American Family Insurance All-Northeast Ohio Preseason Football Team

1:35 PM, Aug 23, 2013   |    comments
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For the non-sports fan, there is a little about the month of August that conjures up memories of crisp, fall evenings.

But for sports fanatics - especially those that enjoy and follow high school football - there are many visual and aural cues that signal fall is drawing near.

Visit your local high school's athletic fields this month - as many loyal prep sports supporters do - and you're likely to hear whistles blowing and coaches barking out instructions and encouragement. You'll see student-athletes practicing so intensely that you might mistake a scrimmage for a game that counts in the record books.

That, along with the sense of optimism that permeates every team's preseason camp with the start of a new school year and season on the horizon, is what makes this time of year so unique for high school sports participants, coaches, fans and media.

The Ohio high school football season is set to begin on Thursday, and at this time, all gridiron teams remain hopeful that their respective campaigns won't conclude until the first weekend in December. That is when the state's seven state championship games are slated to be played in Stark County.

As a tip of the cap to the start of the season, USATodayhss.com/Cleveland would like to highlight 10 players to watch in Northeast Ohio. We're excited to unveil our American Family Insurance All-Northeast Ohio Football Team.

The 10 student-athletes listed below were selected by USATodayhss.com/Cleveland staff members as players to watch during the 2013 season.

Glenville senior Marshon Lattimore - The 6-foot, 175-pound standout wide receiver/defensive back has a slew of Division I scholarship offers and is rated as one of the state's top college prospects in his graduating class.

St. Ignatius senior Jimmy Byrne - The 6-foot-4, 300-pound offensive tackle has given his verbal commitment to join the University of Notre Dame football program in fall 2014.

Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary senior Dante Booker - The 6-foot-3, 215-pound outside linebacker and Ohio State verbal commit tallied 72 total tackles en route to helping the Fighting Irish capture the Division III state championship.

St. Clairsville senior Michael Ferns - The 6-foot-3, 232-pound middle linebacker and University of Michigan verbal commit led the Red Devils to the Division IV title game in 2012.

Shaker Heights senior Joe Henderson - The 6-foot-4, 225-pound defensive end and University of Tennessee verbal commit is rated as of the state's top college prospects in his graduating class.

Mentor senior Brandon Fritts - The 6-foot-4, 190-pound wide receiver and University of North Carolina commit tallied 42 catches and 10 touchdowns en route to helping the Cardinals make a deep playoff run in 2012.

Midview senior Cody Callaway - The 6-foot-3, 196-pound signal caller and Bowling Green State University verbal commit threw for a school-record 2,107 yards and 20 touchdowns as a junior for the Middies.

Massillon Washington junior Andrew David - The 5-foot-8, 162-pound University of Michigan verbal commit is rated by several college football recruiting services as one of the nation's best placekickers in his graduating class.

Walsh Jesuit senior Mike Knoll - The 6-foot-1, 190-pound Boston College verbal commit is rated by many college football recruiting services as one of the country's best punters in his graduating class.

St. Edward junior Shaun Crawford - The 5-foot-9, 170-pound defensive back is rated as one of the top college prospects in his graduating class by several recruiting services and has already received scholarship offers from several big-time Division I programs.

Compiling a preseason watch is a subjective task that often sparks debate. That is why, throughout the course of the past few weeks, we've asked our social media followers to tell us the players they believe deserve recognition.

The responses we received are below. Be sure to join the conversation by connecting with USATodayhss.com/Cleveland via Facebook and/or Twitter. Your social media comments will likely be added to the story.

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