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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Six local gridiron stars honored at Stranahan banquet

Ohio State Buckeyes: Braxton Miller to be backup quarterback this fall.

Got your attention? Ohio State coach Urban Meyer did when he announced that at the National Football Foundation annual dinner at the Stranahan Hall in Toledo.

Meyer, who was the guest speaker at the dinner to honor local high school football players, threw out this comment to shock the audience. It worked.

UrbanMeyer
Ohio State football coach Urban Meyer
speaks at the Stranahan Hall. (Press
photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.
lifepics.com)

Then he continued, our new quarterback will be Aaron Craft from Coach Thad Matta’s basketball team, only Matta doesn’t know it yet. This brought relieved laughs from the audience when they realized Meyer was joking.

“What an athlete,” Meyer quipped. “Isn’t he something? Craft exemplifies the type of dedicated play that OSU wants in all sports, in particular football.” 

Craft was a three-year quarterback in high school at Liberty-Benton, including a two-time All-Ohio selection. He didn’t play his senior year so he could concentrate on basketball.

Five high school football players from the area were honored as scholar-athletes. These outstanding football players are Skyler Dierker (4.0 GPA) from Eastwood and Mark Konieczny (4.05 GPA) from Oak Harbor as well as Jonathan Belsky (4.238 GPA), Nicholas Keller (3.953 GPA) and Jacob Young (3.49 GPA), all from Genoa.

To be eligible for these awards football players must be nominated by their coach and have a minimum 3.2 grade point average. They also usually have been at least first team in their conference. Additional criteria that the NFF committee considers are examples of leadership and service to their school and community.

Kyle Schlumbohm from Eastwood received the “Distinguish Service Scholarship” for $2,500. Kyle, a 2011 NFF scholar-athlete, attends Kent State University.

Meyer spoke about dedication, true dedication. Meyer got a serious look as he talked about the 2012 year’s perfect season.

He said after the California win, in the locker room, John Simon, the defensive giant who played even though he had a serious injury began to cry as he talked about his commitment to Ohio State. Coach Meyer said the speech was very moving and “left him with a knot in his stomach.” He went home that night and couldn’t sleep.

Meyer said, “I thought, ‘What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with our coaching staff? What I got so angry about is, here I’m 48-years-old, I have a group of professional coaches, and I couldn’t have stood up there and done the same thing because I wasn’t as committed as he was.’”

5Honorees
L to R, honorees, Jonathan Belsky, Skyler Dierker, Nicholas Keller, Mark Konieczny,
and Jacob Young. (Press photo by Harold Hamilton/HEHphotos.lifepics.com)  

Meyer then told his staff and the players they need to double down on their commitment. He said “you need to rip open your chest, take out your heart and hand it to your coach.”

This started a tradition and after the Michigan State game fans may have seen the player’s shirt-tearing pantomimes. These were not a tribute to Superman but a show of their commitment to the team. The result of this commitment was a “magical season” of 12 wins and no losses. A season that Buckeye fans hope will be repeated again this fall.

Meyer also mentioned that Jack Mewhort will be one of the captains this fall due to his outstanding commitment and leadership ability.

Jokingly, Meyer said, “Actually, the players elect their captains but it passes over my desk and I guaranteed Mewhort will be one of them.”

Mewhort is a graduate of St John’s Jesuit High School in Toledo.