Fairfield native, former Miami basketball player among 2021 NFL Draft hopefuls

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Fairfield offensive lineman Jackson Carman picked Clemson over Ohio State and USC.

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

Two offensive linemen from the Journal-News coverage area are hoping to hear their names during the 2021 NFL Draft, which starts Thursday and lasts through Saturday.

One seems certain to be picked, likely on Friday night when rounds two and three take place: Jackson Carman of Fairfield.

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Carman played tackle in college, and was ranked the No. 1 prospect in the state of Ohio in their class. Carman spurned the Buckeyes in 2018 and went to Clemson instead.

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NFL.com’s Lance Zierlein praised Carman for his development as a pass protector last season and ability to recognize blitzes. He also saw Carman as effective at combo blocks in the run game and powerful in his upper body while questioning his footwork and use of hands and suggesting he is best-suited to play guard at the next level.

Pro Football Focus ranks Carman the No. 48 overall prospect in the draft.

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The third potential draft pick from the area is more of a long shot, but his being drafted would also be the best story.

Darius Harper was a two-sport standout at Springfield High School from 2012-16 before going to Miami University. After starting at center on the basketball team and offensive tackle on the football team, he was a three-star offensive line prospect and the No. 32 tackle in the country according to 247Sports Composite rankings.

Springfield's Darius Harper gets a shot off. Springfield defeated Oak Hills 71-62 in the boys high school basketball GWOC/GMC Holiday Hoops Challenge at Fairmont's Trent Arena on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF
Caption
Springfield's Darius Harper gets a shot off. Springfield defeated Oak Hills 71-62 in the boys high school basketball GWOC/GMC Holiday Hoops Challenge at Fairmont's Trent Arena on Saturday, Dec. 27, 2014. MARC PENDLETON / STAFF

Harper’s football offers list reportedly included Kentucky, Boston College, Cincinnati and Illinois, but he chose the hardwood path and signed with Miami University instead.

Harper played in 36 games in two seasons for the RedHawks, averaging 2.5 points per game and 1.9 rebounds before opting to try football again.

From Oxford, he headed south to Cincinnati, where he joined coach Luke Fickell’s squad in hopes of growing into an NFL prospect.

After playing two games for the Bearcats in 2018, he saw action in all 14 in 2019 with eight starts and made the AAC All-Academic team.

Harper started all 10 games last season and earned All-AAC honorable mention.

At 6-foot-7 and 300 pounds, he has the type of build that could be molded into an NFL offensive lineman if he gets the chance.

Even if he’s not drafted — and the bottom of the draft figures to be a larger enigma than ever thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic scrambling the season and draft prep process — he could sign with an NFL team as a free agent.

Any of these three local offensive linemen being taken would continue a trend.

Last season, Ross High School graduate Simon Stepaniak was taken 209th overall by the Green Bay Packers.

In 2019, Milton-Union’s Wes Martin was chosen by the Washington Redskins with the 29th pick in the fourth rounds.

Stepaniak and Martin were both standouts at Indiana.

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