Last season, the position of strength in Central Indiana high school football was wide receiver. This year, many of the best players from the area are offensive linemen and linebackers. Many are already committed to top Football Bowl Subdivision teams. Here are 25 area players to watch:
RB Toks Akinribade, Brownsburg, Jr.
He followed up a strong freshman season with 1,073 rushing yards last year and has an offer from Indiana.
DE Joe Belden, Avon, Sr.
The IU commit had 45 tackles and four sacks as a junior last season.
RB LeVante’ Bellamy, Brebeuf Jesuit, Sr.
The 5-9 star sprinter gained 2,340 yards with 35 touchdowns last year as the Braves reached the 3A state title game.
LB Asmar Bilal, Ben Davis, Sr.
The 6-3 linebacker, whose top two choices among his 20-plus scholarship offers are Notre Dame and Michigan, delivered 106 total tackles (including 41/2 sacks) last season.
QB Kyle Castner, Ben Davis, Sr.
Castner threw for 1,782 yards and 18 TDs in his second year as a starter last season.
RB James Gilbert, Lawrence Central, Sr.
The Ball State commit ran for more than 3,000 yards over the past two seasons for Tech. An IHSAA appeals board granted him eligibility after the fifth game this season.
QB Isaac James, Carmel, Sr.
He has 4.4 speed in the 40 and holds offers from several colleges as an athlete. James may see time as a receiver or running back this season.
QB Hunter Johnson, Brownsburg, So.
Threw for 445 yards as a freshman last season. Already has offers from Kentucky, Tennessee and Purdue.
LB Darrin Kirkland Jr., Lawrence Central, Sr.
The Michigan commit, who has been invited to the U.S. Army All-American Bowl, had 111 tackles, including 71 solos, last season.
OL Brandon Knight, Noblesville, Sr.
The athletic 6-5, 265-pounder, who had 31 pancake blocks last season, has committed to IU.
OL Trent Maynard, Decatur Central, Jr.
The 6-5, 289-pounder was a force at tackle last year and has several FBS offers.
OL Matt McCann, Bishop Chatard, Sr.
The 6-5, 305-pound guard, who has committed to Purdue, boasts excellent strength. He can bench press 225 pounds 21 times.
LB Quentin Moon, Pike, Sr.
He contributed 42 solo tackles, 10 tackles for loss and an interception last season.
DT Norman Oglesby, Ben Davis, Sr.
A University of Cincinnati commit, he was the state runner-up in the 285-pound class at the state wrestling tournament.
RB Shakir Paschall, Carmel, Sr.
Powerful back rushed for 1,077 yards on 220 carries and 13 touchdowns last season.
QB Brandon Peters, Avon, Jr.
The 6-5 Peters, who has offers from Iowa and Virginia Tech, threw for 1,405 yards and 13 TDs as a sophomore last season.
DE Jacob Robinson, Westfield, Sr.
The IU football commit registered 71 tackles, including 31/2 sacks and eight tackles for loss last season.
OL Adam Solomon, Bishop Chatard, Sr.
The 6-6, 305-pound tackle, an Illinois commit, helped offense produce 307 yards per game (232rushing yards).
QB Tommy Stevens, Decatur Central, Sr.
The dual-threat quarterback, who has committed to IU, threw for 1,526 yards and ran for 785 yards last season.
OL Jared Thomas, Cathedral, Sr.
The athletic 6-3, 255-pound Northwestern recruit plays center for the Irish.
DT Brandon Tiassum, Park Tudor, Sr.
The 6-5, 285-pounder, who has committed to Notre Dame, is rated as the No. 4 player in the state by 247Sports.com.
WR Grant Weatherford, Hamilton Heights, Sr.
The speedy Purdue basketball commit also had interest from football coaches. Strong return man as well.
DB Mykelti Williams, Warren Central, Sr.
The athletic safety, who runs the 40 in 4.5 seconds, contributed 58 tackles and two interceptions as a junior last season. Has more than a dozen scholarship offers, including from five Big Ten schools.
DB Adonis Williamson, Tech, Sr.
He is deciding between Missouri, Virginia Tech and Northern Illinois.
RB Tirone Young, Warren Central, Sr.
Young rushed for 827 yards on 169 carries last season and has an offer from Illinois.
Call Star reporter Mark Ambrogi at (317) 444-6047. Follow him on Twitter: @mark_ambrogi.