When Wittenberg opens the 2021 season at noon on Sept. 4 against Cortland State (N.Y.) at Edwards-Maurer Field, it will be the program’s first game in 659 days. If there was a silver lining to the 2020 season being cancelled for Wittenberg coaches, it was the extra time they got to spend recruiting.
Fincham attended high school games on Friday nights. In a normal season, he would have been preparing on Friday nights for games on Saturday.
“Obviously, we wanted to play, but that decision wasn’t left up to me,” Fincham said, “So we invested our time in recruiting. The bigger schools weren’t allowed to have campus visits. We had some guys come through the doors who in most years would have never visited Wittenberg, and that was fun. It’s always exciting when you get a really good player on campus. We started earlier, and our volume was bigger. Better volume usually means you end up with better quality in the end.”
Wittenberg coaches focused on adding size. Of the 61 players, 27 are linemen.
“We went after big kids,” Fincham said, “and big kids are always hard to find at lower levels because everybody wants a 6-foot-4 or 6-foot-5 kid. We just found ourselves really thin on our roster with big kids, so that was the target. We listed all the big kids just as linemen, not necessarily as offensive or defensive linemen. We’ve got an idea where we want to start guys, but we’re going to go into it with a really open view as to what position they are and just try to scatter the wealth because we do feel really good about the class and big kids we got.”
Among the other things to know about the 2021 class:
• The freshman report to campus in Springfield on Aug. 8. Wittenberg starts practice Aug. 10.
• There are 39 players from Ohio, nine from Indiana, five from Florida and also players from West Virginia, California, Louisiana, Michigan, Kentucky and Maryland.
• One of the players, linebacker Brady Ankrom, is from Fincham’s hometown of Williamstown, W.Va
• There are five linemen from the Greater Western Ohio Conference: Springfield’s Christian Ochs; Xenia’s Paxton Bartley; Miamisburg’s Peyton Jackson; Springboro’s Logan Manes; and Centerville’s Wyatt Osterhage.
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• Three of the recruits played for state championship teams last fall.
Van Wert quarterback Owen Treece threw three touchdown passes in a 31-28 victory against Mentor Lake Catholic.
Linemen Connor Blake and Will Spicer, played for Cardinal Gibbons High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., It won Florida’s Class 4A state championship.
• There are three players from Clark County: Greenon kicker Nathan Hawks; Shawnee quarterback Drew Mitch; and Springfield’s Ochs.
Hawks was a record-setting kicker at Greenon who had some interest from the Division I level.
“I’m not so sure he’s not our most talented player,” Fincham said. “Nobody appreciates a great kicker/punter/specialist-type guy until you don’t have one. You think how important Will Gingery was to our football team a few years ago. He was our MVP as a kicker/punter. Nathan, we’re very excited about him. He’s a great kid and a great student and comes from a really good family. He’s really talented. The last time we played a football season, we struggled in those areas so I think he’s going to be able to help us.”
Mitch threw for 1,270 yards and rushed for 571 last season at Shawnee.
“He has the body and the ability to play multiple positions,” Fincham said, “but we recruited him as a quarterback and that’s the way we’re heading.”
Ochs played for a Springfield team that reached the state semifinals.
“I’m not sure if he’s a center or a guard,” Fincham said, “but he’s a big physical kid.”
2021 Wittenberg football recruiting class
Zach Addie, OL/DL, Pickerington North, Ohio
Miles Amadi, OL/DL, Lawrence North, Ind.
Brady Ankrom, LB, Williamstown, W.Va.
Paxton Bartley, OL/DL, Xenia, Ohio
Cole Becker, LB, Grove City, Ohio
Nate Berger, LB, Indian Hill, Ohio
Carter Binford, WR, Grove City, Ohio
Connor Blake, OL/DL, Cardinal Gibbons, Fla.
Carter Bluvol, OL/DL, Olentangy Orange, Ohio
Ed Bolden, OL/DL, Lakota West, Ohio
Angel Bravo, OL/DL, Orland, Calif.
Trey Brininger, WR, Cardington-Lincoln, Ohio
Kobe Brown, RB, Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Elvis Casanova, DB, Labelle, Fla.
Logan Caudill, WR, Northwestern, Ind.
Brayden Dietz, RB, Waynesville, Ohio
Logan Emnett, RB, Notre Dame, Ohio
Caleb Fischer, TE, Penn, Ind.
Trace Ford, OL/DL, Lakewood, Ohio
Caleb Fortener, OL/DL, Fairmont, Ohio
Zach Gervil, DB, Flanagan, Fla.
Mario Getaw, RB, Utica Eisenhower, Mich.
Josh Graybill, OL/DL, Bushnell Prairie, IL
Davis Hall, OL/DL, Mooresville, Ind.
Luke Harper, LB, Marysville, Ohio
Nathan Hawks, K, Greenon, Ohio
Peyton Jackson, OL/DL, Miamisburg, Ohio
Zac Jacobs, OL/DL, Lima Central Catholic, Ohio
Liam Jennings, OL/DL, Bishop Chatard, Ind.
Colby Kerns, OL/DL, Marysville, Ohio
Marshall Klingel, OL/DL, Delaware Hayes, Ohio
Tommy Leibold, OL/DL, Archbishop Alter, Ohio
Nick Liebler, LB, Massillon Washington, Ohio
Keith Love, WR, Northwest, Ohio
Logan Manes, OL/DL, Springboro, Ohio
Connor Mathews, QB, Dublin Coffman, Ohio
Max Milton, QB, Heritage Christian, Ind.
Drew Mitch, ATH, Shawnee, Ohio
Javaughn Neal, OL/DL, Princeton, Ohio
Caleb Nichols, WR, Notre Dame, KY
Cam Nickleson, RB, Bishop Watterson, Ohio
Justin Norris, WR, Middletown Christian, Ohio
Christian Ochs, OL/DL, Springfield, Ohio
Wyatt Osterhage, OL/DL, Centerville, Ohio
Tyler Price, DB, Miramar, Fla.
David Russell, WR, Northwest, Ohio
Joey Slimak, DB, Fishers, Ind.
Will Spicer, OL/DL, Cardinal Gibbons, Fla.
Max Stephens, OL/DL, Riverside, Ohio
Jourdan Stipe, DB, John Curtis Christian, La.
Jake Thiel, OL/DL, Mechanicsburg, Ohio
Daniel Ticktin, DB, Walter J Ohionson, MD
Owen Treece, QB, Van Wert, Ohio
Kahleel Trent, WR, Springboro, Ohio
Gabe Vanleeuwen, OL/DL, Edgewood, Ind.
Tyler VanMeter, LB, New Albany, Ohio
Anthony Villacis, LB, Walter Johnson, Md.
Nick Wadsworth, OL/DL, Mason, Ohio
Harrison Waltz, LB, Heritage Christian, Ind.
Bryan White, RB, Lakota West, Ohio
Hayden Yerian, LB, Grove City, Ohio