BEVERLY - When an opposing ball carrier got tackled by the Fort Frye Cadets this past fall there was usually a guy wearing No. 22 getting off the bottom of the pile for Fort Frye.
Known for making his presence felt on the defensive side of the ball, Fort Frye senior Colten Skinner was just one of those guys who were always around the ball, ready to make a play.
"He has a nose for the football. He was a big part of our highlight tape," said Fort Frye football coach Eric Huck.
After four years as a starter for the Cadets, Skinner has made plenty of highlight reels wearing Fort Frye red, white and blue.
For the next four years, he's going to be working on making highlights in Ohio Dominican gold and black.
Skinner signed his National Letter of Intent to play defense, primarily safety, for the NCAA Division II school at Fort Frye High School Wednesday afternoon in front of a crowd of teammates, family and friends.
"The coaching staff was real friendly. They seemed like they really know football," Skinner said.
While he played both sides of the ball at Fort Frye and filled a linebacker spot for the Cadets, with the Panthers Skinner is planning on making the transition to safety. A sure fire tackler who led the Cadets in tackles this past fall, Skinner has the skill set to be a very valuable last line of defense for the Panthers, Huck said.
"He understands the game and I think he'll adjust real well from linebacker to defensive back," Huck said. "He's a very good open field tackler and for his size he's surprisingly fast."
Skinner's athletic ability put him in position to make key plays for the Cadets during his career with Fort Frye, and he's hopeful of continuing that success as a Panther.
"I just want to work hard, hopefully earn a spot," Skinner said. "Fly to the football like I always have and see what happens."
Hard work and dedication has been a hallmark of Skinner's career with Fort Frye, and something Huck hopes his younger players will emulate.
Constantly in the weight room or on the field working to get better, Skinner is the classic example of persistence and dedication paying off.
"We're real excited for Colten. Colten's a good kid. Ohio Dominican made a great decision with him," Huck said.
Skinner may be a perfect fit for the Panthers, but Ohio Dominican certainly seemed to be the perfect fit for him too.
After making a visit to the campus of Ohio Dominican, Skinner really wasn't interested in what other schools had to offer as he felt like he had found his home.
Situated in Columbus, Ohio Dominican offers a close proximity to the big city but still maintains a small campus feel that Skinner appreciates as it reminds him of his time at the Fort.
Meeting a few of his future teammates during his visit, Skinner also felt the bond that develops between football players that can help make the college transition easier. "The relationships you build with your teammates will carry you through the rest of your college career," Skinner said.
Signing his name on the dotted line Wednesday, Skinner now continues his basketball season before he'll spend the summer working to prepare himself for the upcoming season.
"You always have to work hard. You've got to have faith in your coaches and teammates," Skinner said.