The 2017 D2Football.com All-America team was released on Friday (Jan. 5) morning, and three Ashland University players – junior defensive end James Prater Jr., senior quarterback Travis Tarnowski and senior center Dominic Giunta – have earned recognition.
Prater Jr. was a second-team selection. In his first season as a collegiate starter this fall, he rewrote the Eagle football record book by collecting a program-record 23½ tackles for loss, resulting in 104 yards in losses. That total finished the 2017 campaign as the second-highest in the country. Prater Jr. also led AU with 42 solo tackles and 10 sacks, was third with 63 total stops, and added an interception, eight pass breakups, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.
Earlier this offseason, Prater Jr. was a 2017 Cliff Harris Award finalist, was named second-team All-NCAA Division II Conference Commissioner's Association (D2CCA) Super Region 3 and first-team All-Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Tarnowski and Giunta were honorable-mention choices by D2Football.com.
In 2017, Tarnowski threw for 3,044 yards and 31 touchdowns to just five interceptions, and completed 59 percent of his passes. He threw for two or more touchdowns in a game 10 times this fall, rushed for 156 yards and a score, and averaged 36.9 yards on 36 punts.
Tarnowski's senior-season plaudits include being a finalist in the Male Collegiate Athlete of the Year category for the 18th Greater Cleveland Sports Awards, first-team American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) All-America, second-team Associated Press and D2CCA All-America, D2CCA Super Region 3 Offensive Player of the Year, GLIAC Player of the Year, first-team All-GLIAC and a nomination for the Harlon Hill Trophy.
Giunta was the anchor of an Eagle offensive line which allowed Ashland to average 33.4 points and 407.8 yards of offense per game in 2017. Earlier this offseason, Giunta also garnered first-team AP and D2CCA All-America, D2CCA Super Region 3 first team, GLIAC Offensive Lineman of the Year and first-team All-GLIAC honors.
In 2017, Ashland finished 11-2, won a GLIAC championship and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Division II playoffs.