First-year University of Akron football coach Rob Ianello announced 23 high school football players have signed to play at UA on Wednesday afternoon at InfoCision Stadium/Summa Field.
Ianello talked about each recruit as a video of highlights was shown on a screen to media and UA employees that attended.
Here is a look at the three area high school football players – Erick Howard, Anthony Schrock and Seth Cunningham – who are going to be Zips to join Ianello, a former assistant coach at Notre Dame and Wisconsin.
Ianello on Howard: “Obviously, he was the two-time Offensive Player of the Year in the state of Ohio and the only other player to do that was Robert Smith (who played for Ohio State and the Minnesota Vikings). He certainly has all the accolades you want from a young man.”
Ianello on Schrock: “I had a chance to meet his dad, Denny, after I was hired (on Dec. 10) at the press conference. He asked me if I knew who is kids was. I believe Anthony Schrock was the first kid I talked to on the phone that Thursday night after (former Notre Dame star receiver) Golden Tate won the Biletnikoff Award, so we had a lot of good things to talk about. Anthony is a multi-sport athlete. He comes from a competitive family. They love basketball and they are definitely a pro-Akron family. His high school coach is Greg Dennison at Wadsworth; his is son of Jim Dennison, former Akron coach.”
Ianello on Cunningham: “Seth has great speed. He is the reigning 200-meter indoor champion (in track). He also has good height. His athleticism and speed shows (on the video). He also has good toughness and St. Edward is certainly one of the best programs in the state of Ohio.”
Additional comments from Ianello, who prefers multi-sport athletes, regarding the class and the trio:
“There were a lot of wows when recruits toured the stadium. This is a crown jewel. We’re very proud of InfoCision Stadium/Summa Field.”
“We want guys coming here and getting a degree. We want guys who are self-starters and motivated athletically and academically. You want to recruit kids who the offensive and defensive coaches are fighting about in the room.”
“We have to run the football in November in Northeast Ohio. (Howard) fits that scheme. For Erick to feel strong enough about us to make that decision, we're proud of that.”
“I'm not going to give away someone's job in their living room. We're going to give them every opportunity in training camp (referring to Schrock and Howard).”
When a technical difficulty briefly delayed the showing of Howard’s highlights, Ianello jokingly said: “He’s so fast, you didn’t even see him.”
“The last 55 days, since being named head coach, have been a whirlwind. However, as I set out on our recruiting from the beginning, I wanted to sure up the young men who committed to The University of Akron before my arrival and concentrate heavily on the states of Ohio and Pennsylvania . I feel like we certainly have accomplished that with this group. We also want to have a consistent presence on the east coast and getting five signees from the region will help establish solid relationships there.
“My first signing class at The University of Akron will always be a special one. Our staff appreciates the faith these young men, as well as their family and coaches, have in our vision for the Zips football program. I am confident this class will be a strong foundation for the future.”
Biographies on the three area players:
5-11, 225, RB, North Canton, Ohio / North Canton Hoover HS
Prior to Akron:
Parade All-American … Two-time Associated Press Division I Offensive Player of the Year and first team All-Ohio … (Is just the second player in Ohio history to win the award twice, joining Euclid’s Robert Smith, who went on to Ohio State and then the NFL) … Ranked the #24 in Ohio by Scout.com and #25 by Ohio Magazine Top 150 … Rated the third-best running back in Ohio by OhioVarsity.com … Tabbed 68th-best prospect in Ohio by Tom Lemming’s MaxPreps.com and CBS College Sports … The Canton Repository's Stark County Player of the Decade and member of the publication’s All-Decade football team … Was the first player from Stark County to win Ohio Mr. Football honors … Ran for 2,056 yards in 11 games as a senior and scored 27 touchdowns … A three-time All-Federal League selection … Is Stark County’s all-time leading rusher with 6,013 yards, and he set county records for career points (478) and career touchdowns (79) … On defense, he started at linebacker and led the Vikings with 112 tackles, five for loss, four sacks and an interception … Tallied 208 stops at linebacker over his final two seasons … As a junior, carried the ball 285 times for 1,795 yards and scored 25 touchdowns in the regular season, while piling up 2,322 all-purpose yards and 28 total touchdowns … North Canton Hoover HS coach: Don Hertler, Jr.
6-3, 200, WR, Wadsworth, Ohio / Wadsworth HS
Prior to Akron:
Named Division I third team All-Ohio as a senior, earned OHSAA Academic All-Ohio (thanks to his 3.6 GPA) and selected to play in the North-South All-Star game … Rated the 15th-best wide receiver in Ohio by OhioVarsity.com … Accounted for 1,151 all-purpose yards as a senior … Ranked #87 player in Ohio by Ohio Magazine Top 150 … Tabbed 129th-best prospect in Ohio by Tom Lemming’s MaxPreps.com and CBS College Sports … Caught at least 30 passes in his final three prep years, including 30 for 607 with seven scores as a sophomore, 33 for 484 with five scores as a junior and 38 for 564 with three scores as senior … Tallied 2,877 all-purpose yards with 21 TDs in his career … Earned first team All-Northeast Ohio Inland District as a senior … A three-time first team All-Suburban League and All-Media County … A second team All-Northeast Ohio Inland District as a junior … Set his school record in the 300 meters (38.77) and qualified for the state meet … Averaged a double-double in basketball (15 points and 10 rebounds) … Comes from a very athletic family … Father, Denny, is the legendary Ohio girls high school basketball coach from Chippewa High School in Doylestown … Older brothers DJ (basketball at Muskingum) and Ben (football at Wooster) played collegiate sports and his older sister Cassie plays basketball at Eastern Michigan and younger sister plays sports at Wadsworth HS … Wadsworth HS coach: Greg Dennison (son of UA Hall of Fame coach Jim Dennison).
6-0, 185, DB Medina, Ohio / Lakewood St. Edward HS
Prior to Akron:
Tabbed 30th-best prospect in Ohio by Tom Lemming’s MaxPreps.com and CBS College Sports … Ranked #3 corner in the state of Ohio by Rivals.com and Rivals.com rated him and his St. Edward teammate the top-ranked DB combo in the state … Tallied six interceptions in his career and was honorable mention All-State as a senior … Ranked #104 player in Ohio by Ohio Magazine Top 150 … As a junior had 22 tackles, three INT and two PBUs … As a sophomore, had 37 tackles, three INTs, three PBU's one forced fumble and a fumble recovery … Earned all-district honors both years … One of the fastest prospects in the state of Ohio … Was the 2009 Division I Indoor champion in the 200 meters (21.89) … Set the St. Edwards records in the 100 meters (10.59) and the 200 meters (21.42) and was his region’s champion in the events as a junior … Qualified for the 2009 state meet, but was unable to run in the finals due to injury … St. Edward HS coach: Rick Finotti.