By Ben Robinson
COVINGTON — Joey Schmelzer, the son of Chad and Jannette Schmelzer, had a stellar football career at Covington High School where he recorded a combined 172 total tackles, 23 tackles-for-loss and 10 quarterback sacks in his junior and senior seasons as a linebacker.
For his efforts, Schmelzer was a second-team All-Ohio selection and made first-team Southwest District and first-team Cross County Conference as a senior, as well as a second-team CCC selection as a junior.
This all led to interests from several collegiate programs, but one program stood out for Schmelzer due to its academic standing and football tradition – Ohio Northern University.
“I chose Ohio Northern because their Construction Management Program is one of the best in the nation and their football program is one of the best D-III programs around,” said Schmelzer as he signed his letter of intent on Tuesday at Covington High School. “Coach (Dean) Paul has been there a long time and he has the program to where you have the opportunity to be at the top every year.”
Covington coach Tyler Cates is excited to see Schmelzer join the list of former Buccaneers who have played under him receive an opportunity at the collegiate level.
“It’s exciting,” said Cates of his former players going to the next level. “Joey is going into a great situation because Ohio Northern has a great staff who are not only great coaches, but great people. We’ve gotten to know several of their coaches and they have the kid’s best interest at heart.”
Cates feels Schmelzer has the potential to have an impact rather quickly due to his desire and work ethic.
“I’m confident Joey will do well because he’s a hard worker and a coachable kid,” Cates explained. “Sometimes we had to hold him back (from workouts) to keep him healthy – the kid just doesn’t want to stop. He’d do our workout and then go do another one on his own and sometimes that’s a detriment to your body. The biggest thing for him in college is knowing when to let his body rest so he can stay healthy. It’s not that he’s injury prone or anything like that. It’s preventing things like shin splints – the little nagging injuries.”
Cates also feels Schmelzer will turn heads once he gets the opportunity to see the field.
“I think he’ll get a chance to play fairly quickly,” Cates continued. “He’s got a motor that don’t stop. He’s a leader on and off the field and has the toughness to handle adverse situations. I think they’ll see that pretty quickly.”
For Schmelzer, he doesn’t want anything given to him. He’d rather earn it.
“The opportunity is there, but it’s not going to be given to anybody,” he said. “That’s what I like about Ohio Northern and the coaches I met. They’re going to push me to be the best I can be.”
The formula has worked for long-time Polar Bear coach Dean Paul, who has guided Ohio Northern to a .667 winning percentage in his 14 years at the helm in a very tough conference – the Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC).
“The OAC is one of the best leagues in D-III and Ohio Northern is always one of the better teams in the league,” Schmelzer said. “The competition is good week in and week out, so I know it’s going to be tough.”
Schmelzer has been educated on what to expect at Ohio Northern from former Buccaneer and Polar Bear standout, Garrett Clark. Clark is a 2010 Covington graduate who went on to play football as a defensive back at Ohio Northern.
“Garrett talked to me about how the program works and what to expect,” said Schmelzer of Clark, who has been a mentor. “He played football there and was also a Construction Management major, so he had a lot of good advice for me.”
And with his future path set, Schmelzer is grateful to those who helped him get to this point in his life.
“I want to thank my coaches, my teammates, my family and the Covington community for all they have done for me,” he said. “My parents helped me by encouraging me to be the best person I can be and supporting me one-hundred-percent in everything I’ve done. My coaches and teammates always had my back and the Covington community has always been there to support all of the kids at Covington. I can’t thank everyone enough.”
Because it all led to an opportunity to play a sport he loves while earning an education at a great university.