CANTON, Ohio -- At the annual Ohio Athletic Conference Football Media Day, Heidelberg -- under the direction of second-year head coach Scott Donaldson -- was predicted to finish third by the coaches and fourth by the media. For the fifth straight year, the event was held at the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Following Donaldson's talk about the 2017 Heidelberg football team, All-American defensive lineman Austin Crow spoke with OAC commissioner Tim Gleason. Crow drew a laugh out of the group gathered when he told Gleason that his least favorite type of offensive lineman to battle against were the kind that liked to hold.
Later, Donaldson and All-American wide receiver Demetrius Magee spoke with S&S Productions for an upcoming preview video.
SEASON PREVIEW: With a year at the helm under his belt, Heidelberg University head football coach Scott Donaldson has the Student Princes primed to thrive in 2017. Donaldson and The Berg return D3football.com All-Americans on both sides of the ball – with senior defensive lineman Austin Crow and senior wide receiver Demetrius Magee poised for another memorable campaign. In 2016, Heidelberg finished 6-4 overall and 6-3 in the rugged Ohio Athletic Conference – good for sole possession of third place.
"I think we ended last year riding a wave of momentum," said Donaldson, whose team won its last four contests. "As a coaching staff, we wanted to carry that surge into our off-season program. Our guys worked tirelessly last spring in preparation for the fall."
Magee, the recipient of the OAC's Ed Sherman Award given to the top receiver, caught 11 touchdown passes in 10 games as a junior. Under center, two-time All-OAC quarterback Tyler Stoyle is back after an impressive run in his first full year as the starter. A jack-of-all-trades hybrid tight end Cameron Vocke is back for his final season of eligibility. The offensive line will be anchored by seasoned veterans Tyler Hunter and Brock Riggs.
Crow, who became the second HU player to win the Paul Hoernemann Award as the OAC's top defensive lineman, leads a dynamic defensive front. Crow will be flanked by fierce linemen Malik Dudley, Verondtae Wilkinson and Harrison Brown. The linebacking corps grew exponentially a season ago, with Nick Walsh set to lead the unit. The defensive backfield will be led by Jarett Wasson, in his fourth season as a starter.
Heidelberg opens the season with a new foe, visiting Olivet College in the first year of a home-and-home. OAC action opens up at Ohio Northern on September 16.
A 'CAM'-DO ATTITUDE: Something of a human Swiss Army Knife, Cameron Vocke has impacted the Heidelberg University football team in just about every way imaginable. During his time as a Student Prince, the Erlanger, Kentucky native has had prominent roles in the ground attack, passing game and in all aspects of special teams since arriving on campus in 2013.
All totaled, Vocke enters his final semester of eligibility having amassed 1,393 all-purpose yards – 480 rushing, 629 receiving and 284 return yardage.
"Having a player with Cam's versatility is every coach's dream," said second-year head coach Scott Donaldson. "Every season, every week, Cam is ready to do whatever is best for the team."
In his first year, Vocke was used primarily as a receiver and a kick returner, scoring two touchdowns. As a sophomore, he found paydirt six times – three in his role as a featured tailback, and three on punt returns (one as a returner and two scoop-and-scores off blocked punts).
An injury limited Vocke to two games in 2015, short-circuiting what was a promising season.
Last season, Vocke was weaponized as a hybrid tight end. Able to block to aid the ground game, he posed a matchup nightmare for opponents when slipping out of the backfield. Though only being listed on the two-deep at the tight end spot for six games, Vocke earned D3football.com All-North Region third team accolades. He caught 41 passes and scored six touchdowns – providing quarterback Tyler Stoyle with a safety valve if the pocket collapsed.
While his offensive numbers tell the story, Vocke has amassed 12 tackles in special teams coverage. Still not satisfied, he spends time each week as preparing for his role as the team's emergency punter.
Having been granted a medical hardship for his truncated junior year, the Beechwood High School graduate will return for his final semester of eligibility. Where he will line up, however, remains to be seen.
UNFAMILIAR FOE: Heidelberg opens the season at Olivet College on September 2. The Comets have won back-to-back MIAA titles and were in the NCAA Playoffs. The Student Princes own a 7-0 program record against the Comets. The last meeting came in 1993.
SATURDAY NIGHT LIGHTS: After thumping Ohio Northern last year in the program's first-ever night game on campus, the Student Princes will host Otterbein for a nighttime Rhine River Cup showdown on October 14 at 7 p.m.
SWEET ALMA HOME: Homecoming is slated for October 28 against Wilmington. The Quakers will bring three familiar faces on their coaching staff -- head coach Bryan Moore, defensive coordinator Corey Fillipovich and running game coordinator Matt Byrne. Moore and Fillipovich were on the staff during the HU renaissance. Byrne was an All-OAC lineman and a graduate assistant for then-head coach Mike Hallett.
ON THE AIR: Once again, WTTF AM-1600 will broadcast each game for Heidelberg in the 2017 season, both over the air and online. Audio from home games will be synced up with live streaming video, available for free online. On Thursdays, WTTF's Jon Kerns will host the Coach Donaldson Show on Thursday nights, live from the newly-renamed Berg Bistro 1850 (formerly Fireside Cafe Pub) at 7 p.m.
1. Mount Union 80 (8)
2. John Carroll 74 (2)
3. Heidelberg 60
4. Ohio Northern 54
5. Otterbein 52
6. Baldwin Wallace 38
7. Marietta 32
8. Capital 31
9. Muskingum 18
10. Wilmington 11
1. Mount Union 345 (26)
2. John Carroll 327 (9)
3. Ohio Northern 265
4. Heidelberg 244 (1)
5. Otterbein 212
6. Baldwin Wallace 180
7. Capital 143
8. Muskingum 123
9. Marietta 101
10. Wilmington 40
-1st Place Votes in Parenthesis-