Thomas More football hones in on “backyard”

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As Thomas More football is just about set to make the transition from NAIA to Division II, they wanted to make sure they found the players that fit their system and help them move forward into a new era with their 2023 recruiting class.

Coach Chris Norwell said they’re waiting on some more additions to finalize their 2023 class, but inked 32 on National Signing Day on Wednesday. Norwell estimates the incoming class will be around 50.

The 2023 class so far consists of players from nine different states that includes the tri-state of Kentucky, Ohio and Indiana along with players from Georgia, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Virginia and West Virginia.

Six are currently from Kenton, Boone or Campbell County.

“We recruit our backyard really hard,” Norwell said. “Being in northern Kentucky, we’re surrounded by really good high school football.”

The six from the three counties are Cooper’s Jayce Hotchkiss (S, 6-1, 185), Ryle’s Luke Zimmerman (DL, 6-2, 205), Simon Kenton’s Chase Crone (QB, 6-2, 195), Cooper’s Eli White (RB, 6-0, 193), Highlands’ Sam Robinson (LB, 5-10, 190) and Covington Catholic’s Broghan Rust (OL, 6-3, 290).

Crone was a four-year starter at quarterback for the Pioneers and threw for over 8,000 yards in his career. Hotchkiss recorded 26 tackles in his senior season for the Jaguars and had 14 receptions for 228 yards and three touchdowns. White led the Jaguars with 842 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns. Robinson was the Bluebirds second leading tackler in 2022 and recovered two fumbles along with eight tackles for loss and three sacks. Rust will be part of a incoming versatile offensive line that Norwell is excited about.

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“I feel really good about our QBs in this class. We’re excited about the guys we’re bringing in up front. We have a lot of guys on the o-line that are very versatile,” Norwell said. “The thing that really excites me about the class in whole is that a lot of them come from winning programs. Couple kids won state championships last year. When you come from really good high school programs, it transitions really well because the bar has already been set high.”

Starting in 2023, the Saints will play in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference. During the two-year provisional period in making the jump to Division II, they’ll be eligible for conference championships and tournaments beginning in the 2023 season. Following the mandatory two-year transition period, the University would then become eligible for NCAA Championships during the 2025-26 year.

Thomas More finished 5-6 in 2022, going 4-4 in the Mid-South Conference. The GMAC includes Ashland, Ohio Dominican, Findlay, Tiffin, Hillsdale, Lake Erie, Northwood, Kentucky Wesleyan and Walsh.

“I feel the biggest thing we did was identifying needs and finding players that fit Thomas More. We have some great things going on at campus, the administration is doing a great job leading us into the future,” Norwell said. “It will be tough to transition early on, we’re not familiar with these other teams, everything will be brand new. It will take a while, but when you recruit guys from winning programs, expectations are high. We’re looking forward to finishing out this year and adding these guys.” 

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Wednesday’s signees:

Carter Sanders, LB, 6-0, 210, Maysville, KY, Mason County HS

Zion Mason, DB, 5-9, 165, Union, KY, Princeton HS 

Theo Davis, OL, 6-4, 215, Wyoming, OH, Wyoming HS 

Jayce Hotchkiss, S, 6-1, 185, Union, KY, Cooper HS 

Jacob Mullinger, LB, 6-0, 190, Centerville, OH, Centerville HS 

Ethan Sweat, LB, 5-11, 200, Cincinnati, OH, Moeller

Luke Zimmerman, DL, 6-2, 205, Union, KY, Ryle HS 

Josh Moody, RB, 5-9, 180, Paris, KY, Bourbon County HS

Collin Robinson, OL, 6-1, 285, Fairfield Township, OH, Fairfield HS 

Gavin Adkins, DL, 6-1, 245, Huntington, WV, Hungtington HS 

Nathaniel Royse, OL, 6-3, 290, Mt. Orab, OH, Western Brown HS 

Nasir Shelton, CB, 6-0, 165,  Richmond, VA, Monroe College

Jalen Alfonso, DB, 6-0, 175, Radcliff, KY, North Hardin HS

Grant Booth, LB, 6-3, 215, Cincinnati, OH, Taylor HS

Chase Crone, QB, 6-2, 195, Independence, KY, Simon Kenton HS

Nathaniel Dyches, CB, 6-0, 155, Wichita Falls, TX, Rider HS

Eli White, RB, 6-0, 193, Union, KY, Cooper HS

Jackson Trombley, K, 5-10, 190, Piqua, OH, Piqua HS

Jack Fitzgerald, S, 6-1, 185, Louisville, KY, St. Xavier HS

Ty Snyde, RB, 5-11, 225, Cincinnati, OH, Mcnicholas HS 

Ethan Gardner, WR, 6-4, 160, Cincinnati, OH, McNicholas HS 

Eli Aston, WR, 5-10, 175, Lawrenceburg, IN, East Central HS 

Cameron Dunn, WR, 5-10, 170, Lexington, KY, Frederick Douglass HS

Makel Loyd, WR, 6-4, 190, Atlanta, GA, Charles Drew HS 

Jaiden Dixon, S, 6-0, 170, Lexington, KY, Frederick Douglass HS

Steve Lawson, DL, 6-1, 260, Lexington, KY, Frederick Douglass HS

Elijah Freeman, DL, 6-3, 215, Lawrenceburg, IN, Lawrenceburg HS

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Peyton Johnson, DL, 6-2, 215, Centerville, OH, Centerville HS 

Sam Robinson, LB, 5-10, 190, Ft. Thomas, KY, Highlands HS

Broghan Rust, OL, 6-3, 290, Erlanger, KY, Covington Catholic HS 

Griffin Scalf, QB, 6-3, 210, Anderson, OH, Anderson HS

Brady Morehead, LB, 5-11, 185, Brookville, IN, Franklin County HS

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