Southwest Ohio is showing great depth at quarterback in the 2022 recruiting class. One of the names we’ve been watching is Cincinnati (Ohio) Elder junior Ben Hambleton, who grew up dreaming of wearing the purple uniforms of the Panthers.
First Star Football Report caught up with Hambleton to learn more about his first year as a starter and getting a chance to fulfill a childhood dream.
“Playing at Elder is something I’ve always dreamed of since I was a little kid and probably one of the best things that ever happened to me,” said Hambleton. “I never felt anything like running out on the field with my teammates. This year was a little different cause usually there is a ton of people in the Pit, but because of Covid, it was not the same. But it was a great first season.
“I’ve been going to the games since I was three years old. My brother played there; my dad and uncles played there. Growing up watching it, you dream about playing there. Now I’m finally here, and all the tradition and brotherhood around the team makes it all special.”
Over the years, Hambleton watched some of the top players in the region play for or against the Panthers. In the past several years, he didn’t have to look far for help in growing his game.
“Guys like Peyton Ramsey, Matthew Luebbe, and Michael Bittner, I just learned from them,” he explained. “Peyton would come to Elder in the offseason and teach us stuff and gave me new knowledge of the quarterback position and what it meant to play quarterback at Elder.
“Watching Michael Bittner as a freshman, he was a player I looked up to as he knew how to play the right way. Last year, Matthew Luebbe led us to the state championship game, and I learned a lot from him being on the sidelines and helping him see things. He helped me this year by talking about coverages and the other parts of playing the quarterback position.”
The fact coronavirus played a significant role in how teams prepared and played left coaches and players working to find ways to be ready for a season. Looking back now, Hambleton knows the Panthers overcame many obstacles.
“It was hard because we were never sure we were going to have a season,” he continued. “It was hard to get people in the weight room because of Covid. Many times, we had to quartine ourselves because we’d have an outbreak. So we weren’t together all the time, which was a problem for us because leadership is a huge deal, and we didn’t have that in the spring with lifting, and it was just hard to get back together with the shortened season.”
Despite setbacks and an always demanding schedule, Hambleton and the Panthers advanced to the third week of the playoffs.
“Coming into the season, I don’t think people expected us to do well,” Hambleton stressed. “We knew we had a good team and prepared each week because we didn’t know if we’d play because of Covid. We prepared each week as we’d prepare for a championship game. We watched a ton of film, and because of Covid, we played each week like it was our last game.”
With the season over, Hambleton has started to focus on what he hopes is an eventful spring and summer without interference from the coronavirus.
“If we do have camps, I hope to attend as many as I can,” he said. “I’m working on getting bigger, stronger, and faster and working on throwing for camps. Some of the schools I’m interested in are Cincinnati, Liberty, schools in the Mid-American Conference, and higher academic schools like the University of Dayton.”
As for areas of his game he’s working on improving or sharpen more, Hambleton was quick to answer what he feels are his strengths and weaknesses.
“I feel I need to have better pocket awareness,” he said. “I feel my strength is I prepare well and can get the ball out in an accurate way to receivers in stride to get the ball down the field.”
To watch Hambleton in action, here are his Junior season highlights.