Blake Skuratowicz proved to be more than a "sixth offensive lineman" in his final season with the Ohio Dominican football team.
Last fall, the 6-foot-2, 240-pound senior tight end became more of a receiving option, helping the Panthers finish with at least seven wins for the seventh consecutive season.
"It was always the joke that I was the sixth offensive lineman when I came into the game because I didn't catch one pass as a junior," said Skuratowicz, a 2016 Olentangy Orange graduate. "(Last season) we had a new offensive coordinator (Mike Hartline), and the tight end was a little more involved in the offense. I would run 5- or 10-yard routes or be a decoy or slip out on a delay.
"Last year was my breakout year. Everything clicked and made sense. I thought it was a great way to end my career."
Skuratowicz began his collegiate career at Robert Morris, where he was a fullback. As a freshman with the Colonials in 2016, he had three carries for 10 yards and a touchdown and eight receptions for 98 yards and a score.
Skuratowicz transferred to Ohio Dominican in 2017, where he was switched to tight end and appeared in only two games as a sophomore, catching two passes for 40 yards. After having no receptions in 11 games in 2018, he started all 10 games last season, catching 18 passes for 102 yards and a touchdown as the Panthers went 7-3 overall and 6-1 in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference to place second behind Tiffin (7-0).
His lone score came on a 1-yard reception in a 41-31 loss to Tiffin on Sept. 28.
"Blake did all of the tough guy stuff for us," said Panthers coach Kelly Cummings, whose team concluded last season with a 21-7 loss to Truman State in the America's Crossroads Bowl on Dec. 7 in Hobart, Indiana. "He was the equivalent of a fullback or an I-back. At 6-foot-2, 240, he was able to block and do all of those things, but he could also catch the ball.
"He was the lead blocker on a lot of plays in our run attack. When you look at all of what he did, he did it really well. He would have a couple catches a game and he got some tough yardage for us, especially on big third-down plays."
Skuratowicz was integral in helping Ohio Dominican's offense put up big numbers last season. Running back E.J. Colson rushed for 886 yards and nine touchdowns on 173 carries to earn second-team all-conference honors, and quarterback Evan Ernst was named honorable mention all-conference after completing 168 of 257 passes for 1,911 yards with 17 touchdowns and five interceptions.
The Panthers averaged 28 points and 329.5 yards (129.7 rushing, 199.8 passing) per game.
"I was still blocking a lot and still was an extension of the offensive line," Skuratowicz said. "It was cool to have that relationship with that unit. Those five guys are a really tight unit.
"Our quarterback and running back had great seasons, and they were all-conference. It's super-satisfying for that to happen and to be a part of that success."
Cummings said Skuratowicz had a high football IQ, which made him valuable on return teams. Last season, he recorded three tackles on special teams.
"We put Blake on the punt team because we have a complicated (return) scheme and he was able to handle that," Cummings said. "Everything that he did, he was a great leader.
"That (leadership) stuff gets thrown out left and right, but he was truly one of the guys doing the right thing. The good players not only do the stuff on the field, but off the field as well. He did a great job of leading and showed everyone the small sacrifices that needed to be made."
At Orange, Skuratowicz was a fullback and linebacker, earning special mention all-district and first-team all-OCC-Capital Division honors as a senior.
He graduated from Ohio Dominican last fall with a business degree and is working to complete a master's degree in risk management from the school. He currently works in data governance at Cardinal Health.
"Blake had a good career and is a really smart, mature guy," Cummings said. "Once football was over with, he wanted to get into the next part of his life. We hope we prepared him for that. We know that whatever he's doing, we're looking for him to move up the ladder. He did a lot of great things for us."