Although Ohio State recruits football players from all over the nation, some high schools have produced more Buckeyes than others.
Buckeye Pipelines puts the spotlight each week on a high school program who has had numerous and notable alumni go on to play for the Scarlet and Gray.
This week, we take a look at a school that has produced eight Ohio State football players since 2004: Pickerington Central. Seven Tigers have played for the Buckeyes over the past two decades, while five-star safety Sonny Styles will join the Buckeyes later this summer after three years at PC.
LOCATION: PICKERINGTON, OH
2021 RECORD 12–2
2 STATE FOOTBALL TITLES
14 OHSAA STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
30TH-MOST PLAYERS ON OHIO STATE'S ROSTER (7)
24TH-MOST ROSTER APPEARANCES (25)
By joining the Buckeyes from Pickerington Central, Sonny Styles will follow in the footsteps of a successful lineage of Tigers who have donned the scarlet and gray included two pairs of brothers – Zach and Jacoby Boren and DaVon and Ty Hamilton – as well as A.J. Trapasso, Jamie Wood and Max Lomonico.
Zach Boren, who is now the president of Boren Brothers Waste Management, told Eleven Warriors that playing for Pickerington Central and coach Jay Sharrett was a crucial step in his development before playing for the Buckeyes.
“I can’t imagine not playing for Coach Sharrett during my high school career,” Boren said. “Coach Sharrett was the kind of coach that was always forward thinking and always had a way of coaching/teaching us players that made us think about the game of football in a completely different way than normal high school players.
“Playing in Coach Sharrett’s program put me so far ahead as a freshman at Ohio State as the film breakdowns, the adjustments during a game, the pre-snap reads, the ability to read and react and the techniques that are so vital to learn quickly in college football in order to be successful, I knew how to do all of those things before I even stepped foot on campus as the Pickerington Central program instills all of those traits in us.”
Notable Buckeyes from Pickerington Central (1970-2021)
P AJ Trapasso (2004-08)
Trapasso finished his Ohio State career second in program history with 78 punts downed inside the 20, fourth in career punt attempts (203) and fifth in career punt yards (8,317). He averaged 41 yards per punt as the Buckeyes won four Big Ten titles and went 5–0 in The Game with Trapasso on the roster.
At Pickerington Central, Trapasso was a two-time All-Ohioan. He started out as a kicker and added punting duties for his junior and senior season. Trapasso was also a running back at Pickerington Central, where he rushed for 3,754 yards and 50 touchdowns. As a junior, he averaged 8.6 yards per carry and was the team's offensive MVP.
Trapasso is now a director of training at BBI Logistics in Columbus.
FB/LB Zach Boren (2009-12)
Zach Boren arrived in Columbus for the 2009 season, joining his older brother Justin, who graduated from Pickerington North High School and started his college career at Michigan before transferring to Ohio State.
Zach played fullback for most of his Ohio State career, but became a starting linebacker for the final four games of his senior season, finishing the 2021 season as the team's sixth-leading tackler. On offense, Boren had 11 carries for 33 yards and two touchdowns during his final season with the team. Boren was also a captain in 2012, when he culminated his career by helping leading the Buckeyes to a win in The Game with a memorable sack of Devin Gardner.
For his Ohio State career as a whole, Boren started 39 games for the Buckeyes.
As a senior at Pickerington Central in 2008, when the Tigers went 13-1 and were Ohio Capital Conference and Ohio Region 3 champs, Boren was Ohio's Defensive Player of the Year.
“My senior year was a special ride for us,” Boren said. “We were a top-10 nationally ranked team and we had the mindset that no one was going to beat us. That team consisted of so many different personalities, ethnicities and backgrounds, even for a high school football team all from the same town, but I remember us being so close as a team and we truly had a brotherhood that knew what it meant to play for the great school of Pickerington Central.”
He was also rated as Ohio’s second-best baseball player in his high school class, but concentrated solely on football once he arrived at Ohio State.
DB Jamie Wood (2009-12)
Wood played in 26 games for the Buckeyes, primarily on special teams, and tallied 20 tackles before a shoulder injury ended his career.
A captain for Pickerington Central, Wood helped lead the Tigers to consecutive OCC championships and earned All-Ohio honors. He also played in the U.S. Army All-American game before arriving at Ohio State.
Wood now works as an assistant director of compliance at Ohio State.
C Jacoby Boren (2012-15)
Jacoby Boren played in 44 games with 28 starts during his time in Columbus. A two-year starter at center and a captain as a senior, Boren was the anchor of the “Slobs” unit that helped lead the Buckeyes to the 2014 national championship.
Before Ohio State, Boren helped lead Pickerington Central to its first-ever state title game as a senior for the Tigers.
Boren now works as the vice president of business operations for Grass Groomers, a company founded by his father.
DT DaVon Hamilton (2015-19)
Hamilton played in 40 games and recorded 66 tackles, 20 tackles for loss and seven sacks during his career with the Buckeyes. Six of those sacks came in the final seven games of his fifth-year senior season, which helped him become a third-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft.
Hamilton also made some memorable plays for the Buckeyes earlier in his career. He recovered a Wilton Speight fumble near the Ohio State goal line in the epic double-overtime victory over Michigan in 2016. He also recovered a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in Ohio State’s 40-28 victory over TCU in 2018.
At Pickerington Central, Hamilton collected 67 tackles and 23 tackles for loss during his All-Ohio senior season, when he was also named the OCC and Division I Central District Player of the Year.
