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STATE CHAMPS! SCOUT TEAM: Ohio football recruiting notebook — Pickerington North DE Hawk picks Western Michigan, Northmont QB Rice chooses SD State

By: MATTHEW B. MOWERY, December 7, 2020, 1:01 am

Scouts who came to Pickerington North games to see one of the top defensive ends in the nation this fall weren’t disappointed. 

While one of the nation’s top five recruits, Ohio State commit Jack Sawyer, wasn’t on the field — choosing to skip his senior season in August, when the likelihood of a fall campaign was still in doubt — scouts still saw flashes of brilliance from the other end: No. 18, Elijah Hawk. 

The 6-foot-5, 250-pound combo outside linebacker and defensive end, who earned all-district honors for a 6-2 North squad, had the full attention of scouts, earning nearly a dozen collegiate offers. 

He picked his collegiate destination on Sunday, committing to Western Michigan. 

“From being that skinny kid at Groveport, to going to Pickerington North and playing on some of the biggest stages of my life, this has truly been a journey,” Hawk said in a commitment video posted on Twitter. “And I’m finally happy to say, I know where I want to go to college at.”

Hawk transferred to Pickerington North prior to the 2019 season. He racked up 25 tackles, five tackles for loss and 2.5 sacks this season. 

Throughout the recruiting process, he’d had conversations with Michigan State — a childhood favorite and his dream school — as well as Virginia and Cincinnati, but no offers yet, but he said in late November that Central and Western Michigan were the two schools that had reached out to him the most among those that had offered. Florida International, Rhode Island, Liberty, Miami (Ohio), Charlotte, Western Michigan, Central Michigan and Ohio made his top eight at the start of the month. 

Rated as a three-star prospect by 247Sports, Hawk is a top-50 player in Ohio, and — with an 0.8477 score on the 247Sports Composite — becomes the highest-ranked defensive lineman to commit to a Mid-American Conference school so far from the 2021 class. He’s also the highest-ranked member of the 19-player Broncos recruiting class, which already included a pair of ends in Camden (NJ) Woodrow Wilson’s Joshua Nobles and South Bend (Ind.) Riley’s Tyson Lee. 

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Northmont’s Rice chooses South Dakota

Hawk wasn’t the only top-100 recruit in the state to come off the board in December. Northmont quarterback Cade Rice committed to South Dakota State earlier in the week, picking the Jackrabbits over …

After transferring from Greenon to Northmont for his senior season, when his mother moved back to Ohio from Florida, the 6-foot-3, 205-pound Rice led Northmont to a Greater Western Ohio Conference championship and a pair of playoff wins. He led the league in passing yardage and touchdowns, finishing with 2,128 yards through the air, 30 scores and five interceptions in eight games played.