Written by Jeffrey D. Norwalk
April 03, 2009
The hits just seem to keep coming and coming for Genoa speedster Blair “Iron Man” Skilliter.
We’re not referring to any licks being delivered at the eager hands of Suburban Lakes League linebackers.
The Comet halfback/roving linebacker/special team’s ace rushed for 1,076 yards, 25 touchdowns, and to First-Team accolades in the SLL, his district, and the state. He led the Comets to a 13-1 record, and the program’s first, much-celebrated final four state playoff appearance in school history.
This 17-year-old with 4.4 40-speed, watched firsthand as his already storybook career received yet another fuel-injected boost into the Ohio football fast lane, when via his “official” signing of a national letter of intent in the GHS library. Skilliter is a soon-to-be favorite on Saturday afternoons at storied Mount Union Stadium, where he’s now slated to be toting the rock for the Purple Raiders, as early as next fall.
“Some of the other schools I looked at were Ashland, Wayne State, the University of Dayton, the University of Toledo, Bowling Green State University, and pretty much every other school in and northwest Ohio that you can think of,” Skilliter told a small contingent of friends, school officials, media types, and family members.
Most were decked out in Mount Union purple and white as Skilliter repeatedly pumped the hand of head Genoa football architect Michael Vicars, performed a “mock” signing, and even playfully flashed intricate, stylized Mount Union hand signals a la the University of Miami, with close-knit friend and fellow senior Comet football player, Greg Fryar.
“But in the end, I chose Mount Union College, because I definitely think they have all the things I look for in a good school, and Mount Union was definitely the place I felt the most home at,” Skilliter said.
“I just think it was a decision that needed to be made, because as a football player, I couldn’t really ask for a better college football program,” Skilliter added.
Mount Union’s Division III program over the past 14 seasons has literally held a grip clench over its host Ohio Athletic Conference, to the tune of 14 undefeated regular seasons, 16 OAC championships, a record 10 D-III national championships (with the latest occurring with the culmination of the ’08 season), and the long-term retention of iconic head football coach Larry Kehres.
Kehres is somewhat larger-than-life himself in astute Ohio football circles, thanks to a lifetime record of 275-21-3, and an awesome winning percentage of .929, in over 23 storied seasons of service.
“I feel all of my coaches were very receptive of me, and came across like they really, really wanted me to come play football for their school. When I went for my visit, everyone came up to me, and knew my name, and seemed to know all about me, and what I’ve accomplished here at Genoa. And then there was Nate Kmic, who personally called me up on the telephone, to talk to me about playing football for the Raiders and the school. Yeah, that didn’t hurt either. That was a pretty big deal for me.”
Kmic is a current Mount Union star ball carrier, but got there as a former 1,700-yard rusher (38 TDs), D-III First-Team All-American, and fellow Northwest Ohio product by way of Delta High School and current Genoa and former Delta coach Mike Vicars.
“Plus, the football facilities at Mount Union are just amazing, too, with everything being sponsored by Under Armour and Nike,” shared Skilliter, of the big purple’s posh football digs. “The whole campus itself is just a beautiful campus, and I think it was all built in like 1846, but all of the buildings have literally been redone, in like the past 10 years. From the outside of the college, you can see so, so much history. But then on the inside, all of the facilities have been redone. It’s just a beautiful, beautiful place, and really everything I look for in a college.”
A 3.4 scholar-athlete, Skilliter went on to tell meida that he plans on pursuing perhaps a degree in business at Mount Union from the jump, while leaving himself open for the option to maybe change things up a bit down the road.
In the Purple Raiders’ already-formidable backfield, during his freshman campaign, he is looking to be largely deployed as a return specialist on punts and kickoffs,
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