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Separated by about 40 years, the golfers in groups 10 and 14 on Friday represented the past and recent eras of the University of Toledo football program.
Chuck Ealey, the dynamic quarterback who stewarded the Rockets to three undefeated seasons, teamed with fellow 1971 All-American Al Baker. They were among 120 or so golfers, split into teams of four, to participate in the football team’s 13th annual golf outing.
The group immediately following Ealey and Baker for 18 holes at Stone Oak Country Club included two recent alumni of the program: quarterback Austin Dantin and offensive tackle Mike VanDerMeulen, close friends who helped obliterate defenses and record books in their time at Toledo.
The four of them remain involved with the university. Dantin and VanDerMeulen are zeroing in on degrees, while Ealey and Baker are helping to create opportunities for the next generation of students.
Baker, who caught 72 passes in three seasons at Toledo, is on the university’s advisory board and is tasked with making recommendations to president Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, such as the impending renovation of the Larimer Building. Ealey, who lives outside of Toronto, has a foundation that offers college scholarships to local high school students. In April, he awarded four scholarships of $1,000.
"We recognize kids who are performing not only in sport but with their campus and with their family," Ealey said.
Ealey and Baker will be back on the fairways today at Bedford Hills Golf Club, where the Chuck Ealey Foundation will host its third annual golf outing. Baker is on the committee.
People did a double-take Friday at VanDerMeulen. The four-year starter who finished his playing career weighing about 300 pounds is down to 245. His new physique signals an end to football for VanDerMeulen, who played briefly last year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers before suffering an injury in the preseason and getting released.
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Jaw surgery in March left VanDerMeulen unable to eat and assisted in his weight reduction.
"Once I knew I was done playing it was time to lose some weight," he said. "I feel a lot better. I definitely didn’t need to be that big."
VanDerMeulen, who anchored a line in 2011 that allowed only 10 sacks and helped the Rockets average 42 points per game, is enrolled in Toledo’s MBA program and should graduate in December. Teams in the United Football League and in Canada expressed interest in him, but VanDerMeulen was ready to transition away from the sport.
"I just didn’t really want to pursue it anymore," he said. "I wanted to get my master’s and move on and see what else is out there."
Dantin, a groomsman in VanDerMeulen’s wedding this summer, should graduate in December with a bachelor’s in civil engineering. A starter for much of the last four seasons, Dantin said he will not for a moment be envious of his former teammates who open practice Thursday.
"I tell ya, I’m not going to miss camp," he said. "Not at all. I’m going home to Florida for probably the longest I’ve been able to spend with my family since coming up here to college. It’s going to be nice to have a break."
Ray Torres, Ryan Huzjak, Lee Struck, and Dave Stanwick won the event with a 57.