By: Meghan McNichol – Staff Writer
There are 43 active freshmen on the University of Dayton’s 2015-2016 football roster. But only one saw the field during the first four games of the season.
Ryan Skibinski, wide receiver from Geneva, Ill., not only recorded time on the field in each of those games, but has also made a huge impact to the team.
Four games in, Skibinski was the leading receiver for the Flyers with 16 receptions and was just two catches away from tying the team freshman record for catches in a season.
Skibinski began his career at Dayton with an impressive history at the Geneva Community High School Vikings. Although a dislocated kneecap kept him from playing the majority of his junior season, he made up for lost time with immense success his senior year.
He was named all-conference and all-area the same year, leading his team to the second round of the playoffs.
Skibinski was on multiple college’s radars his senior year. With offers from Drake, Butler, North Central, Wisconsin-Whitewater, Beloit and countless more it was no doubt that he had a vast array of options.
But after meeting coaches, teammates and touring the facilities, he knew Dayton was the right fit for him.
“I decided to come to Dayton because of the community feel,” Skibinski said. “I know that’s kind of cliché but the coaches were all really cool, I never felt pressured by them to sign, it’s a good academic school and I knew they were a really good football team so I wanted to be a part of it.”
His coaches and teammates have been setting Skibinski up for success from the very beginning.
He started the season off strong with three catches against Central State, the most catches a freshman has ever received in his first game in Dayton school history.
“The coaches kept motivating me, had trust in me and gave me the chances that I needed and so far it’s turned out pretty well,” Skibinski said.
Although his success is significant, it hasn’t been as easy as Skibinski has made it look. Like any other success story there have been bumps in the road, injuries and hours of dedication and hard work poured into his accomplishments.
“Adapting to the college football game hasn’t been easy. A lot of these guys are older, more athletic, faster and stronger than I’m used to so that’s been the biggest change for me,” Skibinski said.
Despite the challenge, Skibinski seems to be adapting well with a total of 165 receiving yards on the season.
In the last game against the University of San Diego, Skibinski strained his hamstring. Although it initially looked as though he might be out for a few weeks, Skibinski focused his time and energy on getting healthy for the next game against Drake last Saturday.
Although he did not play in that matchup, he is looking forward to returning to the field soon.
Injuries aside, Skibinski’s main priority is to not only maintain his success but also build on it.
“I plan to keep focusing and practicing hard. I can’t ever get too satisfied with my stats, I just need to keep working hard,” Skibinski said.
Judging by his impressive achievements in the first quarter of the season, it’ll be interesting to see what this Flyer accomplishes in the weeks that remain.
Hamstring permitting, Skibinski will play in his fifth game this season on Saturday, October 8 at Welcome Stadium against Morehead State University.