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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Ashland University

The Collegian

Dezmin Lyburtus: From new face to old reliable 

The Eagles brought in Lyburtus from Division II powerhouse Ferris State
Mike Hopkins
Wideout Dezmin Lyburtus lines up for a play against his former team: the Ferris State Bulldogs.

The 2022 season saw the departure of Garrett Turnbaugh, Logan Bolin and Malik Wooldridge leaving a big hole at all three starting receiver positions for the Ashland University football team. 

The coaching staff was left to go into the transfer portal to find one of the three replacements. Dezmin Lyburtus, who had finished his junior year at Ferris State, was interested in moving to a situation with a bigger role in an offense and pursuing a master’s degree. Ashland University provided both of those opportunities. 

At Ferris State, Lyburtus in his last season did play in 15 games, but only had 15 catches and two touchdowns in his limited playing time. The Eagles needed someone who could use their speed and agility to stretch the field, which was a role Lyburtus fit into seamlessly in hindsight. 

Stepping right into the lead receiver role as soon as he got here wasn’t even something Lyburtus expected.

I always knew I could be a valuable player in the right offense, and I think that AU was the right place for me. I didn’t expect to be the top receiver immediately with having to learn a whole new playbook and offense in general,” said Lyburtus. “With the help of Coach Berbari and many players in my position group, I was able to grasp the concepts and playbook quickly.”

With the Eagles this season, Lyburtus is nearly doubling up the next closest receiver on the roster in receptions with 61 catches, adding over 729 receiving yards and roughly half of the teams 20 receiving touchdowns.

These numbers have led opposing coaching staffs to shift their gameplan to stopping Lyburtus as their No. 1 priority.  

“Teams are now really scheming to keep [Lyburtus] from having the yards after the catch, and so he’s been patient, he knows he is commanding a lot of attention,” said Head Coach Doug Geiser. 

The connection between quarterback and receiver also has to be there to have down field success, and Geiser adds that there is now a “comfort level” between Trevor Bycznski and Lyburtus specifically in the red zone as the season rolls into the latter half. 

One of the other wide receivers stepping up this season has been junior Tony Panunnzio, and he has found himself under the wing of Lyburtus throughout the course of this season. 

“When Dez came in we knew from the first practice that he would be key for our room. Right off the bat we could tell his talent and work ethic,” said Panunnzio. “As time progressed he fit right in with the rest of us and it felt like he was there since day one,” he continued.  

Lyburtus has found himself being the leading pass catcher for the Eagles a year after finishing as the No. 6 receiver on the Bulldogs. As the season continues on, Lyburtus has a chance to lead the Eagles receiving units through the rest of the fall campaign.

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