seasons.
In 1998, Cooper forced a fumble against West Virginia, his first collegiate game. Later that season, he recovered a fumble in the end zone against Penn State that gave Ohio State a 21-3 lead. In 2000, Cooper was the second leading tackler on the team. In 2001, he led the team with 66 solo stops and had a team high in tackles against Akron (10), Indiana (9), Illinois (10), Michigan (8) and South Carolina (9).
At Independence, Cooper was named the Division II Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, first-team All-Ohio and had 35 sacks his senior year. The New York Jets signed Cooper as an undrafted free agent in April of 2002, but he was released in September of that same year. He played three games with the Calgary Stampeders in 2002 and was signed and released by the Rams in 2003
Erik Haw (2004-05) was a fast and strong running back who came to Ohio State with high expectations. The Buckeye coaching staff clocked him at 4.21 in the 40-yard dash at an Ohio State football camp in the summer of 2003. Haw rushed for 3,038 yards and 30 touchdowns as a senior. Things did not pan out for Haw and he left the program for Jackson State after the 2005 season.
Back To School
Independence is located in Franklin County and is a member of the Columbus City League. The team currently competes in Division III, Region 11. The 76ers were 5–5 last year. The last time the program made the playoffs was 2017. They hosted Jackson in the first round and won, 32-7. Independence then faced Hartley in the second round and lost, 44-14.
Independence has not won a state title in any sport. It is the only Columbus Public high school not located inside of I-270. A certain 11W contributor is a graduate of I-High.
Some famous names you may know: NFL player DeAngelo Smith, MLB player Eric Crozier, Buckeye basketball player George Reese, Kansas basketball player Kenny Gregory, Buckeye basketball and WNBA player Jessica Davenport.
Explanation of the Rankings
School "A" had 14 players appear 16 times on Ohio State's roster. School "B" had 11 players appear 20 times on Ohio State's roster. School "B" will have the higher ranking. Why? Even though school "B" has less players, those players played for more years.
If two or more schools have the same number of appearances, the tie will be broken by the school with the highest average of roster appearances per player. If there is a tie in the average, the tie breaker will be the school with the most prominent Ohio State player.
2,758 days since Ohio State has not defeated That Team.
167 days until The Game.
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