When a football program has been around since 1920 like Ashland University's has, there aren't too many more firsts remaining.
Ashland, however, has pulled off another first, as Massillon Perry running back Keishaun Sims is the first Ohio Mr. Football to become an Eagle. Sims (6-foot-1, 170 pounds) earned the 2015 Ohio Mr. Football award after rushing for 3,225 yards and 43 touchdowns on 421 carries.
"We have an exceptional recruiting class, and it's just the icing on the cake to sign a player of his profile," said Ashland head coach Lee Owens. "He's going to come in to challenge to play right away. We've got one back (senior Vance Settlemire) that's proven himself. He could be right in the mix in a hurry, and I think he realizes that, too.
"The other exciting thing about Keishaun is that he is every bit as good, if not better, on defense. The other thing I've heard from just about everybody in the Stark County community is that he's an outstanding young man."
Sims' single-season rushing total unofficially is the sixth-highest in Ohio high school history.
In the 2015 Ohio Division II championship game, Sims ran for 117 yards, caught a pass for three yards, returned kickoffs for 59 more, recorded four total tackles and forced a fumble.
Owens said Sims' signing continues to prove what type of high-quality football program Ashland has, being able to continue to attract Division I-type talent.
"What's happening more and more, because of our recent success, because of our past tradition, because of our facilities …Ashland is the only, or one of the very few, Division II schools that they're considering attending," he said. "It's a compliment."
Also brought into the AU football fold for the 2016 season and beyond is a junior college transfer – cornerback Ahmauree Hastings. Hastings (5-foot-10, 185 pounds), who will be a sophomore this fall, began his college career at L.A. Pierce College in 2015, recording six total tackles in four games.
Hastings is from Hollywood, Fla.