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Nov. 17, 2006

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Ohio State head baseball coach Bob Todd has announced the signing of six recruits during the early signing period, which concluded Wednesday. The group, which will begin classes at Ohio State next fall, includes four players from Ohio, one from Virginia and another from Oklahoma.

The Buckeyes signed a pair of right-handed pitchers in Drew Rucinski, from Broken Arrow, Okla., and Alex Wimmers, from Cincinnati, as well as left-handed pitcher Andrew Armstrong from Harrisonburg, Va. Ohio State also has signed infielders Tyler Engle, from Beverly, Ohio, and Ryan Meade from Lewis Center, Ohio, as well as catcher Dan Burkhart from Cincinnati.

“In the early signing period, we recruited to what the needs of the team are,” Todd, who is in his 20th year at Ohio State, said. “We were able to recruit not just quality baseball players, but outstanding people as well.”

Burkhart and Wimmers played together in high school at Archbishop Moeller in Cincinnati. Burkhart was a first-team all-Greater Catholic League selection and earned honorable mention all-city honors as a junior. He batted .349 as a junior with 25 RBI and an on-base percentage of .421 and owns a .410 career batting average with 57 RBI. Wimmers was named a first-team All-Greater Catholic League selection and was the co-player of the year in the GCL South last year when was 5-3 with a 1.53 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 51 innings. Wimmers also batted .473 to lead the GCL and had 24 RBI.

“Dan is an outstanding looking athlete,” Todd, who has guided the Buckeyes to 11 appearances in the NCAA tournament, said. “He is a good defensive catcher with a strong arm and is real aggressive at the plate. Alex shows tremendous potential. There is a tremendous upside to what we think he is capable of doing.”

Meade comes to Ohio State from just up the road at Olentangy High School in Lewis Center, where he earned All-Ohio Division I first-team honors and Mizuno All-Ohio honors as a junior. He also was named first-team All-Ohio Capital Conference and was a first-team all-Central District selection. The Braves finished 30-3 his junior year and won the OCC Cardinal Division title and went on to win district and regional championships before advancing to the state title game. Meade batted .456 as a junior with 17 doubles, six home runs and 39 RBI.

“Ryan is an outstanding hitter,” Todd, who has guided the Buckeyes to two NCAA Super Regionals, said. “He has a great work ethic and I think he has tremendous potential and up-side.”

Engle comes to Ohio State from the same area that produced Nick Swisher, a 2002 first-round draft pick, and Jedidiah Stephen, an eighth-round draft pick in 2006. Engle is a senior at Fort Frye High School in Beverly, Ohio, not far from Parkersburg, W.Va., Swisher’s hometown, or from Caldwell, where Stephen hails.

“Tyler is a tremendous athlete,” Todd, a four-time Big Ten coach of the year, said. “He has been a three-sport letterman and is from an area with incredible baseball talent. We have had great success recruiting baseball players from that area and they have had great success at Ohio State. I think Tyler could have that kind of potential.”

Engle is a three-time, first-team All-Ohio Valley Athletic Conference and the 2005 OVAC Player of the Year. He batted .361 with 19 RBI as a junior and maintains a .493 career batting average with 86 RBI, eight home runs and 62 stolen bases. His team won the OVAC his junior year and won conference championships in 2004 and 2005.

Armstrong attended Turner Ashby High School in Harrisonburg, Va., which is the same high school as current Buckeye Justin Miller. Armstrong was a second-team all-state selection as a junior after earning first-team all-district and all-region honors. His team finished 26-1 and won the 2A state tournament in 2006 when he was 12-0 with an 0.78 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 71 innings as a junior. In two years at Turner Ashby, Armstrong is 18-0 and has allowed only 17 earned runs in 122.1 career innings with a 0.97 ERA.

“Andrew is considered by many to be the best pitching prospect in the state of Virginia,” Todd, the winningest coach in Ohio State history, said. “He was highly recruited on a national level and we think he has tremendous potential.”

Rucinski rounds out the class as one of the most sought-after prospects out of Oklahoma after leading Tulsa Union High School to back-to-back state championships in 2005 and 2006. Rucinski was the winning pitcher in last year’s state title game and finished the year with a 6-3 record. With a 24-5 career record, he also was recruited by Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Wichita State.

“Drew is an outstanding pitching prospect who has been clocked a 92 miles per hour and has an outstanding breaking ball. He was highly recruited by many quality baseball schools around the country. He has an outstanding makeup.”

The group joins the winningest program in the Big Ten since Todd began coaching the Buckeyes in 1988. Under his guidance, Ohio State has won an average of 42 games per year with six conference regular season championships and seven league tournament championships.

The 2007 Buckeyes return six position starters and all four pitchers from their starting rotation last season, including seven players which earned All-Big Ten honors.

“There is no way to tell what will happen with the draft next June, but our current team has the potential to lose six or seven underclassmen to Major League Baseball,” Todd, who has coached seven players drafted in the Top 10 rounds of the draft since 2002, said. There are still some quality athletes we will continue to recruit during the winter and will follow their progress in the spring.”

