Former Ohio State walk-on earns starting job at Dayton

Piqua grad Ben Schmiesing ranks third on team in tackles

Linebacker Ben Schmiesing has kept an eye on his old team, the Ohio State Buckeyes, during his first season with the Dayton Flyers.

“I definitely check the scores every Saturday,” Schmiesing said Wednesday. “I’m happy to see the way they’re trending right now. It started out a little tough for them, but they’ve got it going now and I had no doubt with the leadership and the coaches they have on that team.”

The Buckeyes have won five straight games by lopsided margins since their 35-28 loss to Oregon on Sept. 11. Schmiesing, an All-Ohio first-team selection as a senior at Piqua in 2017, spent three seasons as walk-on with the Buckeyes. He announced in January he would transfer to Dayton as a graduate student.

“It’s been a good transition,” Schmiesing said. “The linebacker room has been great. They’ve welcomed me with open arms. There’s some leaders in that linebacker room, some older guys: Shane Ferrick; Grant Dyer; Danny Meehan. All those guys really welcomed me in and helped me learn the playbook a little quicker than some people might have had to. The team here is so closely knit together, and to be able to come in and be a part of that right away has been awesome.”

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Schmiesing ranks third on the team with 36 tackles, trailing safety Brandon Easterling (63) and flyer Zach Rumpke (52). Schmiesing started the season as a second-string linebacker but moved into the starting lineup in the fourth game of the season Oct. 2 against Morehead State.

“We knew when we recruited him coming out of Piqua the qualities of his character and what kind of player he was,” Dayton coach Rick Chamberlin said, “and he has adapted very well. He’s playing more and more now. He’s starting now. He’s a bright young man. He’s in the MBA program here at Dayton. He’s picked up on our schemes and our terminology, and he’s he’s a good football player. He’s making plays.”

While Schmiesing’s old team is on the rise, his new team has lost back-to-back games — 20-17 to Marist and 45-28 to Valparaiso — for the first time this season. Dayton (3-4, 2-3) is seventh place in the Pioneer Football League with three games to play. It faces another struggling team, last-place Butler (2-5, 0-6), at 1 p.m. Saturday at Welcome Stadium.

Dayton has won its last six games against Butler and leads the series 32-12-1. The Flyers won the last meeting 51-38 in the final game of the 2019 season.

The Flyers will try to avoid their first three-game losing streak since 2018. They have not lost three straight PFL games since 2006 when they had a four-game losing streak.

“You’ve got to roll with the punches,” freshman wide receiver Luke Brenner said. “We approach every practice like we’re practicing for a championship game, and the coaches prepare like it’s a championship game every week. I don’t think we’ve lost our passion for the game at all. I think we all still love being out there and playing. We practice 110 percent every single day, and we plan to win every single Saturday. What happened is in the past, and we can’t really control that. We can only control what’s ahead of us.”

SATURDAY’S GAME

Butler at Dayton, 1 p.m., 1290, 95.7

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