Punter DeJong shatters school records

Photo courtesy of Andrew DeJong

When football fans think of greatness, they often think of the quarterback throwing the game-winning touchdown to the speedy receiver who makes a one-handed grab in the end zone in the closing seconds of the game. Seldom do sports fans recall that punt in the first quarter that pinned the opposing team inside the five, giving their team optimum field position for the next drive.
Here at Allegheny, the man that punts the ball is often the one making the spectacular plays, shattering school records and making it difficult for the opposition. Senior Andrew DeJong has been a consistent threat on special teams throughout his collegiate career and seeks to continue his success on a personal and team level during his final season.
“I think my greatest achievements are still ahead,” DeJong said. “Being named to the all-region team was a big honor and first team all-conference was too, but I’d rather our team wins than have those achievements.”
In his time at Allegheny, winning has become part of the Gator tradition. In his rookie campaign, the team finished 5-5, but managed to improve to 8-2 the following year, becoming a contender in the North Coast Athletic Conference. For DeJong, that improvement is one of the high points of his time at Allegheny thus far.
While DeJong emphasizes the accomplishments of his team rather than personal feats, his stats speak for themselves. In the 2010 season, DeJong finished sixth overall in the nation and first in the conference in punt average with 47.4 yards per punt.
DeJong left his mark on school history with nine kicks that covered at least 50 yards. He also managed to pin the opposition inside the 20 on 15 occasions.
Despite his numerous individual accomplishments, DeJong reflects on the triumph of close friend and teammate, Ryan Zipf, ’12, as one of the highlights of his time at Allegheny.
“Beating Wittenberg and Ohio Wesleyan freshman year were two of my greatest memories,” he said. “We beat them back-to-back with two game- winning field goals. That was big because one of my best friends here is Ryan Zipf, the kicker. To see him succeed like that and see my whole team rush the field two weeks in a row like that was pretty cool.”
Last season, DeJong broke a personal record with a 67-yard punt against rival Carnegie Mellon. He also had two other kicks that exceeded 60 yards, with a 65-yard boot against Wittenberg and a 63-yarder at Oberlin.
DeJong’s achievements are not limited to the football field. A math and economics double major, he holds a 3.73 GPA and was named to the 2010 ESPN Academic All-District Team.
Head coach Mark Matlak credits DeJong’s character for his success on and off of the field.
“Andrew is bright, but most importantly, he works at his studies,” Matlak said. “On the field he takes his job seriously and focuses and concentrates when he punts. He has talent, plus he works hard with that talent.”
DeJong credits his football schedule for helping him to improve academically.
“I think football helps with all the schoolwork because it makes you use your time wisely,” DeJong said.
“During the season I work up until practice and do a couple more hours of work after practice everyday.  Football actually helps structure my schoolwork.”
DeJong may seem like just another face in the crowd, but both Dejong and Coach Matlack have great expectations for this season.
When asked what he expects from DeJong this year, Matlak had a simple answer.
“I expect him to the best punter in Division III football.”
DeJong has high hopes for himself, but more importantly, his team.
“I think that we should win the conference this year,” he said.  “We especially need to beat Wittenberg and Wabash. Personally, I want to be better than last year and be the best punter in Divison III football.”