20 Panthers Earn All-Great Midwest Honors; Neidhardt Named Special Teams Player of the Year

Photo by Ralph Schudel
Photo by Ralph Schudel

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INDIANAPOLIS – Junior Logen Neidhardt (Hicksillve, Ohio) was tabbed the G-MAC Special Teams Player of the Year to highlight Ohio Dominican football's all-conference accolades on Friday, Nov. 22.

Overall, 20 Panthers picked up all-conference awards from the G-MAC, which included eight first team members. ODU has now received at least 20 all-conference selections in each of its first three years in the G-MAC.

To go along with his second annual award, Neidhardt was also named to the G-MAC first team. Offensively, junior Devanaire Conliffe (Willoughby, Ohio) was a first team selection. The Panther defense, which led the conference in points allowed per game, 17.1, had six players on the top team, including seniors Alessio Amato (Zanesville, Ohio) and Camren Moore (New Carlisle, Ohio), juniors Dauson Dales (Defiance, Ohio), Jayden Davis (Springfield, Ohio) and Aarin Smoot-Baker (Columbus, Ohio), and sophomore Jaylin Garner (Shaker Heights, Ohio).

Landing on the second team offense were seniors EJ Colson (Middletown, Ohio), Seth Gerken (Napoleon, Ohio), Blake Skuratowicz (Lewis Center, Ohio) and Cedric Washington (Knoxville, Tenn.), and junior Jake Garrison (Clarksville, Ohio). Senior Gus Dimmerling (Perrysburg, Ohio) was the lone second team defender.

ODU's six honorable mention selections included senior Chris Green (Toledo, Ohio), junior Vinny Verbiar (Aurora, Ohio), sophomores Evan Ernst (Mason, Ohio) and DeAndre Clark (Dover, Ohio), and freshmen Blaine Swartzmiller (Attica, Ohio) and Josh Pittro (Dublin, Ohio).


PLAYER OF THE YEAR

Neidhardt is receiving his second Great Midwest Special Teams Player of the Year award, after also winning the award in 2017. The junior is also a three-time first team all-GMAC selection and six-time G-MAC Special Teams Player of the Week. Neidhardt has logged 45 punt attempts this fall for 1,906 yards. His average punt attempt of 42.4 yards ranks among the top 10 in NCAA Division II. The junior, who is also nominated for a CoSIDA Academic All-American award, has a long punt of 61 yards, placed 18 attempts inside the opponent's 20-yard line and has zero touchbacks. His two weekly conference awards this season came in performances against Findlay and Walsh, where combined for 12 punts, seven attempts inside the 20-yard line and an average try of 46.3 yards.


FIRST TEAM

Conliffe is on pace for a career year at Ohio Dominican, as he will enter the America's Crossroads Bowl four catches and 14 yards shy of setting new personal best season marks. The junior has 33 receptions for 527 yards to go along with a team-high 10 touchdowns. Conliffe's receiving scores rank second in the G-MAC and 20th nationally. He had three games with multiple touchdowns this season, including at No. 1 Valdosta State, where he hauled in five passes for a career-high 131 yards and two touchdowns. Conliffe is now a three-time all-GMAC performer, as he also has honorable mention accolades in 2017 and 2018.

Amato has helped engineer the Panther defense that has led ODU to the nation's top turnover margin at plus-1.78 per game. The senior has eight takeaways this season, including a school single season record six interceptions and two fumble recoveries. Amato tied the single game conference and program record with three interceptions during a G-MAC contest at Alderson Broaddus, a performance that earned him G-MAC and national player of the week honors. Amato has added career-high marks in tackles (47), tackles for loss (7.0) and pass breakups (4) this season. This is Amato's first all-conference award.

During his first season as a starter, Dales has been one of ODU's most consistent tacklers. The linebacker is second on the team and third in the conference in tackles per game, 9.1, and has 82 total stops this fall. Dales' 4.7 solo tackles per game rank fourth in the conference, while his total average per contest is 38th nationally. The junior also has 4.5 tackles for loss, two fumble recoveries and a blocked kick. He opened the season with three consecutive double-digit tackle games and added a career-high 13 stops in a 49-10 win over Lake Erie. This is Dales' first all-GMAC honor.

Davis is receiving his second all-conference award from the G-MAC after being named to the second team in 2018. The defensive back opened the season with double-digit stops in two of the first team games, to help give him 75 tackles this season. Davis has posted seven or more tackles in seven games this season, including a career-high 13 stops at top-ranked Valdosta State. Third on the team with 8.3 tackles per game, Davis also has 3.5 tackles for loss, four pass break ups and one forced fumble in 2019.

Garner's second season has seen the sophomore rank among the conference and nation's leaders in sacks and tackles for loss. Garner leads the G-MAC and is 17th across Division II in sacks per game, 0.89. His tackles for loss mark of 1.5 per contest is third in the league and 25th nationally. The defensive end's totals include 40 stops, 13.5 tackles for loss, as well as 8.0 sacks. His 8.0 sacks are tied for second all-time at ODU, while the 13.5 tackles for loss are tied for the third most in school history. Garner, who is receiving his first all-conference honor, has at least one sack in six of the past seven outings.

Despite missing some time with injury, Moore has paced the Panthers in tackles this fall with 86. The linebacker sits atop the conference and among the top 25 nationally in tackles per game, 9.6, and has five of his 10 career double-digit tackle games in 2019. Moore won two of the final three G-MAC Defensive Player of the Week awards for his efforts against Walsh and Hillsdale. The senior tied a career, which he set earlier in the year at Tiffin, with 16 tackles against Walsh. He added 11 stops, two sacks and a forced fumble in a road win at Hillsdale. The 2019 season also saw Moore become the all-time leading tackler in G-MAC history. His 283 career tackles are third all-time at ODU, and the senior can go for the school record of 294 during the team's bowl game. Moore is a two-time all-conference winner after being named to the second team in 2018.