Hamilton’s younger brother Ty, who is also a defensive tackle, will play his third season at Ohio State in 2022.
|POS||PLAYER||YEARS||OHIO STATE CAREER||HS CAREER|
|P||AJ TRAPASSO||2004-08||Won four Big Ten titles and went undefeated in The Game.||2-time All-Ohioan as a punter, rushed for 3,754 yards and 50 TDs, team's offensive MVP.|
|DB||JAMIE WOOD||2009-12||Special teams player who played in 26 games and had 20 tackles through his junior seasond.||Captain and helped lead the Tigers to consecutive OCC championships. Selected for the U.S. Army All-American game and was an All-Ohioan.|
|FB/LB||ZACH BOREN||2009-12||Captain of the undefeated 2012 team, started 39 games.||Ohio's Defensive Player of the Year.|
|OC||JACOBY BOREN||2012-15||Captain of the 2015 team, 2014 national champion, started 28 games.||All-Ohioan at OG, 3-time All-OCC, made it to state title as a senior.|
|DT||DAVON HAMILTON||2015-19||Has played in 27 games and recorded 38 tackles, 10.5 TFL and 1 sack through his junior season.||All-Ohioan who had 67 tackles and 23 TFL as a senior. OCC and Division I Central District Player of the Year.|
|DT||TY HAMILTON||2020-PRESENT||13 tackles, 2 sacks and a fumble recovery in 2021, has played in 14 games.||All-Ohioan at LB, 118 tackles and 8.5 sacks as a senior, state title in 2019.|
|LS||MAX LOMONICO||2021-PRESENT||Walk-on has not yet appeared in a game.||Played WR and LS, special mention All-OCC.|
A peek at Pick Central
A public high school located to the southeast of Columbus, Pickerington Central competes in the Ohio Capital Conference and Division 1, Region 3. The Tigers went 9–1 in the regular season last year, then won three playoff games before losing a triple overtime heartbreaker to Upper Arlington.
With Jay Sharrett as head coach, the football program has won two state titles. The first was in 2017, when the Tigers defeated Mentor 56-28 to cap a 14–1 season. The second state title came in 2019 with a 21-14 defeat of Elder in the state championship game. Pickerington Central has qualified for the Ohio high school playoffs for 16 consecutive seasons.
During the regular season, Pickerington Central has three games circled on the schedule: The Battle of 256 against Reynoldsburg, the Fight for Fairfield County against Lancaster and a crosstown rivalry game with Pickerington North.
Across all sports, Pickerington Central – which was previously just Pickerington High School, then became Pickerington Central when Pickerington North High School opened in 2003 – has won 14 OHSAA state championships. The girls basketball team leads the way with seven state titles, football and boys track have two and boys basketball, boys cross country and girls' softball each have one.
The girls basketball team won the USA TODAY national championship in 1999. The marching band has marched and performed in 16 NFL halftime shows, five Rose Bowl Parades, four Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parades and for three presidents.
How Sharrett built a pipeline
Pickerington Central’s growth into one of the state’s top high school football programs and a pipeline for future Buckeyes has come under the leadership of Sharrett, who has worked to cultivate strong relationships with Ohio State’s coaching staff since he became Pickerington Central’s head coach in 2003.
"Our connection with Ohio State has been strengthened through the years due to the continuity of the Ohio State staff,” Sharrett said. “Even during coaching changes and shifts in coaching assignments, that continuity has remained. Which in turn keeps the recruiting and evaluation of players accurate and open.”
Sharrett says there are several “layers” that have contributed to Pickerington Central’s success over the past two decades.
"Starting with the involvement of our players in youth organizations, our junior high program being directly in-line with our high school football expectations and the commitment of our alums as well as current players to the school and football program,” Sharrett said. “These ‘layers’ in place, along with our coaching staff being together for many years, has provided us with great high school football experiences.”
Sharrett says all of the players who have gone on to play for the Buckeyes have played a part in building Pickerington Central into what it is today.
“Each player that we have sent to Ohio State formed our program with their performance on the field and dedication to the program,” Sharrett said. “All of our players carry a little bit of Central with them no matter which college or path they choose in their adult life.”
Boren said he continues to carry the lessons he learned from Central with him to this day.
“I would say Pickerington Central is one of, if not the main reason, I was successful at Ohio State,” Boren said. “Being able to go to a blue collar high school with so many different ethnicities, knowing how to come together for one goal, and learning to sweat and bleed with your fellow brothers for one cause, is what life and especially life in football is all about.”
Other famous alumni
In addition to the eight Tigers who have gone on to play football at Ohio State, several other athletes from Pickerington Central have also gone on to achieve success in the collegiate and professional ranks in recent years.
One of those athletes is Jae’Sean Tate, who played basketball at Ohio State from 2014-18 and now stars for the NBA’s Houston Rockets. Another basketball star from Pickerington Central, Caris LeVert, played for the school up north from 2012-16 and is now in his sixth season in the NBA, recently returning to his home state of Ohio after a trade to the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Along with Hamilton, three other recent Tigers have also gone on to play in the NFL. Taco Charlton was a first-round pick out of Michigan in 2017 and now plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brian Peters played for the Houston Texans from 2015-18 after going undrafted out of Northwestern in 2012. And Roger Lewis played two seasons for the New York Giants from 2016-17 after an All-MAC career at Bowling Green.
Why are Buckeyes prior to 1970 not highlighted or included in the rankings? Ohio State's official rosters listed the hometown of players, but did not provide their high school on the roster before 1970.