ANSONIA – Ansonia senior Nathan Denniston achieved a dream on Friday afternoon when he committed to play football for Urbana University.
Denniston, the son of Todd and Dottie Denniston, said he’s been working toward his goal of playing college football throughout his high school career.
“I’m just very blessed,” he said. “It’s been a dream of mine forever, and it took a lot of work. And now it’s finally paying off, and I’m just glad to see I’m going in the right direction.”
At 6 feet 4 inches and 300 pounds, Denniston is a big, strong athlete who will play offensive line for Urbana at either offensive tackle or guard.
“It’s a big day when you get a guy getting a scholarship from a small school like this,” Ansonia offensive coordinator Matt Macy said. “He’s got a ton of potential. I think he could be a heck of a Division II player. I coached college a long time, and I’m telling you he could be a heck of a player at that level. I thought maybe he could have even been a good player at an even higher level, but that’s a good fit; Urbana is a good fit. He got a good scholarship.”
Urbana competes in the NCAA Division II Mountain East Conference. Last year the Blue Knights finished 5-6 and improved their winning percentage for a second consecutive season.
“I think Coach (Jim) Cordle and Coach (Tyler) Haines are really turning the program around,” Denniston said. “They have a bright future down there.”
Denniston, who plans to study education and become a high school history teacher, liked Urbana’s coaching staff. He also liked the school’s location.
“I really like the coaching staff there, and it’s far enough from home that it gives me some independence, but I can still come home and see mom and dad once in a while and be close to my family,” he said.
As a senior, Denniston helped lead Ansonia to the Ohio High School Athletic Association playoffs this past fall, the Tigers’ first playoff appearance since 2010. He helped lead the way for an offense that gained more than 3,000 yards on the ground and 1,000 yards through the air.
“He had a great year this year,” Macy said. “Whenever we needed a yard, he was our guy; we went behind him. He’d come off the sideline constantly, ‘Hey, run this. I’ve got it. Run this. I’ve got it.’ He never backed away from competition.”
Macy said Denniston’s greatest strengths include his athleticism, which includes a background in basketball.
“Being a big guy, you hear that all the time. They want the offensive linemen being basketball players. I think the system that they run offensively is going to fit him a lot better,” Macy said. “That’s his strength is his athleticism. He can run. He’s a 300 pound guy that can run, and that’s rare.”
Macy also said Denniston will be committed to excelling at Urbana.
“He’s an all-in guy,” Macy said. “A lot of guys go to college, they’ll play one year, and they’ll fade away. That ain’t going to be him. He’s in it. He’s been working this process for two years now going to camps. I don’t see him fading away.”
Kyle Shaner may be reached at 937-569-4316. Follow me on Twitter @KShanerAdvocate or get updates on Facebook by searching Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.