Ohio Wesleyan University and head coach Tom Watts look for a veteran team to help the Battling Bishops improve on the 7-3 record they posted in 2019 and return to championship contention in the North Coast Athletic Conference.
“I really like this team,” Watts said. “We have a good mix at all of the positions, a good amount of talent returning, and some youth. There is really good team chemistry because of everything they’ve worked through all last year.”
Senior Shane Quin (Chardon) and senior Cody Streit (Griffin, Ga.) lead the linebacking unit. Quin was a second-team All-America selection by D3football.com after leading NCAC players in tackles during the spring 2021 season. Streit is a 2-time All-NCAC selection who led the Bishops in tackles in 2018.
Junior Trevar Meese (Wooster) and junior Ethan Brooker (Waverly) each started games during the spring 2021 season, and sophomores Haji Sidibe (Columbus/Beechcroft) and Sam Heyer (Western Springs, Ill./Lyons Township) also will contribute.
Junior Ian Riddle (Perrysburg), an All-NCAC choice in 2019, and classmate Jacob Neumeyer (Whitehouse/Anthony Wayne) are returning starters at cornerback, with sophomore Tyler Neal (Massillon/Canton Central Catholic) and junior Nick Cianciola (Massillon/Canton Central Catholic) also returning.
Junior Cam Jones (Cleveland/Shaker Heights) is back at safety, along with senior Owen Albers (North Ridgeville/Lutheran West), senior Braydon Chitty (Lewis Center/Olentangy), and junior Jake DelCampo (Northville, Mich.). Sophomore Bo Buttermore (Granville) and freshman Drew Thornton (Powell/Olentangy Liberty) also look to make their mark.
Senior K.D. Melton (Warner Robins, Ga./Houston County), a 2-time All-NCAC selection at end, anchors the Bishop line. Sophomore Marquel Henry (Dayton/Chaminade Julienne) returns at the other end, and junior Travis Sanders (Mount Gilead/Thomas Worthington) and sophomore Kevin Wade (Marion/River Valley) look to win the interior positions. Sophomore Tommy Brunty (Barberton) and sophomore Kyle Wade (Marion/River Valley) will contribute at the end spots, and freshman Terrell Burton II (Reynoldsburg) and freshman Tyler Yanka (Lewis Center/Olentangy Orange) will help inside.
Senior Zane Ries (Barberton) is back for his third season as the Bishops’ starting quarterback. Sophomore Austin Womack (Hurricane, W.Va.), who started one game during the spring 2021 season, and sophomore Kaden Buza (Winchester, Va./Millbrook) are vying for the backup spot.
Senior Michael Craider (Middleburg Heights/Parma Padua Franciscan), an all-region pick by D3football.com in the spring of 2021, and senior Kenny Streb (Willowick/Eastlake North), who averaged more than 22 yards per catch during the spring 2021 season, lead the Bishop receiving corps. Senior Kofi Ansah-Tutu (Lewis Center/Olentangy Orange), junior J.T. Dozier (Dayton/Huber Heights Wayne) and sophomore Jakii Alston (Pickerington/Central) join Craider as outside receivers, and sophomore Jay Hines (Covington, Ga./Newton), sophomore Bryan Benavente (San Diego, Calif./Mt. Carmel), and freshman C.J. Boze (Ross/Hamilton Ross) are inside receivers along with Streb.
Sophomore Hunter Swetokos (East Lake, Fla.) and sophomore Alex Woods (Amherst/Steele) return at tight end.
Senior Trey Dixon (Atlanta, Ga./Westlake) and sophomore T.J. Weems (Inverness, Fla./Citrus) ranked among the NCAC leaders in rushing in the spring of 2021. Sophomore Jahi Broussard-Nash (Delaware/Hayes) and freshman Jackson Gifford (Ross/Hamilton Ross) each add a different dimension to the Bishop backfield.
Up front, senior center Calvin Stull (South Amherst/Firelands) and junior tackle Dalton Rice (Caldwell/Shenandoah) lead the offensive line. Senior Don Whalen (Waterford, Mich./Orchard Lake St. Mary’s) and sophomore Sean Kessel (North Olmsted/Lutheran West) look to win the guard spots, and sophomore Brandon Planey (Mount Gilead/Northmor) could open at tackle. Sophomore Brandon Edwards (Milford), sophomore Jalen Buffington (Cleveland/Ginn Academy), and freshman Patrick Moore-Graves (Canal Winchester/Harvest Prep) also should be heard from.
On special teams, senior Gabe Philhower (Reynoldsburg) returns as the placekicker and punter, and Dixon and Streb will handle returns. Streb averaged more than 30 yards per kick return during the spring of 2021.
Ohio Wesleyan opens its season on Saturday at Otterbein. The NCAC schedule kicks off on Sept. 11 at Oberlin, and includes contests against 2019 NCAC tri-champions Wittenberg on Oct. 2, Wabash on Oct. 23, and Denison on Nov. 13.
OWU Sports Information contributed to this report.