Fitch’s Price heading OSU; Mooney’s McWilson to UK
The comparisons are inevitable.
It’s something the 6-foot-4, 305-pound Austintown Fitch High School senior defensive lineman Billy Price relishes as he heads down to Ohio State University in the fall to play football for the Buckeyes.
The side-by-side comparison to former Cardinal Mooney High School standout John Simon, who terrorized opposing quarterbacks with his hard-charging bull rushes, is something Price expected. Simon is 6-2, 256 and plays more of a hybrid linebacker/defensive end position, but the two share a similar outlook on the game.
“When I’ve talked to him, I’ve talked to him down at campus a few times,” said Price, who signed his National Letter of Intent Wednesday at Fitch High School. “He said, ‘Grind. It’s college. You got to grind.’ He’s definitely set the ways in how they should be. I’m definitely model my game after him.”
The comparison is something Price and Fitch coach Phil Annarella have discussed.
“I know Billy has a lot of respect for John Simon,” Annarella said. “He and I talked about that a few times. Being from the area, I think that motivates him. It motivated him in the weight room. He knows he’s not going to get by on natural ability. He’s got to do the intangibles and the extra work needed to be successful. He’s doing that right now in the track program. He’ll probably get to the state track meet again in the shot and discus.
“He was a real joy to coach.”
Speaking of Simon and Cardinal Mooney, two Cardinals signed their intent to play at the collegiate level – Courtney Love (6-1, 215 linebacker) and Marcus McWilson (6-0, 195 safety).
Love enrolled early at the University of Nebraska, where former Cardinal Mooney standout Bo Pelini is the coach.
McWilson, who previously committed to Nebraska, changed his mind on a recent visit to the University of Kentucky. Former Cardinal Mooney standout Mark Stoops, who was Florida State’s defensive coordinator, took the coaching job with the Wildcats.
“When I first went down there, I didn’t have any expectations about Kentucky,” McWilson said. “I went down there with a open mind, like anything could happen. I was still committed to Nebraska at the time, but I didn’t rule out any schools right off the bat.
“When I took the trip down the Kentucky, I was definitely shocked. Everything I saw from the people to the players, to the coaches, it was a great atmosphere all around. It was a beautiful town. I just loved it down there.”
Poland kicker Connor McFadden (6-2, 160) felt at home at Youngstown State University, where he signed Wednesday.
His father, Paul, who was a kicker at YSU in the early 1980s and played for the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants and Atlanta Falcons, was one of the many Penguin influences in his life.
His mother, Dianne (Rappach) Kosco, who was part of the 1988 Mathews High School state championship team, played for the YSU women’s basketball team in the 1990s.
Then, there is Poland football coach Mark Brungard, who was the quarterback on two of YSU’s Division I-AA national titles in ’93 and ’94.
This is the sixth straight NCAA Division I signee (FCS or FBS) for the Bulldogs in as many years.
“Connor is a kid that we like to put on the cover, what we like to produce at Poland High School,” Brungard said.
Connor, who also looked at Walsh University and Kent State University, said he received a piece of advice from Paul that he remembers before every kick.
“Stay hard and high to the middle,” said Connor, who major in mechanical engineering at YSU. “A good kick, if you hit it straight, the wind shouldn’t effect it. I think about that when I go do kick.”
Boardman High School’s John and Justin Babos had their decision down to Malone University, Walsh University and the University of Charleston (W.Va.).
For Justin, a 6-2, 230-pound inside linebacker, picking Charleston felt like staying at home.
“It feels like Boardman when we got down there,” he said.
The twins made the decision on Jan. 30.
“We were sitting at dinner and we were talking about the recruiting process,” said John, who is a 6-2, 230-pound fullback. “We both looked at each other and said, ‘Charleston.’ I called the coach that night and we committed over the phone.”
The pair, who grew up playing football, baseball and other youth sports together, knew they were going to college at the same school.
“It was a package deal for every college we talked to. We expected to go together,” John said.
Charleston, a NCAA Division II school, is ranked in the top 25 in the nation.
“Their program is only going to get better and better,” Justin said. “I don’t want to go to college to somewhere they are going to lose.”
And, it would be hard playing somewhere without John.
“To me, it’s the greatest feeling ever to play with your brother,” Justin said.
As for Fitch, there were a band of brothers, per se, signing Wednesday with NCAA Division II schools.
Falcons quarterback Matt Futkos took an offer from Clarion University, while running back/defensive back Billy Aaron went to Notre Dame College, along with teammate and offensive lineman Mike Koch. Deven Gray, a linebacker, is going to Walsh University, while running back/defensive back Anthony Smith is going to William Penn University in Iowa.
Smith, who transferred in from Arizona prior to last season, said he had offers on the west coast, Marietta College, Baldwin-Wallace and Old Dominion before deciding on William Penn, a NAIA school that will become NCAA Division II in the near future.
William Penn dominated the Midwest Collegiate Conference the past three seasons with a 28-6 mark, a school that has sent four players to the NFL.
“The character that is instilled in those kids there is what they instilled in us here,” Smith said. “No other school had that. I felt at home.”
Futkos (5-11, 192) said he felt the same way about heading to Clarion, a place where he said he’ll have a chance to play quarterback again.
“Come Aug. 15 when I report to camp, I’ll have an opportunity to compete,” said Futkos, who chose Clarion over Ashland University and Old Dominican University.
Koch (6-2, 273) had it narrowed down to Ashland and Old Dominican as well before deciding to go to Notre Dame College.
“They made me a great offer and I had to take it,” he said.
Teammate Billy Aaron (5-9, 175), who was deciding between Clarion, Bethany College and the University of Pittsburgh, is going to be Koch’s teammate at NDC.
“Going with big Mike Koch is definitely a great thing,” Aaron said. “I kind of wanted Matt Futkos and Deven Gray to go, but they had to make the best decision for themselves. I respect it.”
Gray (5-11, 208), who is heading to Walsh, is going to miss the other five seniors that signed Wednesday.
“These guys are my best friends and my family,” said Gray, who chose Walsh over Central Connecticut State and NDC. “It’s sad to see us go apart. These are some hard-working kids. They’re my best friends.”