By Rob Kiser
Both Ben Schmiesing and Derek Hite feel like they are living their dream — and understandably so.
Both Piqua football standouts made their college destinations official on early signing day — and both are going to programs that compete with the very best.
Schmiesing, a running back/linebacker for Piqua, will be a preferred walk-on at Ohio State, while Hite, a defensive end/tight end, will spend the next four years at Youngstown State.
“This is always a good day,” Piqua football coach Bill Nees said about the signings in the Piqua High School commons Wednesday morning in front of family and fellow students. “This is what you are in this business for. All their friends family are to see it.”
Schmiesing, the son of Chris and Paula Schmiesing, said the decision was a simple one.
“The opportunity to go to Ohio State and be on the sidelines,” Schmiesing said. “They are one of the top teams in the country. You grow up watching them on TV, you have all their gear and now it is exciting to be part of such a great program. I think that is every kids dream. You couldn’t ask for anything better than this.”
Schmiesing, 6-foot-2 and 197 pounds, is not just versatile on the football field, but is coming off his second 35-point game for the basketball team.
But, on the football field is where he has made his true mark from the time he first took the field for the Indians as a sophomore.
He was second on the team that year with 55 tackles and had two interceptions to earn second-team All-GWOC North honors.
As a junior, he began to shine on both sides of the ball.
He had 806 yards on 141 carries and 10 touchdowns running the ball and caught 19 passes for 294 yards and three touchdowns.
On defense, he had 65 tackles, two forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and four interceptions.
He was first team All-GWOC North, named GWOC Co-Athlete of the Year and named second team All-Southwest District.
The highlight of his senior season was probably the Thursday Night Lights game with Vandalia-Butler when he took the ball away from a receiver to seal the win for the Indians.
He had 696 yards rushing and 11 TDs on 114 carries and 77 yards receiving and one TD on seven receptions.
Schmiesing led the defense with 100 tackles, a forced fumble, two fumble recoveries (one returned for a TD) and one interception.
He was named All-GWOC North, All-GWOC, first team All-Southwest District and first team All-Ohio.
“Ben (Schmiesing) is a versatile player,” Piqua coach Bill Nees said. “He played all three linebacker positions, he played running back. I think it is every kid’s dream to go play for Ohio State. Now he gets a chance to go prove himself, which we know he will.”
Schmiesing is excited about the new challenge.
“I have to over there and prove myself,” he said. “A preferred walk-on is just like every other player, only I am paying for my education. And they have a great academic program. That (making the traveling team), then working my way up to special teams, then onto the field as linebacker.”
The son of Darrell and Tori Hartley is a physical specimen with plenty of upside in his football future.
And the 6-foot-3, 269-pound athlete could see time at either tight end or on the defensive line.
“Today, they have him listed at defensive line,” Nees said. “But, he could play on either side of the ball. He is really versatile, so we will wait and see. Youngstown State is a great school. The football stadium (the Ice Castle) is well know. They have won national championships. They are probably one of the top five Division I-AA schools in the country. Former Ohio State coach Jim Tressel is the Youngstown State president.”
Hite said the decision was an easy one.
”I loved it up there,” he said “It is a great program. I like winning, so that was the place to go. And have they have the academic program I wanted (criminal justice).”
Hite also made an impact as a sophomore.
Playing defensive end, he had 37 tackles, 5.5 sacks and three forced fumbles.
That earned him first team All-GWOC North honors.
He played just one game as a junior before tearing his ACL, before coming back strong this season, helping Piqua on both sides of the ball.
He averaged 27.3 yards per reception as a tight end, catching four passes for 109 yards and two touchdowns, while carrying the ball once for five yards.
On defense, he had 30 tackles and one sack, earning first team All-GWOC North honors and second team All-Southwest District honors.
“Definitely (he is still learning every day),” Hite said. “I think I am going to have to go there, hit the weight room, work hard and see what happens. I am going to have to work my way up.”
Schmiesing probably summed up both players feeling.
“It is going to an unbelievable feeling when I am on the sidelines at Ohio State for my first game,” he said.
Kind of like living your dream.
Rob Kiser is Sports Editor of the Daily Call. He can be reached at (937) 451-3334.