Spring practice en route to the 2018 season is underway, but one more set of 2017 awards have been announced for Ashland University's football team.
The 2017 Don Hansen NCAA Division II All-America Team has been revealed, and five Eagles have earned recognition.
Three Ashland players – senior center Dominic Giunta, senior right tackle John Conner and junior defensive end James Prater Jr. – are on the Don Hansen second team. Giunta and Conner were the anchors of an Eagle offensive line which allowed Ashland to average 33.4 points and 407.8 yards of offense per game in 2017, while Prater Jr. finished with a program-record 23½ tackles for loss, resulting in 104 yards in losses; 42 solo tackles, 10 sacks, 63 total stops, an interception, eight pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
Senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski and senior kicker Aidan Simenc each earned Don Hansen honorable mention. In 2017, Tarnowski threw for 3,044 yards and 31 touchdowns to just five interceptions, and completed 59 percent of his passes, while Simenc made a school-record 17 field goals (17-of-23) and 53-of-55 extra points for 104 points, a program record for a kicker.
In 2017, the Eagles finished 11-2 with a first-round NCAA Division II postseason home win and a Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference championship. Ashland ended the campaign ranked 10th in the final 2017 American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) Division II Coaches' Top 25 poll.
Ashland will kick off 2018 against nationally-ranked Indiana, Pa., on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m. at Jack Miller Stadium/Martinelli Field.