Nathan Baker never heard of the Manheim Touchdown Club. Until Wednesday. Pittsburgh State’s massive offensive lineman is the first recipient of the Manheim Touchdown Club/Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award.
Manheim Touchdown Club president Don Harris and Manheim Central football coach Mike Williams are set to make the official announcement tonight in Kingsville, Tex., at the Cactus Bowl banquet.
Baker is set to play in the Cactus Bowl, the Division II All-Star Game, Friday night.
Pittsburgh State’s 6-4, 313-pound senior offensive lineman will be in Lancaster May 18 to receive the award from Upshaw, who will be the keynote speaker at the Manheim Touchdown Club’s annual banquet at the Host Resort.
Upshaw, the former Division II All-American and Oakland Raiders star, is the executive director of the National Football League Players Association.
Baker received 75 percent of the first-place votes from the 150 Division II sports information directors.
The top two vote-getters from each of four national regions made the final ballot. Millersville SID Greg Wright is the Northeast Region chairman.
Baker complied a sparkling resume this fall: He was a unanimous first-team All-Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association All-Star.
He was an American Football Coaches Association first-team All-American.
He was a D2football.com All-American.
He was a Daktronics All-American.
And he was an Associated Press Little All-American.
Now Baker can add the Manheim Touchdown Club/Gene Upshaw Division II Lineman of the Year Award to that list.
“Our staff has been fortunate to coach 10 All-American offensive lineman in the past 11 seasons,” Pittsburgh State coach Chuck Broyles said Wednesday.
“Nathan is as food a player as any who have competed for the Gorillas in my tenure.”
Baker helped Pittsburgh State go 14-1 and reach the Division II national title game this fall.
The Gorillas led the nation in scoring (59.5 points a game), rushing (374.3 yards a game) and total offense (648.1 yards a game).
With Baker protecting, Pittsburgh State’s quarterbacks were sacked just five times in 15 games.
“We are very happy with the selection of Nathan Baker as the winner of the first Gene Upshaw Lineman of the Year Award,” Harris said Wednesday.
“Nathan has proven that through hard work and dedication, you can achieve excellence on the football field.
by Jeffery Reinhart
New Era Sports Writer