Smoot-Baker was also a second team selection in 2018 before receiving first team honors in 2019. The junior has joined Garner in the opposing team's backfield all season long with 7.5 tackles for loss. Smoot-Baker has 32 tackles on the season, as well as two forced and two recovered fumbles. Both of his recoveries came in a 17-7 win at Hillsdale, which ties him for the most in a single game in school history. For his career, the defensive lineman has 9.5 sacks and 22.5 tackles for loss, which rank sixth and 11th, respectively, all-time at ODU.


SECOND TEAM

Colson has been one of the conference's most explosive offensive players this season, accounting for over 1,000 all-purpose yards. The senior running back has eclipsed the 800-yard mark for the second time in his career with 827 yards on the ground in 2019. His nine rushing scores also made him the first player in school history to score eight or more times on the ground in three different seasons. He's added 186 yards and 22 receptions as a pass catcher as well. Colson is 36th nationally in rushing yards per game, 91.9, while his all-purpose total of 115.7 yards per outing is inside the top six of the G-MAC. The senior also surpassed 2,000 career rushing yards this season, as his 2,752 yards are second all-time at ODU. Colson is a three-time all-GMAC award winner, winning first team honors in 2017 and second team accolades each of the past two seasons.

Garrison and Gerken helped lead a solid offensive line that has allowed fewer than 15 sacks in two of the past three seasons. The duo helped the offense to 30.3 points and 347.3 yards per game. ODU's scoring and rushing (129.7) offensive marks are among the conference leaders. Garrison and Gerken held down the center and left tackle positions all season long. Garrison is now a three-time all-GMAC pick, which includes honorable mention accolades in 2017 and 2018. This is the first all-conference award for Gerken.

Skuratowicz is also receiving his first career all-GMAC honor. The tight end made his first nine starts at ODU this season. Skuratowicz hauled in 17 of his 20 career catches at ODU, including his first receiving touchdown as a Panther in a game at Tiffin. The senior finished the regular season with 100 yards and had multiple receptions in five games, including a six-catch day in the opener at Shepherd.

Washington has a team-high 570 receiving yards on 34 receptions this season. The senior has topped 500 yards in two of his three seasons at ODU, all of which have been all-conference level years. With three touchdowns this season, Washington has nine for his career. The wideout is among the top 10 in the G-MAC in receptions (3.8) and yards (57.7) per game. He has five appearances this fall with four or more catches, including six catches against national playoff teams, Shepherd (71 yards) and Tiffin (110 yards).

Dimmerling joined Davis in the secondary this season, and after sitting out last year with an injury, the senior has made 52 stops in 2019. Dimmerling is fourth on the team with 5.8 tackles per game and has one of his four career interceptions this season. He also has his only forced and fumble recovery in his collegiate career this fall. The senior opened the season with seven or more stops in four of the first five games, including a season-high nine tackles against Findlay.


HONORABLE MENTION

Clark was called into action after an injury to senior David Turner (Fort Wayne, Ind.), and has proceeded to lead the team in catches with 35 for 401 yards. The sophomore debuted his 2019 season with seven catches against Findlay and added a career-best eight receptions the next week at Tiffin. His first 100-yard game came at Alderson Broaddus and his first career two-score game was against Lake Erie. Clark is also ODU's top kick returner with 364 yards. The sophomore is averaging 109.3 all-purpose yards per game, ranking second on the team and among the top seven in the conference. This is Clark's first all-conference award.

Ernst, the 2018 G-MAC Freshman of the Year, is now a two-time all-conference performer after his first season saw him receive second team honors. After leading the nation in completion percentage last season, the quarterback is once again among the Division II leaders at .654 (1st in G-MAC, 10th in DII). Ernst has used his accuracy to tally 1,911 yards and 17 touchdowns. He has completed 168-of-257 passes, including five completions over 50 yards. The sophomore has also added five rushing touchdowns this fall. Ernst has four games with at least three total scores this season, as his 14.9 points responsible for per game are third in the G-MAC and 33rd across Division II.

Green is in his first season with the Panthers after transferring from the University of Toledo. The senior has 36 tackles, including 5.5 for loss and 3.0 sacks. Green has five games with at least four stops, including a season-high seven tackles against Shepherd and Hillsdale.

Pittro and Verbiar join Garrison and Gerken as ODU offensive linemen to receive all-GMAC awards in 2019. Verbiar has started all nine games this season and 20 times in his career. Pittro joined the starting lineup in Week Three and has since not relinquished the right guard position. The right side of Pittro and Verbiar have been key to the team's run success late in the season, as Colson ran for 150 yards in the season finale. As a team, ODU is averaging close to 130 rushing yards per game. Both linemen are earning their first all-conference awards.

Also earning his first G-MAC accolade is Swartzmiller. The freshman moved into the starting lineup after three games and has tallied 23 total tackles. The defensive lineman has five tackles for loss, including one sack this season. He also has one fumble recovery. Swartzmiller played a key role in the regular season finale at Hillsdale, where the defense tied the single game school record with seven sacks.


Ohio Dominican is 7-2 this season and finished second in the Great Midwest with a 6-1 mark. ODU has won at least seven games in every season since 2011. The Panthers appeared in the regional rankings every week and have received a bid to play in the inaugural America's Crossroads Bowl against nationally-ranked Truman State on Saturday, Dec. 7.  

Contact: Tyler Jester

jestert@ohiodominican.edu