Area football players work to impress recruiters at spring combines around Miami Valley

Who are the next college football players to come from the Miami Valley? More than two dozen coaches were in the area Monday hoping to find out.

“This gives us the opportunity to see the kids move around and run,” said Youngstown State offensive line coach John Peterson, a Middletown grad who has previously coached at Ohio State, Akron, Miami University and Pittsburgh.

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Peterson, who also played at Ohio State from 1987-90, was just one of many college coaches in attendance at Springfield, Northmont and Trotwood-Madison.

Among other notable attendees were Ohio State offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, Michigan State secondary coach Paul Haynes and defensive coordinator Mike Tressel, Bowling Green defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder and Cincinnati defensive coordinator Marcus Freeman, who is a Wayne graduate and former Ohio State player as well.

Rutgers, West Virginia, Pittsburgh, Georgia Tech, Kansas State, Akron, Kent State, Miami University and Eastern Michigan also were among schools who sent coaches while representatives from many smaller colleges were in attendance as well, including Central State, Urbana, Ohio Northern, Wilmington, Findlay and Notre Dame College.

Springfield coach Maurice Douglass said the idea to host such an event came from seeing something similar done in Indianapolis and noted something similar was planned for the Cincinnati area Tuesday.

"It's about maximizing opportunities for exposure," said Douglass, who had six players from the class of 2019 sign to play in college football.

The area produces dozens of college players every year, including 8-12 or more Division I prospects, but sometimes they are slow to be discovered.

College coaches know the area has talent, but do they know how much? That’s debatable, which is why getting them onto local campuses is valuable.

There are some who feel Ohio is at a disadvantage both from a developmental and recruiting standpoint because the Ohio High School Athletic Association does not sanction spring football practice, which is common in the South.

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While combines such as the ones held Monday do not provide high school coaches a chance to develop football skills, they do at least serve to give college coaches another evaluation tool rather than forcing them to project a player’s potential via how they look in other sports or only film.

“I call it connecting the dots,” Trotwood coach Jeff Graham said. “You can see a kid without pads, how he moves, see his footwork, how he turns, hand-eye coordination and then you watch him on film and you see the transformation in them actually playing, how they are in coverage, do they come up and tackle, do they make plays and things of that nature.”

Northmont coach Tony Broering was also happy with the way the day went.

“I think it’s been great,” he said. “Above and beyond expectations. I was worried about the weather and then I was a little worried about how it would be received, how many coaches would be here, but as you can see it was packed. I felt like it was a great day for the boys and my assistants did a great job.”

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While raising the likelihood seniors-to-be will receive scholarship offers was obviously one goal, all three coaches also touted how much younger talent their teams have.

Letting college coaches get a look at some of the potential prospects in the freshman and sophomore classes could lead to greater awareness of them — and more opportunities — as their recruiting interest improves.

“Exactly,” Graham said. “It’s perfect for our program, for our kids to see what it takes to be recruited at the Division I level or D-II or D-III.”

He noted that while there are now numerous regional camps hosted by various outlets, some players are not able to attend because of cost.

“Being able to host it here in Trotwood for our own players is really great,” said Graham.

Within a couple of hours after the showcases were over, Northmont defensive end Jaiden Cameron tweeted he had received an offer from Rutgers.

The Scarlet Knights joined a list of more than a dozen schools already to have offered Cameron according to

Additionally, Graham said Jamel Bozeman received an offer from Findlay, the first for the defensive back who will be a senior this fall.

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