The 2019 National Signing Day for football is just one week away, and it's led to some of Ashland University's current football players looking back at how they came to become Eagles.
NO ONE ROUTE TO ASHLAND IS THE SAME…
Junior safety Nick Powers – "The game day atmosphere was the best D-II atmosphere I have seen. I wanted to make sure I was going to love the next four years of college, both academically and athletically, and knew Ashland was a great fit. I also saw potential of me contributing to the football team early."
Junior left tackle Ryan Maguire – "My process was a long road, due to a season-ending injury I had my senior season. I missed all 10 games, which really hurt my recruiting. I was fortunate enough to still get an opportunity to play at Ashland, because my head coach played at Ashland, and still had that strong connection with the university. This was a big deciding factor in why I chose to play here."
KEEPING IT IN THE FAMILY
Sophomore tight end Michael Schweitzer – "There are a couple experiences that jump out at me when I think back to my decision to come to Ashland. I would have to start with that fact that my sister, Lauren, and my brother, Matthew, both were athletes here playing volleyball and football. My earliest experiences of Ashland consisted of going to Kates Gym to watch my sister's volleyball matches, and then attending the Eagle football games at Jack Miller Stadium. I was young and thought that playing here was a far-fetched dream. Early on, I had experienced the sense of family here at Ashland, because of the path my sister and brother paved while at AU, and the great relationships they built while here."
ASHLAND'S GAIN THROUGH…A LUNCH BOX?
Junior inside linebacker Clay Shreve – "When I was being recruited as a senior in high school, I was not recruited by Ashland until late in the recruiting process. The first time I visited Ashland was on my official visit, and the first time I saw them in action as a team was during the spring game after I had committed. So, Ashland was not really on my radar at the beginning of the recruiting process, but once coach (Doug) Geiser came into the school, that all changed. Coach Geiser and I instantly connected and built a good relationship. He was impressed with my 1976 NFL lunch box, and that I took notes during our meeting. After our initial meeting, I could tell that I was a guy they wanted to get, coach Geiser contacted me frequently, came into the school multiple times and even brought coach (Tom) Stacy into my school to meet with me, as well. That's what spring boarded the recruiting process for me. Ashland flew to the top of my list because of the interest they showed towards me, the success of their program, the stability of their coaching staff, and their academic success in the field of education."
THE ABILITY TO GROW IN FOOTBALL AND FAITH
Shreve – "I had it narrowed down to two schools, Ashland and Malone. I liked Malone, because my brother went there and the Christian atmosphere, but ultimately, I wanted to go on a different path than my brother. I wanted to make a name for myself. Combined with all the other great things mentioned before, it was the opportunity to advance my faith and grow as a Child of God that sealed the deal for me."
SEEING THE WINNING FIRST-HAND
Schweitzer – "Another memorable experience that comes to mind was when I came up for a gameday visit. We had just beat Grand Valley, 45-31, and I was waiting outside of the Troop to talk to the coaches as they came off the field. Coach (Lee) Owens was so excited about just beating Grand Valley, he comes up to me and said, 'Well Michael, are you ready to be an Eagle after that performance?' At the time, I had not received an official offer, so I nervously responded back, 'I need an offer before I can commit, coach!' He laughed and said we will figure something out. The opportunity to play at AU was my shot at 'paving my own trail,' and stepping out of the shadows of my older sister and brother.
SIGNING DAY MEMORIES
Maguire – "Signing day was an awesome experience. We signed in a big meeting room with students, friends and family all there to support us. Every other student that was signing was there as well, and made it to be a great turnout with a ton of support."
Shreve – "My signing day was pretty lowkey. I was the only football player signing to play at the next level, so there wasn't any big presentation or show, but I didn't need any of those things. I was able to have both my mom and dad there with me as I signed my National Letter of Intent in the athletic director's office. Just having my family there with me as a I prepared to take the next step in my life was a blessing, and was all that I needed."
Schweitzer – "Signing day was extremely exciting for me, because I had all my family and friends there supporting me. I attended Bishop Watterson High School, where we wore uniforms, but Signing Day, all the college signees were allowed to wear our future schools gear, and we were recognized by our principal in front of our entire school at an assembly. Watterson is in the CCL league, and our league had also recognized everyone that had signed to play a sport at the next level. A day full of handshakes and congratulations!"
Powers – "The last period of the school day was blocked off for the signees at my school. We each were recognized by our head coach for each sport, and there were cookies and cupcakes to celebrate afterwards with my friends and family."
THE RESULTS SO FAR
Powers, Maguire, Shreve and Schweitzer all are starters at Ashland, and they all have earned All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference honors. In the three years they have been together, the Eagles are an aggregate 26-8 (.765), and in 2017, AU won the GLIAC title and played in the NCAA Division II postseason.