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Posted On: 08/27/18 5:00 AM
I went to a football game at my alma mater on Friday — Toledo Central Catholic versus Bishop Hartley — with family. It was supposed to be a closely contested game and I had nothing better to do, so I picked up my grandma and we ventured down to the beautiful facility on Cherry Street in downtown Toledo.
Parked cars lined the perimeter of the campus, tailgaters who had been there since school let out grilled until game time, and the 70-degree overcast perfectly suited opening night. I was like, “Damn, maybe Ohio really is a football state.” I think it’s partially a geographical imperative — Ohio’s fall climate is a wonderful backdrop to any sporting event, but especially football.
Nonetheless, I remained in my basketball bubble, casually monitoring players like Jonzell Norrils and Payton Collins while intermittently having an Ohio basketball versus Ohio football debate with my brother. All the while truly enjoying the 42-17 victory for the home team.
So all that — coupled with an impressive showing from Toledo Central Catholic’s 2019 stud Jase Bowen, a Michigan State two-sport commit (baseball and football) — is my inspiration for this article spotlighting Ohio’s top seniors that are two-sport prospects, specifically of the basketball-football variety. There are other sports, and they all count. But, as you can see, there’s enough who fit this category alone to fill-up a whole piece. My grasp on the Ohio football landscape is super limited (I only pay attention to Central), so we’re looking at these players from a basketball lens.
Holden, who has (sort of) narrowed his college choices to Marshall and Winthrop’s basketball programs, just finished up a strong grassroots season with All Ohio Red where he never settled for bad shots. During EYBL play, he was second on the team in field goal percentage (47.9 percent) and third in rebounds (4.8 per game) because of his combination of size and speed that allows him to get to the rim.
Holden’s power translates to the football field, where he was last season’s Division V Co-Offensive Player of the Year and scored a touchdown in their State Championship victory over Eastwood.
Bruns parlayed an undefeated State Championship run in the fall with another one in the spring last season. He wasn’t only a part of the Flyers’ historic run, Bruns steered the ship for the small-town community in both sports. He went 10/15 for 178 yards and two touchdowns in their Division VI championship game. Then, Bruns remained clutch in a memorable upset against Cornerstone Christian in double overtime.
So, what’s the common thread here? Bruns is a winner. Even in the grassroots season when he was already committed to Findlay’s basketball program, Bruns competed in pool play games with true passion.
The 6’5” 235-pound linebacking stud out of Lexington quickly became a nationally renowned football prospect. For a hard-hitter, Stover is surprisingly graceful off the dribble. He led Lexington to last season’s Division II Final Four with season averages of 18.5 points and 13 rebounds. His physicality pays off on the glass and in defensive versatility. The four-star wrecking machine will stay home and play for the Buckeyes in college.
Moss carries scholarship offers from Cincinnati’s basketball and football programs, along with many other Midwest programs in either. Moss is a dual-threat quarterback on the gridiron, a physical slasher on hardwood. Last year he really burst onto the basketball scene by leading Springfield in scoring at 14.9 PPG. Speaking to his strong upper body and driving ability, Moss shot 59 percent on field goals and attempted 121 free throws, the seventh most in the Greater Western Ohio Conference (GWOC).
Bench has long been one of Ohio’s best floor-running forwards in the 2019 class. He sprints after his team grabs defense rebounds or after gathering and outletting to a guard. With that being said, it’s not hard to imagine him translating that skill to shedding blockers to get to the ball carrier. He also has a good vertical.
After just one year of football, Stephens blew up this summer with offers from LSU, Kentucky, Louisville, Cincinnati, and others. He’s always had solid footwork, broad shoulders, and a necessary amount of finesse on the block for Trotwood. Carrying it over to the football field, he’s probably a tight end that impacts the game both run blocking and using his height advantage in the red zone. High character kid also.
The Toledo football commit overcame injuries his junior year to land at a Division I program on scholarship. The one who goes by “Grown Man” locally is a power wing that defends multiple positions and rebounds well for his size (6.6 per game in seven games last season). Taft will enter both the football and basketball seasons as Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference (CMAC) favorites if Stringer maintains his health. Also, it’s appropriate that he plays both sides of the ball in football, considering his two-impact in basketball.
Boyle has a couple characteristics that make him an intriguing prospect in either sport. First, he’s a high-academic recruit looking for the right business school. Also, he’s the prototypical undersized forward whose body is perfectly suited to be an impact tight end. Boyle has football offers from Bucknell, Holy Cross, Lafayette, Butler, and Georgetown. He’s still open to basketball recruitment though.
King sat out last year’s grassroots season with Northwest Ohio Basketball Club, instead opting to dedicate time to the football recruitment process. The versatile defensive stopper is a productive wide receiver in football. With the two Pick Central basketball transfers coming in next year, Lima Senior has a chance to win the Three Rivers Athletic Conference and they’ll rely on King for leadership and selfless contributions this winter, assuming he plays.
Hocker is a Florida International football commit who surprisingly keyed Deer Park’s Division III State Championship last season with back-to-back double-doubles at the Final Four. The 28-point and 20-rebound weekend was an outburst, considering his season averages of 7.3 PPG and 6.4 RPG. Hocker is a gamer whose 235-pound frame can hand out a bruising nightmare for opponents.
Collins, who we saw Friday in Toledo, is a mammoth offensive tackle for the historically strong Central Ohio football program. He holds football offers exclusively — Eastern Kentucky and Ashland — but has the type of strength that carries over to the interior post. Collins was the surprise third member of Hartley’s big three last year, capitalizing on a height and power advantage on the glass. In order to compete in the postseason in 2018-19 they’ll need even more of his soft touch and strong presence.
From the looks of his film, Holloway is a plug-and-play type of athlete on the football field. Whether it’s linebacker or defensive back, he is a hard-hitting intimidator. Also, he can catch, run, or block on the offensive side of the field. Similarly in basketball, Holloway leads by example and is often the best athlete on the court. Using his chiseled 6’4” frame and quickness, Holloway makes hustle plays, locks down on defense, and scores on put-backs.
The high-academic recruit is, in all likelihood, going to lead the football team to the Northern Lakes League championship and Division I playoffs. Then, turn around and average about 20 points in the winter. He’ll be the face of both teams for this Toledo suburban school and it takes leadership, talent, and confidence to do that.
We don’t have an indication on his collegiate sport choice, but Denman is a shooter with range on the basketball floor who drew D-II, NAIA, and D-III looks with Ohio Reign this grassroots season.
Marbury was lowkey one of the most valuable forwards in high school basketball last season. He allowed Solon to play four guards around him because of his rebounding ability, while also spacing the floor himself. But, Marbury is a Division I football prospect, which isn’t hard to believe if you’ve seen him on the court. The defensive end can surely keep a low center of gravity, he has good acceleration, and his feet are quick. Marbury’s competitive edge and vocal leadership is the cherry on top.