September 11, 2012

Puryear wastes no time making mark at Trine

More news about: Trine
Myron Puryear is rapidly leaving his opponents behind on the football field field. The Trine cornerback and kick returner flew 92 yards in a kickoff return against Manchester in the season opener.
Photo by Steve Bowen

Myron Puryear has been blessed with lightning speed. The senior cornerback at Trine shows it off in a video online in which he runs the 40-yard dash in 4.27 seconds.

Then there is the kickoff he returned against Manchester in the season opener two weeks ago. Puryear bolted through the special teams coverage as if he had rockets attached to his feet, and 92 yards later, he was in the end zone.

Trine had a 14-7 lead at that point and went on to nail down a 24-14 victory.

"Speed kills in football," Puryear said. "I'm fortunate to have it. It has helped me out a lot."

No one is going to deny that Puryear is talented.

He was a D3football.com second-team All-North Region selection a season ago, racking up 52 tackles and a team-best five interceptions. He also earned a spot on the All-MIAA team. Two games into the 2012 season, Puryear has tallied 10 tackles and was named the MIAA Special Teams Player of the Week after his performance against Manchester.

But when you ask Trine head coach Matt Land about a player he believes could be one of the best in the league this season, his answer goes well beyond what Puryear brings to the table as a football player.

"First of all, he is a great person, and that is what success in our program starts with," Land said. "He has great character, he is honest, he is a good student, and he works very hard. He was voted a captain on our team, which shows you much respect his teammates have for him."

Being a captain means a lot to Puryear and he has embraced the role of being a leader on a Trine team that is seeking its first MIAA championship since 2010.

"I'm not really a vocal leader. I lead more by example," Puryear said. "I know I have to set a good example on the field and off of it. I've enjoyed my time here so far. It's been a good experience for me."

Puryear has fit right in at Trine, but his journey as a college football player began at the NCAA Division II level.

After rising to stardom at Plymouth High School in Michigan, Puryear decided to play football at Grand Valley State, an D-II national powerhouse that goes into every season with the expectation of winning a national championship.

A lot of players in the state of Michigan dream of playing there. It's the next best thing if you can't land a scholarship to Michigan or Michigan State.

"Grand Valley has one of the best programs in the country. It's why I went there," Puryear said. "I wanted to be a part of a team that won a national championship."

He sat out as a redshirt in 2008 but saw time on the field for the Lakers in 2009 and 2010.
In 2009, Puryear played in eight games and tallied three tackles for a GVSU team that lost 23-20 to Northwest Missouri State in the national championship game. During his sophomore season, Puryear played in eight games and racked up six tackles.

The problem was that Puryear simply wasn't getting on the field enough. He needed a change and that is where Trine came into the picture.

"They recruited me when I was in high school," Puryear said. "When they found out I was leaving Grand Valley, they got in touch with me. I wanted to play football and Trine gave me a chance to get more playing time."

For the record, though, there are no hard feelings. Puryear looks back at his time at GVSU as a positive experience in his life.

"I learned a lot about the game and really grew as a football player," Puryear said. "I became a better player because of my experience there, and it's helped me out at this level."Puryear has certainly made an impact for the Thunder, who finished 7-3 overall and 3-3 in the MIAA last season, ending a run of three consecutive league championships.

One of his most memorable moments came in a game against UW-River Falls early last season. A receiver had just caught the ball, and Puryear ripped it out of his hands.
He was off to the races from there, and 71 yards later, Puryear was in the end zone celebrating a touchdown as the Thunder surged in front 14-3. It won the game 42-20.

"I always try to be aggressive," Puryear said. "I play hard on every down, and if I see an opportunity to make a play, I go for it."

The fact that Puryear has the ability to make a big play in the blink of an eye doesn't surprise Land at all.

"Myron will go at game speed on every play in practice," Land said. "When you see a guy do that, you know he is special. He has gotten so much faster and stronger this year. He definitely understands what it takes to be the best."

Interestingly enough, Puryear was a star running back in high school. He rushed for 797 yards and 11 touchdowns as a senior. He also returned punts and kicks in addition to playing defense.The transition to playing defense at the college level wasn't too difficult.

"The big thing was that I had to get used to the technique of playing the position in college," Puryear said. "I had played defense all through high school, so it wasn't a big change. I just had to get used to doing all of the little things right."

Trine suffered its first loss this past week, falling 31-13 to Elmhurst in a nonconference road game on Saturday.

Losing is never easy to deal with, but Trine isn't about to let one setback derail its hopes to be a conference champion and earn a trip to the playoffs.

"We are very hungry for a title after coming up short last year," Puryear said. "We want to do everything we can to win the title. But we know we have to take it one game at a time."
As for a future in football, Puryear has thought about it, but for now, dreams of the NFL are on hold. He may be fast, but he is in no hurry to see time fly this season.

"Right now, my focus is on this season and doing what I can to help the team out," Puryear said. "We just have to continue to work hard and get better every week to be successful."

In the poll

It wasn't a masterpiece, but No. 8 Wabash got the job done in its opener against Hanover on Saturday, rolling to a 33-12 victory despite being penalized 15 times for 152 yards. It was the 11th consecutive season-opening win for Wabash.

The Little Giants overcame the penalty issues behind several standout performances. Junior college transfer Jon Laird made his debut for Wabash and caught seven passes for 94 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown reception. It was also an impressive debut for freshman Tyler McCullen, who tallied three tackles, 1.5 sacks and blocked a kick.

