Buckeye Pipelines: Vince Workman, Mike Adams, Jake Stoneburner and C.J. Saunders Among Ohio State Standouts From Dublin Coffman

By 11W Staff on March 5, 2022 at 10:10 am
C.J. Saunders
C.J. Saunders

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 nine Ohio State football players since the turn of the century: Dublin Coffman. Two of the nine players were selected in the NFL draft, and one currently holds an Ohio State record. 

Dublin Coffman
2021 RECORD 4–8



One of the most recent Buckeyes from Dublin Coffman is C.J. Saunders, who initially walked on at Ohio State but eventually earned a scholarship and became a team captain and now plays for the Carolina Panthers. He took some time to talk with Eleven Warriors about his experiences at Dublin Coffman.

“First and foremost, playing at Coffman meant playing for a program that had tons of successful teams and successful players,” Saunders said. “The tradition at Dublin Coffman is what makes it special, and you feel that especially as you grow up in the community. 

“It didn't matter if you were the best player, worst player or somewhere in between. You knew what it meant to be a Coffman Shamrock and all of the greatness that came before you were there. That in itself prepared me for Ohio State because Ohio State is such a tradition-rich program."

Seeing other former Shamrocks go on to play for Ohio State inspired Saunders’ own career as a Buckeye.

“My friends and I grew up knowing who Mike Adams and Jake Stoneburner were,” Saunders said. “Along with many other great Coffman players. Going to the games on Friday nights and those guys were famous to us younger kids.”

Notable Buckeyes from Dublin Coffman (1970-2021)

HB Vince Workman (1985-88)

Workman finished his Buckeye career with 1,882 rushing yards and 13 touchdowns. He also caught 54 passes for 584 yards and 2 TDs. Workman led the team in rushing as both a sophomore and junior, running for a career-high 1,030 yards and eight touchdowns as a sophomore. As a junior, he was second on the team with 26 receptions for 354 yards. 

He was voted a captain during his senior season of 1988. However, he was only able to play in the first two games before he was dismissed from the team for signing with an agent. Workman was selected by the Packers in the fifth round of the 1989 NFL draft Workman was Green Bay's starting running back in 1992 and played in the NFL for eight seasons.

At Dublin Coffman, Workman was a two-time All-Ohioan. He was an All-American as a senior, when he rushed for 1,793 yards and 31 touchdowns. For his high school career, Workman ran for 4,070 yards and 68 touchdowns. He still has all of Dublin Coffman’s rushing records except for one.

OL Mike Adams (2008-11)

Adams started 25 times on the offensive line during his five years in Columbus. He was the Buckeyes’ top left tackle in 2010 and 2011 went on to be selected in the second round of the 2012 NFL draft by the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Dublin Coffman went 13–1 and made it to the state semifinals in Adams’ senior year. He was an All-Ohioan as a junior and senior, played in the U.S. Army All-American Bowl and as named to the USA Today All-USA team.

TE/WR Jake Stoneburner (2008-12)

Stoneburner played in 48 games and started 23 times during his years as a Buckeye. He finished his Ohio State career as the all-time leader in touchdowns for a tight end with 13, and tied for the team lead in 2011 with 14 receptions – one less than Jaxon Smith-Njigba had in two single games last season, but a lot for a Buckeye team that struggled to throw the ball after Terrelle Pryor’s departure from Columbus.

In high school, Stoneburner was a two-time All-Ohioan and set multiple school receiving records. He completed his high school career with 168 receptions for 2,751 yards and 28 touchdowns. The talented athlete also lettered in basketball and track.

Former Dublin Coffman coach Mark Crabtree said he saw the potential for Adams and Stoneburner to be Ohio State-caliber players early in their high school careers.

“With Mike and Jake you could see that when they were young,” Crabtree said. “They were very athletic, they were big kids for being young guys. The other thing, those guys, they were team-first guys. They didn’t care about individual accolades or stats or any kind of awards, but it’s funny because in the end that’s exactly what they got ... They just were good teammates and they helped their teammates get better.”

WR C.J. Saunders (2016-19)

Saunders walked on to the Buckeyes in 2016 as a cornerback. In 2017, he switched to wide receiver and steadily worked his way up the depth chart. He earned a scholarship in the spring of 2018, made the Big Ten All-Academic team four times and was a team captain during his senior season, which was highlighted by Saunders giving an emotional speech that helped spark the Buckeyes’ second-half comeback against Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game. 

