FootballScoop is proud to announce that Mark Pantoni (Ohio State) is the 2014 Director Player Personnel of the Year presented by ProGrass.
Urban Meyer hit the ground sprinting at Ohio State, posting a 37-3 overall record, the first back-to-back-to-back 8-0 Big Ten regular seasons in school history and an appearance in the inaugural College Football Playoff championship thanks to good coaching and a rapid, massive upgrade in talent. That's where Mark Pantoni comes in.
Described as "the man behind Ohio State's success," the Cleveland Plain-Dealer writes of Pantoni's work, "because the Buckeyes are building their roster as well as anyone else in the country, they're in position to play for a national championship."
Ohio State's successful roster building has become one of the key themes of the entire 2014 season. After losing incumbent Braxton Miller for the season in August, redshirt freshman J.T. Barrett stepped in and played himself into national award conversations and played the Buckeyes into a Big Ten East Division championship. After Barrett went down for the year in the regular season finale against Michigan, former third-stringer Cardale Jones and led the Buckeyes to 101 combined points against top-ranked Wisconsin and Alabama defenses.
In fact, selection committee chairman Jeff Long said Ohio State's 59-0 blowout of Wisconsin in the Big Ten championship "spoke volumes about the strength of the team" in pushing the Buckeyes into the College Football Playoff.
Ohio State's 2013 recruiting class - rated No. 2 on signing day by Rivals,com - has drawn praise from talent evaluators and media alike. Featuring the likes of an All-American defensive lineman Joey Bosa, a Heisman Trophy candidate in Barrett and Sugar Bowl-rushing record holder in Ezekiel Elliott, both Sports Illustrated and Yahoo published article highlighting the extraordinary work by Ohio State's coaching staff (read: Pantoni) in setting the Buckeyes up to succeed on a national stage both immediately and in the future.
In all, Ohio State will start 11 sophomores or freshmen against Oregon in the national title game.
Pantoni has also led Ohio State's branding efforts in recruiting, creating initiatives that resonated with recruits and fans alike.
"Mark has proven abilities at organizing recruiting efforts and in building relationships with prospects and their families," Meyer said. "I have seen how well he understood recruiting in the state of Florida and nationally, and I am certain his efforts are going to be well-received in the state of Ohio. He is one of the hardest working people I have been around."
Multiple Ohio State assistant coaches told FootballScoop, "Other than Urban, Mark deserves as much credit as anyone in the building for the success our program is seeing on and off the field."
A Sarasota, Fla., native, Pantoni holds a bachelor's degree in applied physiology and a master's degree in kinesiology from the University of Florida. He worked in Florida's recruiting office for five years and then joined Meyer's staff in Columbus in December 2011.
The FootballScoop Coaches of the Year awards presented by ProGrass are the only set of awards that recognize the most outstanding position coaches in college football. The finalists (Matt Dudek [Arizona], Austin Thomas [LSU] and Pantoni) were selected based off of nominations by coaches, athletic directors, and athletic department personnel.
Pantoni will receive his award and be recognized at an event at the AFCA Convention.
Pantoni is the second winner of the FootballScoop Director of Player Personnel of the Year award. Tyler Siskey (Alabama) took home the inaugural award a year ago.
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