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'05 OH RB/ATH Dennis Underwood (Indiana signee)





Ht: 6-3 Wt: 200
Position: TB, DB
Projected as: RB
High School: St. Thomas Aquinas HS
(Louisville, OH)

Super athlete who is listed as a RB but probably falls more into the ATH category. He's already a big player and could outgrow RB.

C-bus Nike
40- 4.3 & 4.4
shuttle- 4.2
vertical- 37"

His top two schools are tOSU and scUM- tOSU is looking at him as RB while scUM is looking at him for Safety. He plans to go to tOSU camp.

2nd team Division V
His top two schools are tOSU and scUM- tOSU is looking at him as RB while scUM is looking at him for Safety.

I believe he's stated he'd prefer to play RB in college so we have that going for us. Not too many 6'3" running backs around but ya never know. Those are some impressive numbers he put up.
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just thought i'd toss my opinion in here......i saw dennis at the nike camp and he really stood out, the rb's were drilling with the qb's and lb's on some pass routes and dennis caught them all, one time he stopped and leaped about 4 feet off the ground to catch an overthrown ball......good looking prospect, kind of sucks he plays in d5, and for what is worth i doubt the 6'3"...maybe with his hair included but if those are the numbers from camp then i guess i'm wrong.
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And when they say Safety, they really mean LB, right?

LOL- PB learned that lesson well

also don't forget that when you are a LB, you can also be classified as a FB or if you are DE, you may have to move to LB- it's Lloyd's world and the rest of us are just living in it :biggrin:

quick blurb on Underwood- his head coach at Aquinas played for JT at YSU- so we have that going for us :)
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FWIW- according to message board reports Underwood has lost his eligibility to play his senior season (can't find any corroborating articles)- apparently he is over the age limit so he will have to sit out this season

unfortunately this would probably affect his chances at a tOSU offer :(
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CANTON — Success seemed to come easily whenever Dennis Underwood had a football tucked in his arms. Last fall, he rushed for 1,207 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior running back at St. Thomas Aquinas High School. He broke tackles and made others miss, drawing the attention of major college scouts.

Now Underwood is asking a Stark County court to help him break an Ohio High School Athletic Association tackle. If that does not happen, Underwood, a heavily recruited 6-foot-3, 190-pounder, will not be able to play OHSAA-sanctioned sports.

Underwood, 19, will turn 20 in February. OHSAA bylaws stipulate that students who turn 19 before Aug. 1 of the upcoming school year are ineligible for high school athletics.

A provision in bylaw 4-2-1 allows those who turn 19 before Aug. 1 to play if the student-athlete has a disability.

Canton attorney Richard G. Bing has filed a lawsuit in Stark County Common Pleas Court seeking a temporary restraining order and permanent injunction to allow Underwood to play. Bing argues the Americans with Disabilities Act protects Underwood.

The ADA is a federal law, and usually such cases are brought to federal court. However, Bing said Underwood cannot afford to bring the matter to federal court.

“If you ever get a case in federal court, you’ll know it (costs more),” Bing said “It takes forever.”

Underwood and Aquinas officials have asked the OHSAA to waive the bylaw because Underwood has a learning disability. In order for the OHSAA commissioner to declare a student-athlete eligible under the ADA exception, the athlete must meet five thresholds:

The player:

• Does not pose a safety risk to himself;

• Does not enjoy any advantages in terms of physical, mental or athletic maturity over other athletes;

• Does not affect the principles of competitive equity;

• Does not displace another student-athlete;

• There is no evidence of redshirting or other indications of academic dishonesty.

Bing argues Underwood meets three of the five thresholds in the ADA exception. The OHSAA requires all five to be met. It could be argued Underwood would displace another student-athlete and that he would have a competitive advantage.

“Dennis was a freshman, and Canton City Schools never gave him the test to know that he had a learning disability,” Bing said. “The kid has a learning disability.”

If the OHSAA granted Underwood a waiver or if he is granted the injunction, he would be a 20-year-old competing in winter and spring sports next year. Underwood plays basketball and runs track.

Bing, however, said if that is a point of contention with the OHSAA, he would stipulate that his eligibility ends when he turns 20. OHSAA General Counsel Steve Craig declined to comment because it is a pending case.

Underwood has several football scholarship offers from Mid-American Conference and some Big Ten schools. Most coaches will honor those offers because they were made based on what he did as a junior.

However, if Underwood is permitted to play this fall, he would have a chance to improve his standing among the elite teams in the country.

If the court does not grant the injunction, Underwood would not be able to play at Aquinas or any other OHSAA-member school. One option may be to play at Western Reserve Academy or a prep school, such as Kiski Prep School in Pennsylvania.

Last season, Underwood, who watched the Ohio State-Michigan game as a guest of the Wolverines last year, was a second team All-Ohio football player. He was a Northeastern Inland District all-star as a sophomore and junior. This spring, he earned Division III All-Ohio honors on three Aquinas relay teams and was a regional qualifier in the shot put.
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Todd Porter of the Canton Rep comes down against Underwood in his chance to get an extra year of eligibility.

With Underwood, age does make difference on field
Saturday, June 26, 2004 SPORTS SPOTLIGHT Todd Porter Repository sports writer
The kid has just finished getting dressed in a hot, smelly locker room. Before he talked to a reporter, Dennis Underwood made sure he was presentable. He checked to make sure his buttons were straight and his shirt tucked in.

