As a football player and a student at St. John’s Jesuit, Dallas Gant, The Blade’s 2017 high school football player of the year, is one of those guys who prefers to stay ahead of the game.
He became a varsity starter at linebacker for the Titans just four games into his freshman year, a rarity at St. John’s. And, soon after, with the assistance of then-head coach Doug Pearson, set out on a path to draw college recruiting interest.
Gant attended football camps at colleges and maintained a challenging workout routine designed to maximize his football skills.
Dallas Gant of St. John's Jesuit boasts a 3.7 grade-point average to go along with his football prowess.
By his sophomore year, Gant had found a way into the varsity starting lineup on the highly successful Titans basketball program of longtime coach Ed Heintschel, then dropped basketball his junior year to fully concentrate his efforts on preparing for football.
The fast and agile 6-foot-3, 220-pound Gant would ultimately see his strategy to wind up at a top Division I college program pay off, committing to a scholarship offer from Ohio State University and coach Urban Meyer.
Carrying a 3.7 grade-point average, Gant will graduate from St. John’s a semester early in mid-December, and will begin classes at Ohio State on Jan. 8, becoming the first of the 23 Blade players of the year to enroll early at the next level.
He is also quick to give credit where it is due.
“It’s awesome to get recognized for what I’ve done for my team this year,” Gant said of the top honor on the All-Blade team. “I couldn’t have done it without my teammates and my coaches, so I really appreciate the honor.”
This attitude has earned the respect of first-year Titans head football coach Larry McDaniel, who last Thursday proudly pointed to Gant opening the door for a fellow St. John’s student, who at the moment was struggling to carry through a sizable armload of clothing. Gant, eager to assist, also helped carry part of the load through the doorway.
“See that?” McDaniel said. “That’s what I’m talking about. That’s the kind of kid he is.”
McDaniel just completed his first season as a high school head coach after spending much of the past two decades as college football assistant coach. He has seen hundreds of young men transition from the prep ranks to the next level and is certain Gant will do well in the future — as a human being.
Dallas Gant of St. John's Jesuit has been selected the 2017 All-Blade football player of the year. Gant will play college football for Ohio State after graduating high school in December.
“First and foremost, he’s a great young man.” McDaniel said. “His parents did an outstanding job raising him. He is everything you want when you talk about the big name in the school. He’s humble. He treats everyone well. He’s not what you’d expect when you think of the big man on campus.”
Gant has genetics on his side when it comes to academics and athletics.
His mother, Rhonda Kimmons, is the principal of Springfield High School. His father, Jim Gant, and uncle, Derrick Gant, both starred at St. Francis de Sales before playing football at Toledo and Bowling Green, respectively.
“Football is such an inexact science,” McDaniel said. “I’ve seen guys who come into college with so many accolades and so much potential, and one injury curtails that. Or, something happens in their life that takes them off path.
“But, the one thing I know about Dallas Gant is that he’s going to be a successful person.”
On the football field, Gant, who was also named to the 2016 All-Blade team, led the St. John’s defense this season with 94 tackles, included seven for loss. He had seven quarterback sacks and an interception.
Doubling on offense as a tight end and a wide receiver, Gant had 27 receptions for 456 yards and seven touchdowns, showing above-average hands and an ability to stretch the field.
Dallas Gant led the St. John’s defense this season with 94 tackles, included seven for loss. He had seven quarterback sacks and an interception.
“My biggest goal was to be a leader on this team, which I think I did a pretty good job of that this year,” Gant said of St. John’s 6-5 season, which included a 13-6, Week 10 upset win over perennial state power Central Catholic.
It was the Titans’ first win over the Irish since 2010, which was also the previous year St. John’s earned a playoff berth.
“I wanted to lead the team to a deep run in the playoffs,” Gant said. “We reached half of that by getting there. We didn’t make a deep run but, hopefully, that’s everyone’s goal for next year. I think our four captains did a good job of setting the bar.”
Gant now will set a higher bar for himself.
“It feels good to get there, but my dream hasn’t even started yet,” Gant said of the OSU scholarship, “This is just the first step — having a good high school career and getting to Ohio State. But I really haven’t done anything yet. It will start when I get down there in January.”
Before moving onto campus, Gant will play Jan. 6 on national television on NBC in the 2018 U.S. Army All-American Bowl all-star game at the Alamodome in San Antonio.
He was honored as an All-Amercan at St. John’s on Nov. 13, when he was presented with his game jersey for the event by Army representatives. Only the top-level high school players in the nation were selected to play in the game.
Included in Gant’s skill set is one aspect that McDaniel views as the future Buckeye’s top gift.
“His ability to run sideline to sideline on defense,” McDaniel said. “Dallas can track something down from the opposite hash and make a tackle on the sideline. You just don’t find many kids his size being able to do that. He was much more physically aggressive this year.”
After San Antonio, Gant will begin his time in Columbus.
“I just want to do what I need to do to play,” he said. “Everybody at Ohio State is the best athlete from where they come from. They have the best players, and I have to get on the field somehow, some way.
“Then I’d like to help my team win a national championship. From there, wherever life takes me.”
“From a football standpoint, I think the sky’s the limit,” McDaniel said. “Whatever Dallas wants to do, or whatever he wants to be, that’s what he can be.
“He’s tall, he’s fast, he has good hands, and he’s aggressive. Whatever they decide they want to do with him at Ohio State — whether it’s on defense, or maybe at tight end — they will find out where his strengths are.”
ALL-BLADE PLAYERS OF THE YEAR
1995: Eddie Ziemke, WR-FS, St. John’s
1996: Richard Newsome, QB-DB, Fostoria
1997: Tom Ward, LB-TE, Defiance
1998: Joe Iorio, C-DT, St. Francis
1999: Ben Roethlisberger, QB, Findlay
2000: Diontre Earl, LB, Rogers
2001: Rodney Gamby, TB-SS, St. Francis
2002: Darren Paige, QB-WR-DB, Rossford
2003: Kelley Rowe, QB, Southview
2004: Nate Kmic, HB-LB, Delta
2005: Zack George, QB, Patrick Henry
2006: Dane Sanzenbacher, WR-DB, Central Catholic
2007: Donnie Dottei, QB, Whitmer
2008: Eric Page, QB-DB, Springfield
2009: E.J. Tucker, QB, Rogers
2010: Cheatham Norrils, WR-DB, St. John’s
2011: Chris Wormley, DE, Whitmer
2012: Nick Holley, QB, Whitmer
2013: DeShone Kizer, QB, Central Catholic
2014: Gus Dimmerling, QB, Perrysburg
2015: Chaz Westfall, LB, Perrysburg
2016: Michael Warren, RB, Central Catholic
2017: Dallas Gant, LB, St. John’s