XENIA — Proudly wearing the colors of their future schools, Xenia High School linemen E.J. Wilson and Gavin Gerhardt smiled as they posed for photos with their friends and teammates. The two bookends of the Buccaneers offensive line signed National Letters of Intent to play Division I college football next season.
Wilson, a 6-foot-4 280-pound left tackle for the Bucs, chose Furman University in Greenville, S.C. According to furmanpaladins.com, Wilson received the most college offers of any of the school’s 13 signees. He chose Furman over Colorado State, Navy, Air Force and Akron, and 13 other schools.
“It’s huge to have everything paid for, and maybe have a chance to play some day in the NFL,” Wilson said.
Gerhardt, a right tackle listed at 6-5 and 315 pounds in the XHS program, is headed to the University of Cincinnati. He was named to the Division II All-Ohio first team this season. Rivals.com lists the Bearcats’ recruiting class as the best in the American Athletic Conference and ranked it 50th in the country.
“All the hard work paid off. I just hope to continue to work hard at the college level, and to hopefully play in the NFL some day,” added Gerhardt.
Both Xenia athletes were rated as 3-star football prospects by most recruiting websites (on a 5-star scale).
“It’s a great opportunity to have two guys sign to play Division I football. You get one maybe in a 10-year span, but they’ve been good enough that we had two this year,” Xenia coach Trace Smitherman said. “They’ve been the anchor of what we’ve done here at Xenia, both on and off the field. They’re great character guys, and I expect nothing less from them when they get to their respective schools.
“They’re going to be leaders in our world today.”
While both student athletes hadn’t fully committed to what degree they would pursue in college, they both have particular interests in mind. Wilson is looking to get into the field of Law, while Gerhardt said he’s unsure between Mechanical Engineering or Sports Management.
Xenia played in the school’s first-ever high school playoff game, under the OHSAA present playoff format, and finished the season with a 9-2 overall record. They won the Valley Division of the Miami Valley League with an undefeated 7-0 record. Gerhardt and Wilson were named to the MVL first team, along with teammates Zack Gaither, Isaiah Goodman, league Defensive Athlete of the Year Devin Hall, Kevin Johnson, Chris Jones, Cade Kadel and Andrew Pollander.
Contact John Bombatch at 937-372-4444, Ext. 2123.