The Trumbull County Sports Hall of Fame will induct 12 new members during enshrinement ceremonies this past October 30 at DiVieste’s Banquet Center, 754 North River Road, N.W., Warren.
The organization’s 19th class includes Brian Beinecke (football), the late George A. Bollas (wrestling), Vanness “Van” Brandon (football), Tony Davis (football), Bill Dreier (contribution to sports, official), Nia Grant (volleyball), Larry Kempe (football, coach), the late Richard Raidel (football), Tom Raphtis (football), Bob Todd (golf, coach), Dan Williams (football, coach) and Mandy Zolciak Willis (basketball).
A 2004 graduate of Howland High School, he was a two-sport star for the Tigers where he earned three letters each in football and track & field.
He could very easily be inducted tonight for his track prowess, setting numerous records by excelling on the Tigers’ 4 X 100 relay team, 110 high hurdles and 300 hurdles, winning multiple individual and team titles over the course of his scholastic career.
He holds the school record in the 110 high hurdles, breaking the existing record of fellow HHS alum and former Olympic gold medal winner, Willie Davenport – Davenport won gold in the 110 hurdles at the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City – as well as being a member of the record breaking 4 x 100 relay team.
He was District champion in the high hurdles, a state qualifier in the 4 X 100 relay and conference Most Valuable Player his senior year.
It is for his football exploits, however, for which he is enshrined tonight and how great he was on both the scholastic and collegiate levels.
He started playing the grid game at age seven when he played for the Howland Little Tigers and later became a three-year starter under former Tigers’ head coach Dick Angle (2001-03).
He posted 33 career touchdowns, registered 13 career interceptions including one that he returned for a touchdown, totaling just over 3,600 all-purpose yards, 2,700 of which came during his senior year where he was a terror on both sides of the ball, starring at running back offensively, at cornerback on the defensive side of the ball and leaving his mark as one of the Mahoning Valley’s top kick returners.
For his efforts he was named First-Team All-Metro Athletic Conference, All-County, was the All-NEO Division II “Player of the Year” and earned All-State laurels in 2003. He was named team “Offensive Player of the Year,” Trumbull County “Player of the Year” while earning the DeNiro Memorial Award, also being selected to the Big 33 team.
Highly recruited during both his junior and senior years, he had more than 25 Division I scholarship offers for football and upon graduation, chose Penn State University where he played for legendary Nittany Lions head coach, Joe Paterno.
He was a three-year starter at PSU and played in four bowl games, starting at cornerback in three of them while participating in the Orange Bowl, Outback Bowl, Alamo Bowl and Rose Bowl.
He was second in the Big Ten in pass break ups (13) his sophomore season, just behind the University of Michigan’s Leon Hall, a former first-round draft pick in the 2007 NFL draft.
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He scored the game-winning touchdown in the 2007 Outback Bowl and started every single game his final three seasons at PSU, finishing his career with 127 total tackles, 27 pass break ups, two defensive touchdowns, four interceptions and two forced fumbles.
An All-Big Ten Conference First-Team selection his sophomore year, he was a Second-Team pick as a senior and was honored with the Korey Stringer Golden Helmet Award for demonstrating athletic excellence at both the college and high school levels.
Upon completion of his college eligibility, he signed as a free agent with the Arizona Cardinals.
He earned his BS degree in Recreation Park and Tourism Management from Penn State University, which he now uses in his career as a restaurant manager for the seafood company, Red Lobster, a position he has held for the past 11 years now.
He resides in Arizona where he met his wife, the former Haley Davis and they are the proud parents of two children, Camren (9) and Amarie (9 months).