It's also worth noting that star quarterback Chase Belton moved into a tie for sixth in touchdown passes with 40, and he is now eighth in school history in passing yards (4,077) and completions (292).

No. 17 Baldwin Wallace opened its season in style on Saturday, blasting Bluffton 45-13.One of the stars of the day was Cory Lanterman, a transfer from Division II Indiana (Pa.). Lanterman ran track for the Yellow Jackets in the spring, and he looked good on the football field as well, catching three passes for 72 yards and a pair of touchdowns. For his performance, Lanterman earned the Dick Miller Most Outstanding Player of the Game Award.

Baldwin Wallace scored 21 of its points in the second quarter to pull away from the Beavers on a day when they rolled up 460 yards. With the win, the Yellow Jackets moved up to No. 15 this week.

No. 2 Mount Union did not play this week and will return to action Saturday when it hosts Muskingum in its OAC opener. No. 21 Thomas More was off this past weekend as well. The Saints, who were ranked No. 23, will play host to Westminster on Saturday.

Star power

Case Western Reserve quarterback Erik Olson was nothing short of phenomenal in a road game against Hiram on Saturday night.

The senior signal caller completed 22 of his 30 passes for a career-high 277 yards. Olson threw three touchdown passes in the win, including two to Adam Hochman. George Darany caught the other scoring strike from Olson, who helped the Spartans improve to 2-0 and win for the 26th time in their last 27 road games. Case Western has won its last six games against Hiram.

Grove City running back Shane Kaclik had quite a day as he helped the Wolverines ripped apart Anderson 47-10 on Saturday. The senior running back rushed for a career-high 153 yards and scored three touchdowns. His touchdown total was also a career-best mark. Kaclik caught two passes for 20 yards as well as Grove City won its season opener.

Grove City finished with 32 first downs in the win, and linebacker Brandon Miller helped fuel the defense as he returned an interception 25 yards for a score.

Ohio Wesleyan not only won a thrilling game over Denison on Saturday, grinding out a thrilling 32-29 win, but junior quarterback Mason Espinosa rose to the top of the all-time passing list at Ohio Wesleyan with 4,745 yards. He passed Jay Hood, who had the record since 1985 with 4,469 yards.

Tyler Swary, a senior defensive tackle for the Battling Bishops, helped fuel the defense by coming up with eight tackles. He registered three sacks, including one in the second quarter when he sacked the Denison quarterback in the end zone.

Kalamazoo only won four games all of last year. The Hornets already have two wins after surviving a four-overtime thriller against Manchester on Saturday. Kalamazoo won 18-16 thanks in part to the play of Dylan Zerki. The freshman linebacker racked up nine tackles, including two for a loss, while also forcing a fumble and recording one sack.

Notes

Saint Vincent sophomore cornerback Darius Brown continued his rise up the career list for passes defended. Brown broke up two passes in a 27-21 overtime loss to Wooster on Saturday and has 16 passes defended in his carreer, one behind career leader Quillian Reed...Kevin Johnson returned a kick 94 yards for a touchdown to help Baldwin Wallace rumble past Bluffton 45-13 on Saturday. He also had one tackle and broke up a pass...Denison wide receiver John Wilson tied the school record for the longest passing touchdown when he caught an 82-yard scoring strike from Max Paulus in the opening quarter of a 32-29 loss to Ohio Wesleyan on Saturday. The original record was set in 1983 on a pass from Chris Spriggs to Joe Gleeson...Albion running back Clinton Orr rushed for 133 yards and scored a pair of touchdowns to help the Britons stun No. 10 Wheaton 22-21. He was named the MIAA Player of the Week for the ninth time in his career. The Britons are 2-0 on the season...Carnegie Mellon rattled off 34 unanswered points to crush Allegheny 37-7 on Saturday in Meadville. Tim Kikta rolled up 158 receiving yards to go along with a pair of touchdowns while Jack Butler and AK Brefo tallied eight tackles apiece. The Tartans are off to a 2-0 start for the 10th time since 1999...Bethany College wide receiver Ed Holmes became the eighth player in school history to catch 100 passes in a career. He needs only seven more to move into seventh on the all-time receptions list...Kenyon ended a long victory drought on Saturday, knocking off Earlham 31-14 for its first win since the 2009 season. The victory ends a 24-game losing streak for the Lords, who had not won since Oct. 17, 2009 when it beat Oberlin 21-9. Brett Williams rushed for 194 yards and two touchdowns, while Will Clements picked off two passes and tallied two tackles...Kyle Smock didn't carry the ball at all in Adrian's 20-17 season-opening loss to Carthage last week, but on Saturday against Defiance, he ran 27 times for a career-best 217 yards to help the Bulldogs earn a 23-13 victory. He scored the first touchdown of the game on a six-yard run.

Contact me

I love hearing from the readers and feel free to share your thoughts in addition to potential story ideas. You can reach me at brian.lester@d3sports.com or follow me on Twitter: @BLester1993.

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Brian Lester

Brian Lester is a reporter in Findlay, Ohio. He has 14 years of experience at newspapers in Virginia, North Carolina and Ohio, spending the last 10 at The Courier in Findlay. Lester also writes an Around the Region column for D3hoops.com. He is a graduate of Eastern Illinois.

2011 columnist: Dean Jackson
2007-10 columnist: Matt Florjancic

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