ELIDA — Finally, the day was here.
Elida linebacker Quentin Poling had been dreaming of this day for the last few years.
The 6-foot-1, 215-pound Poling signed a national letter-of-intent to play football at Ohio U. on Wednesday in the Elida commons.
“It was sophomore year that the realization came around that this was a pretty reasonable goal and very realistic,” Poling said.
Poling selected Ohio U. over Bowling Green and Toledo.
The plan is for Poling to play outside linebacker at Ohio U. He’s the only linebacker the Bobcats signed this year.
“(They’ve said) I’ll play weak-side linebacker,” Poling said.
Ohio U. plays a 4-3 defense, but uses plenty of 4-2 against spread offenses, bringing in an extra defensive back.
“I’ll be one of the two backers that’s in the box in the 4-2,” Poling said. “Linebacker is better for me because that’s what I’m used to (compared to safety). I won’t have to take time to change position and transfer into something new.”
Poling may have to gain a little weight, but not too much. The Bobcats’ staff wants him to keep his 4.51 speed.
“They said they don’t worry about weight too much, as long as I can run like I can run,” Poling said.
Poling led the Bulldogs with 133 tackles, 19 for loss and four sacks. He also had three interceptions, one for a TD.
Poling was first team all-Western Buckeye League, first team all-district and first team all-state. He was the Defensive Player of the Year on The Lima News’ Dream Team.
Elida coach Jason Carpenter said he quickly saw Poling’s ability as a freshman.
“It was the second game as a freshman and he made a tackle for loss, then we subbed him out,” Carpenter said. “I told our defensive line coach, ‘You better put him back in there because he’s better than what we have.’ Ever since then, he’s not left the field.”
Poling spearheaded a defense that gave up 16 points per game.
“It was great to see them (the defense) do something unheard of, which is keep teams to 60 yards rushing a game, which is unreal,” Carpenter said. “And Quentin had a lot to do with that.”
Joining Poling at Elida’s signing day was his teammate defensive back Anthony Sumpter, who signed with Ohio Dominican.
The 5-11, 210-pound Sumpter did a little of everything with the Bulldogs. He played wide receiver, but his best position was safety. He even filled in a quarterback in the playoffs. He had 42 tackles, four for loss, with two sacks. He had one interception for a TD.
Sumpter was first team all-WBL and second team all-district.
Sumpter said the plan is for him to play linebacker in college.
“How the safety plays in our defense, I’m kind of like a linebacker, anyway,” Sumpter said. “And my body type allows me to play linebacker at the next level.”
Carpenter thought linebacker was a good spot for Sumpter at Ohio Dominican.
“That’s a great fit for him,” Carpenter said. “He’s big enough to play that outside linebacker position and quick enough since he played safety for us.”
Sumpter and Poling were part of a turnaround at Elida. When the two were eighth graders, the Bulldogs’ varsity went 0-10. As freshmen, Elida was 5-5. From there, Elida went 9-3, 10-4 and 8-3 this past season. Elida reached the playoffs the last three years, including playing in the state semifinals in 2011.
“We thought we could change it around since we were in eighth grade,” Sumpter said. … “I’m really proud of how far it’s come. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Poling agreed with Sumpter.
“I think it’ll be helpful for the younger Elida players growing up,” Poling said. “It’ll show them that it’s very possible to do every year, if they want to do it.”