Dantin has career night on Senior Night as UT beats ZipsWritten by Mike Bauman | | email@example.com
For Toledo senior quarterback Austin Dantin, his season didn’t go as he planned.
After starting and splitting time with junior quarterback Terrance Owens in the Rockets’ season opener at Arizona, the two-quarterback system UT employed over the past two seasons and Dantin were sidelined by week two in favor of Owens. Through Toledo’s first five games, Owens completed 105-of-160 passes for 1,270 yards and nine touchdowns with no interceptions as UT got off to a 4-1 start.
Still, the lack of playing time didn’t stop Dantin from competing or leading. The Tallahassee native and civil engineering major saw action on the Rockets’ punt team and continued to be a sideline mentor to Owens when he wasn’t on the field. Toledo head coach Matt Campbell continuously praised the leadership of his senior quarterback for how he handled the situation, constantly adding that there would come a time this year when the Rockets would need him.
Trailing 10-0 to Akron (1-11, 0-8 MAC) early on Senior Night at the Glass Bowl on Tuesday night, UT needed Dantin, and he delivered. In his final home game for the Rockets, Dantin completed 29-of-35 attempts for a career-high 327 yards, tying his career-best with five touchdowns as Toledo defeated the Zips 35-23.
“Honestly, I could not be prouder of Austin Dantin,” Campbell said. “If I had a son, I’d want him to respond like Austin Dantin. Austin Dantin will forever be remembered about how he carried himself through this. And he’s a young man that came to practice every day. He’s a young man in every snap last week was right there involved in the football game coaching, involved, just like he’s been all season.
“And then here what you see [against Akron] is the product of a senior that put the team above him, and forever — for the next four or five years in our football program — he will forever be talked about. Unselfish; committed to excellence; and a young man that stuck with the football team.”
Dantin led a Rockets attack that finished with 459 yards of total offense, throwing touchdown passes of 23, 55, 39, 2 and 3 yards to four different receivers. His only blemish was a third-quarter interception where he got hit as he threw.
“It’s truly a blessing; it really is,” Dantin said of his career night and believing in Campbell’s words that there would come a time when the team would need him again this season. “That’s something that Coach Campbell told me that all year, but to really believe that it’s tough because [I was] watching from the sidelines and not really contributing out there on the field. It’s tough.
“I really had to get in touch with my faith and really just believe that God has a plan for me, and me not playing, maybe that’s the best thing. Just to have this opportunity tonight and to go out like this, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
Dantin added that a midseason conversation with team pastor Rick Isaiah, a former two-time, First-Team All-MAC wide receiver at Toledo, helped him cope with his role on the team this year.
“Just talking to him and just understanding it’s not about the jersey that I wear,” Dantin said of Isaiah. “It’s just about me as a person and feeling comfortable with myself and knowing that I’m not going out there and I’m not going to be remembered for the number on my back but who I am.”
And even though dealing with his diminished role was difficult, no respect was lost between Campbell and Dantin, which was exemplified by Campbell giving him the nod to start in his final game at the Glass Bowl.
“Just as a man, I respect him so much,” Dantin said of Campbell. “And he told me before this game and before we even knew about T.O. that he wanted me to be the guy and start. For him to tell me that, it meant a lot to me just to give me this opportunity.”
Toledo (9-3, 6-2 MAC), who finished with its most regular season wins since 2002, will now wait for a likely bowl bid on Dec. 2, when bowl selections are made official.