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STATE CHAMPS! SCOUT TEAM: Big weekend of gridiron commitments in the Buckeye State, led by Hamilton’s Johnson choosing Cal 

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, June 21, 2021, 5:39 pm

One of the most coveted ball-carriers in the Buckeye State is off the board.

Hamilton’s Kaleb Johnson committed to Cal on Father’s Day, after visiting Berkeley, Calif., over the weekend. 

The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Johnson is the seventh player in Cal’s 2022 class, and the first runner the Bears have grabbed since the 2020 class. 

An Under-Armour All-American, a top-20 player in Ohio’s 2022 class, and one of the top three running backs, Johnson is ranked as a three-star prospect by the 247Sports Composite rankings, the No. 53 back in the nation. 

As a junior, he ran for 786 yards and eight scores in 10 games for Hamilton, after racking up 878 yards and nine scores as a sophomore, and 631 yards and three TDs as a freshman. 

Iowa State, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State and Pitt were also in the top six that Johnson announced on June 7, after visiting the Cyclones. Johnson had 17 total offers, including Cincinnati, Eastern Kentucky, Kentucky, Liberty, Marshall, Minnesota, West Virginia and a handful of Mid-American Conference schools (Western Michigan, Toledo, Miami (Ohio) and Ball State).


London calling

One of the top handful of linebackers in Ohio’s class of 2022, London’s Isaiah Jones was a big grab for Indiana when the Hoosiers got a commitment from him on Father’s Day, just two days after his official visit to Bloomington, Ind.

The Central Buckeye Conference Defensive Player of the Year as a junior, the 6-foot-2, 215-pound Jones was also first-team all-conference and all-district, and second-team All-Ohio, racking up 63 tackles and 5.5 sacks, after posting 78 tackles, 16 for loss, and 10 sacks as a sophomore. 

Jones had visited Minnesota a week before hanging out with the Hoosiers, and had eight offers total, including Wake Forest, Duke, Cincinnati, Akron, Bowling Green and Ball State. He’s ranked as a three-star prospect by 247Sports, a top-25 player in Ohio’s 2022 class, and the No. 88 linebacker in the nation.

Jones is just the second Midwest player in Indiana’s five-man class, joining former Ohio State commit Dasan McCullough, who followed his father, Deland — the new IU running backs coach — to IU.


Willis staying home

Cincinnati Colerain cornerback Ken Willis chose to stay home, committing to the cross-town Cincinnati Bearcats on Father’s Day. 

“At this time, I would like to announce that I’m shutting down my recruitment and STAYING HOME!” Willis announced on Twitter, with the hashtag #CinCityPride. “It’s my dream to be a Hometown Hero! I’m a Bearcat!”

He was offered by Cincinnati a week earlier, giving him a list of nine offers, which also included West Virginia, Marshall, Army and a handful of Mid-American Conference schools (Ball State, Buffalo, Eastern Michigan, Miami (Ohio) and Toledo).

The 5-foot-11, 160-pound corner ranks just outside the top 100 at his position, according to the 247Sports rankings, and is the No. 31 player in Ohio’s 2022 class. The only defensive backs ranked ahead of him in the state’s class of ’22 are Lakota West’s duo of Jyaire Brown (Ohio State) and Alex Afari (Kentucky).

Willis is the 11th commit in Cincinnati coach Luke Fickell’s 2022 class, the seventh from Ohio. He joins Kalamazoo (Mich.) Central three-star safety Cancer Lewis as additions to the Bearcats secondary. 

Willis had 20 total tackles, two interceptions and forced a fumble for Colerain in 2019, and 30 tackles in 2020. 


Cyclones bag St. Clairsville big man

If the Iowa State Cyclones let one get away when Johnson committed elsewhere, they didn’t let another longtime target from Ohio slip past them. 

St. Clairsville’s giant offensive tackle, 6-foot-7, 300-pound Avery Henry, committed to Iowa State on Father’s Day, after visiting Ames, Iowa, nine days earlier. The Cyclones had been on the three-star lineman early, offering him back in February, the same day he picked up his other early Power-5 offer from Syracuse. Eastern Michigan was the first D-I offer for the big man, while West Virginia threw in a bid over the weekend. 

Henry is ranked as the No. 48 player in Ohio’s class of 2022 by 247Sports, and he No. 139 offensive tackle in the nation. He’s the seventh player in coach Matt Campbell’s 2022 recruiting class of commits, and the second from Ohio, joining Norwalk punter Tyler Perkins, who committed four days earlier. 


Duke picks up commitment from St. Xavier TE

Four days after his official visit to Durham, NC, Cincinnati St. Xavier tight end Max Klare committed to Duke on June 14, ending a recruitment that saw the three-star prospect grab 14 offers. 

The 6-foot-4, 225-pound Klare ranks as the No. 43 player in Ohio’s 2022 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, and the No. 5 tight end in an exceptionally deep group of tight ends in the state — he’s behind Dayton Wayne’s Elijah Brown (Alabama), Cincinnati Anderson’s Brody Foley (Tennessee), Kenston’s Ryan Miller (uncommitted), Cincinnati Moeller’s Josh Kattus (Kentucky) — as well as the No. 77 tight end in the nation. 

As a junior, Klare caught seven passes for 123 yards and a score. 


Purdue grabs Lakota East’s versatile Kenrich

Coaches love those players they can plug in anywhere, and that versatility would define Lakota East’s Charlie Kenrich, who committed to Purdue over the weekend. The 6-foot-4, 225-pound athlete can play tight end, or slot, or running back, or even on the other side of the ball at linebacker. 

He committed to the Boliermakers on Jun 19, eight days after visiting West Lafayette, Ind., his third official visit in the span of eight days. Kenrich chose Purdue — which offered him back in March — over 16 other offers, including Virginia Tech, Iowa State, Air Force, Michigan State, Navy, Vanderbilt and must of the Mid-American Conference (Ball State, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Kent State, Miami (Ohio), Toledo, Western Michigan). 

The three-star prospect is ranked in Ohio’s top 20 players for 2022 by 247Sports, and the No. 82 athlete in the nation. 

As a junior, he ran the ball 33 times for 245 yards and a score, caught 13 passes for 290 yards and two scores and had five tackles on defense.