Jestin Jacobs is the one that got away from Ohio State.
A senior defensive specialist at Northmont High School, Jacobs was wooed by the Buckeyes recently, but instead honored a previous verbal commitment to play football at the University of Iowa.
Jacobs and Northmont teammate Gabe Newburg (Michigan) were among several area seniors who signed national letters of intent during Wednesday’s first day of the early signing period.
“When I first got the offer I was definitely torn, just with the emotions of it being Ohio State,” said Jacobs, who followed up with an official visit t the Columbus campus just two weeks ago. “That’s big. But as it progressed, talking to both sides, I was pretty sure on my decision. I’m just ready to get to work, now.”
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It was the second year of the early signing period for football and lasts through Friday. The regular signing football period for NCAA Division I football is Feb. 6 through April 1.
Jacobs, 6-feet 4 and 210 pounds, split time as a defensive lineman and running back as a senior. He’s projected to be a linebacker at Iowa and eventually could move to safety.
At least 10 area seniors will sign for football this week. The signing period for all other sports including basketball was last month.
Newburg, the son of Northmont wrestling coach Scott Newburg, was labeled a program difference-maker by Northmont coach Tony Broering.
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Newburg didn’t play football as a freshman and thought he might focus on wrestling. Broering shared nutrition bars with him in a world history class he taught and videos of J.J. Watt in the NFL. By his sophomore season Newburg had returned to football with Watt’s same No. 99.
Verbally committed to Michigan, Newburg also didn’t waiver when OSU showed late recruiting interest.
“I’m just want to be the best person I can be and I’m looking forward to beating Ohio State the next four years,” he said.
The shared signing ceremony was appropriate considering both were key in Northmont’s 10-2 success this past season. That included a second straight outright Greater Western Ohio Conference National West championship and 9-1 regular season. Northmont was defeated 41-21 by 2017 state champ Pickerington Central in the Division I, Region 3 semifinals.
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Joining the pair in signing with the Big Ten was Springfield senior Michael Brown-Stephens, a receiver who’s headed to Minnesota. Also signing at Springfield were defensive back Moses Douglass, the son of Wildcats coach Maurice Douglass, and offensive lineman Isaiah Gibson, both with Kentucky.
Alter quarterback Connor Bazelak signed with Missouri, Wayne defensive back Justin Harris signed with Cincinnati and Centerville linebacker Max Wynn signed with Miami.
Broering credited the pair as major positive influences since he took over the Thunderbolts four seasons ago.
“We’ll never have two players sign with the Big Ten and graduate early again,” Broering said. “This is really rare.”
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Both Jacobs and Newburg will enroll in college next month, which will allow them to participate in spring football.
Trotwood-Madison tight end Justin Stephens (Toledo) and teammate Jaison Williams (Akron), an offensive lineman, intend to sign in February.
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