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STATE CHAMPS! SCOUT TEAM: Ohio football recruiting notebook >> Indiana pulls another stud out of Ohio in LaSalle’s Gi’Bran Payne; MAC schools load up on Ohio OLs

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, August 2, 2021, 12:31 am

The Indiana Hoosiers continue to mine the prospect-rich fields of Ohio for players in the 2021 class, most recently getting a commitment from arguably the top running back in the Buckeye State’s class of 2022, Cincinnati LaSalle’s Gi’Bran Payne.  

The 5-foot-10, 190-pound Payne scored 13 total touchdowns as a sophomore — nine on the ground, three through the air and one on an interception — helping LaSalle to a fourth state title in six years, but was limited as a junior by an ankle injury suffered midway through the 2020 season. He returned to full health by track season, helping LaSalle win a state title in the four-by-100 relay.    

The Hoosiers previously got commitments from Chagrin Falls tight end Ryan Miller, Olentangy Liberty offensive tackle Carter Smith and London linebacker Isaiah Jones, all three-star Ohioans. All four rank in the top 30 in Ohio’s 2022 class, with Payne the lone top-10 player (nine).

The Hoosiers, led by new running backs coach Deland McCullough — the former Kansas City Chiefs running backs coach who is also the Hoosiers’ assistant head coach — did sorta come out of nowhere, sealing the deal with a visit on the weekend of July 26, when Payne committed. 

As of the end of February, Payne’s top five was Alabama, Florida, Notre Dame, Northwestern and Penn State, a list that dropped Michigan and Purdue from the top seven slate he’d put out in mid-November. As of July, Payne’s top 10 had Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, Pitt, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

None of them, though, had the Hoosiers, who’d offered Payne at the end of Jan. 2020. 

You have to go back to his top 20 in late May 2020 to see the IU logo among the contenders. 

Indiana’s 2022 recruiting class sits at the middle of the pack in the Big Ten at No. 5, with four four-star recruits and 10 three-stars, and just inside the top 20 in the 247Sports national recruiting rankings. 

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MAC adds three Ohio linemen

A trio of three-star linemen committed to in-state Mid-American Conference schools at the end of July. 

A one-time Boston College commit, Alliance offensive tackle Stephen Gales committed to Toledo on July 31, Barberton defensive lineman John Jackson committed to Kent State on July 29, while Marysville’s Gavin Rohrs chose Miami (Ohio) on Sunday, after being offered by the RedHawks a week earlier. 

The three-star Gales (6-8, 290) had originally committed to Boston College in April, but reopened his recruiting in June, decommitting from the Eagles. His other offer was from Ball State. Gales is just the second Ohio player in Toledo’s 2022 class, joining Benedictine linebacker Derell Bedingfield Jr. 

A three-star interior offensive lineman, the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Rohrs was a second-team all-stater and first-team all-district in 2020. He chose the RedHawks over other Mid-American Conference offers from Toledo, Akron and Ball State, as well as Liberty, Dartmouth and Penn. He’s the sixth Ohio player in Miami’s 2022 class, which currently ranks No. 2 in the MAC behind Central Michigan. 

A three-star prospect and the No. 76 player in Ohio’s 2022 class, according to the 247Sports Composite rankings, the 6-3, 260-pound Jackson chose the Flashes over offers from Ball State, Bowling Green, Liberty and Youngstown State. Jackson is the first Ohio player in Kent State’s 2022 class. 

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Rose a rare pickup for Stanford

While he may have been projected by recruiting prognosticators to follow his All-American older brother, Mike, to college, Brecksville-Broadview Heights linebacker Matt Rose had plans of his own, committing to Stanford in mid-July.

Mike Rose is a rising senior at Iowa State, where he’s on the preseason Butkus Award watch list. The younger Rose brother visited Ames, Iowa, on June 13, then hit Palo Alto, Calif., on June 20, before committing on July 19. 

It’s been rare of late for an Ohioan to end up at Stanford, but there’s a connection there, too.

The Cardinal hasn’t signed an Ohio player since Jackson fullback Reagan Williams in the 2015 class. The last Ohioan to sign with Stanford before that was Brecksville-Broadview Heights defensive end Mike Tyler in 2013. 

The 6-foot-2, 210-pound Matt Rose is a three-star prospect, and just outside the top 50 in Ohio’s upcoming senior class. He chose Stanford over eight other offers, including Iowa State, Air Force, Yale and five MAC schools (Akron, Ball State, Eastern Michigan, Kent State and Western Michigan). 

In nine games as a junior, Rose had 72 tackles (50 solo), eight for loss, two forced fumbles and a safety. 

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Penguins pull in-state signal-caller in Holtzclaw

Rather than reclassify to 2022 and head to a prep school, Westerville Central all-state quarterback Judah Holtzclaw grabbed on to the offer that Youngstown State in mid-June. 

A three-star prospect, the 6-foot-6, 230-pound Holtzclaw is one of the 10 most highly-ranked recruits for the Penguins since 247Sports began tracking recruits in 2000. 

Holtzclaw completed 107 of 175 passes for 1,349 yards and 15 scores in 2020, throwing just two picks, and ran for 10 more touchdowns, earning first-team Division 1 all-state honors. 

He chose the Penguins over offers from Air Force, Columbia and Penn.