Many successful football careers began in this area, but how many were truly great?
Here are nine Dayton products who went on to long NFL playing careers:
1. Keith Byars, running back
Byars attended the now-defunct Roth High School and Trotwood-Madison before going on to a decorated career at Ohio State (where he finished second in the Heisman voting in 1984) and in the NFL.
The Philadelphia Eagles drafted him in the first round, 10th overall, in 1986 and he went on to play 13 seasons with the Eagles (1986-92), Dolphins (1993-1996), Patriots (1996-97) and Jets (1998) before retiring and moving on to a broadcast career here in Dayton. Byars, a Pro Bowl pick in 1993, finished his career with 3,109 yards rushing, 5,661 yards receiving and 54 touchdowns combined.
2. Marco Coleman, defensive end
A graduate of the former Patterson Cooperative High School, Coleman was drafted in the first round (12th overall) by the Miami Dolphins in 1992 coming out of Georgia Tech. He recorded 520 tackles, 65.5 sacks and 18 forced fumbles in 14 total seasons, including stints with the Dolphins (1992-95), Chargers (1996-98), Redskins (1999-2001), Jaguars (2002), Eagles (2003) and Broncos (2004-05).
Coleman went to one Pro Bowl in 2000 and retired in 2005.
3. Chris Collinsworth, wide receiver
Born in Dayton, Collinsworth moved to Florida as a young boy and became an All-American receiver at the University of Florida before enjoying an eight-year NFL career with the Bengals, who drafted him in the second round in 1981.
Collinsworth surpassed 1,000 yards receiving four times in 1981, ‘83, ‘85 and ‘86 and was named to the Pro Bowl his first three seasons. The 1988 Super Bowl loss to the 49ers was his final game, and he finished with 6,698 yards receiving and 36 touchdowns in 107 career games. He is now a television sportscaster and owner of Pro Football Focus, a statistic monitoring service.
4. Doug France, offensive lineman
A graduate of the former Colonel White High School (now Thurgood Marshall), France was a first-round draft pick of the Los Angeles Rams (20th overall) in 1975 after a stellar career at Ohio State as a tight end. France was a two-time Pro Bowl pick and spent seven seasons with the Rams before finishing his career with the Houston Oilers in 1983. France died last April.
5. Jeff Graham, wide receiver
An 11-year NFL veteran from Alter High School and Ohio State, Graham was a second-round draft pick in 1991, going 46th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He spent three seasons with Pittsburgh and also had stints with the Chicago Bears (1994-95), New York Jets (1996-97), Philadelphia Eagles (1998) and San Diego Chargers (1999-2001). His best season came in 1995 with the Bears, when he had 1,301 yards and four touchdowns on 82 catches, and he finished his career with 8,172 yards receiving and 30 touchdowns.
6. Andy Harmon, defensive tackle
The Centerville High School graduate was drafted in the sixth round by the Eagles in 1991 out of Kent State University. He played seven seasons with the Eagles, including an All-Pro selection in 1995, and finished his career with 274 tackles and 39.5 sacks in 86 games. He still holds the Eagles’ career sack record for a defensive tackle.
7. A.J. Hawk, linebacker
The Centerville High School and Ohio State product played 11 seasons in the NFL after the Packers drafted him fifth overall in 2006. He enjoyed a successful nine-year stint with Green Bay, including winning one Super Bowl in 2010. Hawk also spent time with the Bengals (2015) and Falcons (2016) before ending his career with 947 tackles and 20 sacks.
8. Nick Mangold, center
The Alter graduate and former Ohio State center was drafted in the first round by the New York Jets in 2006 and played his entire career with them before he was cut following the 2016 season. He did not sign with anyone this year and reportedly has a foot injury that may or may not allow him to play again. The seven-time Pro Bowl selection started 164 games over his 11 seasons.
9. Dan Wilkinson, defensive tackle
The Dunbar graduate and former Ohio State University standout was the No. 1 pick overall by the Bengals in 1994. He played 13 seasons in the NFL, including with the Bengals until 1997, the Redskins (1998-2002), Lions (2003-05) and Dolphins (2006), and finished with 388 tackles and 54.5 sacks over 195 games.