Dunbar senior running back Tavion Thomas announced his commitment to the University of Oklahoma on Tuesday, just two hours before Darran Powell, his high school coach, was not retained.
Thomas said on Twitter he selected the Sooners after narrowing his choices to seven programs earlier this month. He thanked his family, coaches, teammates, teachers and God. “It’s been a rocky road,” he tweeted, “but couldn’t have done it without y’all support and love.”
Later Tuesday night the Dayton Public Schools board of education voted not to retain Powell as Dunbar’s head coach. Needing a majority four yes votes, the board fell one yes vote short — 3-2 — with one member abstaining and another missing the meeting.
Neither Thomas nor Powell returned requests for comments.
Dunbar already had been rocked by the transfer of standout senior linebacker Antwuan Johnson last week to Wayne. He remains uncommitted after de-committing from Michigan.
Another Dunbar standout, senior receiver Joseph Scates, also has multiple offers. Thomas and Scates had offers from Alabama, but apparently none from Ohio State.
Johnson was an imposing sight last season. At 6-foot-3 and 225 pounds he was an offensive hammer with breakaway speed. He rushed for 1,606 yards on 137 carries (11.7 average) and scored 22 touchdowns.
He also rarely played in the fourth quarter of blowout wins. Dunbar was 9-1 on the field last season, losing only to Princeton. However, the Wolverines forfeited Weeks 9-10 games for using an academically ineligible player and missed qualifying for the Division IV playoffs by one spot with an adjusted 7-3 record.
As a junior Thomas was first team Division IV All-Ohio, first team D-IV All-Southwest District and the Southwestern Ohio Public League offensive player of the year.
He also anchored Dunbar’s 4x100-meter relay to its only event win in the D-II state track and field meet this month at Columbus. The Wolverines won their 10th boys outdoor state track championship and fourth in six years.
Scout.com ranks Thomas the No. 2 running back in the Midwest and No. 256 prospect overall nationally. He chose Oklahoma over Alabama, Cincinnati, Louisville, USC, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Lincoln Riley is the new Oklahoma coach, promoted after Bob Stoops’ surprising recent retirement. Riley, 34, is the youngest head coach among the BCS ranks.
Former Dunbar teammate Terrance Landers is a sophomore receiver at Purdue and 2012 Dunbar grad R.J. Williamson, a defensive back, finished his career at Michigan State in 2015.
Dunbar opens the upcoming season Aug. 25 against Belmont at Welcome Stadium.
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CLASS OF 2018 AREA FOOTBALL COMMITS
Tyler Bentley, DL, Lakota West / Kentucky
John Dirksen, OL, Marion Local / Notre Dame
Jack McCrory, RB, Spg. Shawnee / Ohio
Alex Reigelsperger, DE, Wayne / Kentucky
Jadon Rucker-Furlow, DB, Belmont / Miami
Tavion Thomas, RB, Dunbar / Oklahoma
Malik Vann, DL, Fairfield / Cincinnati