Since Athens is only a 17 hour road trip away, it makes sense that Nebraska would pipeline some of its finest football talents to Bobcat Country. With Fightin' Frank Solich's combined forty years spent at Nebraska as a player and coach, he garnished the recognition to drive high school football players from the Cornhusker State to the Buckeye State. This season will be no exception, with Frankie's 2013 edition of Nebraska talent will be offensive lineman Jon Lechner.
Although it will be the players from Oklahoma winning fans' hearts with their playmaking abilities for Ohio, the hogs up front enabling that to happen will be led by Lechner, who has been the Cal Ripken, Jr. of Ohio's offensive line over his career only missing one game through three seasons. Considering his experience heading into 2013, Ohio will look to Lechner's leadership along the O-line to replace Eric Herman and Skyler Allen, who both made the jump to the NFL (Allen has since been cut by the Lions.)
Lechner's efforts up front helped Beau Blankenship break out in 2012, earning 2nd Team All-MAC. Last season,behind Lechner and the O-line, the Green and White amassing 2,643 rushing yards and 24 touchdowns on the ground. Lechner's duties as a tackle mean keeping Tyler Tettleton safe in the pocket (so that, you know, he can be on this list, too.) Last season, he recorded 51 knockdowns and 46 pancakes and I would be willing to bet that his six-foot-five frame could mass consume flapjacks at the breakfast table as well.
Not only is he following in the footsteps of past NFL-caliber linemen, Lechner has Nebraskan Bobcat alums Noah Keller and Phil Bates to reminisce of and young guns Derrius Vick, Jake Schany and Casey Sayles to mentor for the growth of Ohio as a mid-major power in Division I football.
Since he embarked to Athens from Omaha Creighton Prep in 2009, Lechner has helped Ohio to a conference championship game in 2011 and has been a part of a program that has pulled off back-to-back wins in bowl games. Ohio hopes that Lechner's 38 career appearances in games will translate into offensive fireworks for the 'Cats in 2013. With a senior laden group including Lechner, Sam Johnson and John Prior up front and Tettleton and Blankenship in the backfield, this Ohio group is expecting to go further than ever before with their eyes set on dethroning the Northern Illinois Huskies as MAC Champions.