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East Ohio will be represented at the ’Shoe

September 2, 2011
By BETTY POKAS - Times Leader Sports Editor , Times Leader

SATURDAY'S game between Ohio State and Akron will feature a new coach and players associated with Eastern Ohio on both sides of the field.

After the hullabaloo of off-season talk, OSU's first year head football coach Luke Fickell, who formerly was assistant head coach, co-defensive coordinator and linebackers coach, is placing emphasis on action.

"Our actions, our performance on Saturday afternoon, to me, is what we want people to talk about. ... we're hoping that our performance and our actions speak louder than what we say as words," Fickell said.

Playing for the Zips are former River High School football standout Dylan Potts and Joe Pachuta, a former John Glenn player. Both are University of Akron sophomores.

OSU players include freshman Evan Spencer. Although he's not from East Ohio, his father is St. Clairsville High School product Tim Spencer, running backs coach for the Chicago Bears since early 2004. The former Belmont Countian, who ranks third on OSU's all-time rushing list, played pro ball and later was running backs coach at OSU. He was position coach for Eddie George during his Heisman Trophy winning season.

Evan Spencer, who resides in Vernon Hills, Ill., recently commented, "My first month here (at OSU) has been exciting. My father is really excited I'm playing at his alma mater and on the next level. It's going to be fun."

Potts, who was listed as quarterback in 2010, entered fall camp as the Zips' No. 1 punt returner. The Buckeye Sports Bulletin recently reported: "The Zips were among the worst teams in the country in both kickoff and punt returns in 2010, but they like wideout and converted quarterback Dylan Potts (5-11, 188) to have a role in both return situations. He should be joined on kickoffs by (Jawon) Chisholm."

As a freshman, Potts appeared in two games as quarterback, had four rushes for 20 yards on the season, carried the ball three times for 18 yards against Western Michigan and had one carry for two yards at Temple.

Potts, son of Matt and Heather Potts, Sardis, comes from "a football family." His father played football at Marietta College for three seasons after one year for the Zips. His brother, Taylor, plays football at Mount Union.

Despite playing in just five games as a high school senior due to an injury. Potts earned third-team Division VI All-Ohio, was first team All-OVAC, All Times Leader and All-Eastern Ohio District, selected for the North-South All-Star game and was a rated player by such groups as the Ohio Magazine Top 150, Ohio, Tom Lemming's and CBS College Sports.

Pachuta, who was on the John Glenn contingent facing several area teams, is an offensive tackle for the Zips. In high school, he was chosen for the North-South game and earned second team Division III All-Ohio honors while being tabbed first-team All-Eastern District and first-team All Muskingum Valley Conference.

Spencer, a 6-1, 190-pound wide receiver, scored 19 TDs as a high school senior and 14 as a junior, and he helped to lead the Vernon Hills team to the state quarterfinals.

I remember when Evan and his brother, Cole, used to be at OSU media days with their parents although as he grew older, he was usually playing football. His mother, Gilda, is an attorney.

Under second-year head coach Rob Ianello, a former assistant at Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Arizona and Alabama, the Zips have 13 returning starters on offense and defense and 35 letter winners. Though the team's record for 2010 was 1-11, they improved during the last three games, nearly upsetting Mid-American Conference champion Miami (Ohio) in November.

OSU returns seven starters on offense and four on defense, including two special team players.


UNLIKE former head coach Jim Tressel, Fickell won't be wearing a sweater vest, but commented he'll be wearing "whatever my wife lays out." He added Nike will determine a lot of what he will wear. That was reminiscent of the days of former head coach John Cooper when the new shirts available were striped black and maroon - not a true red. The shirts caused derisive comments. Publicly, Cooper said he wore whatever they put in his locker ...

THE GRANDSON of a Barnesville man, who served as Ohio Stadium bench security and as an usher at Buckeye football games from 1958 until the year of his death in 2003, is showing his versatility on the football field in West Lafayette, Ind. Brian Bangs, grandson of Jean Davies, Barnesville, and the late Bill Davies, was backup quarterback last year for the West Lafayette team, and he is lining up this year as a receiver and is rotating as a defensive end. Bangs, who also participated in the Colt World Series, is the son of the former Beth Davies and her husband, Dr. Roger Bangs. The Davies' great-grandsons, Ian and Mitch Wells, sons of Amy and Rich Wells, play for the Barnesville Shamrocks. Bill Davies, a Barnesville and OSU graduate known for varied sports and civic affiliations and newspaper work, is in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Hall of Fame ...

THE ZIPS' media guide includes the name of former Bellaire Big Reds star John Buddenberg. An electronic engineering major at Akron, he drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 1989 and later played for several other NFL teams. He now is a field sales engineer for NXP Semiconductors ...

SATURDAY'S game to be televised on ESPN will begin at noon at the 'Shoe.

Pokas can be reached at



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