He missed his senior season due to a knee injury, and became a student assistant coach in 2020 after the NCAA denied his request for an additional year of eligibility. Yet despite going undrafted in 2020, Saunders signed with the Carolina Panthers and spent most of last season on their practice squad before appearing in one game against the Carolina Panthers and catching two passes for 11 yards.

At Dublin Coffman, Saunders earned all-conference and all-district honors in football, basketball and baseball. He was also a captain for all three teams as a senior.

Asked for his favorite memory from his Dublin Coffman career, Saunders said one game that sticks out was a senior-year playoff win over Coffman's biggest rival, Hilliard Davidson.

“We matched up with Hilliard Davidson in the first round of the playoffs my senior year. They were a tough squad, and we ended up beating them for the second time that year which is never easy,” Saunders said. “I can remember myself and nearly every player on our team making a big play in that game to help lead us to victory in our final home game of our career. That's a pretty special moment to me because we all grew up together and being able to beat Davidson in a game like that meant a lot as we closed that chapter of our lives.”

Dublin Coffman Buckeyes (1970-2021)
LB CHARLES SIMON 1974-76 Missed his junior season due to knee surgery and a blood clot, almost died in Nov. 1974 and lost 45 pounds, the only game he played was as a senior after he overcame his hardships. All-Ohioan.
LB BRIAN LEWIS 1977 Listed on the roster.  
HB VINCE WORKMAN 1985-88 Led the team in rushing as a sophomore and junior, was dismissed from the team for signing with an agent as a senior. Rushed for 4,070 yards and 68 TDs for his career and was a HS All-American and 2x All-Ohioan.
P/K MIKE MALFATT 1993-96 Came to Ohio State as a kicker and punter, played in 26 games, 22 of the games as a sophomore and junior and only 4 his senior season, was used primarily for kickoffs and long FGs.  All-Ohioan as a punter and named to an All-American by USA Today, won state title in volleyball in 1992.
FB ERIC SCHMIDLIN 1993 Listed on the roster.  
WR DUANE CROOKS 1999-00 Walked-on and made the roster in 1999, played in 9 games primarily on special teams as a freshman, did not see the field in 2000.  
LB FRED PAGAC JR. 1999-03 Played in 39 games and started 12. Recorded 70 tackles, 6.5 TFL and an INT. All-Ohioan who combined for 200 tackles over his JR and SR seasons. 
OG ADAM OLDS 2001-03 Played in five games for 13 minutes as a senior, was on the field for seven minutes against Bowling Green, missed the 2002 season due to hip surgery. All-Ohioan, ranked as the No. 1 OL in Ohio by SuperPrep and was a 2x state qualifier in wrestling.
QB MATT TROMBITAS 2002 Listed on one roster.  
OL STEVE WINNER 2002-05 Walked-on in 2001, made the roster in 2002, saw the field in 2 games in 2004, could not find information on 2005 season. 2-year starter and earned 3 letters.
DE ALEX BARROW 2004-07 Played in 42 games, recorded 16 tackles, 1 TFL and 1 forced fumble during his career. 2nd team All-Ohioan, recorded 95 tackles, 27 TFL and 14 sacks as a senior.
WR KYLE RUHL 2004-08 Academic All-Big Ten, 1 varsity letter.  
OL MIKE ADAMS 2008-11 25 starts on the offensive line. All-American and 2x All-Ohioan.
TE/WR JAKE STONEBURNER 2008-12 Led the team in receptions his junior season, holds the career record for TDs by a TE.  2x All-Ohioan who had 2,751 career receiving yards and 28 TDs.
K KYLE CLINTON 2012-14 Started his college career at Ohio University in 2010. Walked on and made the Buckeye roster in 2012. Had 114 kickoffs and 38 touchbacks during the championship season of 2014. All-Ohioan and was a team captain as a senior.
WR C.J. SAUNDERS 2016-19 Captain of the 2019 team, 4x Academic All-Big Ten, 294 receiving yards and 1 TD. All-OCC and All-District, captain of football, basketball and baseball teams.
QB GUNNAR HOAK 2019-20 Transferred to Ohio State from Kentucky, completed all six of his pass attempts as a Buckeye, connected with Jameson Williams on a 61-yard TD against Miami (Ohio). Threw for 4,382 yards and 44 TDs during his last two seasons, Central District Player of the Year as a junior.

