Wittenberg football announces 65-man 2020 recruiting class

Springfield’s Tavion Smoot runs against Dublin Coffman in a Division I, Region 2 final on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, at London High School. David Jablonski/Staff
Springfield’s Tavion Smoot runs against Dublin Coffman in a Division I, Region 2 final on Friday, Nov. 22, 2019, at London High School. David Jablonski/Staff

Tigers hoping to start practice Aug. 13

Joe Fincham was on a beach in Florida with his family in the second week of March when the sports world shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The crisis also slowed down the recruiting process for about three weeks as he and his staff tried to put the finishing touches on their 2020 class.

“The thing I kept trying to tell our coaches was, ‘Don’t get disappointed or frustrated,’” Fincham said. “They’re still going to go to college somewhere. There was just so much uncertainty. Everyone was scared to make a decision.”

Recruiting picked back up in mid-April, Fincham said, and Wittenberg’s class was mostly finished in May. He announced a 65-man class in June that includes one late addition: Springfield High School graduate Tavion Smoot, who rushed for 815 yards and 11 touchdowns last season.

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“He’s a Jerome Bettis-type runner,” Fincham said. “He can get behind his pads really well and can run through a lot of arms, but he can be a little deceptive too in his ability with his feet.”

Smoot planned to play at Urbana University but had to find a new home after the university announced in the spring it would close its doors. One other player who would have been a freshman at Urbana also switched to Wittenberg: Bellefontaine running back Garrett Gross, who rushed for 1,019 yards and 14 touchdowns last season.

Fincham said he and his coaches focused on three positions this year: quarterback, running back and defensive back. There was also an emphasis on tight end and defensive end, two positions Wittenberg had had trouble recruiting, Fincham said.

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Among the quarterbacks is Moeller’s Drew Altemuehle, Mason’s Collin Brown and Northmont’s Keaton Kesling, who had shoulder surgery after his senior season and may not be able to play this season.

“All three of those kids are guys we like,” Fincham said, “and there are some other guys in there that are good players who are, if they don’t end up getting in the mix (at quarterback), athletic enough and good enough football players they can help us elsewhere.”

Fincham mentioned former players Michael Aljancic and Liam Duncan as players who were recruited as quarterbacks but switched to receiver and had productive careers.

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“You can never have enough good quarterbacks, running backs and linebackers,” Fincham said.

In addition to Smoot, Fincham pointed to several running backs in the class who could contribute: Tre Bouie, from Edgewater High School in Orlando; Reed Hall, who rushed for 1,545 yards and 21 touchdowns for New Albany; and Daivion Greene-Tucker, of Columbus South.

The freshmen are scheduled to report to campus Aug. 11, and the first practice would take place two days later.

“We have as a staff tried to hold onto that date and prepare for that date,” Fincham said, “fully knowing things could be really different at any time and we’re just going to have to adjust.”

Wittenberg football’s 2020 recruiting class

Elijah Abreu, CB, Miami, Fla., Miami Central, 5-9, 163

CJ Addison, LB, Lehigh Acres, Fla., Barron Collier, 6-1, 210

Drew Altemuehle, QB, Cincinnati Moeller, 6-2, 215

Bryce Baker, WR, Heath, 6-1, 185

Garrett Baker, DE, Kettering Fairmont, 6-2, 220

Johnny Banks, LB, Chaminade Julienne, 6-0, 220

Tre Bouie, RB, Orlando, Fla., Edgewater, 5-8, 200

Milik Bowe TE Miami, Fla., Miramar, 6-2, 180

Tre Bratchett, LB, Portsmouth, Valley, 6-2, 200

Collin Brown, QB, Mason, 6-4, 210

Nick Brown, QB, Beavercreek, 5-11, 175

Tony Calovini, LB, Etna, Watkins Memorial, 5-10, 215

Jamal Carter Jr, CB, Port Charlotte, Fla., Charlotte, 5-9, 180

Josh Collins, CB, Springboro, 6-2, 185

Seth Cook, WR, Etna, Watkins Memorial, 6-2, 175

Bret Dalton, WR, Franklin, 5-10, 165

Nick Downs, QB, Plymouth (Mich.), 6-0, 195

Collin Dupps, K, Etna, Heath, 5-10, 190

Tyler Engelhard, WR, Hamilton, Talawanda, 5-11, 170

Declan Farrell, K, Dublin Scioto, 5-8, 150

Jacob Fenik, WR, Plain City, Jonathan Alder, 5-10, 175

Carlo Gaither, QB, Orlando, Fla., Cypress Creek, 6-0, 170

Joseph Gaither, WR, Orlando, Fla., Cypress Creek, 6-3, 205

Caleb Gerken, RB, Perrysburg, 5-10, 190

Brandon Goodwin, K, Northmont, 5-11, 170

Daivion Greene-Tucker, RB, Columbus South, 5-11 166

Isaac Grilliot, DE, Versailles, 6-1, 210

Garrett Gross, RB, Bellefontaine, 5-10, 205

Brayden Hall, LB, Cincinnati La Salle, 6-1, 205

Reed Hall, RB, New Albany, 5-9, 160

Jonah Hay, OL, Shawnee, 6-3, 260

Aloysious Kamara, CB, Columbus Beechcroft, 5-10, 170

Kameron Kelly, LB, Indianapolis, Ben Davis, 6-1, 200

Keaton Kesling, QB, Northmont, 5-10, 150

Austin Kiess, LB, Edon, 6-0, 206

Joe Landy, OL, Naples, Fla., St. John Neumann, 6-2, 290

Alex Manz, QB, Bethel Tate, 6-1, 180

Alex Mar, OL, Dublin Scioto, 6-0, 225

Tyler May, WR, Oak Harbor, 5-11, 155

Alan Mead, OL, Chillicothe Southeastern, 6-2, 260

Jacob Noble, DT, Hilliard Bradley, 6-1, 270

Anthony Pedro, CB, Massillon Washington, 6-2, 180

Charlie Pine, WR, New Albany, 5-11, 170

Earl Pope III, WR, Miami, Fla., Carol City, 5-10, 175

Hunter Ruby, CB, Wheelersburg, 6-0, 165

Lawson Sandusky, WR, Cincinnati Colerain, 5-10, 175

Cade Schmelzer, QB, Covington, 6-2, 195

Tavion Smoot, RB, Springfield, 5-11, 240

Nick Snell, SAF, Monroe, 5-10, 165

Cameron Snurr, LB, Springboro, 5-10, 215

Joey Sprake, DE, Crestwood, Ky., South Oldham, 6-1, 220

Jaiveon Standberry, CB, Indianapolis IN Warren Central, 5-6 145

Noah Stephens, DT, Franklin, 6-0, 260

Troy Teepe, TE, Brookville, Ind., East Central, 6-3, 215

Kix Thiel, DE, Mechanicsburg, 5-11, 205

Aaron Thomas, OL, Liberty Twp, Lakota West, 6-0, 260

Jordan Tweedy, SAF, Indianapolis, Ind., Southport, 5-8, 180

Conner Walls, DE, Centerville, 6-3, 210

Jake Weaver, LB, Carmel, Ind., 5-11, 220

Natron Webster, CB, Loveland, 5-8, 195

JJ Weisenberger, WR, Collins, Western Reserve, 6-1, 160

Cade Williams, LB, Chillicothe, 5-8, 180

Eli Wilson, WR, Pataskala, Watkins Memorial, 6-0, 215

Nate Wolf, TE, Fishers, Ind., Hamilton Southeastern, 6-1, 215

Davey Wurster, RB, Manteno, Ill., 5-11, 175