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Sieh Bangura runs the ball during the first half of the MAC Championships against Toledo Rockets at Ford Field in Detroit, Michigan on December 3, 2022.

Football: A roundup of Ohio's early signing period additions

Thirteen athletes inked their National Letters of Intent to Ohio on Wednesday’s early signing period. The 2023 class so far features a handful of local talents, a few out of state athletes and one graduate transfer. 

There will be plenty of space on the Bobcats’ roster. There are over 20 seniors, fifth or more year student athletes and graduate students on the Bobcats’ 2022 roll. While not all of them are leaving just yet, a good chunk of them are set to depart. 

Here’s a roundup of Ohio’s early additions: 


Jacob Winters - Jackson, Ohio 

The Southeast Ohio native is the only quarterback in the 2023 class at the moment. Winters was a four-year letterwinner at Jackson High School, where he set numerous single season records. He is also the all-time career leading passer in yards, attempts, completions and touchdowns. 

The 6-foot-2 220-pound quarterback was an All-Ohio nominee in 2022 and 2021. In 2022, Winters was named the District Offensive Player of the Year. He led the Ironmen to three Frontier Athletic Conference titles and four state playoff appearances.

Winters also had offers from Toledo, Bowling Green, Navy, Akron and Eastern Michigan. He announced his commitment to Ohio in May. 

Tight Ends 

Mason Williams - Mogadore, Ohio 

Williams won four consecutive league championships at Mogadore High School and four varsity letters in football, basketball and baseball. Williams received offers from Buffalo, Georgetown, Kent State, South Dakota and more, but settled on Ohio in July.  

The 3-star tight end registered 50 receptions for 696 yards in the air and 246 carries for 1,985 yards on the ground in 48 games for the Wildcats. 

Williams is no stranger to the Mid-American Conference. His father, Chris, played football at Toledo in the 1990’s and his mother, Theresa, played softball there during that time as well.  

Defensive Backs 

Jalen Thomeson - Greenwood, Indiana

Thomeson played at Mt. Vernon High School and Center Grove High School. He won three consecutive state championships from 2020-22. 

The 5-foot-11 defensive back is the No. 112 defensive back in the 2023 class according to On3.

Walter Reynolds - Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan 

Reynolds is a graduate transfer from Holy Cross where he was a captain and was named to the Phil Steele All-Patriot League Second Team. 

The graduate student is a heavy-hitting player. He won Holy Cross’s “Hammer Award” his freshman and junior years; an award for the player with the most hard hits on the team. On top of that, Reynolds co-led the Patriot League in interceptions in 2022 with five. 

In 2022, Reynolds totaled a career-high 64 tackles, 44 of which were solo, and 2.5 tackles for a loss of 25 yards. 

Byron Pearson Jr. - Oxford, Mississippi

Pearson is a junior college transfer from Northwest Mississippi Community College where he was the 2022 NJCAA interception leader and a JUCO All-American. Pearson also made an appearance in the inaugural NJCAA Division I National Championship game. The incoming junior totaled 117 career tackles at Northwest Mississippi.

Pearson holds the Oxford High School program record for interceptions with 15 and the record for kick return yards with 1,566. He won the Class 6A state championship with Oxford in 2019. 

24/7 sports ranked Pearson as the No. 63 junior college player in the U.S. 

Kendall Bannister - Woodbridge, Virginia

Bannister is a 5-foot-11 defensive back who held several offers from Football Bowl Subdivision and Football Championship Subdivision schools, including Miami. Bannister was an All-State selection and won a state championship in 2022. 

Bannister grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, before moving to Woodbridge ahead of middle school. 

Defensive Ends

Jay Crable - Massillon, Ohio 

Crable adds to the list of Bobcats from Massillon. He played at Massillon Washington High School his freshman and sophomore years before transferring to Archbishop Hoban for his final two years. 

Crable led Archbishop Hoban to a Division II state-runner up title as the starting quarterback his junior year before he switched positions his senior year and helped the team to another runner up finish. Crable spent his senior season as a wide receiver and a tight end where he had 44 catches, three forced fumbles, five tackles for loss and one interception in 710 yards. 

The 205-pound utility player was offered a scholarship by Ohio on Dec. 15. Ohio was his only Division I offer according to 24/7 sports. However, Crable is no stranger to Division I football. His father, Shawn, was a four year letterman and a Second Team All-American for Michigan. 

Owen DiFranco - Glen Ellyn, Illinois 

DiFranco is a 3-star recruit out of Glenbard South High School. He is the No. 60 player in the state of Illinois according to On3. DiFranco earned All-Conference honors in 2021 and 2022, and was also named the conference Defensive Player of the Year. DiFranco also earned All-State honors in 2022. 

DiFranco had offers from Ohio, Army, Pennsylvania, Toledo and Central Michigan. He was heavily recruited by Ohio. 

Wide Receivers

Desmond Duffy - Carmel, Indiana 

Duffy announced his commitment to Ohio in May. The 190-pound receiver was a captain at Carmel High School where he completed a stellar junior season, scoring seven touchdowns in three games. Duffy finished his junior season with 12 touchdowns. 

Duffy also received offers from Central Michigan and Western Michigan. 

Defensive Tackles

Kobi Gorman - Pickerington, Ohio 

The highly-touted recruit collected All-State, All-District and All-Conference honors while at Pickerington Central. Gorman captained the team his junior and senior years, and helped lead the team to four-straight Ohio Capital Conference titles. Gorman was named the OCC Player of the Year in 2022. 

Gorman had 11 Division I offers, including Cincinnati and Coastal Carolina, but elected to sign with Ohio. Seven of his offers came from MAC schools. 

Gorman had previously committed to Miami on March 3 and posted several photos of himself in a Miami uniform in June. He announced his decommitment on Dec. 20, a mere day before he signed with Ohio. 

Running Backs

Rickey Hunt Jr. - Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 

Hunt is a 3-star running back from Millwood High School, where he was named the Division 2A-I Overall MVP in 2022. Hunt earned four varsity letters in football and basketball. He won a state title in basketball and a state-runner up title in football. Hunt was the captain for both teams. 

Hunt is an explosive player. He collected three rushing touchdowns, a receiving touchdown, two rushing two point conversions and around 200 yards in Millwood’s state semifinal game. 

Hunt is set to be an early enrollee at Ohio. 

Offensive Linemen 

Aidan Johnson - Elkridge, Maryland 

Johnson is a Washington Post All-Met honorable mention athlete from Our Lady of Good Counsel. Johnson earned a varsity letter in football and also played rugby. He earned two Second Team All-Washington Catholic Athletic Conference nominations. 

Johnson was selected to the Blue-Grey All-American Bowl Watch List in 2022. He committed to Ohio in late June. 


Andrew Marshall - Lancaster, Ohio 

Marshall registered 383 total tackles, 57 for loss, at Bloom-Carroll High School. He was named the 2022 Division III Defensive Player of the Year and Columbus Dispatch All-Metro Defensive Player of the Year. Marshall also collected several First-Team accolades ranging from all-conference to all-district. 

Marshall is effective on both sides of the ball. He scored 14 touchdowns on 164 carries in 2022. The 6-foot-2 220-pound commit also comes from an athletic family. His mother, Shellye, played volleyball at Ohio State. 

Marshall was originally committed to Kent State before he signed with Ohio. 


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