Wittenberg football coach Joe Fincham compared the excitement of having 85 freshmen arrive on campus Aug. 12 to Christmas morning. All the presents are under the tree, ready to be unwrapped. In this case, even after you unwrap them and size them up, it may be two years before you really know what you’ve got.
“Ninety percent of the coaches in America are always very positive about their class coming,” Fincham said Tuesday. “I think it’s like a new breath of life. … The reality of it is I don’t know if you can tell how good your class is until you’ve had them in your program for a couple years. On the surface, I like our guys. There’s some talented guys coming in. With the graduation we had this past year, there’s going to be some opportunities for some guys to play earlier than they normally would at Wittenberg.”
Wittenberg lost 30 seniors to graduation. Two members of the largest senior class in Fincham’s tenure will return for fifth seasons: offensive lineman Aaron Coeling and linebacker Evan Killilea.
The senior class that just graduated was recruited on the heels of a 12-1 season in 2009. The incoming freshmen replace a group of seniors that went 38-7 in the last four years and won three North Coast Athletic Conference championships.
“The thing, to a degree, can become cyclical,” Fincham said. “Those kids who walked out of here in 2009-10 won a bunch of games and got us rolling and had a lot to do with the recruitment of the kids that just graduated. My hope is the kids who just graduated will have a lot to do with the class coming in.
“I think there have been some good classes in between, don’t get me wrong. But in non-scholarship football, if kids don’t see their opportunity early, they can go join a fraternity or the rugby team. I get that part of it. A really talented class can have a tendency to smother a class or two behind it.”
The 2014 class includes, as usual, a number of local graduates: Catholic Central wide receiver Dimitrious Dimitroff, who spent his freshman year at Xavier running track; Greeneview lineman Trey Ellis; Springfield linebacker Marquis Gordon and wide receiver Damon Roush; Tecumseh linemen Jeff Helt and Kyle Van Dyne; and Greenon quarterback Zach Restau.
The class is strong at quarterback with three players standing out, Fincham said: Timmy Bates, of Westerville South; Andrew Houliston, of Fort Thomas (Ky.) Highlands; and Noah Durst, of Lewis Center Olentangy.
Bates and Durst are two of 20 players from the Columbus area.
“Probably the strength of our class is coming from Columbus,” Fincham said. “Jake Bowman did a very nice job recruiting there. So did Dan Bauder. He kind of works the north side of Columbus. There are some kids in there who will be able to help us.”
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