Alter’s Derek Willits stretches short of the goal line during the Knights’ 21-7 victory over Wapakoneta in the Division III, Region 12 high school football championship at Piqua High School’s Alexander Stadium on Friday, Nov. 16, 2018. MICHAEL COOPER / CONTRIBUTED
Photo: MICHAEL COOPER / CONTRIBUTED
Photo: MICHAEL COOPER / CONTRIBUTED

Dayton coaches focus on offensive line in 2019 recruiting

Flyers start practice Aug. 9 and begin season Sept. 7

» RELATED: UD football staff a big hit among area coaches

Members of Dayton’s 35-man 2019 freshman class, who report to campus Aug. 8 and start practice Aug. 9, will study to become a marine biologist, a coach, a physician, an accountant, a financial planner, a physician’s assistant, an engineer, etc. Perhaps most impressively, one recruit once ate 51 chicken wings in one sitting.

All that comes from UD’s press release announcing the class.

“Some of the hidden talents we weren’t aware of when we recruited them,” said coach Rick Chamberlin with a laugh.

Of course, they all can play football, too. Here are five things to know about the newest Flyers as the season approaches. Dayton opens Sept. 7 on the road against Indiana State.

1. Average size: Dayton had 26 recruits in 2018, 35 in 2017 and 38, 36, 38 and 28 players in the previous seasons.

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“We’re going to be anywhere around 30 every year, sometimes a little more,” Chamberlin said. “There have been a couple years when we have 27 or 28. It just depends on the numbers we need. We keep (the roster) at a limit of 110. That’s a NCAA rule for camp. We can add guys once school begins with tryouts.”

2. Position focus: Dayton coaches focused on one position above all others: the offensive line. There are six in the group.

“We felt we needed to build some depth,” Chamberlin said. “We had a very good class three years ago, and those guys are playing now as juniors. They played as sophomores. Now they’re going into their senior years. So we needed to bring in a number in this recruiting class, and we’re very pleased with it. It’s a group of young men who played all the positions. They’re centers, guards and tackles with good size and most importantly to us good feet. They move. They’re not just big, old bodies. We don’t like that. Our program is built on speed, and that includes our offensive linemen.”

3. Local connection: Among the players from the Dayton area are Oakwood wide receiver Jake Sargent, Alter wide receiver Derek Willits, Northmont tight end Jason Kohr and Clinton-Massie defensive end Griffin Laake.

4. Coaching sons: Three of the players are sons of coaches, including Kyle Hazell, a wide receiver from West Lafayette, Ind. His dad Darrell Hazell was the head coach at Kent State from 2011-12 and at Purdue from 2013-16 and now coaches wide receivers with the Minnesota Vikings.

5. Staff changes: In addition to Jay Minton, the former Wayne coach who joined Chamberlin’s staff as a tight ends coach earlier this month, the Flyers have a new defensive coordinator: Tee Overman. He coached at Dayton in 2016 but spent the last two seasons at Washington State as a quality control assistant for special teams and defense.

» SPRING FOOTBALL: UD quarterback looks strong

Overman replaces Landon Fox, who left after 11 seasons to take the head coaching job at Valparaiso.

Brian Steiner, UD’s defensive line coach from 2006-08, returns to the program as special teams coordinator and defensive ends coach. He spent the last 10 seasons at Clarion University.

Christian Bryan is the new wide receivers coach. He played at Youngstown State and played against the Flyers as a senior. He spent the last two seasons at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Scott Horcher, who played cornerback for the Flyers from 2006-09, joins the staff as cornerbacks coach. He was the co-defensive coordinator at Springboro High School the last three seasons.

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