Five-star Ohio State commit Jack Sawyer makes switch to QB look easy



PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Five-star defensive end Jack Sawyer is one of the best high school football players in the nation at his position.  

For the rest of this season, however, he might be just a part-time defensive player. That’s because he has stepped into the starting role at quarterback for Pickerington North High School (Pickerington, Ohio).

The 6-5, 240-pound Ohio State commit — the No. 3 overall player in the class of 2021, per 247Sports’ Composite rankings — finished 6 of 11 passing for 60 yards and a touchdown on Friday, adding 16 carries for 134 yards and three scores in his first start at quarterback. He also registered a sack and a tipped pass that led to an interception. His play helped Pickerington North to its first win of the season, a 38-17 victory against Olentangy Orange.  

Not bad for being pressed into action after starting quarterback Dom Myers suffered a knee injury. That will only add to the hype around the five-star prospect.

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“He can throw the ball 70 yards,” Pickerington North coach Nate Hillerich told Sporting News. “If he wanted to be a quarterback, he would probably be a four- or five-star quarterback.” 

Hillerich and Sawyer talked about the position switch, which was made a little easier knowing the Panthers already had a Wildcat package installed for the star player. They expanded on that over just two practices.  

“I had one practice and a walkthrough to prepare for it and was kind of thrown into the fire that Friday night,” Sawyer told SN. “I wasn’t nervous. I thought of it just like playing on the playground with the ball in my hand like I always did when I was younger. I was just throwing it around and having fun.” 

Pickerington North’s Jack Sawyer runs during a game against Olentangy Orange.

Hillerich said the coaching staff adjusted the offense to fit Sawyer’s skill set, and it worked. Pickerington North scored on its first three possessions against Olentangy Orange.  

“He’s a really bright kid, so we simplified the offense and we knew we get into some formations and have an extra blocker with him running the ball at quarterback,” Hillerich said.

Sawyer made the game-changing play in the second half. He picked up a dropped snap, stiff-armed two defenders and raced for a touchdown.

“I went to go take off with the ball before I had it,” Sawyer said. “I had to pick it up, and read my blockers, made a cut, saw green grass and kept running.” 

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Sawyer played a dozen snaps on defense during the game. He has nine sacks this season — including a five-sack performance in the opener against Olentangy Liberty. But Hillerich said the plan is to keep Sawyer at quarterback.

“He’s going to be our guy,” Hillerich said. “We’ve looked at the film, evaluated it, and that’s the plan. He’ll still come in on third-down situations and pass-rushing situations (on defense), too.”

Hillerich and Sawyer agreed they had more confidence in the decision after visiting Ohio State for the Cincinnati game on Sept. 7 and talking with coach Ryan Day.  

“He told me to do whatever I needed to do to get a win,” Sawyer said. “They understood how serious it was that I had to play quarterback.”

With one start in the books, Sawyer is already looking ahead — and starting to sound like a quarterback. He spoke about how he can improve his game after leading the Panthers to their first win.

“I’d say probably working on my short game and reading defenses a little better,” Sawyer said. “Getting back in my drops and working into the pocket a little better so I can go through the progressions.”

Does that mean Ohio State’s next big defensive recruit might become its next big quarterback instead?

“No, that’s not going to be in the future I promise,” Sawyer said, laughing. “I’ll do whatever it takes to get wins in high school, but I’m a defensive end.”





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