The downlow on Dublin Coffman

A public high school located northwest of Columbus, Dublin Coffman competes in the Ohio Capital Conference and Division 1, Region 2. The Shamrocks went 3–7 in the regular season last year and qualified for the playoffs, in which they upset Huber Heights Wayne in the first round with a Hail Mary touchdown pass. 

The last time the Dublin Coffman football team did not qualify for the playoffs? 2008, that's 13 straight seasons.

Two members of the 2021 Dublin Coffman football team will soon join the list of Shamrocks who go on to play for the Buckeyes. Quarterback Mason Maggs will become the 18th Shamrock to play for the Buckeyes this summer when he arrives at Ohio State as a walk-on. Defensive lineman Will Smith Jr., the son of late Ohio State great Will Smith, will become the 19th Shamrock to play for the Buckeyes next year, as he is committed to Ohio State’s recruiting class of 2023.

Across all sports, Dublin Coffman – which was established as Dublin High School in 1973, then became Dublin Coffman in 1995 when it was announced Dublin Scioto would be built – has won seven OHSAA state championships. The girls’ soccer team leads the way with two state titles, while boys’ baseball, cross country and lacrosse and girls’ swimming and lacrosse have also all earned one state championship.

Coach Crabtree's impact

Mark Crabtree was Coffman's head coach from 2001-20. During those 20 seasons, the Shamrocks won 179 games, made the playoffs 18 times and claimed seven league championships. Saunders benefited from Crabtree's influence.

“Coach Crabtree was an amazing coach who understood what each year's players did well and formed the team around those talents,” Saunders said. “He had a way of getting all of the players to believe in something bigger than themselves and play for each other.”

Crabtree had a knack for developing college quarterbacks. Dublin Coffman signal-callers under his tutelage went on to play for Boston College, Clemson, Kentucky, Louisville, Mississippi, Notre Dame, Ohio, Ohio State and Western Kentucky.

"We took the kind of players that we had and matched the talent that they had and matched it to a specific scheme that allowed them to do things, that before we got here, they never did,” Crabtree said. “I was lucky enough to inherit Brady Quinn going into his junior year.”

How did Dublin Coffman's staff and program put the quarterbacks in the best position to succeed?

“So, we decided to match a little bit of luck with scheme and talent and became a program that was known for really good quarterback play,” Crabtree said. “I think eight of the quarterbacks that I’ve had here went on to D1 schools, and I think a lot of that is because of our program and how we ran it and developed it and matched the scheme with their ability level.”

Crabtree resigned as Dublin Coffman's head coach following the 2020 season, but he continues to have close ties with the community.

“I just became really absorbed into the Dublin community and have gained a lot of friendships because of it,” Crabtree said. “God has blessed me and he continues to do that and we’re just thankful that we got to meet some great people here and if anybody tells you luck doesn’t exist, they don’t know what they’re talking about. I was lucky enough to experience being around really good people with really good parents.”

Following his resignation from the Shamrocks, it didn't take long for the coaching bug to strike. Crabtree returned to the sidelines for the 2021 season as the offensive coordinator for St. Francis DeSales – his alma mater – where his youngest son is a freshman.

Other famous alumni

In addition to the 17 Shamrocks who have gone on to play football at Ohio State, several other athletes from Dublin Coffman have also gone on to achieve success in the collegiate and professional ranks in recent years.

A pair of Shamrocks played football at Notre Dame. Quarterback Brady Quinn and safety Chinedum Ndukwe were roommates during their time in South Bend. Both players were selected in the 2007 NFL draft.

Offensive lineman Ikechuku Ndukwe, brother of Chinedum, played for Northwestern and went on to play for six NFL teams during a seven-year career. 

Kent Mercker was the fifth overall pick of the 1986 MLB draft. The lefthanded pitcher played for nine teams during a career that spanned 20 years. Mercker won a World Series with the Atlanta Braves in 1995, threw a no-hitter in 1994 and was part of a combined no-hitter in 1991. 

Doug DeVore was drafted by the Cincinnati Reds in 1996 and played one season with the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2004.

Former Dublin Coffman track star Abby Steiner won the 200-meter state title all four years of her high school career and the 100-meter state title three straight times. She holds the state high school record in both events and has continued her success at the University of Kentucky. On February 27, Steiner set the American indoor record in the 200-meter dash with a time of 22.09 seconds that also ranks as the second-best in the world. She has set two collegiate records during this year’s indoor track season and is the reigning NCAA 200-meter champion. 

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. 

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