WESTERVILLE — Nine Otterbein University football players were named to the 2017 Ohio Athletic Conference (OAC) football team Monday morning, headlined by a pair of special-award winners in senior quarterback Logan Stepp and sophomore safety Fred Hardgrove. The nine Cardinals receiving All-OAC honors marks the most for the program since 2010.
Stepp was voted by league coaches as a Co-Bob Packard Award winner, presented annually to the OAC’s Most Outstanding Offensive Back. He shared the honors this season with Mount Union quarterback D’Angelo Fulford and is the first Cardinal to receive the honor since Matt D’Orazio in 1999.
Hardgrove was selected as the Lee J. Tressel Award winner, which goes to the Most Outstanding Defensive Back in the conference. He is the first Cardinal to receive the honor since Dominic Jones in 2010.
Joining Stepp and Hardgrove on the first team was senior wide receiver Julian Lowe and senior defensive end Kyle Blust. Cardinals on the All-OAC second team included a trio of seniors in wide receiver Hunter Joseph, linebacker Austin Jones and left tackle Case Troyer. Rounding out the list of Otterbein recipients was senior center Jacob Schafer and freshman defensive back Brandon Paschal, who both garnered honorable mention accolades.
Stepp (West Jefferson/West Jefferson) lands on the first team for a second-straight year after becoming the first player in OAC history to pass for 2,000 yards and rush for 1,000 in the same regular-season. He threw for 2,217 yards and 24 touchdown’s, ran for 1,033 yards and 11 scores, ranked 11th nationally in points responsible for (210) and 12th in total offense per game (324.5).
Hardgrove (Columbus/Walnut Ridge) had a true breakthrough season in switching to defense full-time, playing safety for the first time in his career and leading the OAC in both tackles (99) and interceptions (7). He ranked sixth nationally in picks and was named to the D3football.com National Team of the Week following a 16-tackle, two-interception outing at Capital.
Lowe (Gahanna/Lincoln) becomes a three-time All-OAC selection, including two nods to the first team, after making 63 grabs for 844 yards and 10 touchdowns. He tied for second in the league in catches and set a new Otterbein all-time record with his 30th career TD reception in the season finale at Marietta. Lowe finishes his three-year run as a Cardinal with 196 catches for 2,318 yards.
Blust (Mansfield/Madison Comprehensive) also secures his third-straight All-OAC award and repeats as a first-team performer. He made 50 tackles (19 solo, 31 assisted) this fall, ranking seventh in the conference at 11.5 tackles for loss and coming in fifth for most sacks (6). He ends his strong career at Otterbein with 42 tackles for loss.
Jones (Dresden/Tri-Valley) finishes off his career with a third All-OAC selection after ranking second in the conference at 96 tackles this year. He had six of those for a loss, forced a league-best three fumbles, picked off one pass and made double-digit stops in four-different contests. Jones departs Otterbein with 347 career tackles.
Joseph (New Philadelphia/New Philadelphia) takes second-team honors in a crowded league of talented wide receivers after attracting first-team honors last season. He caught 45 passes for 711 yards and nine touchdowns, all top-10 in the OAC, while also returning some kickoffs and punts. Joseph went over the 100-yard plateau three times this season and ends with 89 grabs for 1,488 yards and 15 scores in his two Otterbein seasons following a transfer from Ohio Dominican.
Troyer (Lewis Center/Olentangy) earns his first All-OAC award, wrapping up as a four-year starter after spending his freshman year at right tackle and then serving as a fixture at the left-tackle position. He helped pave the way for one of the league’s top-ranked offenses this season as Otterbein finished third in points per game (34.9) and yards per game (439.1).
Paschal (Columbus/Walnut Ridge) turned heads in his inaugural season for the Cardinals, finishing second in the OAC behind Hardgrove and ranking top-20 nationally with six interceptions. He started all but one game, ranking fifth in the league with nine pass breakups and sitting fourth on Otterbein’s team with 68 tackles (30 solo, 29 assisted). Paschal also had a fumble recovery.
Schafer (Dublin/Scioto) concludes his solid four-year run with an All-OAC accolade, playing in 33 games from start to finish and starting all 10 this season at center. Like Troyer, he helped pace an offensive line that blocked for the league’s third-rate offense this year in terms of points per game (34.9) and yards per game (439.1). Schafer also spent time at left guard during his sophomore year.
Otterbein finished 6-4 this season in a wildly competitive conference, where seven of the 10 teams finished with winning records and four were either nationally-ranked or receiving votes at one point.