The St. Thomas Aquinas High School junior played a key role in the Knights basketball season. He came off the bench and gave the team quality minutes. His athleticism was impressive.

Basketball isn’t Underwood’s favorite sport, but you could hardly tell by watching.

Instead, he is a football star. As a junior, he ran for more than 1,200 yards on a struggling team. Yet, he was impressive enough to catch the eye of major Division I programs. Now Underwood stands to lose playing sports in his senior season.

The well-spoken young man, who always seemed to smile, turned 19 in February. Ohio High School Athletic Association rules prohibit players from taking part in sports if they turn 19 before Aug. 1 of a given school year. Underwood’s attorney is suing the OHSAA to force the organization to let his client play this fall. Underwood, according to the suit, has a learning disability and is suing under the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The OHSAA has an exception to the ADA in its age requirement. Underwood would have to meet five thresholds under the exception. He may not meet more than one.

That’s not the point.

As likeable as Underwood is, as charming and as intelligent as he seems, the young man simply should not be allowed to play sports at Aquinas or any other OHSAA school.

This rule is well written and thought out. In fact, the age-limit rule, OHSAA General Counsel Steve Craig believes, may be the oldest on the books.

If Underwood is able to play this fall, conceiveably, Aquinas would have a bruising 19-year-old running back — pushing 20 years old at this point — competing against 15- and 16-year-olds. Is that fair?

No. Underwood is older than 32 players on Ohio State’s roster.

In his suit, Attorney Richard G. Bing said that Canton City Schools failed to diagnose Underwood’s learning disability in the ninth grade. What does that have to do with anything? If his learning disability had been diagnosed, would it have turned back the hands of time?


“What does it matter if he’s 19 right now?” Bing said. “When I played high school ball, there were kids who were 21.”

Maybe, but this 2004, not 1954. Bing brings a certain amount of passion to a conversation about the case. He should. He is representing his client’s interest. His son, too, is an assistant coach for the Aquinas football team.

Fact is, at some point, an adult close to this young man should have realized this problem. Plenty of years have passed, and they knew he would be 19 before Aug. 1. Someone should have been petitioning the OHSAA the last four years on Underwood’s behalf.

No one did until this year.

Canton attorney Lee Plakas, who has taken on the OHSAA before and succeeded, believes this is a tough, if not impossible, case to win.

“The focus is on the disability,” Plakas said. “You could argue the same case for a 25-year-old or someone who’s 30; that’s a tough situation to sell. In my opinion, the courts should bend over backward to give control to the schools and organizations to administer situations like this.”

Plakas is wise. He sees the Pandora’s box this would open. The guess is, so will a Stark County Common Pleas Court judge late next month.

Would it be entertaining to watch Underwood and pull for him to have a great senior season? Sure.

Would it be fair for him to play?

Unfortunately, not.

Perhaps the best option for the young man is to graduate from Aquinas early. Take the extra time this fall and dive into academics. Prepare for college. Think about accepting the best scholarship offer available, and enroll in college in January.

Underwood always has handled himself with class and dignity. There is no reason to doubt that he will do the same in this situation.
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Underwood makes his case in court
Thursday, July 29, 2004 CANTON —— The latest: Stark County Common Pleas Court Judge John G. Haas heard arguments Wednesday on whether 19-year-old Dennis Underwood will get to play athletics during his senior year at St. Thomas Aquinas High School.

Background: Underwood sued the Ohio High School Athletic Association in June over a rule that says students who turn 19 before Aug. 1 of the upcoming school year are ineligible for high school athletics. The rule has an exception that allows students to play sports if they have a disability and satisfy five additional criteria related to safety and fairness.

Underwood, who has a learning disability, is seeking a temporary restraining order and a permanent injunction that would allow him to play.

Attorney Richard G. Bing argued that Underwood is protected under the Americans with Disabilities Act because testing by Canton City Schools found he had an IQ of 75 and classified him as developmentally handicapped.

Attorney Steven L. Craig, representing the OHSAA, said allowing Underwood to play would take playing time from other students and give him and his team an unfair advantage on the field.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound Underwood rushed for 1,207 yards and 12 touchdowns as a junior running back last season. He was a member of the Knights’ regional-qualifying basketball team and qualified for the state track and field meet as a member of Aquinas’ relay teams.

Underwood testified that recruiters from Indiana, Bowling Green, Ball State, Akron and Youngstown State have expressed interest in him. Not playing this season would hurt his chances at a scholarship, Underwood said.

What’s next: Haas will rule on whether to grant the temporary restraining order Aug. 6. The first day of football practice is Aug. 9.
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free Bnuts

Sometime on Monday, Dennis Underwood of Louisville St. Thomas Aquinas High School will learn his fate for his senior season. At stake is his eligibility for the upcoming 2004 season on the gridiron.

"We actually find out (Monday) sometime during the day, hopefully," said Aquinas head coach Tim Tyrrell. "I would say it’s a 50-50 chance."

Underwood is still working out like he’s still on the team until he’s told otherwise.

"He’s in the weight room every day and doing all the conditioning and everything else," Tyrrell said. "If things go well for him, which we’re praying for, he’ll be playing tailback again and he’ll be playing at strong safety this year on defense."

Underwood ran for 1,300 yards last year and had 15 touchdowns. For the time being, he’ll be out on the field when Acquinas begins their double sessions on Monday at 7:00 a.m.

"We were suppose to get an answer on Friday and they postponed it until tomorrow, so I have no idea. They might put it off again who knows," Tyrrell said. "It’s a yes or no."
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