Ohio State opens the 2007 season Feb. 23-25 when it hosts James Madison, Kansas State and Seton Hall in a tournament at the New York Yankees minor league complex in Tampa, Fla.

Signee Biographical Sketches
Andrew Armstrong, LHP, 6-2, 185, Harrisonburg, Va. (Turner Ashby H.S.)

Bio: Second-team all-state selection as a junior after earning first-team all-district and all-region honors … team finished 26-1 and won the Double-A state tournament in 2006 … was 12-0 with an 0.78 ERA and 84 strikeouts in 71 innings as a junior and is 18-0 in two seasons as a starter for coach Richie Anderson and the Knights … has allowed only 17 earned runs in 122.1 career innings and boasts a 0.97 ERA … also played football and basketball … was a member of the 2005 state championship football team and is captain of the team as a senior … also serves as team captain of the baseball team his senior year after earning honorable mention all-district honors as a junior … listed in Who’s Who Among American High School Students: Sports Edition.

Burkhart, C, 5-11, 210, Cincinnati, Ohio (Archbishop Moeller H.S.)
Bio: Earned first-team all-Greater Catholic League and honorable mention all-city honors as a junior … was named his team’s best defensive player … named “Man of Moeller” … batted .349 as a junior with 25 RBI and an on-base percentage of .421 … owns a .410 career batting average with 57 RBI and a .490 on-base percentage … team finished 23-6 and won the district championship … two-year starter and two-year letterman for coach Mike Cameron and the Crusaders … played one year of football … earned academic honors first three years of high school … will join high school teammate Alex Wimmers at Ohio State next fall.

Tyler Engle, IF, 5-11, 185, Beverly, Ohio (Fort Frye H.S.)
Bio: Three-time first-team All-Ohio Valley Athletic Conference and all-district selection … 2005 OVAC Player of the Year … batted .361 with 19 RBI as a junior and maintains a .493 career batting average with 86 RBI, eight home runs and 62 stolen bases … team won the OVAC his junior year and won conference championships in 2004 and 2005 … three-year starter and letterman for the Cadets and coaches Sonny Bidwell and Rob Nelson … first-team all-conference in football his first three years of high school … named all-district as a sophomore and junior … Scored 1,000 points on the basketball court his junior year in earning third-team All-Ohio honors after earning honorable mention All-Ohio honors as a freshman and special mention as a sophomore … football team won sectional and district titles in 2005 … an academic all-conference selection.

Ryan Meade, IF, 6-2, 200, Lewis Center, Ohio (Olentangy H.S.)
Bio: Earned All-Ohio Division I first-team honors and Mizuno All-Ohio honors as a junior … also named first-team All-Ohio Capital Conference and was a first-team all-Central District selection … named to the Agonis second-team by the Columbus Dispatch … as a sophomore was a second-team All-OCC selection … Olentangy finished 30-3 his junior year and won the OCC Cardinal Division title and went on to win district and regional championships before advancing to the state title game …. Team was 19-9 his sophomore year and won the district championship and was the regional runnerup … batted .456 as a junior with 17 doubles, six home runs and 39 RBI … had a .540 on-base percentage and an .816 slugging percentage … career .419 hitter with seven home runs and 61 RBI … two-year starter and letterwinner for coach Steve Little and the Braves … also played basketball two years … Olentangy Scholar Athlete and twice won the scholar-athlete award.

Drew Rucinski, RHP, 6-3, 175, Broken Arrow, Okla. (Tulsa Union H.S.)
Bio: Team won the 2005 and 2006 Oklahoma state 6A titles … was the winning pitcher in the 2006 state championship game, coming on in relief to get the win over Owasso, 4-3 … was 6-2 as a junior and owns an 11-2 varisty record … was a .345 hitter with five home runs … three-year starter and letterman for coach Shawn Newkirk and the Redskins … Tulsa Union Male Student-Athlete of the Year in 2003 and 2004 … member of the National Honor Society and Fellowship of Christian Athletes … in two years of summer baseball, he owns a 13-3 record … threw a no-hitter in the 2006 WWBA Baseball Championship in Jupiter, Fla.

Alex Wimmers, RHP/IF, 6-2, 185, Cincinnati, Ohio (Archbishop Moeller H.S.)
Bio: First team All-Greater Catholic League and was the co-player of the year in the GCL South … 5-3 as a junior with a 1.53 ERA and 63 strikeouts in 51 innings … has topped 90 with his fast ball … also batted .473 to lead the GCL and had 24 RBI … team finished 23-6 and won the district championship … was a first-team all-city all-star and was voted the most outstanding player and best pitcher in the game … has earned one letter for coach Mike Cameron and the Crusaders … active with Habitat for Humanity and the Cincinnati Food Bank … has been an honor student all three years of high school … will join high school teammate Dan Burkhart at Ohio State next fall.