MOBILE, Ala. -- Ohio has long been considered a state that produces good high school football players, and six who played prep football in the state will participate in the 2013 Senior Bowl on Saturday.
Five of the six -- quarterback Zac Dysert (Ada), fullback Kyle Juszczyk (Medina/Cloverleaf High School), offensive linemen Hugh Thornton (Oberlin) and Brian Winters (Hudson), and outside linebacker John Simon (Youngstown/Cardinal Mooney) -- will be on the North roster, and Joe Madsen (Chardon) will represent the South.
Although the players will be competing for playing time and the attention of NFL coaches and scouts, they have enjoyed the opportunity to share the field with other players from Ohio.
“It’s great meeting these guys,” Juszczyk said. “We can talk about Ohio stuff. My roommate, Zac Dysert, is from Ada, Ohio, which isn’t that far from me. It’s cool. You have something in common with them and it kind of brings you closer. I always harp that Ohio’s got the best high school football and I always like to try to represent that.”
Simon added, “It means a great deal to me, and Ohio has a lot of the best high school and college athletes. To come out here and represent, and do everything we can to make the state of Ohio proud is something special to us.”
In addition to putting their skills on display and getting the opportunity to meet with NFL decision-makers throughout the week, the players recognize their positions as role models for those who strive to do more in the game of football.
That is a position Thornton has been used to since playing at Oberlin High School. Before setting foot onto the field for an actual game as a senior after transferring to the school, Thornton was named a team captain. He was one of the most highly recruited players in Oberlin High School history.
“I’m not a hero or anything, but I go back to Oberlin every once in a while and all my friends are still there,” Thornton said. “They send me text messages like today after the first practice. They Tweeted at me and said, ‘Good job.’ It’s a good feeling to know people look up to you and I’m glad that I can be a positive role model for people.”