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Mount Union College football has a storied tradition as a powerhouse Division III program, and Delta High School graduate Nate Kmic has etched his name in that lore as one of the greatest running backs in school history.
Kmic is a senior at Mount Union in Alliance, Ohio, where he is already the school's career leader in rushing yards and touchdowns. The Purple Raiders have won 16 consecutive Ohio Athletic Conference championships and nine of the last 15 NCAA Division III national championships.
So it's not faint praise when coach Larry Kehres, who is 263-21-3 in his 23 seasons at Mount Union, calls Kmic one of the greatest backs in Purple Raider history.
"I never say a player is the best, because it is unfair," Kehres said. "But he is one of the best. I've had others who said Nate is right there with other men who were excellent running backs here. It's a great compliment to say that. Nate is right there with the great backs I've had, and we've had two that were both named [Division III] player of the year."
On Oct. 4, Kmic had four rushing touchdowns to become the NCAA Division III career leader in points (570) and total touchdowns (95). Kmic rushed for 218 yards on 27 carries in a 48-3 win over Baldwin-Wallace College.
Kmic moved up to No. 5 on the NCAA Division III career rushing list with 6,003 yards on 911 carries. He also tied the record for rushing touchdowns (91). It was the No. 1 ranked Purple Raiders 67th consecutive regular season road win.
"That is kind of wild to think about," Kmic said. "I try not to think about it too much. Being the top rusher at Mount Union is truly a great honor. As a freshman you see the names and highlights and the numbers the other guys have put up. You're in awe of what they've done. So to be in that category is really an honor."
Kmic also had two rushing touchdowns against Muskingum to increase his career total to 87, which is four shy of the NCAA Division III record.
"He is a once-in-a-lifetime kind of young man," Kehres said.
Kmic is a two-time All-American, and he was named the most valuable player of the 2005 NCAA Division III national championship game.
"That was surreal. I didn't realize how big it was. As a freshman you are nave," he said. "But I don't think about that stuff too much.
"Our main goal is to go out as a team and finish No. 1. I'm sure all of it will hit me down the road. It truly is a blessing."
At 5 feet, 9 inches and 193 pounds, some figured Kmic would be a long shot to achieve such impressive accomplishments.
"I never got looks or offers from Division I schools," he said.
"It wasn't really frustrating. I understood how it works. I didn't fit the mold with my size and speed. I don't dwell on it. I was going to walk on at Bowling Green. But I decided to go to the best school in Division III."
Kmic, The Blade's 2004 high school player of the year, rushed for 1,681 yards and scored an incredible 294 points in 12 games (24.5 per game) as a senior at Delta.
He had 240 receiving yards, 496 return yards, and also had 65 tackles and five interceptions on defense.
Kehres said his coaching staff saw film of Kmic when he was setting those records at Delta.
"When we met him, he had a lot of energy. Part of what Nate was looking for was a chance to be on a winning team. So it was a good match," he said.
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