High School Football: Top 22 players to watch in 2022

High school football season is back with plenty of top players to follow this season.

The following alphabetical list of 22 players (11 on offense, 11 on defense) plus some honorable mentions is based on past performances and projections. Certainly many players will burst on the scene this season who could make a postseason list like this one and contend for all-Southwest District and all-Ohio honors.

ExploreWeek 1 Schedule

The season opens Thursday night headlined by the annual Alter-Fairmont rivalry game.

Credit: Bill Lackey

Credit: Bill Lackey


Drew Baker, Fairmont: The senior is the workhorse in the Firebirds’ relentless ground game. He led the GWOC in 2021 with 1,533 yards and scored 18 touchdowns to earn first team all-district and third team all-state.

Javien Brownlee, Northmont: The senior is one of several top returners in the receiver-rich GWOC. He caught 36 passes for 363 yards and three touchdowns to make second team all-district and is committed to Kent State as a three-star prospect.

Timothy Carpenter, Trotwood: The 6-4 junior quarterback is a three-star prospect with offers from Miami, Akron, Central Michigan and others. With plenty of returning talent around him, Carpenter looks to lead the Rams back to a much higher playoff seeding after a 4-6 season.

Tyrell Lewis, Wayne: The sophomore quarterback shared the position last year and threw for over 1,000 yards and seven touchdowns. He has a strong offensive line to work behind and a talented group of receivers to throw to. His offseason work earned him an offer from Louisville in June.

Jackson McGohan, Miamisburg: Outside of Springfield’s big three (Anthony Brown, Shawn Thigpen, Daylen Bradley), the 6-5 senior is the top returning receiver in the GWOC. The three-star prospect is committed to Cincinnati after catching 47 passes for 699 yards and 10 touchdowns and earning first-team all-district and third-team all-state honors.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

R.J. Mukes, Wayne: The senior has been on the field since he was a freshman and is the Warriors’ top returning receiver with 21 catches for 219 yards. He should benefit from a more featured passing game with Lewis. The three-star prospect recently committed to Ball State.

Adrian Norton, Stebbins: The senior is committed to Akron and is the top returning receiver in the Miami Valley League. He was first-team all-state in Division II and is a big-play threat, averaging 20.8 yards a catch. He caught 51 passes for 1,062 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Josh Padilla, Wayne: The first-team all-state senior is headed to Ohio State. He is a four-star and the No. 4 player in Ohio and No. 187 nationally in the 24/7 Sports composite index.

A.J. Salley, Miamisburg: The senior tackle is an uncommitted three-star with offers from Cincinnati, Central Michigan, Coastal Carolina and Eastern Michigan.

Evan Tengesdahl, Wayne: The three-star senior offensive lineman is the No. 22 player in Ohio and headed to Cincinnati. He was second-team all-district last year.

Emable Wakilongo, Centerville: The senior running back rushed for 995 yards and scored 11 touchdowns, including 192 yards against Fairfield and 191 against Wayne. He recently committed to Bowling Green.

Honorable Mention: Dayjaun Anderson, WR, Ponitz; Delamarr Blanton, WR, Trotwood-Madison; Jackson Courville, K, Centerville; Brady Ouhl, QB, Piqua; Jacob Clark, RB, Valley View; Gavin Connor, QB, Alter; Drew Copsey, RB, Miamisburg; Duece Cortner, QB, Northmont; Christian Davis, RB, Miamisburg; Tim Davis, RB, Brookville; Brock Ebright, QB, Eaton; Owen Harlamert, OL, Troy; RayVonn Harris, WR, Stebbins; Caden Henson, QB, Valley View; Teaunn Hunter, WR, Wayne; Jackson Kleather, K, Tippecanoe; Carson Labensky, TE, Bellbrook; Ethan Lane, OL, Milton-Union; John McDonough. OL, Stebbins; Gavin McManus, QB, Xenia; Nate Meyer, OL, Oakwood; DayAirion Owens, RB, Trotwood-Madison; James Owsley, OL, Centerville.; Jonathan Peltier, WR, Chaminade Julienne; Sam Reynolds, WR, Sidney; Dre’Sean Roberts, RB, Piqua; Michael Russ, WR, Alter; Evan Ruzzo, RB, Springboro; Preston Sellers, QB, Dayton Christian; Blaise Sizer, QB, Waynesville; Brock Short, RB, Greenville; Kamaurri Smith, TE, Wayne; Kenaz Smith, RB, Trotwood-Madison; Gunnar Stephan, OL, Xenia; Ethan Teague, OL, Chaminade Julienne; Jackson Trombley, K, Piqua; Sam Vine, OL, Bellbrook; Drake Wells, QB, Centerville: Jake Wheelock, OL, Stebbins; Dalin Wilkins, WR, Northmont.

ExplorePoints, possessions could be scarce in 55th Alter-Fairmont clash


Nic Bruder, Centerville: The senior defensive back was first-team all-district and third-team all-state. He had three interceptions and returned two for touchdowns. And he’s part of the Elks’ passing game (30 receptions, six touchdowns).

Emmanuel Deng, Centerville: A senior and athletic cornerback who has picked up offers this offseason from Akron, Army and Central Michigan among others.

Nigel Glover, Northmont: The senior defensive back is a rising four-star, the No. 8 player in Ohio and a Northwestern commit.

Dalton Gustwiller, Fairmont: The first-team all-state defensive lineman recently got his ninth Division I offer from Navy to go with several from MAC programs.

Javon Hammonds, Wayne: The junior defensive end led the Warriors in tackles last year and with 4.5 sacks. He has an offer from Central Michigan and has taken unofficial visits to Indiana and Kentucky.

Joseph Jean-Louis, Centerville: The senior linebacker led the Elks with three sacks last year. The three-star prospect is committed to Western Michigan.

Nesta Owens, Chaminade Julienne: The senior defensive end led the Eagles in tackles and with eight sacks. He was first-team all-district in Division III and has offers from Tiffin and Central State.

Credit: David Jablonski

Credit: David Jablonski

Reggie Powers, Centerville: Another talented senior in the Elks’ secondary has multiple offers, including Cincinnati and Connecticut.

Sam Schmiesing, Piqua: The senior linebacker was first-team all-district in Division II and led the Miami Valley League with 139 tackles. He has offers from Dayton and Valparaiso.

Mike Smith, Trotwood-Madison: The junior cornerback brings two years of experience to the Rams’ defense. He has offers from Miami, Duke, Bowling Green and Akron.

Tremmell Wright, Xenia: The senior defensive back was first-team all-district and second-team all-state in Division II. He has offers from Central State and Findlay.

Honorable mention: Jake Brown, DL, Milton-Union; Blake Brumbaugh, DB, Milton-Union; Lee Burkett, LB, Troy Christian; Jahmale Clark, DB, Trotwood-Madison; Ryan Crampton, LB, Greenville; C.J. Crawford, LB, Beavercreek; Brayden Doran, DL, Preble Shawnee; Justin Finkbine, DB, Tri-Village; Jeremy Henry, DL, Northridge; Grady Hutchinson, DB, Preble Shawnee; Jarrod Mays, LB, Greeneview; Rylan Monk, LB, Franklin; Brian Payne, DL, Dunbar; Jamell Smith, DL, Xenia; Myles Vordemark, DB, Sidney; Carter Williams, DB, Greeneview; Dai-Vontay Young, DL, Dunbar.

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