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An in-state pipeline that deserves more recognition for it’s recruiting success

Why Huber Heights Wayne is a key program for Ohio State

NCAA Football: Ohio State at Virginia Tech Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Recruiting pipelines don’t happen often, but when they do it can be a real game changer for any football program. With how many big time prospects there are each year, having one or two P5 athletes at a specific high school is a real accomplishment for most prep programs.

There are some outliers, and more national powers such as IMG Academy, St. John Bosco, and St. Thomas Aquinas have several DI recruits every year, but for most high schools across the country, one a year is typically an over the top kind of measure.

Speaking from some personal experience here as a high school coach, this past season we had one DI football player — and that was on a team that won a state championship this year. That said, this specific player was only one of just a few DI signees in our program in the last several years. It’s hard to get to that level of college football, and while several programs make it look easy every recruiting cycle, the fact of the matter is a recruiting pipeline is rare, and when they’re available, it’s a big advantage.

In Ohio State’s case, a couple of high schools stick out when thinking about the term “pipeline”. Surely Cleveland Glenville is atop of the list with players like Troy Smith, Ted Ginn Jr., Cardale Jones, Marshon Lattimore, and more over the years, but more national programs like the aforementioned St. Thomas Aquinas in Florida fit that mold too. The Bosa brothers most notably, but with how often the Buckeyes are active at STA, that pipeline idea still applies.

In this case though, the focus is on one specific Ohio high school program that may not get the recognition it deserves when talking about a pipeline and how many players have attended this school only to play at the next level for the Buckeyes. I’ll admit, there is some bias here as someone whose grandfather and father taught at the school and graduated from there, but there’s also a lot of truth to making it an Ohio State pipeline.

Huber Heights Wayne - Home of the Warriors

Just north of Dayton, Ohio, Huber Heights Wayne High School has been a major help to the Buckeyes and their recruiting efforts. Sending some highly touted and very notable players to Columbus over the years, and in general to the college ranks, the Warriors just don’t get the recognition they deserve.

Not a school that’s slighted by any means however, the attention Wayne should get could be at the same level of the Glenville’s of the world, or even other Ohio programs such as the Pickerington schools or the Catholic powers like Cincinnati Moeller, Cleveland St. Ignatius, Lakewood St. Edward and on down the list. Again, Wayne isn’t scoffed at, but in this light they should receive more praise.

Notable alumni

Right off the bat, Braxton Miller jumps out as one of the most popular players to play for Ohio State in the last two decades or more. Whether it was at quarterback at the start of the Urban Meyer era or even at receiver, Miller will always be amongst the Buckeye favorites, and his career at Wayne cannot be overlooked. Taking the Warriors in his senior year to the state finals, Braxton was one of the most electric high school players in the country, and committing to Jim Tressel in 2010 as the top player in Ohio in his class was just the beginning.

Once in Columbus, he was thrown into the fire a bit during the 2011 season having to start under center as a true freshman, but in 2012 the Miller show really began to take off. It’s true that Miller didn’t get to finish his time at Ohio State how he’d have liked to, but leaving as a national champion and one of the more decorated quarterbacks Ohio State has seen, his career at Ohio State made a huge impact on the program, and that’s once again a big credit to Huber Heights Wayne.

Next on the list, Marcus Freeman is an easy one just like Miller. The former Ohio State linebacker was a two-time second team All-Big Ten selection and finished in the top 20 for tackles all time for the Buckeyes. Now at Notre Dame as the head coach of the Irish, Freeman is arguably one of the more impressive Ohio State alums when it comes to their career path outside just their playing days.

The Buckeyes will see Freeman again this fall just as they did this past season, and while there’s some tension between the two parties now having to compete against each other on the field directly and off the field in recruiting, Marcus is still one of the more well-known Warriors to have a great career for the Buckeyes and a major piece to the pipeline Wayne has build to Columbus.

Moving right along, you can’t leave out Will Allen when discussing Wayne graduates to play major roles for Ohio State. A 2002 national champion for the Buckeyes, Allen was a consensus All-American and first team All-Big Ten selection at defensive back. A fourth round pick in the 2004 NFL Draft as well, Allen shows why he makes this list as an easy addition.

The former Tampa Bay Buccaneer, Pittsburgh Steeler, and Dallas Cowboy, Will was just before Freeman at Wayne, and that gave Ohio State two major defensive talents from the same prep program that not only played in starting roles, but were legitimate game changers for Tressel’s teams.

Additional successes

The three names mentioned above will steal most of the attention, there’s also been some more recent Warriors to head to Columbus. Guys such as Robert “BB” Landers still should receive some major dues for their Ohio State careers. An under-rated player in high school, Landers dominated during his senior season, earning an offer from the Buckeyes. Even with his shorter stature, Landers played a big time role for Larry Johnson’s defensive line down the stretch and cements himself on this list.

Additionally, players like L’Christian “Blue” Smith, though he transferred, was one of the top receivers in his class to commit to Ohio State. Just this past recruiting cycle, Wayne once again helped the Buckeyes out when offensive lineman Joshua Padilla was the first member of the 2023 class for Ohio State.

Simply put, Huber Heights Wayne is a powerhouse when it comes to churning out P5 caliber talent as an in-state Ohio high school program. Though it may not be directly to Ohio State every year, the amount of players coming out of Wayne and signing to DI schools is nothing short of impressive.

Over the years, the Buckeyes have really struck a goldmine with multiple players at Wayne, and though it may not repeat itself in 2024 or 2025, the Warriors and their track record point to it being just a matter of time before they give Ohio State another elite player.

Wayne is very much a pipeline for Ohio State, and that shouldn’t be overlooked.