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Zinchini, Vanlier named all-OVC; three listed on all-newcomer squad

View/download the complete all-OVC team (PDF)

COOKEVILLE, Tenn. -- Three players who enjoyed tremendous individual success during Tennessee Tech's 2012 football season have received post-season recognition from the Ohio Valley Conference.

Junior punter Chad Zinchini is a first-team all-OVC selection, true freshman Ladarius Vanlier earned second-team all-conference honors as a return specialist, and both of those players, along with junior wide receiver Da'Rick Rogers, were placed on the OVC all-newcomer team.

The teams were announced Tuesday by the league office, which tallied votes cast by the conference head football coaches and sports information directors.

Eastern Illinois receiver Erik Lora was named the OVC Offensive Player of the Year and Panther head coach Dino Babers was voted the winner of the OVC Roy Kidd Coach of the Year after leading EIU to the conference title in his first year.

The other two major OVC awards went to players from Southeast Missouri. Senior linebacker Blake Peiffer was named the Defensive Player of the Year and redshirt freshman quarterback Scott Lathrop won the Freshman of the Year honor.

Zinchini set a school record by averaging 44.8 yards per punt to lead the OVC, the first Golden Eagle punter to top the conference since 1998. In his first season on the roster, Zinchini ranked fifth in the nation, posted 25 kicks of 50 yards or more, and downed 19 punts inside the opponent'2 20-yard line. Zinchini took over the role of punter from Nick Campbell, who was a second-team all-OVC selection a year ago.

Vanlier proved to be one of the most elusive players in the OVC on his way to second-team honors. He was selected as a return specialist after averaging 20.9 yards per kickoff return and 8.0 yards on punt returns. Vanlier had one kick return for a touchdown, a 94-yard romp at Murray State, and was such a dangerous deep man that teams found ways to kick anywhere on the field except to him. Vanlier had 32 kickoff returns, just two short of the school record for most in a season, after setting school single-game records for most punt returns and most punt return yards.

He also had 17 rushed for 109 yards, including 81 in the season finale, and caught 21 passes for 192 yards. Altogether, Vanlier led Tech in all-purpose yards.

Rogers finished the year with 61 catches for 893 yards, the third-most receptions in a season and the fourth-most yards. He tied the school record with 10 touchdown catches. During the year, he also set school single-game records when he grabbed 18 passes for 303 yards in a game at Southeast Missouri.